I am an owner of firearms and the holder of a concealed carry permit for the state in which I reside, but the recent national discussion on guns has me convinced those who oppose any and all gun legislation are mildly racist and vehemently insane. President Obama has been forced by recent events to make a statement about the need to have some sort of regulation regarding gun ownership and you’d think he was instituting martial law and the sky was falling. As a result of a very tepid response by the Obama administration, we’ve got Americans walking around looking like Rambo with clothes on
Utah shopper carrying an AR-15 in a local mall
but let’s not equivocate here, the issue of the 2nd amendment and the right to bear arms is couched, steeped in blatant racist rhetoric that is being resurrected because America finds itself with a black president at the helm. That’s not to say 2nd amendment types haven’t always been rabid about their desire to have unlimited access to firearms; just ask members of the Reagan and Bush I administration who took stands against the gun lobby after people were slaughtered by those who owned lethal weapons while the gun proponents demanded the government give their weapons of mass destruction a pass when it came to public/governmental scrutiny.
The pro-gun rhetoric has taken a life of its own. Charlton Heston proclaimed to Michael Moore in the latter’s film ‘Bowling for Columbine’ that guns were responsible for more killings in America because of the country’s ‘mixed ethnicity’. It’s hard to tell if he means mixed ethnicities kill more people than non-mixed ethnicities or mixed ethnicities have to be killed because they are mixed ethnicity and thus a threat to non mixed ethnicities. Heston’s very public pronouncement about what ails our country almost a decade ago has been repeated more recently by the Ann Coulter, who said using equally coded language as Heston that ‘gun crime is a demographic problem’ which again raises the ugly specter of a divisive America under its first black President. They are the heart of the 2nd amendment supporters….folks like Coulter and Heston before her have their pulse on the majority of gun owners who feel their need to own guns is for protection from ‘ethnicities’ and demographics that are different than their own.
There were some who tried to sugar coat the issue of gun control, trying to remove the racially divisive language of the Coulters, et.al…The chairman of Gun Appreciation Day went so far as to say slavery may never have happened in the United States if African-Americans had owned guns. What Larry Ward fails to recognize is there would have been no 2nd amendment if there wasn’t slavery, for as is pointed out here, the 2nd amendment was a by product of white southerners fears of black insurrection in states that legalized slavery. In other words, the 2nd amendment was ratified to enforce slavery and the fears of whites of a ‘demographic’ problem are at the heart of gun ownership.
The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says “State” instead of “Country” (the Framers knew the difference – see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia’s vote. Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that.
In the beginning, there were the militias. In the South, they were also called the “slave patrols,” and they were regulated by the states.
In Georgia, for example, a generation before the American Revolution, laws were passed in 1755 and 1757 that required all plantation owners or their male white employees to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of all slaves in the state. The law defined which counties had which armed militias and even required armed militia members to keep a keen eye out for slaves who may be planning uprisings.
Thus, the 2nd amendment was crafted to allow white southerners limitless access to firearms irrespective of federal government regulation to arm their ‘slave patrols’ and keep people, black people enslaved. It was not then meant to be inclusive of any but a white gentry class and most gun owners even today are more than a little suspect of people of color who embrace the notion of free access to firearms.
The alarm bells being rung by 2nd amendment advocates ring hollow when they make the point the 2nd amendment is a part of a holy notion of the Constitution that firearm ownership is nothing short of divine…..when in fact it is nothing short of subversive and was intended as an instrument of slavery. Not many raised the specter of the 2nd amendment as a tool to oppose Bush II era assaults on citizenship rights; to have done so would have been met with cries of treason and resisted in the most strident of ways, however, a black president, leading a revolt against gun ownership is viewed in much the same way as a slave leading a revolt against slavery, especially at a time when the firearm industry is perhaps more profitable than the agricultural industry of an agrarian South of the 18th or 19th century. It is very easy to match the imagery of that time to this with an African-American in the White House.
But America is indeed a violent country, is there any doubt about that and that too has spurred the gun debate so that now the dastard peoples of color aren’t black they are immigrants; they aren’t slaves they are terrorists, and the rationale for unlimited gun access is just as vapid now as it has ever been. Indeed, too many Americans are dying from handguns. Why anyone would advocate armed guards, administrators and teachers in schools is irrational……even trained armed guards can commit lapses that could lead to disastrous results. In Michigan a trained firearms instructor left his unloaded hand gun in a bathroom for an unspecified time and one can only ask what are the risks for the uninitiated. When I first read that news two things immediately leapt to mind; why was his firearm unloaded and why was it not on his person? If a trained firearms instructor could make such a egregious mistake what are the expectations for one not so well trained? But such examples don’t deter 2nd amendment types; this type of news is too easily dismissed and forgotten.
As in all things that deal with race, we have an aversion to deal with it except in the most tangential terms; preferring to sweep it under the rug entirely. People with mental health issues, psychiatric, domestic or medical problems should not have access to firearms. Gun shows and other dealers should institute instant background checks with a data base that is updated as quickly as people are entered in the “system” and people who use firearms in a violent crime should bear the full force of the law and be ‘brought to justice’. (Now you can interpret the brought to justice part any way you want!) Magazine capacities can be discussed and negotiated but I’m certainly averse to having anyone walking around with two 30 round mags strapped to his/her semi-automatic long gun in plain view of people just to make a point of the right to own firearms….such displays are immature, sophomoric and might prompt me to draw my concealed weapon in fear of my life with no obligation to retreat, nay the right to stand my ground! Can you not see how far this thing can go? America, fix this!