American Culture

Dear World: Here’s the thing about our guns

ThinkProgress ran a piece on the world’s media wondering about our guns

Dear World:


It’s not hard to understand. Tragic, maybe, YMMV, but not hard to understand. We’d just finished telling King George to get bent, and we did it with force of arms (and the occasional military genius and a huge helping of good luck and really lousy logistics for the Brits). We tried a loose confederation of states that failed because there was no central government with enough teeth to make the states play nice together (read: actually *pay* money owed). It was a problem. Delegates were sent to patch up the mess, but that was the whole expectation. Same loose confederation, but one that works.

The delegates came up with a totally different resolution, our current constitution, which, as written, left a lot of things to be desired. Ten of those things, some of them actually being a bunch of other things tossed together sort of higgledy-piggledly, became the Bill of Rights. It’s important to remember that the Bill of Rights is largely the bone that got thrown to placate holdouts on the fruits of a Constitutional Convention that ultimately read like a grand game of bait and switch that was only intended from the beginning to benefit wealthy land speculators.

It was important to carve gun rights into the Second Amendment because those holdouts were, among other things, *really* concerned about another King George, and they knew what to do about King Georges, but you need your guns to do it. Any new government taking the place of the government that took the place of King George that tried to somehow block gun ownership (in the day of single-shot muzzle-loading rifles) was never going to get any love from gun-owning Americans, which was pretty much all of them at the time.

And the reasons to have those guns were numerous. Other than new outbreaks of the King Georges to worry about, there were those pesky Injuns who weren’t smart enough to build a wall to keep us out, and the occasional uppity slave thought that slipping his shackles would make him free so they needed patrolling. Keeping the larder full of meat and keeping the wolves from the doorstep in the most literal sense also factored in. Different groups can wiggle those priorities around all they want.

Jump ahead in time. A bunch of uppity Southern states decided that they didn’t like the kind of economic warfare (abolition of slavery) the otherwise entirely racist industrial North was conducting against its benighted, slave-holding agrarian neighbors, and didn’t like it so much that one by one they all wrote up their own new constitutions that specifically preserved slavery (weird how that was such a singular focus in all of them, huh), and shot a bunch of Americans who were shooting back at them, and hoo boy, more Americans died in that mess than on any other occasion, in part thanks to Northern monsters like Sherman (may he not have a statue or a school named after him, either). Oh, and the South lost. Hard.

Now, the North, having just whooped a bunch o’ Southern ass, got back to the business of governing, and they governed hard and weird. With the 13th Amendment, the losers were effectively American again, and they supported that one just fine. But Reconstruction was a golden time mostly for Northern profit-takers and carpetbaggers, and they pretty much went full-on Iraq regime change on the South with the 14th Amendment, which is typically referred to as “contested.” Really, it was a raw deal for the South, but one they pretty much had coming. Basically, if you rebelled, you don’t get to govern. The South really wasn’t okay with that, because I guess one implication was that the oh-so-benevolent North would just put their own in charge of all the things. The South wasn’t going to ratify that one without a fight, so, in fine American form, Congress moved the goalposts and deprived the South of its vote, rammed it through, and called it a day. And the South got its voice back, but only after.

As to our guns, if we were ever going to resolve that issue, that was the time to do it. Congress could have said “while we’re already screwing you, here, no guns.” And they’d have had the best possible arguments for it, and those arguments could maybe have carried the day. No more slaves…no more slave patrols. The industrial revolution made it possible to mass produce guns in a way that wasn’t possible when the Constitution was written, so they had more context for what could be done with them. And oh, all those millions of American bodies created with guns because one group of Americans decided they really needed to own people more than they needed peace.

For some reason, we didn’t take the opportunity when we had it.

Now, to fix it (if fixing it is what it would be), we need to have a long series of liberal Supreme Court jurists in the majority for at least a few generations who could dismantle our current understanding of gun rights with new interpretations that take modernity into account. Or we need an effective repeal movement that can get repeal of the Second Amendment ratified by 3/4 of the states. Betting people won’t take that wager. Or we need a broader Article V approach to re-writing our constitution because maybe having the oldest ongoing one isn’t the brightest thing we can do, but that opens up all kinds of ugly possibilities where some things get much better and others much worse and who am I kidding, nothing that comes of such a convention would get 3/4 of the states on board for ratification. Or we need to find a way for the disagreeing parties to part ways amicably, but that’s also not likely. Or we need to figure out how to cope with this peculiarly American monster for whom nobody and everybody are simultaneously responsible. The things that would make us competent to handle the mixed curses and blessings of gun ownership cost money and reek of socialist indoctrination or something, so we won’t get improvements in education that lead to better coping skills and conflict resolution, and we won’t get improved mental health care, but we will probably add more metal detectors here and there, and institute more zero-tolerance policies that Just Aren’t Racist(TM) on the one hand, and the other hand will keep trying to legislate away the latest thing that had nothing to do with the most recent tragedy because it’s important to look morally correct, which that first hand will roundly decry and denounce, and…

This just in: Rich Celebrity Famous for Celebrity Shoves Objects in Orifice because Toxins and things.

Climate change is a hoax.

Sandy Hook might have been a false flag. And crisis actors! Who doesn’t love actors?

Anti-vaxxers often overlap with anti-GMOers, which is an odd thing when you think about it.

And even Flat Earth Theory is experiencing a bit of a renaissance.

Yeah, big mystery about our guns.

2 replies »

  1. Maybe it should(heh!) be mandated that all the guns owned and manufactured must be “single-shot muzzle-loading rifles)