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The Gun Problem: From What the 2nd Amend. Really Says through Who the Enemy of Gun Safety Really Is to Some Thoughts on

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"If this country doesn't kill racism, racism will kill this country." (Steven Jonas, Aug. 2018)


Although you wouldn't know it from the very limited response from that state's governor, Texas is currently leading the country in the outbreak of mass shootings. Which is a typical Repub. response to these recurring tragedies. Fortunately, not so for many other political leaders, who are focusing on gun violence, especially those mass shootings carried out with "military-style assault weapons." As every reader of OpEdNews knows we have been here before, over and over again, and over and over again. And as long as the Repubs. have their trigger fingers on at least one branch of the Federal government, nothing happens. There are several points that can be made in regard of both why the Repubs. do this and what could actually be done about the problem, of mass shootings, at least.

First let's deal with the matter of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, which, of course is always at the center of the Constitution, in re"My/their 2nd Amendment Rights." It reads, to wit:

"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."

So what does it really say? It is ambiguous in many ways, but for most of its history the Supreme Court has interpreted it to mean that it does NOT grant to every citizen an unlimited right to own one or more weapons of unspecified types. In fact, Former Chief Justice Burger, no weak-kneed radical he, had the following to say about the matter: "The idea that the Second Amendment guarantees the right of an individual to own a gun is a 'fraud.' "

It was Justice Scalia, in "Heller," writing for a 5-4 majority, who opened the door to the "unregulated private gun ownership" argument. Now it happens that Heller refers to guns in the home. But the gun industry front (more on that below), aided by the Repubs. who they fund in massive amounts, just ran away with what Scalia said. Both of course ignored the first two phrases of the 2nd, and pretend that its text begins with the words "the right."

Supreme Court Grave Diggers (updated with Kavanaugh).  What a happy bunch. On their way to burying democracy too.
Supreme Court Grave Diggers (updated with Kavanaugh). What a happy bunch. On their way to burying democracy too.
(Image by DonkeyHotey)
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Now, along with the late Justice Scalia, you might be surprised to know, I happen to be a big fan of strict constructionism when interpreting the Constitution. (Of course, Scalia honored that commitment only in the breach, as for example, reversing Supreme Court precedent in this particular matter. But that's another story.) The Amendment is somewhat ambiguous to be sure. But in reading its plain language, when taken as a whole, it is quite obvious that it can mean only one of two things. One, it provides a right to the people, in the protection of the free state, to form well-regulated militias. Or two, it provides to individuals the right to bear arms, in a well-regulated system for the protection of the free state.

But the NRA and it political allies have not read it that way. Thus so far, with the Repubs. having had substantial control of the Federal government, in one way or another, for many years now nothing has happened in the way of promoting gun safety and gun-ownership control. And the gun violence in this country continues unabated, not just in the matter of mass shootings, but also in the matter of gun deaths per se, in comparison with every other advanced capitalist country (which don't have lower incidences of mental illness, by the way). The number stands at around 40,000 per year . But in constructing some kind of long-range political-legal program to deal with the matter, here are several thoughts on the matter of what else might be added to the arguments for gun legislation that could actually work to reduce gun deaths.

Thus, even with Scalia's opinion in "Heller" the door was opened wide to interpreting the 2nd Amendment as sanctioning unlimited gun-ownership rights only by a mass advertising campaign run by the NRA and supported by countless Repub. politicians, including the present President. Neither the 2nd nor "Heller" says that. This should be emphasized.

Second, it has to be recognized by the gun control-regulation forces that the primary opponent to change is not the NRA. The NRA is only a front organization. The real opponents of gun safety/control legislation are the six major weapons industries: the rifle/long-gun/automatic weapons industry; the hand-gun industry (sometimes the same as the one just above; sometimes not); the gun ammunition industry; the gun dealers industry (wholesale and retail); the gun show industry; and the on-line gun-sales industry (which can be connected to all of the above, or not). It is to these segments of U.S. commerce, and in some cases the hedge-funds etc. that own them, all major funders of the Republican Party and Republican politicians, to which political, economic, and social pressure should be turned. Further, the point should be made that the primary reason that they want no gun-ownership restrictions of any kind is simply so that they can sell more guns, more ammunition, in more places, for more profit.

Third, few seem to notice that even under the broadest, pro-gun interpretation of the Second Amendment, gun ownership is already limited. Private parties cannot own, let's say, mounted machine guns, rocket propelled grenade launchers, artillery guns, mortars and anti-tank weapons. Or ground-to-air missiles. "Ooops! I was aiming at the black helicopter I'm sure I saw and happened to bring down an airliner with 300 passengers aboard. Sorry. I was simply operating within my Second Amendment rights." And then, what about the guns on tanks? Modern tanks have several guns, usually one fairly large cannon and one heavy machine gun, and they may as well have one anti-aircraft weapon. If the 2nd permits unlimited gun-ownership, why can't one have the guns that come with tanks?

Want a gun?  How about this one?
Want a gun? How about this one?
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Of course, then one would have to deal with the vehicular part of the tank. Would one need to register it and have a license in order to drive it? Does the 2nd prohibit any regulation of tank driving as well as tank-gun shooting? While according to the presumed NRA position on guns in common ownership and commonly used, there could be no liability from firing the cannon if no one were maimed or killed, but what about liability from running over someone while driving the tank? And would the owner have to pay for road damage? Tanks do tend to dig up pavements, donchaknow. Yes indeed. Tanks for the memories. So many questions, so few answers.

But the point here is, obviously, private ownership of many kinds of guns is already prohibited. This should be one of the principal arguments made in favor of once again prohibiting the private ownership of assault rifles and their relatives. And oh by the way, the former assault weapons ban did work [SJ1] to reduce deaths from such weapons.

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a "Trusted Author," he is a Senior Editor, (more...)
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Incorporated Persons pay rent-to-own judges to listen to their issues. Incorporated Persons pay their employees to attend Trump rallies. Incorporated Persons are rewarded with contracts to provide essential government services. Incorporated Persons are government. Incorporated Persons are hiring anyone willing to "just follow orders".

Submitted on Saturday, Sep 7, 2019 at 1:49:06 PM

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"It indicates that a militia is necessary to fight against any form of tyranny against this country and, secondly, it gives citizens the right to possess firearms. That's it, the intent could not be more clear!

"But now, that amendment that allowed citizens to keep and bear arms, has been bastardized to the point that James Madison, who was instrumental in creating the amendment, and his fellow Founding Fathers, wouldn't be able to comprehend what it now has become.

How has it been bastardized? For example, where in that statement does it say that there should be no limits to what citizens of this country could do as related to their possession and use of guns?

Where does it say that the gun industry and its chief lobbyist, the NRA, should have the right to dictate and control what this government should do relative to citizens owning and using guns? It doesn't. Nevertheless, those in the current Congress, specifically Republicans, do exactly what these two gun entities tell them to do in exchange for dirty campaign money contributions."

"Where does it say that anyone can buy and use, if they so choose, military-style assault weapons with huge ammunition magazines? It doesn't, but those murder weapons are being used in various parts of this country to gun down our children in their schools, people in churches and shopping malls, actually anywhere in America.

These corrupted politicians and the gun industry have managed, over a period of time, to successfully corrupt, to distort the meaning of the Second Amendment into what they want it to be.

"Madison and those who helped him create this important amendment kept the language simple because, as previously stated, it was about maintaining the security of the state against threats of tyranny. They saw no need to go into great detail to cover all the possible interpretations because they, no doubt, trusted that future governmental leaders would take care of that.

"How wrong they were.

"They would be aghast at the mass murders becoming common in America, with domestic terrorists using powerful killing machines. They would be horrified at the fact that a large part of those in Congress, mostly Republicans, would fight tooth and nail to prevent the banning of them.

"America has often been described by various presidents and members of Congress as being "exceptional." Well, I guess, in a way, that is the case. America is the only nation among the 32 developed countries in the world that has a government and a particular political party that allows these slaughters of innocent citizens to go on and on while doing nothing about it. Yes, that is truly exceptional, i.e., uncommon, abnormal, and deviant.

"The children of America no longer feel safe in their schools knowing that, at any given time, they could be attacked. And when one of these terrible events take place at some school this president and his fellow Republicans in the US Senate send their "thoughts and prayers" to the families of the victims. What complete hypocrisy! After each one they go about their business, totally ignoring this massive problem.

"In this country, we now have an American shooting gallery with Americans as the targets. Millions of people watch as these mass shootings continue and wonder if there is anywhere they can go where they could not be gunned down. The answer is that there is nowhere where they can feel safe anymore. That's a part of the New Normal in our society.

"What is absolutely incomprehensible is how Republicans, in the past few years, watched as domestic terrorists killed 20 children at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newton, Ct, 50 people at an Orlando nightclub, 59 attendees at a Las Vegas concert, and 17 students at Parkland high school. Just recently they watched as these murders took place in El Paso, Tx, Dayton, OH, and Gilroy, Ca. They took no action of any kind.

"This is not just tragic, this is a national crisis, reaching epidemic proportions. Since the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012, there have been some 2,214 mass shootings with 2,494 people killed and 9,274 wounded. Here's a question I often ask: what kind of human beings can watch this carnage take place across our country, completely ignore it, and simply look the other way? That is evil of the highest order.

"Given the fact that "Massacre Mitch", his fellow Republicans, and this callow president refuse to do anything to control this situation what can the people of America do? Well, there's use in trying to force these lowest of the low individuals to act in this regard, that's not going to work. There is only one way that will work and it is to force them out of office, out of this government.

The #1 objective must be to remove all of them over, mainly through national elections. Of course, that's easier said than done but it can be done, it must be done, and it will be done. This process will take time and must begin in the 2020 elections.

If the Democrats beat Trump, and it looks like they will, and they also take control of the Senate, then it will allow actions to be taken to bring these mass shootings under control. With McConnell out of the way, effective legislation can be enacted. If the Republicans try to block all the attempts to do this by invoking the filibuster, then Democrats should take measures to eliminate it.

Now, there is one more method that will help greatly to remove these Republicans. Yes, the best way to remove them is by voting them out of office. But we need a way to speed up this process so those Republicans under the control of the NRA should be identified so that the American people can more easily target them for removal.

It would be very beneficial to see someone like Tom Steyer, currently, a Democratic candidate for president, use some of his money to run commercials all over America well ahead of the 2020 elections. These commercials should feature those NRA-controlled politicians and explain exactly how they are refusing to do the will of the American people concerning this issue.

The final question is: will the American people allow these un-American entities to twist and bend the meaning of the Second Amendment so that it outweighs the critical need to significantly reduce the incidence of mass shootings?"

Michael Payne wrote all the above in Twisting, Distorting the meaning of the Second Amendment... and I agree.

Submitted on Sunday, Sep 8, 2019 at 1:11:12 AM

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