An Open Letter to Millennials On Guns and Abortion
It is 2013, and guess what? You are definitely an adult. 2012 marked the year that millennials began crossing the first "OMG" age barrier. You became 30, and now you've crossed the line. You've grown up in an era of petty partisanship in politics, and it has stripped away your idealism. In fact, you may be downright cynical. A recent survey conducted by Harvard's Institute of Politics found that most millennials are losing trust in our major institutions.
Up until this point in your life every age has been a welcomed step towards greater independence. The ages 1, 3, and 5 were baby steps. At 13, 16, and 17, along came high school, driving, and maybe that first date. And then the biggies 18 and 21 came and you graduated high school and college and could go clubbing.
These are big events and will always be big events. However as millennials cross into their 30s, the birthdays are not as significant. In fact, although your birthday will always be a special day, don't expect to hear any whoops and shouts until the big 5-0. The next 20 years will be about building your career and your family and the birthdays will come and go.
One thing that will not come and go is the debate on certain social issues. If you touch base with your parents and other greybeards, you will find the following issues will always be debated in this country, and you can expect them to be debated by your children as well.
There are basically two sides to this story. There is the faith-based/sanctity of life argument that opposes abortion except for the most part in the case of rape, incest, or life of the mother. The other side argues for personal choice and women's reproductive rights. No amount of medical science is going to change the argument. So what is left is the political process required to influence legislation and the courts to decide one way or the other. Millennials, as you progress through your 30s, expect to continue to have this discussion and hand it off to your children.
Right now, greybeards and boomers are saying didn't we have this debate in the 60s and 70s? The other greybeards and boomers are saying we never stopped debating. And we never will. Since 2010, 32 states have issued legislation designed to restrict abortions. Arkansas, Mississippi, Kansas, and North Dakota are examples of states enacting ever more restrictive legislation. At the same time, the FDA is trying to make it easier for young women to obtain the morning-after pill. It is not an issue that will be solved in our time.
The codified right to bear arms is a fundamental and uniquely American concept. Interesting, then, that America has been instrumental in helping emerging democratic nations craft modern-day versions of the Constitution, and many of them use the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights as templates. But none of them codify the right of their citizens to acquire firearms without restriction. Not one emerging democracy has a right to bear arms without infringement stipulation in their constitution.
Millennials should be prepared to have this debate for the foreseeable future. The guns will get better, the people will want those guns, and our children will inherit the debate. Americans cling to their guns like babies cling to their mothers. Abortion may be the only issue that generates more heated debate than the belief in the unfettered right to bear arms. Even now, after a resounding across the board defeat, Democratic senators are preparing to re-introduce gun reform legislation to Congress. It is a debate that has no end.
It is important that not to get bogged down in these two issues as you progress through your 30s and 40s. There are other issues that are just as important, and ones that have a whole lot better chance of being resolved. I fully expect that millennials will come to some mutually beneficial agreement on gender equality, LGBT rights, immigration reform, public education, social services, and the war on drugs. I have no such confidence when it comes to abortion and guns. It is a tiresome argument, but one worth having. So fight on, expect to pass the torch, and don't get frustrated when you look up at 50 and say didn’t we settle this in the 2K 10s and 20s?