GUNS IN AMERICA: PART ONE (The Constitution)

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GUNS IN AMERICA: PART ONE

The Second Amendment:  Our Constitutional Equivalent of a Vestigial Organ. 

The Second Amendment of the US Constitution is something like the appendix that homo sapiens carry around. Once, when we were a different, it made good sense to have one, and it was of good use.  Now, it is a vestigial organ, a useless remnant of our past, which provides no real benefit and just hangs around waiting to cause us trouble.

When the Constitution was written, the US really had no standing army, and state militias were the only thing we had to defend us from predatory nations like Britain, internal insurrections like the Whiskey Rebellion, and attacks from Native People’s allied with our international enemies or just pissed off at how we were treating them.  Also, no one knew what kind of creature the federal government would be (remember some influential people like Hamilton really wanted a British style political system that gave central government a ton of power), so keeping state militias armed was a reasonable precaution. The Second Amendment simply made sense. Some states even went so far as to make having a decent bore, military musket in every household mandatory because all men were members of the state militia and needed to stand ready to serve. 

Then is not now.  The individual constitutional right to “bear arms” did not even exist until 2008, when the recently departed Justice Scalia wrote his opinion in The District of Columbia vs. Heller.  That opinion established a right for a person to own and keep a firearm in her/his home for personal protection.  That is all.  As the saying goes in Spanish (loosely translated) “Punto y Aparte!”  ─ “Period and End!” No one has a constitutional right to anything other than that. 

All of this makes the NRA’s incessant squawking about the Second Amendment and its positions somewhat strange, until you recognize that the NRA is not a real membership organization with five million members.  Instead, it is a lobbying group for gun sellers and gun manufacturers, who provide the majority of the money for the organization (in donations or in advertising in its magazines). 

The NRA’s basic position is “any gun, any time, any place, for any one.”  That position has nothing to do with the Second Amendment.  It is devoted to filling the coffers of the NRA and the pockets of its corporate supporters, as well as putting a smile on the face of a sizable number of “wing-nuts” who exercise power within the NRA. 

But, who would support positions aimed at enriching big corporations and placating nut jobs?  Nobody would. So, the NRA dresses up their positions by implying they are protecting a hallowed constitutional right, which doesn’t really exist.  As the saying goes, “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.”  or as a 19th Century Baptist minister more poetically put it, “a hog in a silk waistcoat is still a hog.”

Where The US Constitution is silent, a bevy of state legislators have been happy to step in (aided by the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action).  They have okayed open carry and concealed carry, and they have steadily expanded the places where you can carry (churches, colleges, etc). The legislators all speak eloquently of protecting a constitutional right that does not exist.  What does exist is the NRA and its minions.  That is whom and what those politicians are protecting, plus their own political asses if they should be seen as getting crosswise with the gun lobby.

Part Two will address the role of guns in our society.

 

 

 

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