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The Right's Second Amendment Lies

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So, it would be counterintuitive -- as well as anti-historical -- to believe that Madison and Washington wanted to arm the population so the discontented could resist the constitutionally elected government. In reality, the Framers wanted to arm the people -- at least the white males -- so uprisings, whether economic clashes like Shays' Rebellion, anti-tax protests like the Whiskey Rebellion, attacks by Native Americans or slave revolts, could be repulsed.

However, the Right has invested heavily during the last several decades in fabricating a different national narrative, one that ignores both logic and the historical record. In this right-wing fantasy, the Framers wanted everyone to have a gun so they could violently resist their own government.

This bogus "history" has then been amplified through the Right's powerful propaganda apparatus -- Fox News, talk radio, the Internet and ideological publications -- to persuade millions of Americans that their possession of semi-automatic assault rifles and other powerful firearms is what the Framers intended, that today's gun-owners are fulfilling some centuries-old American duty.

The mythology about the Framers and the Second Amendment is, of course, only part of the fake history that the Right has created to persuade ill-informed Tea Partiers that they should dress up in Revolutionary War costumes and channel the spirits of men like Washington and Madison.

But this gun fable is particularly insidious because it obstructs efforts by today's government to enact commonsense gun-control laws and thus the false narrative makes possible the kinds of slaughters that erupt periodically across the United States, most recently in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 schoolchildren and six teachers were murdered in minutes by an unstable young man with a civilian version of the M-16 combat rifle.

While it's absurd to think that the Founders could have even contemplated such an act -- in their 18th Century world of single-fire muskets that required time-consuming reloading -- right-wing gun advocates have evaded that obvious reality by postulating that Washington, Madison and other Founders would have wanted a highly armed population to resist the U.S. government.

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Today's American Right is drunk on some very bad history, which is as dangerous as it is false.

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at more...)

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It is rare to see the meaning of the US Constituti... by Mike the Limey on Saturday, Dec 22, 2012 at 4:27:05 PM
Parry attempts to simplify the issue so that it fi... by Joe Giambrone on Saturday, Dec 22, 2012 at 5:01:28 PM
No, really. Stop it. The Framers indeed drafte... by Barry Hirsh on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 7:55:36 AM
you amazingly, but unsurprisingly, missed the Penn... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 11:19:49 AM
also missed what James Madison and Alexander Hamil... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 11:23:08 AM
the Framers wanted to make sure that the people we... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 12:17:31 PM
Your argument is sound except that the pro-gun adv... by gordon coombes on Sunday, Dec 23, 2012 at 4:37:44 PM