Why Do People Speak About The Second Amendment Differently Than Any Other?

Regardless of which side of the gun debate you stand on, when you talk about guns and the second amendment, you’re compelled to speak a strange variation on English. 

I’m not talking about the words in the amendment itself.  They’re actually quite clear.  In the context of a well-regulated militia being the arbiter, whoever the militia decides deserving will be permitted to “keep and bear” (not “own” – that perfectly good word did not get used here) the arms in question.  The implication is equally clear: if that well-regulated militia decides one of its members no longer deserves to keep and bear an arm – or if the well-regulated militia goes and changes its own regulations out of concern for public safety – then that’s within their Constitutional rights to do so.

No, I’m talking about how people talk about the gun debate itself.  It struck me this morning while listening to a responsible legislator take a responsible position on guns.  He pointed out that he was a gun owner who “believed in the second amendment”.  Never mind the responsible position he had already taken.  In his mind, he still had to prove his bona fides to be taken seriously.  Gun ownership – okay.  It puts you in “both camps”.  Can’t argue.

But the “I believe in the second amendment” is where it gets weird. 

I’m sure that same well-meaning legislator would insist he “believes” equally in all the other amendments, too.  But, if engaged in casual conversation about, say the eighth amendment (“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted”), I really, really doubt said well-meaning legislator would feel compelled to throw in “And, by the way, I’m a believer in the right to not have excessive bail throw at ya!”

See what I mean?  I’ll bet that’s never happened.  Not with the eighth, not with the sixth, not even with the Thirteenth Amendment – the one abolishing slavery.

Whatever anyone might say about any of the other amendments, no one says “I believe” in the amendment like it was some separate entity that had to be approached differently from every other amendment.  Which is exactly what the Second Amendment is.

Of all the amendments to “believe in”.  Of all the other freedoms to “believe in”.  Of everything enumerated in the whole Constitution to “believe in”.

Only thirty percent of Americans own guns. So – right away, we’re talking from a minority position. Now, I’m just asking a question here.  I don’t have an answer. Just suspicions that I hope you agree deserve suspicion.  How did a word we use to discuss religion become associated with a product designed to kill living things?

The object we’re talking about – guns – regardless of whether you like them or loathe them – are designed from the ground up to send a hot, metal projectile flying toward a live target with the intention of killing it. If the person pulling the trigger is any good with this weapon, that projectile will find its mark and finish the job it was designed to do.

Yes, yes, defense and all that.  Stone, cold reality says all those guns play a hell of a lot more offense than defense.  Despite what anyone “believes”, people can’t seem to resist using guns to do what they were made to do: kill.

Like I said – I’m just here to ask a question.  Isn’t “killing” a strange thing to “believe in”?

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America’s RW Is Treating Guns The Exact Same Way They Once Treated Cannabis — As The Basis For Their RACISM

I sure hope this isn’t up for debate: America’s war on drugs, especially its war on cannabis, was always about RACISM and nothing but.

I refer you to an excellent series (okay — I wrote it — I’m biased) called Blunt Truths over at Weedmaps News. Blunt Truths points out (with receipts) how at no time in the process of “illegalizing” cannabis did anyone creating or crafting the legislation ever ask “But, is it bad for anyone?” They specifically avoided that question because they knew for a fact the answer would be “We don’t think so — in fact, we see a multitude of ways it’s actually good for people”. That would have been the American Medical Association speaking.back in the day (before they were a political racket first and foremost). But, what did they know…?

Here’s some irony — because this story is built of irony — the very first anti-marijuana law was crafted in 1915 in California — by a group of Pharmacists. But, even as pharmacists, the law they crafted doesn’t bother with what marijuana did to anyone (they had no idea — no research existed whatsoever), what really worried them was WHO was smoking it.

Prior to 1910 — when the Mexican Revolution sent a wave of Mexican refugees fleeing north — Americans had never heard of marijuana. A few perhaps read Fitz Hugh Ludlow’s accounts of being a hashish eater but that was one white man’s experience of the “colored man’s” exotica. The Mexicans fleeing revolution brought marijuana with them because it had become part of their culture; they enjoyed it and its benefits.

Cannabis brings euphoria and happiness. It makes you laugh. Imagine how terrifying the sight of happy, laughing Latinos must have been to those poor, frightened white people — lots of alcohol already in their veins as they fearfully pounded down some more.

Marijuana spread to New Orleans in the early 20’s while jazz was being born. African American jazz musicians liked reefer because, unlike with alcohol which stifles creativity because it fogs one’s thinking, cannabis works the opposite way in our brains. Sativas especially bring mental energy and focus. The musicians took to cannabis because they could work with it in their systems and kick back with it in their systems. It was that multi-faceted a product. That was & is the truth about cannabis.

When Harry Anslinger took over as the Federal Bureau of Narcotics’ first ever Commissioner in 1930, he didn’t give cannabis a second’s thought. He testified before Congress that it wasn’t a problem. And yet — by 1934, Anslinger’s tune had changed. “Marihuana” (Anslinger’s spelling) had become a demon weed capable of motivating its users to madness and mayhem. What changed exactly? White people were now using it.

When the jazz musicians were kicked out of New Orleans, they headed north, following the Mississippi at first. They landed in Memphis and Nashville. They landed in Chicago. And everywhere they landed, marihuana landed with them — where white people, intrigued by the music, were sampling the black man’s inspiration. And liking it.

THAT — right there — is why Harry Anslinger changed his mind about cannabis being a danger to the public. Anslinger’s problem was there was nothing in the Constitution justifying marijuana prohibition. Anslinger had to create a crime (he went for tax evasion — if you didn’t pay the onerous tax each time you bought or sold marijuana — and get the stamp showing you’d paid the taxes — the stamp being unavailable — you became a tax cheat) in order to institutionalize his racism but Anslinger was a dedicated racist and a top notch bureaucrat.

You know how that ended up, right?

Our gun control debate flows from the same dark wellspring of racism. Look at the people arguing most vociferously to hold onto every last weapon they can till said weapons are pried from their cold, dead fingers (per former leader Charlton Heston). Notice anything about them? Like they’re almost entirely white? There’s a reason for that.

The same people will insist with a straight face that they’re fighting the good fight on our behalf — being the militia standing up against a hostile federal government. Yeah… except that’s not what the 2nd Amendment actually says (regardless of how the gun lobby rewrote it in our heads; it STILL puts all the decision-making about gun possession (“keep” and “bear” not “own) into the hands of a “WELL REGULATED MILITIA”.

The Second Amendment is a GUN CONTROL amendment that the gun manufacturers successfully reimagined as a “have all the guns ya want” freeforall. Some day — soon, I think — we’ll toss the bullshit revisionism and go back to the amendment as written.

The RW — always racist to the marrow in their bones — insist that they’re standing up against the potential of a federal government run amok. They don’t say that when the federal government raises, pays for and deploys AN ARMY. But, in the abstract? It terrifies them. Maybe they don’t really mean “Hostile Federal Government”. Maybe what they really mean is “people of color”.

American gun lovers — in their own minds — aren’t standing up against any “government”, they’re standing up against people they perceive the government has empowered — black people. “Arm yourself because black people now have political power and probably will use it.” That is literally what they’re saying and thinking.

Just for shits n giggles — imagine how those very same people would think about guns and people arming themselves to the teeth if the majority of those arming themselves were African Americans or Latinos. Do you really think all those terrified white people could tolerate all those guns going to all those non-whites? If you do, can I borrow some money interest free forever?

Lift the veil on virtually any topic in American politics and you’ll find racism of one kind or another sitting around waiting for the call to come out and play. American racism is always happy to oblige.

Look at all the experience on our CV…

When Gun Lovers Insist They Need Their Guns To Fight Tyrannical Government, What They Mean Is THEY’RE RACISTS

Pro-gun people will insist right to your face that their arsenal of death is all that stands between the collective us and a hostile, tyrannical government taking over all our lives. Their devotion to the second amendment (well, to their bizarre interpretation of it that rearranges syntax and redefines words to make them more convenient) is our last bulwark of freedom.

That ain’t just bullshit, it’s RACIST bullshit.

Do a quick survey of who mouths that nonsense. See what I mean? Not a brown face to be seen. Think it’s a coincidence?

These are the same princes who believe American Exceptionalism is the money rich white men put down in the casino of ideas. They think ownership of an idea is what matters rather than the idea itself. Of course they would — they can’t think of the ideas because their brains have all stagnated. Great ideas are born of diversity — and the many different ways of thinking that diversity organically inspires.

The joke about white supremacy of course is its total wrong-headedness about its core mythology — that white people breeding only with white people will produce white perfection. You might indeed get a “race” of people with alabaster skin — your ideal of perfection. But that blindingly white flesh will come with lots of baggage including genetic issues. Ask the Spanish aristocracy how that works out.

American Exceptionalism (it’s a real thing) flows directly from its diversity. Until travel became easy in the 19th century, most people lived and died within a few miles of where they were born. A family — a community of families — would live on the same patch of land for generations, bonding, becoming a tribe. The tribes that lived around and between the Seine, Rhone, Loire, Garonne and Marne Rivers eventually became French. That same formative process produced the English, the Spanish, the Dutch, the Belgians, the Swiss and every other nation of Europe (and the world up to that point).

Meanwhile, in North America, millions of Native Americans were thriving. When the European tribes eventually arrived, they found a nearly empty continent. That’s because the very first European arrivals brought germs with them that quickly, silently and pretty thoroughly reduced a collective population of millions to a mere tens of thousands. The European tribes were all white and saw their larger tribe as superior.

Had the European tribes had to go up against the native tribes at full size and strength? They’d all still be in Europe — without a bit of the New World’s wealth in their pocket. That fact alone would have changed the fate of humankind.

But white people stepped onto a blank canvas and saw only themselves. But others were here, too. Black people, brown people, Asian people, Middle Eastern people. As there was no native tribe anymore, all the new arrivals filled that tribal vacuum and became a tribe. Regardless of wherever they were from, most came to America to stay. To become something they hadn’t been before because no one had been it: Americans.

It wasn’t just white, European people and their money.

White, Christian people have always lived in irrational fear of every other race. Having invented the myth that America was a white, Christian country by nature, white, Christian people proceeded to make life miserable for everyone who wasn’t white. Over the course of two hundred years, America’s white, Christian people persecuted, enslaved, massacred or disrespected every single other group they encountered — and usually? They used their faith to justify it.

Go back to those faces — of the earnest, deeply concerned citizens insisting that their gun is our freedom. Replace the word “government” with “black person” or “brown person” or “Asian person” or “Muslim” or “Jew” or “Feminist” even. It plugs and plays perfectly.

It’s not a coincidence. Gun lovers fear the government because they love their guns. It’s not the government taking their guns that scares them to death, it’s how defenseless they’ll feel afterwards — when or if one of those other tribes comes looking for payback. Never mind how entitled those other tribes are to every bit of payback they can get, the white people ain’t paying it. Not willingly.

Want fairness? Want Justice? As former proud NRA member Charlton Heston once proudly asserted about gun regulators and his guns, we’ll have to take fairness, Justice and our safety from their “cold, dead fingers”.

Chuck Heston wasn’t staring at the government when he said that. He was staring at “the help”.

The Gun Lobby Is Holding The Second Amendment Hostage

How big a pile of bodies does there need to be? I always wonder when another of these terrible tragedies — and we just had two (count em – TWO!) mass shootings within 12 hours (El Paso and Dayton, OH with 29 people dead so far) — how would one of the people resisting gun control react if one or more of THEIR loved ones ended up on the growing mountain of gunshot victim bodies?

Would they still hold firm to their “belief” that the “Founding Fathers” wanted this — in fact, they enshrined their desire for mass murder in America in the Second Amendment? Would they kiss their child, wife, husband, relative, friend for the last time with a sighed, “Oh well — at least we still have our gun rights”? I bet a lot of them would. The money means much more to them than human flesh including their own.

Of all the amendments to the Constitution, the Second’s the only one where we argue (and I’ll get argued with for sure) about how certain words meant different things back then. That argument goes “Back then, ‘well-regulated’ meant ‘in good working order’ so the amendment means everyone should have all the guns they want and they should all be in good working order.” Oh, okay.

Funny thing though, the words “well regulated militia” also meant back then what they mean TODAY. The second amendment frames guns from the point of view of “A well regulated militia” — “being necessary to the security of a free State…”. Words two & three are not talking about the “arms” mentioned later, they’re talking about the “militia” right next to them.

A “militia” is “a military force that is raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency” or “a military force that engages in rebel or terrorist activities in opposition to a regular army” or “all able-bodied civilians eligible by law for military service”.

So — if we strip all the bullshit away from the linguistic gymnastics, we get a very simple concept. An ORGANIZED assemblage of able-bodied citizens — who will be obligated to FOLLOW REGULATIONS — and if they’re WELL-REGULATED, that sounds like there are LOTS of REGULATIONS — as to WHO will actually get to KEEP and BEAR those the militia’s arms.

Oh — that’s another thing the 2nd Amendment clearly says. Members of the militia (the Amendment doesn’t say who gets to be in the militia and HOW the militia deals with its membership; it leaves that to the militia, I guess) get to “keep” and “bear” the “arms”. It does not use the word “OWN” — a word that was just as available as “keep” and “bear”. “Keep” is different from “own”. I can “keep” a car, for instance, that I do not own. I can’t keep it forever, of course. But, under agreed-upon circumstances (I pay my lease every month), I can “keep” the car.

Same goes for “bear”. One does not have to “own” a gun to “bear” it.

The Second Amendment does not say anyone gets to “OWN” a gun. It just doesn’t.

Now a terrible truth. No one’s taking back all the guns in this country. It just isn’t going to happen. But we do need to revisit how it is that we were lead down a path toward such deadly bullshit. Hey — if the state militia in, say, Texas, says “Every psychopath who wants a gun can keep and bear one here in Texas” then so be it.

But, if the militia in, say, California says — “You can have a legitimate hunting rifle and a handgun even — but both must be registered with the state and you must be insured for liability in order to keep and bear that gun. You must pass a written test and a shooting test to keep and bear that particular weapon. You must demonstrate some sort of “gun responsibility” by “safing” that weapon in your house (the caveat being that there IS no such thing as “gun responsibility”). And crimes committed with guns must be punished with a little extra juice because the perp violated a particular trust that we placed in them.

It is absurd that 99% of Americans must walk around knowing that at any moment at any place another American — whose decided he hates everyone not like him — can go HUNTING for them. That is what happened yesterday. It’s what happened at Las Vegas and Pittsburgh and San Bernardino and Parkland and Sandy Hook and Columbine. It is what happens EVERY DAY in America. Ask any woman who’s been terrorized by a gun-toting abusive husband/boyfriend.

Throw in a little white supremacy and we’re talking a veritable smorgasbord of gun violence. Every day.

And it all starts — started — with the language being hijacked. The Constitution’s Framers weren’t perfect. They kept slavery around after all — and we’re still dealing with that fact. The Framers weren’t always precise. But they did build an amendment process into the system they were inventing. They understood that the document itself would need revisions and therefore a little reinvention. When they revised the document to address weaponry — they wrote what they wrote.

And they did not write what they did not write. Let’s start this conversation on a level playing field — where we all agree what the amendment actually says. By “we”, I mean people who can read (without imagining words and definitions for them). Let’s start by having the correct argument and not an utterly bullshit one meant to distract.