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In the waning hours of the legislative session, the GA legislators passed a low allowing the carriers of concealed weapons to bring them into restaurants and on public transportation, but, due to opposition from the Chamber of Commerce, not to one's place of employment, not even to the parking lot outside the job in one's car.

At the same time, police are reportedly going door to door in selected neighborhoods of Washington DC canvassing apartments and asking to search them for guns and drugs, promising amnesty for anything they find.  Whether they are taking special note of those who refuse a search nobody can say.  

Why does the US Constitution guarantee citizens "the right to bear arms," but not the right to an education or health care or a clean environment, as do the more modern Constitutions of other nations?  Why is there no right to a guaranteed income or a job, or housing?  What was so important in early America, about the right of citizens to have guns?   And like much else in US history, is it even possible to have an honest discussion about the Second Amendment without acknowledging its racist origin?

"America's built, we understand, by stolen labor on stolen land" - Brother D and Collective Effort, 1980

The dominant trend among legal scholars, and on the current Supreme Court is that we are bound by the original intent of the Constitution's authors. Here's what the second amendment to the Constitution says:

"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."

Clearly its authors aimed to guarantee the right to a gun for every free white man in their new country. What's no longer evident 230 years later, is why. The answer sheds useful light on the historical and current politics and self-image of our nation.

Colonial America and the early US was a very unequal place. All the good, cleared, level agricultural land with easy access to transport was owned by a very few, very wealthy white men. Many poor whites were brought over as indentured servants, but having completed their periods of forced labor, allowing them to hang around the towns and cities landless and unemployed was dangerous to the social order. So they were given guns and credit, and sent inland to make their own fortunes, encroaching upon the orchards, farms and hunting grounds of Native Americans, who had little or no access to firearms. The law, of course did not penalize white men who robbed, raped or killed Indians. At regular intervals, colonial governors and local US officials would muster the free armed white men as militia, and dispatch them in murderous punitive raids to make the frontier safer for settlers and land speculators.

"The principal activities of the Founding Fathers' 'well regulated militia' were Indian killing, land stealing, slave patrolling and the enforcement of domestic apartheid."

Slavery remained legal in New England, New York and the mid-Atlantic region till well into the 1800s, and the movements of free blacks and Indians were severely restricted for decades afterward. So colonial and early American militia also prowled the roads and highways demanding the passes of all non-whites, to ensure the enslaved were not escaping or aiding those who were, and that free blacks were not plotting rebellion or traveling for unapproved reasons.

Historically then, the principal activities of the Founding Fathers' "well regulated militia" were Indian killing, land stealing, slave patrolling and the enforcement of domestic apartheid, all of these, as the Constitutional language declares "being necessary to the security of a free state." A free state whose fundamental building blocks were the genocide of Native Americans, and the enslavement of Africans.

The Constitutional sanction of universally armed white men arrayed against blacks and Indians is at the origin of what has come to be known as America's "gun culture," and it neatly explains why that culture remains most deeply rooted in white, rural and small-town America long after the end of slavery and the close of the frontier. With the genocide of Native Americans accomplished and slavery gone, America's gun culture wrapped itself in new clothing, in self-justifying mythology that construes the Second Amendment as arming the citizenry as final bulwark of freedom against tyranny, invasion or crime. Embracing this fake history of the Second Amendments warps our legal scholarship and historical understanding.  It wraps our public debate in clouds of willful ignorance, encouraging us to believe this is a nation founded on just and egalitarian principles rather than one built with stolen labor on stolen land.

Maybe this is how we can tell that we are finally so over all that nasty genocide and racism stuff. We've chosen to simply write it out of our history.

Audio version of this is available here.

Originally posted to zumbi50 on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 10:10 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Is this for real? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rex Manning

    At the same time, police are reportedly going door to door in selected neighborhoods of Washington DC canvassing apartments and asking to search them for guns and drugs, promising amnesty for anything they find.  Whether they are taking special note of those who refuse a search nobody can say.  

    I'd sure like to see some documentation of this.  It's outrageous if true.

    Thank you Senator Dodd!

    by jrooth on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 10:16:09 AM PDT

    •  This was proposed in Boston, too (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, jrooth, Rex Manning

      This was proposed as a measure in Boston, but eventually it was canned due to lack of community support.  Amazingly, the police seemed genuinely shocked and confused that the communities they targeted wouldn't like the idea of cops coming in a searching their homes on a regular basis (idiots).

      The underlying idea is the "consent" search, under which if someone "consents" to being searched, 4th amendment protections cease to apply.  This, IMHO, is one of the worst and most widely abused police powers to which SCOTUS has continued to give sanction.  In NJ, as I understand, abuse of "consent" searches became such a problem that the legislature actually made it illegal for a police officer to ask for consent to search without first having probable cause that a crime had been committed.  This is sometimes still a weak protection, since traffic violations may suit the bill, but at least it's something.

      •  Huh ... (0+ / 0-)

        Disturbing.  But I guess it's just part of that "if you don't have anything to hide" mentality.

        People just don't recognize the long-term implications of instituting that kind of regime.

        Thank you Senator Dodd!

        by jrooth on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 12:01:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  "selected neighborhoods" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, jrooth

      like Georgetown, Capitol Hill?

      </snark>

      I'm not licensed to practice in this state.

      by ben masel on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 11:04:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  huh? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zumbi50, gfv6800

    2nd Amendment = genocide?

    Interesting and warped perspective and interpretation of history and constitutional legislative history.

    Go to hell...or at least back to school and learn something other than lie mongering.

    Impeachment...if it's still off the table, can we at least kick it around the floor a bit? AnnieJo

    by SallyCat on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 10:17:03 AM PDT

    •  It was poorly written but there is truth to the (6+ / 0-)

      claim that part of the motivation behind the 2nd Amendment was the fear of Southern slave owners that the Continental Army would not be called out to help them if there was a slave revolt.

      Between 1650-1850 there were more than 50 such revolts, of varying sizes in the South.  The historian Herbert Aptheker wrote extensively on slave revolts, and another historian, Gary Wills, has written on the 2nd Amendment as it relates to slavery.

      We have wasted history like a bunch of drunks shooting dice in the men's crapper of the local bar. --Charles Bukowski, Notes of a Dirty Old Man

      by Kab ibn al Ashraf on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 10:24:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But later, (4+ / 0-)

        the first modern gun control laws were passed in post-reconstruction south to disarm blacks.

        The modern gun  control movement took off in response to a lawful, peaceable, and armed assembly by the Black panther party for Self-defense on the steps of the California State Capitol.

        I'm not licensed to practice in this state.

        by ben masel on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 10:38:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Absolutely correct, Ben. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ben masel, jrooth, Rex Manning, daliscar

          The images of Black Panthers in the late 1960's, walking around armed, was too much for Whitey.

          We have wasted history like a bunch of drunks shooting dice in the men's crapper of the local bar. --Charles Bukowski, Notes of a Dirty Old Man

          by Kab ibn al Ashraf on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 10:41:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Don't forget the Deacons, a self protecting (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ben masel, jrooth, Rex Manning

            group throughout the south to stop nightriding terrorism.

          •  Not the first time Whitey was scared (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            litho, jrooth

            The images of Black Panthers in the late 1960's, walking around armed, was too much for Whitey.

            The Black Panthers image was an updated version of scary armed Blacks that has been around for a long time.

            During reconstruction newspapers, specifically the Atlanta Constitution, would periodically remind its readers of the slave revolt of Nat Turner who killed several Whites.  The horrifying detail of the articles sent shivers down your spine and instilled the fear of what armed Blacks would do.

            The largest article on Nat Turner had gruesome images and ran just before the US invasion of Cuba in 1898.  Around the same time the newspaper ran numerous stories concerning armed Black soldiers and as troops began to prepare for the invasion trainloads of  armed Blacks and Yankees were "Marching through Georgia" on their way to Cuba.  Armed Blacks and Yankees was scary stuff in the South back then.

            Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.-- Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

            by sweettp2063 on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 11:42:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Look where the cities are that have gun control (0+ / 0-)

          I'm from Chicago.  It's been next to impossible to legally own a handgun in Chicago for a generation,  Look at NYC, Washington.  I bet Philly has similar laws, and Detroit.  Any patterns here?

          The point I was making was that a real discussion of this requires us to recognize where the 2nd Amendment came from.  The myth about an armed citizenry being the last defense against domestic tyranny, foreign invasion and crime is a relatively recent one, coming into being more than a hundred years after the 2nd Amendment.

          But since we can barely discuss slavery at all, and  mentions of the genocide of Indians are utterly beyond the pale, it's hard to imagine an honest and truthful discussion of the 2nd Amendment, even in a legal system which supposedly looks to the "original intent" of the founders.  This is a case where discussion of the constitutional language begins with completely denying the "original intent" of the document's writers.

    •  RE slavery, maybe (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rex Manning

      Indians? Not so much.

      strongly suggests that Madison wrote this provision for the specific purpose of assuring his constituency that Congress could not use its newly acquired power to deprive the states of an armed militia. Madison's concern, Professor Bogus argues, was not hunting, self-defense, national defense, or resistance to governmental tyranny—but slave control.

      http://www.vpc.org/...

    •  You may have missed the part (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rex Manning

      where the diarist linked to Edmund Morgan's American Slavery, American Freedom, widely considered a classic work on American colonial history.

      Morgan argues directly that following Bacon's Rebellion in 1676 the Virginia gentry allowed poor whites to organize military expeditions against western Indians -- as a way of maintaining social order in the settled areas of the East.

      Indian fighting was still a major activity on the western frontier at the time of the Bill of Rights.  Article 3 of the Northwest Ordinance, passed in 1787, expressly excluded Indians from US citizenship and laid the groundwork for the subsequent genocidal wars inflicted upon them in the early nineteenth century.

    •  warped? Lie mongering? Back to school (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      litho

      Tsk, tsk.  Where's the lie?  

      Friends who live in DC told me about the door to soor search last month.  I personally saw the same thing done in Chicago on more than one occasion, in public housing where I used to be a community organizer during the 70s and 80s, a neighborhood called Cabrini-Green.  In fact, the first time I saw a door to door warrantless search of an entire neighborhood for guns, it was following the shooting of two cops from 1117-1119 Cleveland in 1971.  The Chicago Police cordoned off a little less than a quarter square mile, most of the Cabrini Green high rises and knocked on every doo, breaking down the doors if they were not promptly answers, and confiscating every firearm without warrants, receipts or anything, and administering a number of salutory beatings.

      The history is pretty much straight also.  I linked in the piece to a book called American Slavery, American Freedom, The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia by Edmund Wilson, quite a reputable historian, which contains the sketch of colonial life and the origin of gun culture.  Can't call the page number right now, but you can google the bool online and search for "gun culture" and it'll pop up.

      So I ain't lyin'.  I cannot document the DC stuff, at least not today, but having seen it done before in the projects in my native Chicago on multiple occasions it does not sound at all farfetched.

  •  My guess is that most guns in colonial times (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SallyCat, jrooth, Rex Manning

    were never fired at another human.

    Other than the revolutionary war the average farmer probably used his or her gun to shoot deer, turkeys etc. a whole lot more than killing people of any race.

    The vast majority of times guns are fired now is for hunting and sport.  

    I'll bet that if you document the number of times guns are fired at people in the commission of a crime in the entire country in any given year, it would not equal the number of rounds fired on the opening day of dove or duck season in California alone.  You have something just under 1 million duck hunters who probably average over 100 rounds a year, and that is just one sporting use.  Stand out in the rice fields on opening day and listen.  Go to a rifle range and county empties in one day.

    My guess also is that far more native Americans were killed by disease, spread intentionally or otherwise, and by deprivation of food and living space than by gunfire.

    "We will now proceed to construct the socialist order."

    by 7November on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 10:25:40 AM PDT

    •  Yes, disease was the #1 killer. By far. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      daliscar

      Domesticated animals in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, for example, carried all kinds of bugs that were passed onto the Europeans, and they developed immunity to the bugs, but the native Americans had no such immunity, not only to those bugs but all kinds of other diseases and illnesses as well.

      Hence Guns, Germs and Steel, by Diamond, with germs being the big killer.

      This also partly explains why blacks were kidnapped and brought to the New World--they had the immunity and didn't die like natives that were enslaved, plus the Africans were brought to a strange land where running away often meant death due to exposure and starvation.

      We have wasted history like a bunch of drunks shooting dice in the men's crapper of the local bar. --Charles Bukowski, Notes of a Dirty Old Man

      by Kab ibn al Ashraf on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 10:36:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Alfred Crosby told the story first (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        7November

        and better in The Columbian Exchange and Ecological Imperialism.

        Diamond is a hack, and is particularly poor in his discussion of African-European relations.

        •  I particularly like how Diamond discusses (0+ / 0-)

          "kleptocracies" when what he is really taking about class exploitation and class divided societies.

          I wouldn't go so far as to call him a hack--that's reserved for Bill Kristol types.  Diamond writes for the general public, and he synthesizes to that end.

          Thanks for the heads up on Crosby.

          We have wasted history like a bunch of drunks shooting dice in the men's crapper of the local bar. --Charles Bukowski, Notes of a Dirty Old Man

          by Kab ibn al Ashraf on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 11:01:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I read GGS early on (0+ / 0-)

          I was not really very impressed actually.

          And the PBS series was not very revelatory either.

          And the amount of time he spends refuting an argument (Europeans are more intelligent than any other group of people that is why the industrialized first) that no serious scholar makes any longer, is annoying.

          "We will now proceed to construct the socialist order."

          by 7November on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 11:37:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Hall of Famer John McGraw got malaria in Macon, (0+ / 0-)

        GA and other ballplayers, just to stay with one profession, caught it as far north as New Jersey. In the early years of the 20th century, whole minor leagues were shut down at mid season due to Yellow Fever outbreaks in Texas and Louisiana.
        With climate change and the planned deterioration of the Public Health Service, these diseases can come back.

    •  True, but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      7November

      My guess also is that far more native Americans were killed by disease, spread intentionally or otherwise, and by deprivation of food and living space than by gunfire.

      True, but....

      For example: Wounded Knee.  A US Military campaign against the Native Americans began before the Civil War killing many with guns and took a breif pause during the war but then resumed.  The slaughter was sanctioned US policy.

      Also, as people moved west if a Native American stole a cow out of hunger from the Whites and even if tribal members presented the culprit for punishment the Whites would go on a rampage and kill most of the tribe.  That's just one example out of hundreds more that can be found in history books.

      The Trail of Tears should not be forgotten.  Although most of the Cherokee died from exposure, exhaustion or both, the US Military carrying guns forced the relocation.

      Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.-- Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

      by sweettp2063 on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 10:55:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I always thought Kennesaw GA had it right in 1982 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zumbi50

    http://www.rense.com/...

    I lived near there and it was pretty funny to watch the rednecks respond to the gun debate.

    Buy a gun or we is throwin' your __ in jail, we is.

    "We will now proceed to construct the socialist order."

    by 7November on Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 10:30:47 AM PDT

    •  I live just outside Kennesaw GA (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      7November

      Lat year when I went with stepson to traffic court in Woodstock GA, just north of here, they give out trigger locks at City Hall for free.  On the package it says "gun control".

BYw

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