Whenever there’s a discussion about possible restrictions on the type of guns Americans can possess, somebody always argues that any attempt by the government to take away weapons will be widely disobeyed. Meghan McCain gave voice to that argument on last week’s season premier of ABC’s “The View” when she said “[I]f you’re talking about taking people’s guns from them, there’s going to be a lot of violence.”
Other conservatives – including Tucker Carlson and Erick Erickson – have said the same thing: that those in possession of any kind of gun the government might hypothetically ban will put the weapons to deadly use if any enforcement attempt followed. While it’s not always the case that people who predict something will happen want it to happen, those predicting bloodshed as response to any kind of weapons ban give me the impression that they think gun owners would be within their rights to shoot, maim and kill.
If you were to gather all the Americans who describe themselves as law-and-order types and then all the Americans who say they’d keep their guns even if ordered by a government to surrender them, then I suspect that you would have convened many of the same folks.
Some of the same people who yell at others that they don’t get to choose which laws to obey are equally vocal in their assertion that they’ll turn outlaw if the law no longer suits them.
And, honestly, I’m not mad at them for having principles that supersede the law – although I find a defiant commitment to possessing the most powerful weapons worrisome. It’s the hypocrisy that rankles, the dogged refusal to acknowledge that folks they’ve villainized might have loyalties that supersede the law, too.
My first column for cleveland.com followed the raids that Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted last month at seven poultry processing plants in Mississippi. The people who were booked on suspicion of being here illegally are mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts whose cheap labor has benefited all of us who only want to pay so much for chicken at the grocery store.
Some of those immigrants’ children came home from school that Aug. 7 to find that their parents had been hauled off. But some coldhearted readers responded to the assertion that our government was needlessly cruel and had subjected those children to unnecessary trauma by blaming the children’s parents.
They should have just obeyed the law, they said.
But would the folks offering such pithy responses really submit to a law that stood between them and their family’s well-being? Is devotion to one’s family not more honorable than an unconditional obedience to the law; in this case, a law regarding a man-made line in the sand?
What if those in the all-laws-matter crowd were told they’d have to illegally cross a border to stay alive? Would they just shrug their shoulders and die?
Don’t scoff. There’s a lung-cancer vaccine in Cuba, and some Americans have been going there to get it – illegally. “I’m not looking to break the law,” 65-year-old George Keays told USA Today for a story about the vaccine that was published last year, “but I’m not looking to die, either. People with stage 4 cancer, like me, should be allowed to try whatever they want to stay alive, whatever they think will work. The last thing they need is the government on your neck over some archaic regulation saying just take what is available here and die.”
The Miami Herald reports that a cancer center in Buffalo is working with a research center in Havana to make the Cuban cancer drugs available here. But, the report warns, it could be a decade before the FDA approves anything.
Lung cancer patients can’t wait that long. “You’re either going to go or not go,” a travel agent helping arrange surreptitious medical flights to Cuba told USA Today. “When you’re given a month to live, you go. It’s kind of basic.”
It’s also kind of basic that people might flee their home countries when they believe their lives and their children’s lives are threatened. Granted, not everybody who illegally crosses our border is outrunning death. But some are, and their plight still doesn’t trigger any empathy from the anti-immigration hardliners. And the current administration continues to demonize them.
Last month, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services told immigrant families who haven’t been deported because they’re receiving life-saving medical treatment that even they’ve got to get out – even though leaving would likely mean their deaths. Then, as if it amounted to some kind of humanitarian gesture, USCIS said it would consider applications for deferred action that were filed before Aug. 7. But none after.
Funny, but nobody ever predicts bloodshed, nobody ever anticipates an uprising, when the government actually is being monstrous and is telegraphing an expulsion of patients – many of them children – with cystic fibrosis or sickle-cell anemia or cancer or other serious ailments. When the most vulnerable folks are getting trampled, leading conservatives don’t recommend a defiant response.
Because laws are to be obeyed. Unless, of course, the law bans a beloved gun.
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