America and Americans love guns like no other place on earth. That’s not a coincidence. On the surface, we argue that gun rights are personal freedoms but that’s not really what gun rights are about. The Constitution’s framers framed gun rights not as an absolute (“Hey, have all the guns ya want, ya crazy Americans!– it’s your damned right!”), but as a function of a well-regulated militia. The well-regulated militia (and that militia can be as well regulated as it likes — the option for an unregulated militia is NOT enumerated here!) has THE say about who shall “keep and bear” the arms in question. Note — the word “own” does not appear in the amendment. For the record, “own” was a perfectly good word back then; the framers chose “keep” and “bear” and avoided “own”. That suggests that the “well-regulated militia” actually owns the arms it allows citizens to “keep” and “bear”. That also suggests that, should the well regulated militia decide that someone should turn in the arms the militia up till then allowed them to keep and bear? They better turn in those arms.
Guns, by design, are death machines. The whole purpose of a gun is to send a ball of hot metal flying through air fast enough to kill a live target. Every part of a gun’s construction is meant to facilitate that happening. Same goes for ammo. No one ever designed a bullet that wasn’t meant to penetrate flesh. Some, as we know, have been designed to do more than that; they’re meant to reap as much tissue destruction as possible as they shred through a shooting victim’s body. Even ordinary guns with ordinary ordnance kill easily.
So, the first thing we have to ask ourselves as reasonable people is: why does any particular person need to have a death machine in their house or in their hand? Why do Americans feel so much more under personal threat than just about any other humans on the planet? Or is that, really the point? Is it actually that certain Americans feel like they’re under personal threat and therefore need a weapon as backup? The data says those “certain Americans” — the ones feeling scared — are white. The people they feel threatened by, aren’t.
Let’s be real: if the Americans obsessed with arming themselves to the teeth thought for two seconds that Black and brown people were doing the same thing? They’d rewrite the gun laws just like that.
WHO owns (most of) the guns is really the point and so long as it’s white people, our gun laws will stay as they are. While we’re on the subject: there’s no such thing as “Responsible gun ownership”. That is a myth invented by gun manufacturers to explain away the fact that NO ONE can “responsibly” own a death machine. “Responsible” gun owners may lock their guns away in gun safes — and it’s great that they do — but that’s not what their guns were designed to do. It’s like bragging about a car that gets great gas mileage — because you never use it and it sits in your garage. Well, of course it does!
What happens to a gun when its owner has it in hand — THAT is the measure of “responsible gun ownership”. And it can’t be summed up even by years of previous success — because every bit of that success can be undone by one act of carelessness. Nancy Lanza thought she was a responsible gun owner; by all accounts, she was. But, before her son Adam Lanza went and shot up the Sandy Hook Elementary School, first, he murdered his mom — using her gun. So much for being “responsible”. It’s just a stone cold fact about guns: each and every one is an accident or a tragedy that just hasn’t happened yet.
And our gun laws are even bigger accidents and tragedies just waiting to be set in motion. There’s a reason no other country has our attitude toward guns. But then, no one has our attitude toward race relations either.
That could be a good thing.