In the wake of the shocking and tragic Oregon College shootings that left ten dead and 9 injured, the New York Times reports that Jeb Bush had some interesting words to contribute to the grieving process — specifically, “Stuff happens.” Yes, Presidential hopeful Bush, stuff does happen. It happens a lot. In fact, so much stuff happens that even in the freest nation on the planet, we have laws to prevent the bad stuff.
The Second Amendment has been a hot-button political issue seemingly forever. It is inarguable that the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of private citizens to keep and bear arms, and for good reason. Prior to the American Revolution, the British Crown took actions to disarm the wayward colonists. In 1774, an import ban on firearms and gunpowder was instituted. Some time later, from 1774-75, gunpowder and firearms began to be confiscated, sometimes requiring the use of violence by the Crown. It was largely due to these measures that the Second Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution before it was ratified by the states.
The Second Constitutional Amendment reads as follows.
“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has further weighed in on the Second Amendment, most notably in modern times with the Heller case, which protected the rights of individuals to keep handguns in their home for self-defense purposes but also reiterated that the right to bear arms is not unlimited, and that laws restricting access to guns by certain groups of people or in certain areas do not violate the Second Amendment of the Constitution.
“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited… Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
So, what does the above Supreme Court opinion, written by Justice Scalia, mean in the wake of the recent Oregon shootings? Does it infer that because “stuff happens” we simply ignore gun crimes in the U.S.? Did we ignore 9/11? I mean, stuff happens.
Rather than address these question and the legal history of the Second Amendment, Jeb Bush went on to defend his “stuff happens” remarks on his Twitter feed.
Despite Jeb defending his stuff happens remarks, despite him laying the laying the blame for the public outcry against his insensitivity on the media, he’s facing an incredible amount of fallout for his words. Everyone from random, Twitter-using citizens to President Obama have expressed disgust and disbelief over Bush’s nonchalant, casual “stuff happens” remarks. The crass, blasé “stuff happens” even spawned a hashtag: #stuffhappens.
The callous Jeb Bush “stuff happens” remarks came at roughly the same time as friends and family members were getting the word that their loved-ones were among the Oregon shooting injured or deceased. For those without a political agenda or floundering Presidential campaign, it seemed like the worst possible moment to refer to the deaths of 9 people as “stuff” that “happens;” Bush had no such qualms, reports CNN. Donald Trump also jumped on the political bandwagon, defending the Second Amendment for political purposes while next-of-kin waited for news of their loved ones’ fates. Trump had his own version of the infamous “stuff happens” debacle, the New York Times reports.
“People say, ‘oh, we’re gonna stop it — it doesn’t work that way. [Mass gun violence in America] has taken place forever, from the beginning, and it’s going to go on a million years from now. You’re going to have problems, and even if you have a very tough system, you’re going to have people who slip through the cracks.”
Um, what cracks, Mr. Trump? There aren’t cracks in the current system. There are big, gaping holes. The cracks don’t exist, because the entire system is one gigantic canyon. Stuff happens, after all.
Unfortunately for the U.S., the same stuff happens again and again.
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that both Mr. “Stuff Happens” Bush and Mr. Trump have sparse understanding of the U.S. legislative system. They also seem to be collectively insulting the intelligence of the U.S. public. Of course no law can prevent all associated crime. Laws against murder don’t prevent every murder. Laws against rape don’t prevent every rape. Laws against theft don’t prevent every theft. Stuff, as they say, it happens.
What these laws do do, though, is give the government and public a punitive leg to stand on. We can collectively say “We don’t tolerate all stuff that happens; we don’t tolerate murder.” This doesn’t prevent every murder, but it gives society a way to deal with murderers under the law. A way to punish those who murder, a way to prevent future murders, by getting murderers off of the street — even though stuff happens.
Making meth illegal doesn’t prevent everyone from getting high on meth, but it does give authorities an avenue to punish meth cookers, sellers, and those who would sacrifice your children to meth. Even though stuff happens, we rely on such legislation to keep our society functional.
No one is suggesting that we take away the right of competent U.S citizens to protect themselves, to own firearms, to be part of a well-regulated militia. However, while stuff happens, what we saw in the case of the Oregon slaughter, none of those things were a factor in this crime. We had a gunman (whose name I won’t mention due to an unwillingness to glorify murderers) with a documented history of mental health issues who ultimately took his own life — this after killing 10 and wounding nine others, CNN reports. He also had ownership of 14 firearms at the time of the mass murders.
The Supreme Court, in the Heller case, expressly stated that restricting the access of the mentally to firearms does not violate the Constitution.
One would think that despite the fact that “stuff happens” U.S. politicians would like to keep the mass murders to a minimum. Unless, of course, they’ve received political contributions from the NRA, which is known to contribute to the Republican National Committee. Because, you know, “stuff happens.”
[Image Courtesy: Scott Olsen / Getty Images]