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I think it's about time that gun control advocates reclaim the legal high ground in constitutional debates, because frankly the 2nd Amendment not only does not prohibit regulation of firearms, it explicitly states that keeping guns under the control of civil authority is the purpose of the right to bear arms.  What this means is that states which flood their communities with totally unregulated weaponry and refuse to impose any kind of accountability on owners and manufacturers for what follows are violating the Constitution in both letter and spirit, as is the federal government to the extent they allow states to do this.  The NRA and its fellow travelers cannot claim to support the 2nd Amendment when they completely ignore what it says and just make up their own fantasy language that says the exact opposite - from "well-regulated militia" to "totally unregulated proliferation of individual destructive power."

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America at Gunpoint

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 irony is that conservatives who specialize in allegedly "strict constructionist" interpretations of the Constitution that demand absolute adherence to literal language and their speculation about original intent - at least when such standards have the effect of denying people's liberty - magically have all sorts of elaborate and tortuous rationalizations explaining how "well-regulated militia" was just put there as rhetorical garnishment and the Founders didn't really mean it.  In fact, as far as they're concerned not only did the Founders not mean it, they really meant the opposite: That there should be no government involvement whatsoever in determining the particulars of private armament, how they are manufactured, how they are sold and distributed, how they are stored, and how they are monitored.  

In other words, they claim that "well-regulated militia" really means totally unregulated, totally undisciplined, completely unmonitored, and utterly unaccountable distribution of weapons of mass destruction to everyone.  The fact that their claims are Orwellian should not be lost on anyone: According to the NRA, up is down, slavery is freedom, and the 2nd Amendment actually means the opposite of what it says - basically the same way conservatives interpret every other Amendment to the Bill of Rights.  

As far as these people are concerned, freedom of speech means their right to shut everyone else up and deny us any practical ability to seek redress of grievances from elected officials, because silencing people who disagree with them is somehow an act of legitimate expression on their part.  Separation of church and state means that conservative religious beliefs are to be taxpayer funded and shoved down the people's throat, because a state that does not acknowledge the absolute and unquestionable supremacy of their religion is violating their religious freedom.  Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure means that people who are the wrong color, religion, or nationality are automatically guilty; police can do whatever they find convenient without restriction unless the suspect is rich and white; and there is no right to privacy.  Equal rights means that you can deliberately create impediments to voting that specifically target racial minorities and communities that are politically hostile to their agenda.  On and on.

Basically, conservatives have a literally Anti-American worldview: Not just in the sense of being against the laws and principles of this country, but in insisting that those laws and principles are actually the opposite of their plain truth.  They live in Anti America - a mirror universe where the Constitution, the statutory laws, the regulations, the history, and the morals of American society (in fact, of all Western civilization) are interpreted as the exact opposite of their reality.  So it's no surprise that their solution to death is more death; their solution to chaos is more chaos; their solution to poverty is more poverty; and their solution to situations created by their own corrupt, immoral, and lawless attitude toward firearms is to continue promoting and doubling down on that corruption.

In NRA Land, the purpose of guns is guns - exactly like Orwell's description of the purpose of power, and pretty much the same thing.  If more guns, more powerful guns, and even less government control of guns produces the opposite of the freedom and security the 2nd Amendment was designed to guarantee, the NRA does not care: They may issue any number of claims about what they insist their policies will do, but they don't really care whether anything they say is true, because they don't see guns as means to Constitutional ends - they see them as being the end in itself.  They are power, and power trumps law; power trumps freedom; power trumps justice; power trumps truth; power trumps God.  Power is God.  So for them, the more firepower they concentrate in their own hands, the closer they are to becoming God.  Classic psychotic thinking.

Of course, for most of them what passes for "thinking" never even gets to that level. The vast majority seem to fall into a few simple categories of stupidity, ignorance, and irresponsibility:

1.  I am afraid.  Guns make me less afraid.  Ergo guns are inherently good, regulating guns in any way is inherently bad, and I don't care what the consequences are for society in general.

2.  Guns are fun.  Thinking about consequences and responsibilities is not fun.  So shut up.

3.  I have a small penis.  Guns make me a Real Man.  If you make me feel like the kind of man I really am by making me accountable to society, I keeeeeeell you!

On the highest, most abstract level, the dichotomy between the real 2nd Amendment and the one pushed by the NRA boils down to a question of sovereignty: Who holds ultimate sovereignty in America - the People as a whole, acting through democratic elections to appoint representatives, or just any individual who has the desire and money to accumulate power over others and terrorize them into submission?  It's a conflict we see in the so-called "sovereign citizens" movement, which is basically an ideological rationalization of criminality and parasitism on state services that they refuse to contribute anything towards, then "defend" this responsibility-free existence with threats and violence.  It's a futile, nihilistic attitude with no future that comes down to a choice between democracy and medieval feudalism, but the sort of people who promote the latter don't really care about how their behavior affects other people, unfortunately.  It needs to be said that chaos is tyranny too, and a free people cannot accept any policy that allows random individuals to dictate to society as a whole.

Now, not all of this is intractable or one-dimensional, and the first step to really making progress is being assertive about the immorality, irrationality, and unconstitutionality of the anarchic policies the NRA supports and has bought themselves through corruption of government.  There will always be criminal personalities who even then just cannot reconcile themselves to being accountable to society, but for the rest, maybe they could just learn how to read so we can stop burying children for their ignorance.

9:49 PM PT: A good summation that I just realized from responding to comments: The 2nd Amendment is as much about guaranteeing the right of the People as a whole to be free from the tyranny of violent individuals through ensuring that guns are regulated and their owners accountable as it is about ensuring that every individual has a right to the means of self-defense.

9:52 PM PT: I want to be clear here: We don't need to amend or repeal the 2nd Amendment.  It already guarantees the right of the People to not be terrorized by random individuals - that's why it says "well-regulated militia."  They most assuredly did not mean having handguns as cereal box prizes and ammunition vending machines like the NRA wants.

10:13 PM PT: I should also mention the 2nd Amendment explicitly says the purpose of both the individual and group rights it guarantees is for the security of the free state.  Clearly the way the NRA has dictated gun laws to this country (i.e., by throwing them away completely) has not worked to provide security.  Whatever comparisons you want to make between the states with differing gun laws, the fact remains that the most pro-gun state in the country has a murder rate FAR higher than any developed country with strict gun control.  In other words, unregulated gun proliferation does not achieve the goals set out in the 2nd Amendment, but rather does the opposite.  By Constitutional law, governments are thus obligated to seek proven solutions.  


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Originally posted to Troubadour on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 08:47 PM PST.

Also republished by Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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