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Author Topic: The 2nd Amendment Needs Better Defenders  (Read 176 times)

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Offline SkynetTopic starter

The 2nd Amendment Needs Better Defenders
« on: September 13, 2018, 09:38:17 PM »

I've been quite vehement about the National Rifle Association for some time, but after not one but two latest bizarre stunts of theirs which had nothing to do with their organization's stated principles, [1][2] I figured they and the other "gun rights" groups deserve a subject all on their own.

The history of firearms ownership goes back to before the United States’ founding.  The Second Amendment is perhaps one of the most well-known in the wider world at large after freedom of speech and religion. After a series of many grievances with the British Empire sparked a war, the American Revolutionaries drew their soldiers from part-time militias spread throughout the colonies. After their success in achieving autonomy and forming a new nation, the militiamen entered a status in the American consciousness akin to European knight-errants. That of ordinary citizens capable of great heroism, willing and able to protect their communities from hostile forces. The Second Amendment quite explicitly calls upon this image with this passage:

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.

The expansion of US territory westward lead to the creation of a frontier far from the reach of a centralized government. Although many Western movies embellish the violence for storytelling purposes, most communities in the Old West relied upon the citizenry to arm themselves from all manner of threats, from outlaws to dangerous beasts.

Seeing the violence in Europe and the repressive aristocracies which dominated world politics at the time, the concept of letting a government bear the brunt of defending its citizenry has not been a popular one among many Americans. Questioning the wisdom of a state monopoly on the threat of violence is a song old as time, but the idea of the rural minuteman as the last bastion against tyrants is the most persistent one in US collective consciousness. This gave rise to an interesting subculture of paramilitary groups known as the Militia (or Patriot) Movement, associations of outdoorsmen who engage in military training on the off-chance that the US government oversteps its constitutional boundaries. We’ll get back to them later.

In Washington politics, the National Rifle Association is often painted itself as the frontrunner for defending the 2nd Amendment, much like the ACLU to the 1st. At various points in their history they could genuinely be called defenders of liberty: they helped black North Carolinians set up a rifle club to defend their people from Klansmen during the Civil Rights Movement, [3] and their at-the-time President Charlton Heston marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. [4] The NRA back then saw how the systemic racism of segregation was a form of unconstitutional tyranny and needed to be opposed.

But the National Rifle Association no longer bears such a hallowed cause. Around the 1970s ultra-conservative groups formed coalitions within their group to refocus their message. They began pursuing causes unrelated to ensuring that good guys with guns could defend themselves from bad guys with guns, such as helping pass laws preventing the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms) from using computers and modern technology to effectively trace crime data involving guns. [5] Or how their President, Wayne LaPierre, wanted to establish a big database for tracking all mentally ill Americans. [6] Or when one of their spokesmen most recently suggested that the government jail protesters. [7]

As of now, they are more or less entrenched within the Republican Party who vote overwhelmingly against gun control, and who ironically pose a far greater threat to civil liberties than the Democrats or leftist groups in the USA right now. They both repeat the mantra of how the general public owning firearms is a useful stopgap against the government from becoming tyrannical (or in the case of a foreign invasion by an outside force). But they both were silent when the Bush Administration lied America into war with Iraq. The Republicans in Congress fully supported unconstitutional stop and frisk policies which drastically impacted black and Latino citizens in New York City, many of whom were subjected to it multiple times a day. In North Carolina, the very same area where the NRA helped defend African-Americans against the KKK, the Republicans enacted so-called voter ID laws. The courts found that these laws targeted said African-Americans with surgical precision to deny them the right to vote. [8] The NRA remained silent when police outfitted with military gear marched in the streets of Ferguson, fired tear gas canisters at an Al-Jazeera news crew, and whose snipers aimed their weapons at non-violent protestors in broad daylight. Ironically it was a mostly-white right-wing Militia Movement group, the Oath Keepers, who rallied to the defense of Ferguson’s black residents. They viewed the armored police cars and military camo in surburban America as the literal example of an authoritarian government overstepping its boundaries. [9]


Unfortunately this was not to last. This decision led to a major rift within the organization between a few who believed that systemic racism against minority groups still existed today and should be fought against, and those who were unconcerned with what they saw as “Martin Luther King impressions.” [10] And the sad part is that they are relatively forward-thinking of the Militia Movement at large. Said groups hew strongly to the far right of the political spectrum and are often silent or approving when Republican governments commit civil liberties violations. The Oathkeepers remain proud Trump and ICE supporters on all of their social media accounts [11], even as ICE separated families at the border and washed their hands of 1,500 children who mysteriously disappeared from their custody. [12] The Militia Movement is quite adamant at fighting for the rights of others when they are white conservatives or religious authoritarians, such as the Bundy ranchers who refused to pay the Bureau of Land Management’s grazing fees when he made use of their land for cattle-raising. Or during the 1990s when cult leader David Koresh was reported to be having sex with children as young as 12 or 13. This led to the infamous Waco Siege when Koresh's private army refused to turn him over, and who then turned into something of a folk hero among the Movement when he made his last stand. [13]

What’s strangest of all is that the NRA, the Militia Movement, and many “2nd Amendment” advocates maintain an almost-worshipful respect for police and military institutions. Even though a tyrannical government overstepping its constitutional boundaries would use those very same organizations if they ever really did seek to take away the guns of law-abiding citizens. Or how in spite of very permissive gun laws that our government right now can and is finding other ways to erode civil liberties. Look at what happens to whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden.

In a post I made on another thread I explained how the NRA failed many non-Caucasian gun owners regarding the Philando Castile case, and this along with the Republican alliance is why there are so few minorities among their membership. Gun rights advocates who fall outside the conservative model citizen status sadly have no real strong group representing their interests in Washington.

Prohibition of alcohol did not work; the War on Drugs sent hundreds of thousands of Americans into lengthy prison sentences for little more than smoking pot in the privacy of their own home; I don’t think things such as an assault weapons ban will work for similar reasons given the society and culture of the United States. But one thing I do know is that the political groups today who claim to care the most about the right to bear arms are no defenders of liberty. They may care about firearms, but not so much the hands that hold them. They may care about government overstepping its bounds, but only if the man in charge is to the left of Ronald Reagan. The NRA is a shell of its former self, “patriot militias” are full of pseudo-revolutionaries at best, and the Republican Party wholly embraced hateful nationalism. And all the while, saner gun owners and gun rights groups feel sidelined and silenced by the firebreathers who claim to speak for their cause. [14]

The 2nd Amendment needs better defenders than the ones we have right now.

Sources Cited:

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/12/us/nra-tv-thomas-tank-engine.html

[2] https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2018/09/13/nratv-host-puerto-rico-and-hurricane-maria-i-m-there-donald-trump-i-call-bogus-3000-deaths/221301

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_F._Williams

[4] https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/08/29/hollywood_whos_who_marched_with_king_in_63__119762.html

[5] https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/02/atf-gun-laws-nra/

[6] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2012/12/21/the-nra-wants-an-active-mental-illness-database-thirty-eight-states-have-that-now/

[7] https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2018/06/27/nratv-host-calls-jailing-students-protesting-mitch-mcconnell-you-can-hear-distress-elaine-chao-s/220555

[8] https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/15/528457693/supreme-court-declines-republican-bid-to-revive-north-carolina-voter-id-law

[9] https://www.newsweek.com/oath-keepers-ferguson-blacklivesmatter-michael-brown-black-lives-matter-second-363994

[10] https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/the-oath-keeper-who-wants-to-arm-black-lives-matter-59109/

[11] https://twitter.com/oathkeepers/status/1019361977800388608?lang=en

[12] https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/david-koresh-and-the-myth-of-the-alamo/   &   http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1995-04-27/news/1995117026_1_waco-siege-militia-movement-patriot-movement

[13] https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/26/politics/hhs-lost-track-1500-immigrant-children/index.html

[14] https://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/im-a-gun-owner-but-i-want-nothing-to-do-with-the-nra/Content?oid=3250854

&

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/how-the-nra-conquered-washington-and-abandoned-gun-owners-like-me/2017/06/16/e9374238-51e8-11e7-91eb-9611861a988f_story.html

&

https://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2017-08-01/im-a-gun-lover-and-the-nra-has-lost-its-mind

Offline Lustful Bride

Re: The 2nd Amendment Needs Better Defenders
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2018, 09:44:36 PM »
I'm throwing in my support as well. The NRA and other far Right groups have built a very unhealthy atmosphere of fear, paranoia, and extremism that doest harm to the second amendment and alienates anyone who cares for guns but also wants to see them properly regulated to protect the populace and prevent the atrocities that occur so many times in this country.

We lack an open dialogue and it is thanks in part to those who touted themselves as the defenders of our right to carry for so long. But they are just a shadow of what they once were, they lie and bend a knee to gun companies and keep an open hand for anyone who will pay them enough money.

I say this as someone who grew up around firearms all her life, and feels safe sleeping in a house with them, and going to the gun range. I know its not easy to agree that they are part of the problem, but the only way to fix things and reach a compromise is to admit that there is a problem in the first place. Its the only way we can make things better before future generations become sick of suffering through mass shootings and decide to go to the other extreme and toss the baby out with the bathwater.

Offline elone

Re: The 2nd Amendment Needs Better Defenders
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2018, 11:30:05 PM »
Very interesting and well thought our post. My father was a Republican and a gun rights enthusiast. He was a life member of the NRA. But in his later years, he said the the NRA had changed and he gave up his membership. The NRA in his opinion was no longer the advocate for shooting and hunting enthusiasts, but was rather a political entity for gun ownership. I know that the second amendment people read into the wording as saying that the right to bear arms is a given. However, they often leave out the part that says "A well regulated militia..."  To me this means that the government has the right to regulate the ownership of arms in a manner that they deem necessary. Of course, that all depends on who is in power at the time. The Supreme Court will have to make that decision.

Bottom line, in my opinion, is that we have rights to bear arms, but the government has the right to set regulation on them. Be that background checks, the elimination of gun show loopholes, or the ban on assault style weapons (whatever that me be). Fully automatic weapons, ie, machine gins are already regulated to make their ownership mostly impossible. What about bump stocks, 3-d printed plastic guns, armor piercing bullets, high capacity magazines, and all the rest. These are not needed for hunting or sport. They may be needed for a militia, but those days are long gone. Get a grip America.

Let us allow common sense to prevail.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: The 2nd Amendment Needs Better Defenders
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2018, 11:49:28 PM »
Very interesting and well thought our post. My father was a Republican and a gun rights enthusiast. He was a life member of the NRA. But in his later years, he said the the NRA had changed and he gave up his membership. The NRA in his opinion was no longer the advocate for shooting and hunting enthusiasts, but was rather a political entity for gun ownership. I know that the second amendment people read into the wording as saying that the right to bear arms is a given. However, they often leave out the part that says "A well regulated militia..."  To me this means that the government has the right to regulate the ownership of arms in a manner that they deem necessary. Of course, that all depends on who is in power at the time. The Supreme Court will have to make that decision.

Bottom line, in my opinion, is that we have rights to bear arms, but the government has the right to set regulation on them. Be that background checks, the elimination of gun show loopholes, or the ban on assault style weapons (whatever that me be). Fully automatic weapons, ie, machine gins are already regulated to make their ownership mostly impossible. What about bump stocks, 3-d printed plastic guns, armor piercing bullets, high capacity magazines, and all the rest. These are not needed for hunting or sport. They may be needed for a militia, but those days are long gone. Get a grip America.

Let us allow common sense to prevail.

Pretty much this. I've said previously that I consider the NRA to be the biggest threat to legitimate, responsible gun ownership in the country; this being because their hardline, obsessive refusal to give so much as an inch with regards to said regulation prevents any sort of reasonable compromise or sane legislation. Every time a mass shooting event or other catastrophe occurs and the NRA screams defiance against doing anything to prevent the next one, it gives the anti-gun lobby more ammunition (pardon the pun) by looking like the voice of reason.

As far as what 'well regulated' means, the Supreme Court did rule on that already, as I brought up in a separate thread. District of Columbia vs. Heller was the landmark case where, among other things, it was ruled that

Quote
"[t]he adjective 'well-regulated' implies nothing more than the imposition of proper discipline and training.""

A position that the NRA still fails to support with their refusal to permit any sort of licensing or safety training requirements.

Offline RedPhoenix

Re: The 2nd Amendment Needs Better Defenders
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2018, 10:47:04 AM »
They viewed the armored police cars and military camo in surburban America as the literal example of an authoritarian government overstepping its boundaries. [9]

And they were right. The videos of sonic weapons being turned on from tanks as cops stood by in body armor and gasmaks were like something out of dystopian science fiction. That this was the first response to civil unrest in response to a cop shooting someone was horrifying. It really made me rethink this idea that we're safe from our own government. Where I grew up everyone knew the cops were dirty, they just didn't have tanks and science fiction weapons and never showed a willingness to take on an entire community at once like they seem to do all over now.

Every time I go to a protest I see cops lining up in riot gear with their tanks and their AR-15s and I ask myself what is keeping this from being turned on us except the whim of politicians and I will never trust that no matter who is in office. And then I read the history of every dictator and king ensuring obedience by disarming their own people first, and especially those they conquer. Until our cops give up that crazy firepower, I don't want them to be the only ones holding it, which is why I completely support the second amendment these days.

That, plus I live in a neighborhood that's had three active serial shooters in the last few years. Outlawing guns won't stop them. The ones who get caught are already convicted felons anyway, already not legally allowed to own guns. It will stop law abiding citizens from being able to shoot back. The parts of our country with the strictest gun laws have the worst gun violence. There are countries that outlaw guns entirely and have crazy rates of gun violence. Outlawing something doesn't make it go away - just look at the total failure of the war on drugs.

I support mental health checks on gun ownership. and part of a national mental health system in general. Honestly a better mental health system that included taking away people's rights to guns would have prevented most of the recent gun related tragedies that received so much media attention. But that doesn't seem to fit anyone's narrative. It's either all guns are evil or certain people are inherently evil and there was nothing that could be done except sprinkle more guns everywhere.

If you look at the Japanese model of gun control it works really well and is about as difficult as passing a driving test. Which I know not everyone can do, but we don't need everyone to own a gun either - in fact when you think of a "militia" that historically meant the people who were capable of defending the others took up arms and did so, not every single person walked around with a spear or a crossbow. That the NRA won't look at stuff like this that would leave probably 99% of its membership with their guns intact and only take them away from the ones that shouldn't have them in the first place does make them less legitimate as an organization, as they seem to be only going to bat for their crazy membership and not the responsible gun owners who could easily pass reasonable restrictions that limit guns to people with the mental health to know when to use them and the proficiency to shoot straight when they do.

Your points about how the second amendment has become a smokescreen for other far-right causes are all well made too. It's sad. It's a right that helps all of us and should stay that way, where as currently we risk losing it entirely because it's being fought for so badly by such terrible people who alienate people who don't fall in step with them on everything else too.

Offline SkynetTopic starter

Re: The 2nd Amendment Needs Better Defenders
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2018, 01:42:19 PM »
Every time I go to a protest I see cops lining up in riot gear with their tanks and their AR-15s and I ask myself what is keeping this from being turned on us except the whim of politicians and I will never trust that no matter who is in office. And then I read the history of every dictator and king ensuring obedience by disarming their own people first, and especially those they conquer. Until our cops give up that crazy firepower, I don't want them to be the only ones holding it, which is why I completely support the second amendment these days.

Disarming the populace is a common practice, but it's by no means a necessity. It's surprisingly easy to get a majority of a populace supporting tyranny if you restrict the worst excesses to social outcasts and conquered territories in the name of "public order." At the risk of Godwinning, Nazi Germany actually expanded firearms ownership among white non-Jewish Germans along with arming private militias. The Rwandan genocide relied a large part on civilian mobs roused to anger against the Tutsis who were also armed with firearms in places.

I apologize if I seem to be finding outliers, but this ties back into the rhetoric of belief that firearms ownership grants liberty in and of itself, and how there are many, many other ways to more subtly deprive people of rights.

Quote
I support mental health checks on gun ownership. and part of a national mental health system in general. Honestly a better mental health system that included taking away people's rights to guns would have prevented most of the recent gun related tragedies that received so much media attention. But that doesn't seem to fit anyone's narrative. It's either all guns are evil or certain people are inherently evil and there was nothing that could be done except sprinkle more guns everywhere.

I agree, but one needs to be careful about how people phrase this and who may support such an initiative. The general public, the legal system, and the medical communities all have very different definitions of an insane person. There are many mentally ill people who aren't given over to violence or hallucinations, but Hollywood media's done a good job of portraying this as the default. Mental health and the linking of firearms can be perverted into treating the disabled as walking time bombs incapable of defending themselves.

Quote
Your points about how the second amendment has become a smokescreen for other far-right causes are all well made too. It's sad. It's a right that helps all of us and should stay that way, where as currently we risk losing it entirely because it's being fought for so badly by such terrible people who alienate people who don't fall in step with them on everything else too.

I've considered looking into liberal and leftist alternatives for gun clubs and gun rights groups, although they're sadly social outliers. But promoting them here at the very least can do some good. This Salon article summarized 6 of them, which I'll link below.

https://www.redneckrevolt.org/

http://www.pinkpistols.org/

https://www.facebook.com/NAAGA.co/

https://theliberalgunclub.com/

https://twitter.com/HueyGunClub

https://twitter.com/blkgunsmattr

I should note that the last is politically conservative, but is still against police brutality.