None of us should live in fear every time we’re out in public. Feeling that we have to pack heat to feel safe merely conceals that fear because we are always worried that we may have to use it. We have the right to live without wondering when the next “law-abiding gun owner” will flip and be the next mass shooter.
It’s ironic that the defiance the NRA uses to uphold their belief of possessing any and all deadly assault weapons is a picture of their former president, Charlton Heston, holding up a replica of the self-defense weapon used when the 2nd amendment was written.
The NRA, in their response to the President’s plan Wednesday to implement some sensible gun control measures as part of a larger plan to end gun violence in this country said, “Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy.” I have three questions for the NRA based on this response.
- Were not Jared Loughner, James Holmes, Seung-Hui Cho and Nidal Malik Hasan, to name a few of the more notorious mass shooters in this country, considered “honest, law-abiding gun owners” prior to their heinous acts?
- How can we be certain that “good guys” will not become “bad guys” over time?
- Do not victims of gun violence have rights too and by eliminating some of the more deadlier means of mass killings are we not promoting their rights as well those who want to own a gun to feel secure in their homes?
For better or worse we have become a nation obsessed with guns and the power they give us when we have them in our hands. This sticks out in statistics with gun crimes in comparison to other countries. In 2009 there were 9,146 murders by firearms in the U.S. By comparison there were only 39 in Britain in 2008. Since Britain’s population is 1/5 that of US, this is equivalent to 195 US murders.
When it comes to homicides and gun ownership rates, Mexico and the United States are each in a league of their own, with ownership rates and death rates that skew the axes of the entire chart. You can see a close-up of the countries that aren’t the U.S. or Mexico on Reid’s site.
Below is the chart that Reid made of strictly gun homicides:
The real issue here is the existence of a pedagogy of violence that actually makes the power of deadly violence attractive. Representations of violence dominate the media and often parade before viewers less as an object of critique than as a for-profit spectacle, just as the language of violence and punishment now shapes the U.S. culture – Henry A. Giroux
Feeling that power when holding a gun can often be carried over into other parts of our life when we are depressed and angry at certain people or just simply mad at the world in general. To feel as some do within the NRA leadership that anyone has the right to own any weapon they want and as many as they want is stretching even what they suggest the founding fathers conveyed about the “right to bear arms”.
Never mind that there is substantial evidence that the second amendment was more about ensuring citizens the right to defend themselves against threats to their safety and security by forming small, independent militias, ready to serve at the calling of their leaders in the community. The secondary notion that many today feel is also part of that amendment, allowing private ownership of firearms to feel secure in their homes and on their property, is not that open-ended to suggest a person can have more than they need to achieve this goal.
Little can be found in the words of the founding fathers that would suggest a notion that would allow large arsenals outside of a “well-regulated militia”. It was unrealistic to the people who penned the 2nd amendment to understand that they meant anything about private ownership of guns other than owning a weapon to hunt for food and stave off attacks from what was then described as “hostile indians”. All other references in the 2nd amendment were focused on establishing a group of armed men under the command of a competent leader to defend against outside threats.
George Mason of Virginia, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention wrote this about the 2nd amendment:
“That the People have a Right to keep and to bear Arms; that a well regulated Militia, composed of the Body of the People, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe Defence of a free State; that Standing Armies in Time of Peace are dangerous to Liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided as far as the Circumstances and Protection of the Community will admit; and that in all Cases, the military should be under strict Subordination to, and governed by the Civil Power.”
Mason wasn’t referring to a vigilante mentality that might react to what might be perceived as a threat to personal liberty. This was clear when George Washington put down the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794. For whatever reason people felt that they were being unfairly treated, the new government formed by the Constitution was clear that armed rebellion was not going to be the default measure to deal with it. That was what the law was there for and our representative form of government to correct those excesses people felt they were being subjected to.
Taken with the third amendment as we see it here, we get a better overall view behind the thinking of the founding fathers.
“No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”
David Swanson is an ardent opponent of war and the military-industrial complex that relies on war to sustain its existence. In his essay, The Wait-Just-a-Goddam-Second Amendment, he makes a cogent argument about how some view the 2nd amendment today and what was intended over two centuries ago.
The Second and Third amendments originated as restrictions on what we would later create and come to call a Military Industrial Complex, a permanent war machine, a federal tool of abusive power.
The militias of the Second Amendment are meant to protect against federal coercion, popular rebellions, slave revolts, and — no doubt — lunatics who try to mass-murder children.
The Second Amendment has been made to mean something very different from what was originally intended or what any sane person writing a Constitution would intend today. This means that we must either reinterpret it, re-write it, or both. SOURCE
So let’s be clear here. The rights of individuals are important but should not be solely interpreted in a manner that disregards the rights of others. By promoting an unoriginal interpretation of what was written in the 18th century that allows individuals to possess large arsenals of deadly assault style weapons is an offense to those people who diligently worked to give us the best possible government without sabotaging it with some idea that anarchy had primacy.
Regulating those tools that afford us some measure of security when properly dispensed and utilized to prevent them from crossing the line and threatening the rights of others is not tyranny. It is the behavior of a civil society. The fear-mongering that many gun advocates are currently engaged in is hyperbole that serves only the special interests of the gun manufacturers and their hand-maidens at the NRA, not the interest of all Americans as they would have us believe.
When did the extremist hijack the NRA?