In cognitive science, it’s often said that when we want to think about something, it helps to think about something else instead. The idea is to set up analogies, which allow us to step away from details that would distract us, and from preconceptions and emotional responses that might interfere with our reasoning.
The legislature is heading back into session, and The Commission to Study School Funding has just released its final report, so it’s time to start thinking about schools again. And to think about schools, it helps to think about guns.
Does that seem odd? It doesn’t when you consider the similarity between the wording of the Amendment 2 in the federal constitution,
A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, …
and the wording of Article 83 in the state constitution,
Knowledge and learning, generally diffused through a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government, …
In each case, the same idea is being expressed in the same way: If you want to remain free, you’d better be armed and educated.
Of course, this raises the question of who might be threatening our freedom, if we fail to do these things. Lincoln’s answer was:
From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe and Asia…could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide.
Which is kind of a long-winded way of saying: We need guns — and education — to protect ourselves from our own government.
Once you see this, there are some other questions that arise naturally. With reference to guns, given that the government itself is the entity against which we’re preparing to defend ourselves, would anyone seriously argue that
- government should use taxes to buy people guns, ammunition, and training?
- government should use taxes to buy those things even for people who already have them, or can afford them?
- government should exercise control over who should have what guns or ammunition, where they can be carried, how they must be stored, or any other aspect of gun ownership?
I think it’s clear that the answers to these questions are no, no, and hell no. If government is the potential opponent, then it makes no sense at all to give that opponent any say at all over guns.
But the exact same reasoning that leads to the conclusion that government should stay the hell out of the ownership of guns, leads just as surely to the conclusion that government should stay the hell out of the education of children — not subsidize it, or interfere with it, or try to control it in any way.
And yet, the judiciary — and its puppets, the legislature and the executive — consistently answer yes, Yes, YES to the same questions when asked about education rather than guns.
So here’s a question: How is it that judges can look at essentially the same wording on two different issues, but ‘reason’ their way to conclusions that are completely different? Answer: Because we let them.
So here’s another question: Why do we let them?