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Checks and balances and other weapons of choice

Stephen Hornsby-Smith

The 18th century founding fathers of the American constitution would be ambivalent to its 21st-century application because there are simply too many checks and balances that overbalance the vast protective heart of it.

Could America be accused of being over regulated and under - regulated at the same time? If this is accurate then there exists an over emphasis in the 'Negative freedom' to protect against criminal and cynical mismatching of the individual. State, federal, corporate and imperial elements of the constitution that could not have been foreseen at its birth. Fears of innocence exploited, over optimism to a fault, and estimation of its enemies or unrealistic defence of a non-judgementalism still lie in the spirit of the many in the USA today. It is therefore imperative to acknowledge that in America the first instinct of Americans is to be idealistic, proud and deeply loyal to the American constitution, enshrined in freedoms hard won and remains stoically the protective guardian in times of war and crisis. It is no surprise that Americans are Trojan in their self-view that they protect against bullying, aggression, predatorial corruption as the watermark of the American way. Although this missive of mine is not primarily about gun control if it was, this is where the 'American right to bear arms ' should be contextualised.

Let's expose some residual myths that no Americans might have about guns in America, and then let's recognise that subconsciously we haven't really erased or updated our cliché app. Texas is tarmacked by 7-Elevens, McDonald's, and Burger King et cetera rather than shooting ranges. I think our stereotypes are a little more sophisticated than "no tumbleweed, no okay corrals, no John Wayne, Clint Eastwood's or Arnold Schwarzenegger's" but you get the picture. Instead there remains the opportunity of being free and financially independent-the American dream. This "I have a dream" elected an African American president in an open field, where the only equality was the hard work pays dividends for an even contest. The message of Obama is that you don't have to be a white Anglo-Saxon with airbrushed teeth and squillions to be the darling of most Americans. Life liberty and the pursuit of happiness still works self-evidently in the 21st-century America, in fact on this example, it works even better today. However, some would argue that gun law has not evolved. For some this contrast is the opening to inflict serious damage not just to 'right to bear arms' but to mutate the Constitution into a wider regressive agenda. Some counter this as a manoeuvre as permissive with established wisdom enshrined in the Constitution, but play the card of liberation from gun control by narrow appeal and popularist short termism, and adopt paradoxically the very essence of the roaming cowboy cliché that it rejects from its opponents. To my way of thinking this exaggeration of the importance of gun control is more symbolic issue that distracts and doesn't illuminate the real seismic shifts in the social and economic tectonic plates that has been reducing real dialogue with all sections of the court of American opinion, relegating debate to pendulumic 2 party antagonism. This is why Donald Trump is so popular to Republicans-it wants a safe bet rather than a maverick out of control, something Europeans have not contemplated. All-party hacks feel most secure and comfortable with, leaving elections to party beauty contests spending lots of money on trashing opponents who suddenly become their greatest ally when it's in their electoral interests. America cannot live on this cynicism and negative complaining alone, and rehashing the old favourite of party great and prejudice, moral lecture against counter moral lecture is more of an industry than a civic duty and ethical contribution.

However, as a Brit, I'm grateful that guns are over there and not generally over here. It makes me feel safer. I'm just like every European NIMBY, but I also recognise that many Americans are duty-bound to morally police, trailblazer and Espouse rhetoric not just to a domestic audience but to a global one. As leader and superpower of the West, America demands of itself to be the social, economic, political and cultural Laboratory of the world. That is a boast and a punishment to originally a predominantly immigrant based population disgraced punished and rejected by a morally bankrupt imperial land they had to flee from. Today there is an irony that America, the land of the free can proverbially interfere in any remote war and make demands of the international community at the proverbial end of the gun which inspires both the pro and anti-gun control lobbies on Capitol Hill. But to say that the American gun lobby works on the global stage is an oversimplification. To the anti-gun movement in America, the film American beauty exemplifies a frustrated shallow repressed squalid and morally bankrupt conformism that is made manifest by the contrast of the growing enlightenment of the main character and which is ultimately stopped by an ex-military self-denying closet homosexual at the end of a gun who can't admit to his attraction to men. Here the gun fires the gun of a needless waste of human life, but what a convoluted plot just to make a political point. Indeed, the pro-gun lobby argue that just as the American constitution defence and prepares Americans for violence and criminality, so the film Fargo reveals the descent of the dislikeable to the unredeemable, Lawless and sadistic psychotic that can't be reasoned with, and is only brought to justice by the firing of a gun in self-defence by the pregnant policewoman on duty. The moral of the film is far more direct.

In conclusion, the point of view that I want to defend is not the function of this blog. To recognise the mutual over simplification is however specifically my intention. I'd argue that America is fighting a political and moral battle today to claim the bragging rights to the American constitution, not just the endless spat over America is right to bear arms.

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