Sunday, April 22, 2012

Two Great Pieces From The New Yorker

How extreme is the gun lobby agenda to get guns everywhere?  They have a clear scheme for more guns, in more places, for more people, no matter how unpopular or dangerous.

As evidence, consider the following blog post from Susannah Griffee at the New Yorker:  "Guns, Everywhere":

From the blog post:
The United States has the highest rate of gun ownership by civilians in the world. Depending on the state, guns may be allowed in churches, on college campuses, and even in bars. In this week’s New Yorker, Jill Lepore writes about the powerful gun lobby and the consequences of America’s attachment to deadly weapons. Below, a look at some of the more unusual—and, arguably, more dangerous—gun laws passed in recent years, and the states that passed them first:
Go to the post.  There you will see the extreme nature of the gun lobby.  What states currently allow for, and when did they start to allow for:
  • Guns in Bars
  • Guns in Churches
  • Guns on College Campuses
  • Guns at Work
The article gives years, names states, and some "fun facts" about those movements.  Makes me sick.  And now, in my state (Oregon), the gun lobby is pushing for guns in grade schools!

As you see in the excerpt above, Griffee links to an article by Jill Lepore, entitled "The Lost Amendment."

From the article by Lepore:
The debate over the Second Amendment has been fierce and terrible, with bad arguments on both sides, and bad will all around. It began in the nineteen-sixties, when there was a great deal of violence and much concern about it. It took another turn on Friday, when, at the N.R.A.’s annual meeting, in St. Louis, Newt Gingrich said, “The Second Amendment is an amendment for all mankind.”
As I wrote in this week’s New Yorker, no amendment received less attention in the courts in the two centuries following the adoption of the Bill of Rights than the Second, except the Third (which dealt with billeting soldiers in private homes). It used to be known as the “lost amendment,” because hardly anyone ever wrote about it. The assertion that the Second Amendment protects a person’s right to own and carry a gun for self-defense, rather than the people’s right to form militias for the common defense, first became a feature of American political and legal discourse in the wake of the Gun Control Act of 1968, and only gained prominence in the nineteen-seventies. A milestone in its development came when Orrin Hatch, serving on Strom Thurmond’s Senate Judiciary Committee, became chair of the Subcommittee on the Constitution. Hatch commissioned a history of the Second Amendment, resulting in a 1982 report, “The Right to Keep and Bear Arms,” which concluded, “What the Subcommittee on the Constitution uncovered was clear—and long lost—proof that the second amendment to our Constitution was intended as an individual right of the American citizen to keep and carry arms in a peaceful manner, for protection of himself, his family, and his freedoms.”
She then goes on to discuss the rise of the flawed "insurrectionist" interpretation of the 2A and the formation of citizen militias.

Wait...   If the Second Amendment is so crucial to the idea of "protecting our freedom," as Orrin Hatch and the NRA would have us believe, then why was it essentially ignored for the first 192 years of our country??  Somehow our country survived nearly two centuries without widespread home ownership of handguns, assault rifles, or anything beyond hunting rifles (and not really all that widespread even for those, in many areas).  Our leaders, including some really liberal ones (whom the ultracons associate with, gasp!, communist tyrants), did not take advantage of all those weaponless masses and form a tyranny.  So why is now any different?  I'll tell you why.  It's because the gun manufacturers have teamed up with the NRA to make more money by expanding gun ownership.  Never mind all the deaths.  Look the other way.  There's money to be made off of people's fears.

Lepore finishes her article as such:
In his remarks before the N.R.A. last week, Gingrich offered a human-rights interpretation of the Second Amendment. “A Gingrich presidency,” he said, “will submit to the United Nations a treaty that extends the right to bear arms as a human right for every person on the planet.”
The United States has the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world, twice that of the country with the second highest rate, which is Yemen. The United States also has the highest homicide rate of any affluent democracy, nearly four times higher than France or the United Kingdom, six times higher than Germany. In the United States in 2008, guns were involved in two-thirds of all murders. Of interest to many people concerned about these matters, then, is when the debate over the Second Amendment will yield to a debate about violence.

As she points out, America is far and away the murder capital of the world, for any nation not at war on its territory and, not coincidentally, the undisputed capital of firearms ownership.  If Gingrich and others like him had their way, they would spread that bloodshed worldwide.

We as a country already labor under 110,000 shootings a year.  With increasing gun ownership has come increasing shootings, and the more lax the gun laws in a state, the higher the number of fatal shootings.  These are undisputed facts from the statistics.  The world watches us in horror, wondering when our citizens will stop drinking the Kool-Aid given to us by the NRA, as the NRA pushes for ever more extreme laws (or removal of laws) to expand those horrors.  At some point, American legislators will wake up to the danger.  Already there is vast support (around 80%) for stronger gun regulation, in every poll I've seen.  Soon we will reach a tipping point when people tire of the bloodshed, speak out, and  demand that we return to sane gun regulation.