America’s Gun Laws Have Always Been Racist — By Design

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.

First, We Have To Admit To Ourselves: There Is No Such Thing As “Responsible Gun Ownership”

Ten people died yesterday in Boulder, CO after a guy his own family thought was intensely paranoid and delusional attempted to use a military assault weapon to assuage his symptoms. A few days before, eight people (six of them women of Asian descent) were shot to death by a white guy who was “having a bad day”. Like a cliche, in the immediate aftermath of yet another gun-related tragedy, Texas Senator (and human coronavirus) Ted Cruz got up on the Senate floor and brayed about how horrible it would be if the Democrats were to use this (or any) shooting-related tragedy to try and take the legal guns from regular, law-abiding Americans — you know, the “RESPONSIBLE” gun owners. Why, THOSE PEOPLE would NEVER allow THEIR guns to do such terrible things — that’s cos they’re “RESPONSIBLE”! That’s the pitch. The bloodbath we endure in America isn’t because of all the responsible gun owners, it’s because of a handful of “bad apples”, mostly non-white so take their guns away, absolutely!

For starters, Ted Cruz is a stone cold traitor. But never mind that. He’s also a regular apologist for the fiction that “responsible” gun owners — like Ted — exist to begin with. Hey, remember Ted demonstrating just how responsible gun owners use their machine guns to cook bacon?

Yeah — that happened. Ted Cruz “keeps happening”…

I’ve fired guns. When I was a kid going to camp up in Maine in the 60’s, riflery was one of the activities. I enjoyed it though I really wasn’t very good at it (I’ve got an astygmatism in my right eye that messes with fine focus). Like I said — I enjoyed riflery. Hell, I even scored a few NRA gun safety awards. That was back when “gun safety” was what the NRA did. Before they turned into a political operation walking point for the gun manufacturers. Back before the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre-ification. Gun safety was the mantra.

Then, when riflery’s time was up — swimming was next — we campers moved on but not before the riflery counselor went through the whole ritual of putting the guns away, back in the locked gun shed where they were kept (the camp’s “gun locker”). To be honest? That’s really the only time a gun ever felt truly “safe” — when it was put away. But, let’s be real — sitting in a gun shed or a gun locker is NOT what the gun was designed to do. It was designed for a very specific purpose — to send a piece of hot metal speeding through the air at a living target, ideally in order to kill it. “Boom”. That’s it. That’s the gun’s entire purpose — to be a literal death machine. From the cutest-as-can-be single-shot derringer to an AK-47 burping death, the point of the exercise is lethality. You may only want to maim the person you just fired at, but, honestly, if there’s no way for you to control a bullet once you’ve fired it? You’ve already cast your vote.

Remember Nancy Lanza — mother to Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter? Nancy Lanza bragged about being a “responsible gun owner”. And I’ve no doubt she was — up until the very second she wasn’t — when her son killed her in cold blood with one of her own legal guns. Just like that, Nancy Lanza went from being “responsible gun owner” to “crime statistic”, having been murdered using her own weapon. I wonder if the irony hurt worse than dying did.

See, the measure of whether or not any gun owner is “responsible” or not can’t be taken when their gun is safe inside its locker. The gun wasn’t designed for that. Go ahead — look at the design specs for any gun you like. Not a one was “designed” to sit in a safe or a locker. They were all designed to kill something. So, let’s dispense with the first fiction — that guns have any practical function beyond one thing: death. Guns are hand-held death machines.

That means the the question we’re asking to gage any gun owner’s level of responsibility is, how responsible are they when their weapon is out & about? To be fair, most gun owners will be passably responsible their entire lifetimes. They or their weapon won’t kill or maim anyone. They’ll call themselves “responsible”. The fact is, they were lucky. That’s all. WHY does anyone need to have a death machine in their house or in their hands? Fear of home invasion? Gosh, how “White Guy!” To protect the family? Even whiter as excuses go. The wonderful blogger and Twitter goddess Gabrielle Blair wrote a terrific Twitter thread about men using the “I’m protecting my family!” excuse for having guns in the house.

The thread goes on. Man doesn’t make any better arguments for guns. What’d ya expect? Clarity of vision from these pirates?

Every gun is an accident or a tragedy that just hasn’t happened yet. It might not ever happen — a good thing — but that doesn’t diminish its impact on the people guns do hurt or destroy. And it never, EVER means it “can’t” happen.

Look, I support the second amendment. That is, I support the amendment’s original intention, not the ludicrous monstrosity the gun lobby turned our reading of the amendment into. Usually, it starts with some horse shit about how the term “well regulated” meant “in good working order” back then which, apparently, is now code for “have all the damned guns ya want!” Bullshit. The second amendment’s language isn’t that tricky to parse unless you intend to parse it with bad intent.

“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”. That’s what it says. The amendment frames guns from the point of view of “a well regulated militia”. Yes, the militia plays a vital role — securing a free state. But, where guns are concerned, per the amendment, the militia must be “well regulated”. Regulated = rules. In fact, clearly, it’s the militia’s role here — among its regulations — to decide which people will get to “keep” and “bear” the arms in question. The amendment does not say “own” the arms — “own” being a perfectly good word back then. Yet the framers wrote “keep” and “bear”.

For the record, “keeping a thing” is not the same as “owning” it.

America’s gun policies all flow from a pool of racism, irrational fear and bullshit. The whole point is to arm as many white people as possible. To make this insane idea sound less insane, gun culture invented the idea of “the responsible gun owner”. White people therefore weren’t arming themselves to the teeth because they’re hopelessly racist, they were doing it because they were “incredibly responsible”!

Do you suppose it occurred to Nancy Lanza as her son Adam was drawing on her what a good and responsible gun owner she was? I don’t think so either.

“Responsible Gun Ownership” Is A Myth

Let me burp up a cliche first: “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. I believe you, 99.99% of gun owners (I’m trying to be super generous here): you want to own and handle your firearm responsibly. The last thing on earth you want is an accident or a tragedy happening because of you and your gun.

But, you see, the problem is — you HAVE that gun in your possession. Your right to have it isn’t being questioned here (though, frankly, the Militia needs to step up and do its damned job regulating (as per the second amendment) who gets to “keep & bear” (not own — it does not say “own”) arms. We’re starting from the proposition that (as per the current mis-reading of the second amendment’s pretty simple, straightforward words) hell, you can have as many guns as ya like!

The basic fact about any gun is that it has been designed to send a piece of hot metal flying through the air at great speed into a living target so as to kill it. That’s why it’s such a great war tool – and hunting tool. It sends pieces of hot metal into living targets so as to kill them, see?

They are literal death machines. I’m not passing judgment when I write that. I’m simply staring a fact. This is a machine designed to cause internal damage to living things. You can fire a gun at a tree as much as you like. It wasn’t designed to do that. Hell, you want that tree dead? Get a saw. It’s more appropriate.

You want a human being dead? They tend to move around. Guns work better on them than saws.

When you purchase or take possession of a gun, you are assuming ownership of a death machine. Own that fact, gun owners. Don’t get emotional about it. Just own it. FFS — if ya can’t be responsible enough to own “what you own”, you’re probably not responsible enough to have a death machine in your hands.

Anyone can be “responsible” when the death machine is not in their hands — when the death machine is locked up in a safe. Except, the death machine wasn’t designed to sit, locked up in a safe. It was designed to be taken out and fired.

Take the gun out of the safe and fire it — THEN let’s talk about whether or not you were responsible, responsible gun owner.

Hey, to repeat, I absolutely believe that 99.99% of the time, you ARE acting “responsibly” with your death machine — no one died. Good for you! You “dodged a bullet” that time.

Remember Nancy Lanza? Adam Lanza’s mom? Nancy Lanza, everyone thought — Nancy especially — that she was a “responsible gun owner”. And, by every definition that we use (“responsible gun ownership” being a created thing that we get to define ourselves), Nancy Lanza WAS a “responsible gun owner”.

Until she wasn’t. Prior to December 14, 2012, none of Nancy Lanza’s guns — and she owned lots of them; she collected them, prized them, treasured them — had ever killed anyone. As far as we know, they had never even hurt anyone. Until the morning of December 14, 2012, Nancy Lanza was “a responsible gun owner”.

And then her son Adam — who grew up in this “responsible gun owner’s” home — learning “responsible gun owner” culture and values — took several of his mom’s weapons, killed her as she slept and then went to the nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School where he — irresponsibly — murdered 26 people, most of them children.

“Responsible gun owner” until “not”. Nancy Lanza probably STILL doesn’t know how irresponsible a gun owner she was in reality.

That’s the bigger problem for those of us who DON’T own a gun — and don’t tell ourselves how responsible we are — we don’t know when the “responsible” gun owners will suddenly stop “being responsible”. We don’t know when they’ll fail — and neither do they, ya see.

We already have to live with the fact that there are PLENTY of “irresponsible” gun owners out there already — people who don’t care if, when, how, AT WHOM their guns are fired. We know we can be at the wrong place and wrong time at ANY time when our fellow citizens own firearms and suddenly decide to open fire at us without warning. Because they’re angry. Or broke. Or psychotic.

That’s why I avoid walking in dark places where irresponsible gun owners might lurk. I can’t do much about them hunting ME though. We can all relate to how animals feel when, suddenly, your day gets ruined by a human with a gun who — for some reason you can’t fathom — won’t be happy until you are dead.

Can’t do much about what I can’t anticipate. It’s the gun violence that can and does flare from the “responsible” gun owners that hurts most. That never has to happen. Those guns should never hurt or kill anyone. If those guns had stayed in their gun safes…

See what I’m saying?

The moment a gun owner took the gun into their hands — THAT’S when things got dicey. Children should never die because they found a hand gun in mommy’s handbag. People at the mercy of their own darkness should not have access to guns when therapy, love and perspective are their darkness’s enemy. A moment of intense (almost always male) rage shouldn’t find resolution by pulling a literal trigger.

We will never — ever — get rid of guns in America. That’s wishful thinking. Magical thinking even. The best we can hope for is actual “responsible” gun ownership.

That can’t begin though until “responsible gun owners” admit that there’s no such thing. They’re “gun owners” plain and simple. Whatever happens after that?

Nobody really knows.