I resent the Second Amendment. No, let me clarify that: I resent how the Second Amendment has been interpreted by courts and other entities. Especially the political right.
Here is the Second Amendment, in its entirety: “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.”
Back in the constitutional drafting day, the personal weapons kept by colonists who relied on hunting to augment farm-raised protein and to protect themselves from marauding wildlife and hostile natives were the very same weapons they brought with them to local militia drills to protect their community against threats. Muskets and primitive rifles were the same weapons used both by individuals and by armies. And THAT was the right the founding fathers intended to protect with the Second Amendment to the US Constitution: that citizens couldn’t be deprived of their means to defend themselves and their communities from threats from both outside forces and government oppression by the British military.
In the years since, the courts – which by the customary rules of statutory and constitutional interpretation are enjoined to consider ALL the words contained in a law or regulation – have wilfully ignored the opening clause of the Second Amendment, the one which would logically and rationally limit the “right of the People to keep and bear arms” to the purpose of “a well regulated militia” supporting “the security of a free state.”
That pisses me off. It always has, and now more than ever.
The contemporary US gun culture insists on its Second Amendment rights without ever considering the historical foundation behind them. All we ever hear from the NRA and gun rights proponents are the words, “the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” There’s never any reference to “a well-regulated militia” or “the security of a free State.”
To my mind, all current US gun rights advocates operate from a position of fear. They fear that some potentially tyrannical government – seeking to control them and prevent dissent – will somehow take their guns away. They fear that, without guns, they would be victimized by armed criminals or terrorists or out-of-control police. They claim to be strong, that possessing guns empowers their ability to defend themselves and others, but they’re really all about being afraid that others will get the better of them if they are disarmed or in any way limited in the type of weapons they could own. They apparently think that, unless they are equipped to face the post-apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead, they are somehow at a disadvantage in contemporary society.
Statistics demonstrate gun owners are far more likely to be victims of suicide by gun, or killed either by accident or by having the very weapons they would propose to turn on others turned on themselves instead, than they are to be heroes using their guns to defend themselves or others. Right-wing fears of government tyranny – of the vehemently non-military left swooping in to take away peoples’ guns – are constantly inflated by Faux News and right-wing commentators, who fan those fears in blatant disregard of the need for legislatures to pass laws to enable such seizures.
I have no problem with hunting. Hey: I love venison. But what hunter needs an automatic weapon with a high-capacity magazine to bring down a freaking deer? And why should anyone have a problem with requiring background checks before a firearms purchase, or with mandating safety training for firearms the same way we mandate tests and licensing before allowing people to drive a car?
So don’t list me among the proponents of US gun culture. I remember a time – not so long ago – when even the NRA supported reasonable gun regulation. The current shrill insistence on arming everyone to somehow make us all supposedly more secure by infinitely increasing the numbers of guns in unregulated hands makes me ill.
So if you’re coming to visit me, leave your guns at home. They’re not welcome in my house.