Even if you’re middle aged (I am!) you can recall being told for your entire life that “things have changed” or that “things aren’t like they used to be.”
That’s because―duh!―things do change and they don’t stay the same.
But we associate those phrases with a sort of grandmotherly out-of-touchness, bemoaning that the changes are for the worse.
My own grandmothers grew up in a time without airplanes and without the right to vote. That seems incredible to me, mind boggling when I consider what I knew personally of one grandmother and from stories about the other. One of them ran off with her older sister’s fiancé and the other married and then sailed across the ocean. Both had children and made lives in new places. I imagine they both marveled at airplanes and maybe muttered (politely, as ladies do) “about time,” when they got the vote.
I find myself, these days, remembering an increasing distant past when your home had one telephone line and one television set. You huffed and puffed when your brother and sister wanted to watch Star Trek and you didn’t; you might have stamped your foot when someone else in the house tied up the phone, for, like, hours (or so it seemed).
Today, my young great nieces and nephew (and, they are great!) have their own phones and however many thousand television channels their satellite dish gets, and whatever music they want, when they want it, and on and on.
Things do change, and there are times when they certainly seemed to be worse than when I was young, or when my parents or grandparents were young.
But, as Sam Cooke wrote and sang, “a change is gonna come.” Cooke was inspired to write the song in the early 1960s when he and his band were turned away from a “whites-only” hotel in Louisiana. There’s a melancholy air to the song as it recounts the singer’s struggles, but an affirmation in the refrain, “I know a change is gonna come.”
The dark side of the anti-change brigade is usually expressed with the dismissive, now-pejorative “Luddites.”
The Luddite movement resisted the changes of the Industrial Revolution, and was known to smash machinery newly installed, especially in textile mills in England. The movement lasted several years and was finally suppressed—with force—by the mill owners and government.
But the Luddites weren’t anti-technology—they were worried that the changes would make their lives and skills meaningless. These days the term has come to mean a person who is anti-technology, who is afraid of change simply because it is a change.
That brings us to the fast-moving topic of so-called ghost guns or “3D Printer Guns.”
While there is a story on W&G about this subject, it has changed and been rewritten three times in the week leading up to publication. I have no doubt it will have changed again before the issue hits mailboxes and newsstands.
That is the nature of change—it is “gonna come.”
The Second Amendment Foundation, parent of W&G, has been involved in the issue for several years, backing Cody Wilson and his Defense Distributed company in lawsuits. The issues involve not just technology—the genie that never goes back in the bottle—but also First Amendment issues and the basic notion that humans will continue to create and that other humans will have to come to terms with those creations.
I am old enough, in a Great Aunt Peggy sort of way, to remember the hullabaloo about “plastic guns” in the 1980s, even as we struggled to explain to people that they weren’t “undetectable” and that they were simply a part of the evolution of technology in firearms. These days, no one bats an eyelash at Glocks—embraced by thousands of law enforcement agencies that wrung their hands about them earlier—or at any number of other firearms that have incorporated new technologies into their offerings.
But so much of the anti-gun rhetoric these days seems based in fear of the new and a stubborn, even willful, ignorance of change.
An Appeals Court victory for gunowners in Hawaii brought tired cries of “Dodge City” and other Wild West comparisons from the anti-gun crowd. At this point, 30 years or so since the liberalization of state gun laws, you would think they would know that none of the scenarios have come to pass.
Things do change, often more rapidly than we are comfortable with, but, as the song says, “they’re gonna come.”