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
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
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”.
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
It’s the movie buff in me. I see classic movies playing out
in real life all the time. It struck me
this morning that we’re staring at a perverse version of Babes In Arms,
the Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney-MGM collaboration that gave us “Hey, Let’s Put
On A Show!”
Here – sample this…
See what I mean? Isn’t
it awesome how Judy & Mickey get the kids together, they “borrow” some
instruments and, using the Old Barn, they put on a damned show!
That’s exactly the movie we’re living through – except the
Trumpified version. It turns out, as the
depth and breadth of the Trump-Russia Conspiracy begins to assume real shape
and dimension, that this is a conspiracy in every sense of the word.
These are the players (some of them) and their “plays”…
Think of stolen data as a stolen bike. Everyone who
knowingly touches it, moves it, transports it, sells it or covers up its theft
is guilty of a crime. Just as a bike must
be physically transported from point A to point B, so too does stolen information. If it can’t be endlessly viewed where it is,
it has to be copied & that copy moved to someplace “safe” where it can be
viewed (by those not meant to view it remember). The criminals must transport their stolen
goods in order to benefit from them.
In the case of stolen data, the benefit would only come once
that information was transported out of the country to Russia – where the GRU
(Russian military intelligence) was tasked with analyzing the data then weaponizing
it and turning it back on America and – most importantly – individual Americans. The Russians (with Cambridge Analytica’s
help) had created a way to turn stolen voter data into fear-directed Facebook
ads that would appear right on an individual voter’s Facebook page – stoking fears
about, say, racism among Democrats that “could” induce an ambivalent African
American voter to stay home on election day rather than go out and vote for
Betsy DeVos provided the pipeline. Hey, Betsy — Lets put on a show!
ERIK PRINCE – Erik is Betsy DeVos’ brother so, already, ya know he’s corrupt. Erik founded a company called Blackwater that won big service contracts in the Iraq War theater – making them millions of dollars while they formed a private army for the benefit of their benefactors and electrocuted American service people when they showered (in Iraq) cos why not add incompetence to your resume of corruption?
WILBUR ROSS – Known as “Trump’s MOST corrupt cabinet appointee (and that’s including Ryan Zinke FFS!) had lots of corrupt dealings with Russians and their laundered money while holding a board seat at the Bank of Cypress – a place where the banking laws encourage money laundering & money launderers like Wilbur Ross.
Lots of Russian money needed to be laundered then donated to every Republican on the ticket.
Hey, Wilbur – Let’s put on a show!
PAUL MANAFORT – Gosh, GOP, why let Paul Manafort (a guy you all knew was dirtier than dirty) with Russian connections so deep he farts in Russian run your presidential nominee’s campaign. Paul had one change – ONE – to your whole freakin’ platform: Support for Ukraine and sanctions. No one “wondered” what that was all about? Perhaps no one NEEDED to wonder because you already knew.
Then there’s Mike Pence.
Paul brought Mike to the dance.
We have to ask “WHY?” Of all the
gin joints in all the world, why did Paul invite Mike into his?
Remember (it’s important) – Paul wasn’t running an honest
campaign. He was running a dirty
one. He was trying to leverage his role
as Trump’s campaign chief into forgiveness for $17 MILLION worth of debt to Oleg
Deripaska, former client & a Russian oligarch not known for his largess or forgiveness
(especially of massive debt which, also remember, Deripaska believed Manafort
was trying to skip out on). Paul was
running a very criminal enterprise.
So, ask yourself, why would a criminal want a boy scout as
Veep? Why would a criminal position a
cop right where the criminal needed to go?
Paul didn’t want anyone blowing the whistle on him – we’re all clear on
that, right? Paul wanted – NEEDED – a veep
who HE KNEW FOR A FACT was compliant and trustworthy enough to keep their big
secret SECRET: Russia was running the show.
Last point about Paul. He wasn’t flying solo. He wasn’t a lucky conman who’d figured out a
way to save his ass (and save his family – for now – from a brutal end). Paul knew that Trump was dirty and Trump knew
that Paul was dirty. Remember – no one
can put their cards on the table because then everyone would see those cards
spell treason. Though these criminals
surround themselves with other criminals, they’re entering a system with checks
and balances bent on stopping people like them.
That’s where BILL BARR fits in. Hey, Paul – Let’s put on a show!
MIKE PENCE — Mike is a sanctimonious fraud so unloved by the people of Indiana that compromising what was left of his soul to sell out to Trump and Russia was a no brainer. Mike had nowhere else to go except total corruption.
Mike’s an opportunistic con man adept at speaking
preacher-ese to the yokels who salivate like Pavolv’s dog when they hear
it. These soulless cretins wouldn’t know
Jesus if they stopped mid-way through nailing Jesus to a cross to spit in his
I betcha Paul Manafort knew lots about Mike Pence and his
deep, dark secrets. Let’s be honest –
Mike Pence’s relationship with women – and his wife – is bizarre. It’s beyond unhealthy, it’s fraudulent. Karen Pence’s nickname shouldn’t be “Mother”,
it should be “Beard”.
I wonder… when Mike eventually goes away for Life, will “Mother” change her nickname to “Available”?
STEVE BANNON – Steve’s the guru of darkness (while Stephen Miller is merely its court jester). Steve’s religious faith runs deep. His ooga-booga is better than your ooga-booga – that’s the basis for everything Steve believes. He’s so determined to save the world from YOUR ooga-booga in fact that he’s willing to torpedo the greatest experiment in human self government ever.
Steve has never stopped being philosophically connected the
Trump’s ultimate purpose – destruction of America as a Democratic Republic. Well,
to be fair, that’s not Trump’s ultimate purpose (he couldn’t give a shit – he just
wants to be richer than he already supposedly is), it’s Vladimir Putin’s.
And let’s be real – this is mostly Putin’s deal. The Saudi’s, the Chinese, the Israelis and Erdogan may be trying to horn in on it but they’re strictly back seat passengers. Putin’s joe sits in the Oval Office.
Hey, Steve — Let’s put on a show!
THE NRA – Conspiracies cannot live by bad intent alone. They need money, too, because traitors are notoriously greedy. Money always comes with strings. Don’t do what the strings want? Forget about the money. Back in the day, the NRA was primarily a gun safety organization.
Then the gun manufacturers took over. Gun sales became the point of the
exercise. The gun lobby rewrote the
second amendment in its own image and used the NRA to sell it. A gun control
amendment became an amendment justifying mass murder because how dare you come
for our guns? Putin saw a golden opening
and took it. The more guns in American
hands, the more gun violence there would be.
The more Putin pushed the “more guns more places” meme, the more divided
he could make America seem. Hell, using
the NRA, Putin has managed to create situations where stores have to beg their
customers NOT to come armed to the teeth.
That’s not normal, people. That’s screwed up.
As we’ve learned – Russia sent a very skilled agent named
Maria Butina to play the NRA. She made
the NRA a useful conduit for Russian money.
It wasn’t Russia contributing (illegally) to all those Republican
campaigns all around the country, it was THE NRA. Get it?
Russia stays within the letter of the law while raping its
Hey, NRA – Let’s put on a show!
ROGER STONE – conduit & con man. Connoisseur and creep. The man so dedicated to Richard Nixon, he got a tattoo of Nixon on his back. Former business partner of Paul Manafort and Lee Atwater (who personally started the Culture & Political War that the Right (un)declared on the Left. Roger via the weasels immediately around him (Jerome Corsi, Sam Nunberg, Randy Credico) was the conduit between Wikileaks and the Trump campaign.
Hey, Roger, let’s put on a show!
WIKILEAKS – That we EVER thought Julian Assange was a hero is a testament to our own collective failure of imagination. A guy accused of sexual assault should instantly get our collective attention. Yes, yes – we need to hear the whole story and all – but honest people face their accusers. Weasels weasel out and stink up foreign embassies.
Hey, Julian — Let’s put on a show!
THE MERCERS & CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA – Again – pipelines. But also the design. Robert Mercer’s a brilliant computer guy with a twisted political vision that’s tied to even more twisted Dominionist religious tripe. What could possibly go wrong? Rebekka is just as nuts but a little less on the spectrum. That’s what makes her dangerous.
Cambridge took a “benign” product meant to profile potential terrorists and turned it on America – using its powerful insights to gin up right wing conspiracy theorists while helping to carry out a crime – the total undermining of the United States Constitution.
Hey, Mercer’s — Let’s put on a show!
BILL BARR — Having saved the Republican Party once from the punishment it deserved (Iran-Contra) b making the crime go away & the evidence disappear, Bill Barr was perfectly positioned to be Donald Trump & the GOP’s ultimate Bag Man. So far, he’s LIED about the Mueller Report. Lied about the Whistleblower. Lied about Ukraine. Tried to seduce other governments into helping Trump in 2020. It’s all in a day’s work for Bill.
Hey, Bill — let’s put on a show!
MITCH MCCONNELL — I’ve spent plenty of time on Mitch here. Mitch is a traitor but he started his life as a mere culture warrior. Apparently Mitch loves it when people walk right up to his turtle face and scream “SODOMY” at the top of their lungs.
It brings back memories of his time in the military apparently. You’ll have to ask Mitch. Better yet — scream “SODOMY” in Moscow Mitch’s face at the top of your lungs.
Hey, Mitch — Let’s put on a show!
Vladimir Putin – For a guy running a shitty country with a
shitty economy and a shitty future, he’s done very well for himself.
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.
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”.
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.