CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jonathan Swift in his biting satire "A Modest Proposal" in 1729 suggested that the "problem" of overpopulation in Ireland, and the subsequent poverty and lawlessness brought about by the starvation of the people, be alleviated by his "modest suggestion" that children of a tender and succulent age be cooked in various methods to feed the hungry.
His proposal was met with outrage by some, with anger by some, and with amusement by some. One of its points was to suggest that the problem was not solvable by normal means, nor by ignoring the problem and hoping it would go away.
In the same vein, we have a terrible problem plaguing this country -- the easy availability of guns that can bring on mass slaughter. I find it interesting that many of the country's strongest "hawks," who supported the Persian Gulf wars to root out "weapons of mass destruction," were willing to go to great lengths, including invasion of other countries and killing thousands of innocent civilians, in order to find those weapons which have so far remained undetectable or invisible, but they cannot find it in their hearts to curb in any way some weapons that are wreaking havoc in our own country.
I therefore suggest a new modest proposal with tongue placed firmly in cheek. Let us handle motor vehicles the way we handle guns -- do away with any and all restrictions on operating a motor vehicle. In a convoluted way, a motor vehicle could be defined as "arms" under the Constitution's Second Amendment, since there is no clear outline in said Constitution as to what "arms" might mean.
In the days of the writing of the Constitution, most guns involved a laborious process to load and fire their single-shot ammunition, and "keeping your powder dry" was literal advice, rather than a cliché. In any event, motor vehicles and our inalienable rights to bear or use them should be considered covered just as much as an assault rifle, and therefore protected.
There should be no age restrictions, high or low, nor should there be any attempt to keep records of accidents involving individuals under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Personal liberties trump the rights of those others who might literally get in the way of the inebriated or strung-out driver. No background checks should be undertaken, nor testing required for driving. Placing restrictions should be against the law.
And in the name of freedom, each citizen should have the right and ability to drive anywhere they wish. One-way signs, road-closed signs and even private property signs, should be abolished, as they restrict a person's right to travel freely in our free society. If someone wishes to drive on the sidewalk, or through crowded throngs of people, surely we should not impede drivers' freedom!
Parents should not be allowed to prevent their children from driving the family vehicles, as age requirements or good grades would be limiting the youthful freedoms our children are guaranteed to enjoy!
State legislators who decided that equal rights to own guns or buy guns in any city or community, in any amount, despite the history of illegal activity the citizens of said community decided they wished to curtail, should make an appropriate decision on vehicular freedoms as well. Why give local communities the right to "promote the general welfare" of their areas, or "ensure domestic tranquility?" They especially should not be given the ability to attempt to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." The Legislature can do that. The less populous areas should have equal say in how business is done in the crowded streets of Charleston or Huntington. Those city people, like the poor families of Ireland, need help from the government in making decisions on their lives.
I conclude with a very sincere prayer. I pray that no one anywhere will ever have to try to tell a parent of a murdered child that the rights of a deranged or depressed or enraged person to own dangerous weapons is more important than their child. I pray that no one ever has to cry out in anguish over a senseless act of violence that could have been prevented. I pray that no one must bear guilt for not aiding in curtailing the violence we witness more and more each day. Amen.
Further, I strongly believe in the old adage "Pray as if everything depended on God; work as if everything depended on you."
Waller is pastor of Buffalo and Mount Union United Methodist churches.