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Opinion: Gun nuts

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There’s recently been another spate of shootings. And whenever there’s a mass shooting, ammo and gun sales spike. The gun industry then pumps those profits into lobbying campaigns aimed to persuade people that any obstacle to peddling firearms violates the Constitution, and thus freedom itself.

Gun advocates claim that the gun industry is not relevant to gun crime because ‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.’ This shopworn slogan has a lobotomizing effect on people who disarm their brains to semi-automatic conclusions.

Taken purely as principle, the ‘guns don’t kill people’ argument—if it can be called an argument—doesn’t travel well. Try this: sarin gas doesn’t kill people, people kill people. The Scavenger’s Daughter doesn’t torture people, people torture people. Extractors don’t kick spent shells from the chamber, people kick shells from the chamber. Hollow-points don’t shred major arteries, people shred major arteries. Hemostats don’t stanch blood hemorrhaging, people stanch blood hemorrhaging. Anesthesia syringes don’t numb entry wounds, people numb entry wombs. Spades don’t pitch dirt onto caskets, people pitch dirt onto caskets. 

Besides, the ‘guns don’t kill people’ claim ignores the phenomenon of accidental discharge when guns fire without being purposely triggered, which means that guns do indeed kill people. According to one website that tracks mortality rates, between 1999 and 2006, guns—not gun-shooters—killed 5,974 people. 

Gun debates invariably mention the Second Amendment. Out of all the Constitution’s amendments, the Second Amendment arguably has the most avid fans. Many Americans hold the Second Amendment in higher honor than the Seventh Commandment. But very few Second Amendment zealots belong to “A well regulated Militia,” to quote the amendment’s words which specify the social utility of stowing firearms.

One wonders whether the Second Amendment’s drumbeaters are loyal to the Constitution or to guns. Suppose the Constitution originally abolished the ownership of firearms; would gun advocates then oppose the Constitution? It seems they are only loyal to the Constitution insofar as the Constitution authorizes gun-ownership.

Many gun advocates believe the Second Amendment was included to insure that the citizenry could oust a tyrannical government, when in fact the amendment was penned to warrant the raising of armed forces that could resist popular uprisings. Recall, the Philadelphia Convention occurred in the wake of Shay’s Rebellion in which tax-burdened farmers and Revolutionary War veterans staged an armed insurrection against East Coast elites. The rebellion was quelled by a ‘well-regulated militia’ headed by General Benjamin Lincoln and bankrolled by East Coast moneybags under a state of martial law. 

This historical context surely influenced the Second Amendment’s phrasing and intention. The Constitution’s Framers, who were social elites, did not desire a populace that could swiftly overthrow them. Instead they wanted a government-sponsored militia that could quash armed rebellion, since a permanent standing army did not yet exist.

Aside from the Second Amendment’s slippery wording, Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution grants the federal government the authority to protect each state against “domestic Violence.” One case of ‘domestic violence’ was the Whiskey Rebellion—yet another citizen uprising—which led to the Militia Acts of 1792 that were enacted to combat such populist insurgencies…which provides further evidence that the Second Amendment’s purpose was to “insure domestic Tranquility” against a malcontented citizenry that opposed its rulers. 

Defenders of the Second Amendment aren’t always consistent in their advocacy. For example, the National Rifle Association favored strict gun control in regard to the Black Panthers (originally called The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense), whom the NRA deemed unfit for the right to bear arms. There is, of course, nothing new about white people denying black people their rights, which is why nobody is surprised that freed blacks were legally barred from owning guns. But the Panthers, much like the American Indian Movement, were intimately familiar with the perils of allowing authorities to have a monopoly on weapons.

After weighing the arguments in the gun debate, one could justifiably conclude that all guns should be banned, or some guns should be banned, or no guns should ever be banned. An honest thinker will likely wind up with a tangled knot of thoughts that produces a hung jury in the mind. Nevertheless, most people make up their minds quicker that you can empty the clip of an AK-47. 

Instead of always asking what should be done about guns, the media should also ask, in what kind of society is the gun debate a perennially salient issue? Pondering that question might lead you to conclude that the best weapon against American gun lunacy is a passport.

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  1. Logan Shumaker

    October 2, 2013 at 6:44 AM

    Issac….can you tell me the definition of a militia??? Of those 5,976 people shot, how many of those where justifiable homicides that where in self defence….how many of those shot where by the police…because those all count too….do you want the police to not have guns too??? The Black Panthers where convicted felons, who are not allowed to have guns in the first place, so they themselves got into that one.


  2. Logan Shumaker

    October 2, 2013 at 11:04 PM

    Issac, Also if you want to write about guns and gun laws and the politics involved, you should probably learn the correct terms that are used with guns. Hence “Clips” are not used in AK-47’s those are used to hold closed your potato chip bags. AK-47’s use magazines to hold the rounds.


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