The NRA, Gun Control and Black People: A Complicated History

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The latest school mass shooting in Florida, and the unfolding debate over gun control and gun violence is a reminder of the complicated, contradictory history of the NRA and gun control as they relate to Black people. Black people own guns and are the victims of gun and white vigilante violence, and while they have used guns for self-defense, neither the laws nor the NRA have had Black people, their rights and their lives in mind.

“America’s gun policies do not make sense until you consider race,” Ajenai Clemmons, a research associate at the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University, told Atlanta Black Star. “America’s conflicted self-identity as a democracy that promotes life, liberty, and the right to bear arms mirrors the contradictions in a self-identified democracy based on colonization and slavery.”

Looking at the history of guns and Black people in America, the founding of the nation was based on violence against people of African descent. American gun culture is rooted in settler colonialism, the taking of Native American land and the enslavement of African people as memorialized in the Second Amendment, according to author Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s account in “Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment.” The militias institutionalized the violence against Black and indigenous peoples. As professor Carl T. Bogus of the Roger Williams University School of Law argues, the slave patrols — the plantation police force in which most Southern white men were obligated to serve — protected white society against Black insurrection. This, in a region where Blacks outnumbered whites and servile insurrections, were a reality. The Second Amendment assured the slaveholding states that Congress would not disarm their slave patrols, thereby protecting the slavery police state.

“When the 2nd Amendment was written, it was done so specifically for a militia that functions both as a Confederate defense and a Slave-owner’s offense. Despite current rhetoric, the right to bear arms was not given to everyone everywhere at all times for all purposes. It was granted to white citizens of a certain age that were subject to strict regulations and oversight,” Dr. GS Potter, founder of the Strategic Institute of Intersectional Policy — which designs and implements strategies to counter the political obstacles faced by the most brutally targeted communities in the United States — told Atlanta Black Star. She said the Second Amendment served to consolidate white power and arm white men to protect them from the federal government and Black people. Dr. Potter added that Black men were specifically barred from gun ownership, with additional restrictions through the Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws, which allowed the former slave patrols to disarm Black Civil War veterans.

During the civil rights movement, armed Black folks sprang up in places to protect nonviolent protesters and Freedom Riders from Ku Klux Klan violence and domestic terrorism. Groups such as the Deacons for Defense and Justice and the Black Armed Guard — which received a charter from the NRA in the 1950s — are the unsung heroes of the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s. The Black Panther Party for Self Defense, the pioneers of the modern-day gun rights movement and the original proponents of open carry, faced opposition from the NRA. When the Black nationalist group, which formed to protect their community from police violence, invaded the California capitol building in Sacramento in 1967, then-Governor Ronald Reagan signed the Mulford Act in response, prohibiting open carry of guns in public places. The following year, President Johnson signed the Gun Control Act of 1968, which prohibited “Saturday night specials” and was designed to target handguns and crime in communities of color.

According to Dr. Potter, the NRA has a long history of supporting gun control laws, advocating for a deterioration of gun rights for nonwhite people and an expansion of gun rights for law enforcement — as a leading proponent of the 1938 Gun Control Act, and gun control measures amid the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King in the 1960s. “What speaks volumes here is that in response to the murder of MLK, the NRA chose to advocate for gun control. They did not choose to highlight the fact that MLK had attempted to become an owner of firearms after his home was bombed in 1956 — but he was denied,” she said. “After being denied a firearm for self-defense in his own home, community members began an armed watch outside of his residence. This set the stage for the modern battle between white rights and black rights under the Second Amendment.”

The NRA of today is quite a different animal from what it once was. The organization began to change in 1975, according to Dr. Potter, when it established its Institute for Legislative Action and placed Harlon Carter under its leadership. Carter, the man responsible for the modern-day NRA, shot a Latino teen to death before becoming a border agent and the first head of the U.S. Border Patrol. Under his leadership, the NRA shifted from hunting and sportsmanship to vigilantism, self-protection and opposition to gun control — including a revisionist perspective on unregulated gun ownership, and a focus on lobbying for gun manufacturers, and donating to congressional campaigns.

“Far from its original form, the NRA now serves as a hard-lined lobbying firm that functions to block gun control and advance the manufacture and distribution of weapons designed for hunting, self-defense and military operations,” Potter said. “The radicalization of the NRA can be seen in the same light as the radicalization of today’s Republican Party,” she added, noting that under Carter’s leadership, the NRA “politically weaponized itself” and the Second Amendment to fight liberalism and people of color, and “weaponized hypocrisy” by coining the phrase, “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” The NRA made its first political endorsement in 1980 when it supported Ronald Reagan for president

Gun ownership in America has become a political identity, and the NRA has emerged as a part of the Republican Party coalition. This political identity is intertwined with race and the criminalization of Black people, creating a disaster for the African-American community. One of the noteworthy policies the NRA has promoted are “stand your ground” laws, which allows armed people to use deadly force when they believe someone poses an imminent threat. White men have invoked the laws of self-defense to justify the killing of unarmed Black people.

Clemmons said, “Historically, laws have deputized White citizens relative to Native Americans, Mexican Americans, and African Americans.The state has been an extension of the general White population, and the general White population has been an extension of the state. Stand Your Ground Laws continue that tradition. Statistically, Black folks who use these laws when they feel threatened are not afforded the same protections and liberties as their White counterparts. They go to prison at a far higher rate. So, when you see how the law is enforced, implicitly you know who the law is meant for and whom the law protects.”

A victim of America’s gun culture and vigilante violence, Jordan Davis, was killed in 2012 by Michael Dunn, a white man, at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida. Dunn fired ten shots into the car in which Jordan and his three friends were seated. His mother, Lucy McBath, has since become active in the movement against gun violence, as faith outreach leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and now a candidate for the Georgia House of Representatives. “As a Black woman, I understood we were disproportionately affected by gun violence … and we have been dealing with this silently, and I wanted to challenge the system where guns were used against young Black men,” McBath told Atlanta Black Star. “How are the laws that let this happen again and again, and why were representatives not representing our interests? Why weren’t clergy speaking out?” she added.

“I know a lot of people didn’t hear about stand your ground until Trayvon [Martin] was killed, and then Jordan. I decided we have to talk about the NRA — profit over safety — and I wanted to show that [not] only poor Black people die, but, no, all demographics are suffering from this extremist culture,” McBath said, pointing to the prevalence of gun violence in suicides among white men, the killing of women by intimate partners, and the fact that Black people are not committing the school mass shootings.

McBath said the deaths of her own son and Trayvon Martin were the catalysts that made her decide to run for office. Following the 2016 election, she asked God for direction to expand the movement. Trump was making his presence felt in Georgia among pro-NRA lawmakers, and even progressives were voting for dangerous gun legislation, she noted. “I was angry. Who was going to stand up to the legislators that are being pandered to by the NRA?” she asked.

McBath believes the Parkland shooting has become the catalyst for change against an extremist gun culture and the NRA, because of those who are demanding change — young people. “I absolutely do, because of the demographic under assault who are children and millennials, and they are demanding to the White House that they protect them,” she said. “In the civil rights movement, who were on the front lines? The college students and the high school students. It is no different today. This is the whole demographic we needed to stand up, because their bodies had been missing. They have to be engaged they have to be on the front lines.

“Our gun culture is immoral and unethical. We are no longer trusting in God. People are placing far more trust in their gun. We are already self-destructing,” McBath added.

It is because of the racism in the NRA that groups such as the National African Americans Gun Association (NAAGA) have emerged as an alternative, to take a holistic approach to gun rights in the African-American community. “In every way, the NRA should be considered a terrorist organization and the military arm of the far-right. They are organized. They are armed. They are legally and politically protected,” Dr. Potter said. An NRA ad featuring spokeswoman Dana Loesch captures Potter’s sentiment:

Meanwhile, the police continue to murder Black people, and, as Dr. Potter argues, the courts continue to support deadly force against them, reinforcing the notion that there are laws protecting white gun ownership and preventing Black ownership.

“These laws are pushed and supported by the National Fraternal Order of Police and the Republican Party — especially the most conservative gun-toting factions. These standards, though, not only allow for, but direct the use of force against citizens not only for exercising their Second Amendment rights — but for giving the perception that they are exercising their Second Amendment rights,” she said. “In this way, Tamir Rice could be legally gunned down for playing with a toy. In this way a caregiver for an autistic man playing with a toy truck could be shot for posing a ‘reasonable’ threat even though no gun was present. And in the most blatant acts of murder driven hypocrisy, Philando Castile — a teacher legally armed with a weapon — could be shot dead on camera in front of his fiancée and her small child without fear of any legal consequence whatsoever.” Potter believes that if individual gun ownership was a nonpartisan, race-neutral proposition, the NRA would have defended Castile.

Valerie Castile, Philando Castile’s mother, called out NRA head Wayne LaPierre for not standing up for her son, a so-called “good guy with a gun” the group always touts. “If he really cared about the good guys out here, he would have stood up for my son. It’s about money,” Valerie Castile said of LaPierre. “He didn’t say anything because my son was Black,” Valerie Castile argued. “My son went through the same programs as every gun owner. But they started nitpicking, ‘He should have done this, he should have done that.’ The bottom line is that he told the officer he had a weapon, and the officer became a selfish man, only thinking about his own life and family. He chose to shoot my son several times. One of the bullets was 16 inches from that baby in the backseat.”

Gun control, the NRA and Black people make for a complicated history, in a nation where issues of race, guns, violence, money and power are thrown in the mix.

By David Love/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist


Want to See Gun Control Enacted? Support a Movement to Arm Black Folks En Masse The gun control bills will get signed so fast your head will spin.

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The only greater certainty than another mass shooting in this country is the likelihood that it will be met with inaction. Since the 2012 massacre of 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there have been a staggering 1,607 mass shootings across the U.S., nearly 240 in schools. Each has been met with useless thoughts and prayers from craven conservative politicians, all of whom insist there’s never a right time to discuss gun control. The fatigue incurred from the whole circular spectacle makes it feel like it might just be easier to start labeling lawmakers either “pro-child murder” or “anti-child murder.”

It’s impossible to reason with the disingenuous logic that mass slaughter is just the cost of freedom, and not a consequence of NRA-owned politicians, which is why even the mildest gun reform seems impossible. Sandy Hook proved the GOP is willing to take donor dollars to look away from dead American children. The correlation between levels of gun ownership and gun deaths has similarly failed to rouse GOP political will, as have arguments that military-style killing machines should be kept off U.S. streets. While the “mental health problems” of white “lone wolf” shooters bring Republicans to crocodile tears, Trump signed a bill making it easier for mentally ill people to buy guns just a year ago. The knowledge that toddlers accidentally shoot more Americans annually than foreign terrorists do hasn’t stopped Iowa Republicans from proposing a bill to let “1-year-olds, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds [and] 4-year-olds…operate handguns,” leading one Democratic lawmaker to observe, “We do not need a militia of toddlers.” Perhaps relatedly, studies find the reflexive GOP tendency following mass killings is to make gun laws more, not less permissive, as evidenced by Florida Republicans’ attempts to loosen state gun restrictions just 24 hours after the Parkland massacre.

Ending mass shootings might seem like a hopeless cause in light of all this, but that kind of thinking ignores the historic infallibility of racism to move American political mountains. The shift in the public face of poverty from white to black helped move us from the New Deal to the destruction of the welfare state; conversely, as drug addiction has gone from being an “inner city” (read: black) to a “suburban” (read: white) problem, the state has moved from carceral to compassionate. A movement—both visible and vocal—to arm black Americans en masse would fire up GOP political will toward gun control, and probably at speeds currently unimaginable. Second Amendment hardliners often engage in bad-faith references to America’s racist gun control history at convenient moments, namely when trying convince wary black folks, who statistically are overwhelmingly pro-gun control, to join the chorus calling for unfettered gun access. There are too many reasons to question their sudden commitment to anti-racism in those moments. That said, there is historic precedence for the mere idea of black gun possession leading directly to white American efforts at gun control.

These policies even predate this country’s official nationhood. The Splinter’s Daniel Rivero points to the “first gun control law,” passed in Virginia in 1640, which “explicitly banned black people from owning guns, even if they were not slaves.” The 1857 Dred Scott decision prohibited blacks from becoming American citizens, in part because citizenship would confer the right “to keep and carry arms…inevitably producing discontent and insubordination…and endangering the peace and safety of the State.” Post-Civil War “Black Codes” were adopted throughout much the South, making gun ownership by freed blacks illegal. The Atlantic notes that to “enforce the gun ban, white men riding in posses began terrorizing black communities….The most infamous of these disarmament posses, of course, was the Ku Klux Klan.”

Martin Luther King, who received endless death threats and was the target of a house bombing in 1956, applied for an open carry permit, but was denied by Montgomery, Alabama’s racist police force. When the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, in accordance with California law, began openly carrying weapons to patrol Oakland’s neighborhoods, the state legislature quickly crafted, and Gov. Ronald Reagan quickly signed, the 1967 Mulford Act ending public carry. On the heels of race riots, Congress Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, followed by the Gun Control Act of 1968, which Georgetown historian Adam Winkler notes included a provision to restrict “‘Saturday Night Specials’—the cheap, easily available guns often used by [black] youth.” The legislation was the first federal gun law in nearly three decades, and proved lawmakers would rather institute widespread gun control measures than potentially have a widely armed black populace.

More recently, the understanding that the Second Amendment serves only to protect America’s white citizens was reified with the 2014 police murder of John Crawford III, who was holding an airgun in a Walmart located in Ohio, an open carry state. The same is true of Philando Castile, a licensed gun owner who had just informed cops he was carrying when Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez unloaded five fatal shots into his body. (The NRA was conspicuously mum on the issue.) The Christian Science Monitor cites research from Jennifer Carlson,

author of “Citizen-Protectors: The Everyday Politics of Guns in an Age of Decline,” who noted discrepancies in the Michigan licensing practices that stood until 2015.

She found differences in how gun boards operated in Michigan’s majority-black Wayne County and majority-white Oakland County. Black concealed-carry applicants in Wayne were routinely lectured and quizzed in public forums – what she calls “degradation ceremonies.” White gun owners in Oakland, meanwhile, were addressed without lectures in hearings where they could plead their case in a semi-private room. (Michigan has since done away with the gun boards.)

White folks’ deep-seated fears of black folks will always ensure pushback on arms in black hands. These attitudes, it will surprise zero black people, are yet more pronounced among white gun advocates. That is, the intensity of gun fervor in white Americans often correlates directly with racist attitudes, and by extension, fears and stereotypes about black criminality, thus creating a perceived need for more guns. Researchers note that “for each 1 point increase in symbolic racism there was a 50 percent increase in the odds of having a gun at home.” Similarly, Jason McDaniel and Sean McElwee analyzed data comparing white racial resentment and gun attitudes and emerged with the near-obvious conclusion, “Opposition to gun control—like opposition to immigration, Sharia law, and ‘political correctness’—has become linked to things that racially resentful whites fear.” It seems pretty likely that, were the media face of gun ownership to become black, calls to institute legislative controls would suddenly fill the halls of Congress

By the most recent tally, just 19 percent of African-Americans have a gun in their household, compared with 41 percent of whites. But new fears about rising racist violence, an increase in the number of hate groups and the everyday transparent bigotry of the Trump administration are reportedly helping drive up the number of African-American gun buyers. The official numbers aren’t yet in, but if the needle on black gun ownership noticeably moves, it will be taken as cause for alarm and time to politically act. And once again, black folks will have saved America from itself.

By Kali Holloway / AlterNet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The 2nd Amendment Says a Lot More Than the ‘Right to Bear Arms’—And the True History of It Will Blow Right-Wing Minds The Founding Fathers weren’t advocating for mass shootings.

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Many politicians, especially those on the Right, pretend they are strictly adhering to the U.S. Constitution when they often are just making the founding document mean whatever they want – but perhaps nowhere is that as dangerous as with their make-believe Second Amendment.

In the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas—where one individual firing from a high-rise hotel murdered 58 people and wounded more than 500 at a country music festival—we are told that the reason the United States can’t do anything to stop this sort of carnage is the Second Amendment’s “right to bear arms.”

“Gun rights” advocates insist that pretty much any gun control violates the design of the Constitution’s Framers and thus can’t be enacted no matter how many innocent people die.

Some on the Right, as well as some on the Left, even claim that the Founders, as revolutionaries themselves, wanted an armed population so the people could rebel against the Republic, which the U.S. Constitution created. But the Constitution’s Framers in 1787 and the authors of the Bill of Rights in the First Congress in 1789 had no such intent.

Arguably other individuals disconnected from the drafting of those documents may have harbored such radical attitudes (at least rhetorically), but the authors didn’t. In fact, their intent was the opposite.

The goal of the Second Amendment was to promote state militias for the maintenance of order at a time of political unrest, potential slave revolts and simmering hostilities with both European powers and Native Americans on the frontiers. Indeed, the amendment’s defined purpose was to achieve state “security” against disruptions to the country’s new republican form of government.

The Second Amendment reads: “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.”

In other words, if read in context, it’s clear that the Second Amendment was enacted so each state would have the specific right to form “a well-regulated militia” to maintain “security,” i.e., to put down armed disorder and protect its citizens.

In the late Eighteenth Century, the meaning of “bearing” arms also referred to a citizen being part of a militia or army. It didn’t mean that an individual had the right to possess whatever number of high-capacity killing machines that he or she might want. Indeed, the most lethal weapon that early Americans owned was a slow-loading, single-fired musket or rifle.

No Anarchists

Further to the point, both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were the work of the Federalists, who—at the time—counted James Madison among their ranks.

And whatever one thinks about the Federalists, who often are criticized as elitists, they were the principal constitutional Framers and the leaders of the First Congress. They constituted the early national establishment, people such as George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris and Madison.

The Federalists feared that their new creation, a constitutional republic in an age of monarchies, was threatened by the potential for violent chaos, which is what European aristocrats predicted for the new United States. Democracy was a largely untested concept that was believed likely to fall victim to demagoguery and factionalism.

So, the Framers sought a political system that reflected the will of the citizens (the House of Representatives) but within a framework that constrained public passions (the Senate and other checks and balances). In other words, the Constitution sought to channel political disputes into non-violent competition among various interests, not into armed rebellions against the government.

The Framers also recognized how fragile the nation’s independence was and how domestic rebellions could be exploited by European powers. Indeed, one of the crises that led to the Constitutional Convention in the summer of 1787 was the inability of the old system under the Articles of Confederation to put down Shays’s Rebellion in western Massachusetts in 1786-87. Washington saw the possible hand of British agents.

So, the Federalists were seeking a structure that would ensure “domestic Tranquility,” as they explained in the Constitution’s Preamble. They did not want endless civil strife.

The whole idea of the Constitution—with its mix of voting (at least by some white male citizens), elected and appointed representatives, and checks and balances—was to create a political structure that made violence unnecessary.

So, it should be obvious even without knowing all the history that the Framers weren’t encouraging violent uprisings against the Republic that they were founding. To the contrary, they characterized violence against the constitutional system as “treason” in Article III, Section 3. They also committed the federal government to protect each state from “domestic Violence,” in Article IV, Section 4.

Putting Down Rebellion

One of the first uses of the new state militias formed under the Second Amendment and the Militia Acts, which required able-bodied men to report for duty with their own muskets, was for President Washington to lead a federalized force of militiamen against the Whiskey Rebellion, a tax revolt in western Pennsylvania in 1794.

In the South, one of the principal reasons for a militia was to rally armed whites to put down slave uprisings. On the frontier, militias fought against Native Americans over land. Militias also were called up to fight the British in the War of 1812.

But you don’t have to like or dislike how the Second Amendment and the Militia Acts were used to recognize how the Framers intended these legislative provisions to be used.

The Second Amendment was meant to maintain public order, even an unjust order, rather than to empower the oppressed to take up arms against the government. That latter idea was a modern reinterpretation, a distortion of the history.

The revisionists who have transformed the meaning of the Second Amendment love to cite provocative comments by Thomas Jefferson, such as a quote from a 1787 letter criticizing the Constitution for its commander-in-chief provisions.

Jefferson argued that violence, like Shays’s Rebellion, should be welcomed. He wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s [sic] natural manure.”

Jefferson, of course, was a world-class hypocrite who rarely believed what he was saying or writing. He crafted noble words, like “all men are created equal, … endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” but he was a major slaveholder who raped at least one and likely more slave girls and had slave boys whipped.

He also was never willing to risk his own blood as that “natural manure” of liberty. During the Revolutionary War when Benedict Arnold led a force of Loyalists against Richmond, Jefferson, who was then Virginia’s governor, fled the capital. Later, when British cavalry approached Charlottesville and his home of Monticello, Gov. Jefferson again took flight.

But more to the point, Jefferson was not a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, nor was he in the First Congress, which produced the Second Amendment. In other words, it’s a historical error to cite Jefferson in any way as speaking authoritatively about what the Framers intended with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He was not directly involved in either.

A Collective Right

The real history of the Second Amendment was well understood both by citizens and courts in the generations after the Constitution and Bill of Rights were enacted. For most of the years of the Republic, the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted the Second Amendment as a collective right, allowing Americans to participate in a “well-regulated Militia,” not an individual right to buy the latest weaponry at a gun show or stockpile a military-style arsenal in the basement.

It’s true that many Americans owned a musket or rifle in those early years especially on the frontier, but regulations on munitions were still common in cities where storing of gunpowder, for instance, represented a threat to the public safety.

As the nation spread westward, so did common-sense restrictions on gun violence. Sheriffs in some of the wildest of Wild West towns enforced gun bans that today would prompt a recall election financed by the National Rifle Association.

However, in recent decades — understanding the power of narrative on the human imagination — a resurgent American Right (and some on the Left) rewrote the history of the Founding era, dispatching “researchers” to cherry-pick or fabricate quotes from Revolutionary War leaders to create politically convenient illusions. [See, for instance, Steven Krulik’s compilation of apocryphal or out-of-context gun quotes.]

That bogus history gave rise to the image of the Framers as wild-eyed radicals – Leon Trotskys of the Eighteenth Century – encouraging armed rebellion against their own Republic. Rather than people who believed in the rule of law and social order, the Framers were contorted into crazies who wanted citizens to be empowered to shoot American police, soldiers, elected representatives and government officials as agents of “tyranny.”

This false history was advanced particularly by the American Right in the last half of the Twentieth Century as a kind of neo-Confederate call to arms, with the goal of rallying whites into a near-insurrectionary fury particularly in the South but also in rural areas of the North and West.

In the 1950s and 1960s, some white Southerners fancied themselves an armed resistance against the tyrannical federal government as it enforced laws on racial integration and other supposed infringements on “states’ rights.” In the 1990s, armed “citizens militias” began to pop up in reaction to the election of Democrat Bill Clinton, culminating in the Oklahoma City bombing of 1994.

While designed primarily for the weak-minded, the Right’s faux Founding history also had an impact on right-wing “intellectuals” including Republican lawyers who worked their way up through the federal judiciary under Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and now Donald Trump.

By 2008, these right-wing jurists held a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court and could thus overturn generations of legal precedents and declare that the Second Amendment established an individual right for Americans to own guns. Though even these five right-wing justices accepted society’s right to protect the general welfare of the population through some gun control, the Supreme Court’s ruling effectively “validated” the Right’s made-up history.

The ruling created a political dynamic to which even liberals in national politics — the likes of Barack Obama and Joe Biden — had to genuflect, the supposed Second Amendment right of Americans to parade around in public with guns on their hips and high-powered semi-automatic rifles slung over their shoulders.

What the Framers Wanted?

As guns-right activists struck down gun regulations in Congress and in statehouses across the nation, their dominant argument was that the Second Amendment offered no leeway for restrictions on gun ownership; it’s what the Framers wanted.

So, pretty much any unstable person could load up with a vast killing capacity and slouch off to a bar, to a work place, to a church, to a school or to a high-rise Las Vegas hotel and treat fellow Americans as targets in a real-life violent video game. Somehow, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was overtaken by the “right” to own an AR-15 with a 30-or-100-bullet magazine.

When right-wing politicians talk about the Second Amendment now, they don’t even bother to include the preamble that explains the point of the amendment. The entire amendment is only 26 words. But the likes of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, find the preamble inconvenient because it would undercut their false storyline. So they just lop off the first 12 words.

Nor do they explain what the Framers meant by “bear arms.” The phrase reflected the reasoning in the Second Amendment’s preamble that the whole point was to create “well-regulated” state militias to maintain “security,” not to free up anybody with a beef to kill government officials or citizens of a disapproved race or creed or just random folks.

So, even after the massacre of 20 first-graders and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012, Fox News personality Andrew Napolitano declared: “The historical reality of the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to keep and bear arms is not that it protects the right to shoot deer. It protects the right to shoot tyrants, and it protects the right to shoot at them effectively, with the same instruments they would use upon us.”

At the time, the clear message from the Right was that armed Americans must confront the “tyrannical” Barack Obama, the twice-elected President of the United States (and the first African-American to hold that office) especially if he pressed ahead seeking common-sense gun restrictions. But Napolitano was simply wrong on the history.

Another dubious argument from the gun-rights lobby was that armed citizens could take down a gunman and thus stop a mass shooting before it became a full-fledged massacre.

But a gunfight among largely untrained civilians would likely add to the slaughter, not stop it. For instance, a 2012 mass shooting occurred in a darkened theater in Aurora, Colorado. Does anyone logically think that a bunch of terrified gun carriers exchanging fire in such a situation – not knowing who the original shooter was – would solve the problem?

And how about Sunday’s massacre in Las Vegas where the shooter positioned himself on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and fired down on a packed concert venue, a substantial distance away?

Assuming that the concertgoers were armed and tried to defend themselves, they would likely have ended up shooting other innocent concertgoers because of the initial confusion as to where the shooter was positioned. That would have further complicated the challenge to police who could have mistakenly opened fire on armed people in the crowd rather than locate and stop the original killer as he kept firing from his sniper’s perch. In other words, the horrific death toll could have been even higher.

To pretend that such carnage was the intent of the Constitution’s Framers, who wrote about achieving “domestic Tranquility,” or the goal of the First Congress, which drafted the Second Amendment to promote “the security of a free State,” is intellectually dishonest and a true threat to the lives of American citizens.

By Robert Parry/AlterNet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Guns and Profit – Why We’ll Do Absolutely Nothing New After This Las Vegas Shooting

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Wake up, America.

We are not the land of the brave or the home of the free.

We are the land of the gun and the home of the free market.

Stephen Paddock’s killing spree last night in Las Vegas will not change anything – except the bottom line for numerous gun manufacturers.

Ca-ching, people!

Scores of American companies are going to clean up over this!

That’s what happens every time we get a high profile mass shooting.

Not new gun regulation. Not additional services for the mentally ill. Not stricter guidelines against fake news on social media.

More from Common Dreams

Posted by Libergirl

NRA head wants to debate Obama on guns … a week after skipping Obama town hall on guns

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Image: Reuters

A week after refusing to participate in a town hall event at which President Obama responded to both allies and opponents on gun issues, the National Rifle Association is posturing about wanting to debate Obama. “I’ll meet you, for a one-on-one, one-hour debate,“ Wayne LaPierre, the gun lobby group’s president, says over ominous music in a belligerent video. His proposal for the debate involves:

… a mutually agreed-upon moderator, on any network that will take it. No prescreened questions and no gasbag answers. Americans will judge for themselves who they trust, and believe, on this issue. You, or the NRA.

More from Daily Kos

Posted by Libergirl

California man ranting about Obama’s gun action opens fire on apartments before cops shoot him dead

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Image: Raw Story

A California man apparently upset by President Barack Obama’s executive action on gun control opened fire on an apartment complex before police shot him dead.

Witnesses called 911 about 6 p.m. Tuesday to report the man, whose name has not been released, firing indiscriminately at the apartment building in Redding, reported the Record Searchlight.

Kathy Lunsford, who lives in the building, said the man grabbed her and pulled her into his apartment before he started shooting.

“As soon as he shut the door, he hugged me and he kissed me on the forehead,” said Lunsford, who had spoken to the gunman before but said they were not friends.

She said her neighbor then fired at another man, and she begged him to stop.

“He was aiming at a guy, and then he just got sloppy — he was shooting everywhere,” Lunsford said.

More from the Raw Story


Posted by the NON-Conformist

The Second Amendment must go: We ban lawn darts. It’s time to ban guns

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We are one nation, forever f*cked by the NRA and an outdated and dangerous read of the Constitution. Let’s fix it

Image: CBS New York

Our youngest son just transitioned from crib to bed. Since we don’t plan to have any more children, we decided to sell the crib, a hand-me-down from his older brother. It’s a nice, well-made crib, made from real wood and bought from a reliable company. We could easily resell it for a handsome price, but we found out a few weeks ago that we can’t. It’s a drop side crib, and unbeknownst to us the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned the manufacture, sale, and resale of drop-sides in 2010, even though individuals can unadvisedly still use them. Drop-sides were responsible for more than 30 infant and toddler deaths in the decade prior to their ban, along with thousands of injuries. We hadn’t realized that our kid had been sleeping and playing in a death trap.

 A few accidental deaths are often enough to ban certain items, or at the very least recall them, and often without much fanfare. It’s strange that we don’t have the same reaction to guns. Guns have killed many more infants and toddlers than drop-side cribs, not to mention older children, adolescents, and adults. Guns have killed many more than a host of other objects not originally designed to kill. Remember lawn darts? The CPSC banned the sale of the metal-tipped ones after three deaths and numerous serious injuries.
Yet when it comes to guns, we collectively do nothing, except spout off some strained political rhetoric every now and then, that is, after the most recent mass shooting. [Add in prayer here.] Or we dig in and cite our constitutional right to bear arms, which apparently trumps death, even the death of children. There’s a lot of room for debate regarding the meaning of the second amendment. I doubt very much that our “founding fathers” envisioned that right in its current form, but even if they did, it really shouldn’t matter. The framers of the constitution weren’t gods, meaning that their words aren’t—and shouldn’t be—sacrosanct.
Posted by the NON-Conformist

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