Another Bad Day in Tombstone USA
The title is mine. We do not appear to have any good guys as portrayed in all the western movies we would see on the big screen. No Wyatt Earp or Matt Dillion to take care of the bad guys.
Maybe Justice Clarence will get out there and pull a bit of guard duty to protect the majority against a minority of abusers. I think there is enough historical data to support such an action by him. McCarthy maybe? Big on talk and little do . . .
May 6th, Letters from an American, Prof. Heather Cox – Richardson
For years now, after one massacre or another, I have written some version of the same article, explaining that the nation’s current gun free-for-all is not traditional but, rather, is a symptom of the takeover of our nation by a radical extremist minority. The idea that massacres are “the price of freedom,” as right-wing personality Bill O’Reilly said in 2017 after the Mandalay Bay massacre in Las Vegas, in which a gunman killed 60 people and wounded 411 others, is new, and it is about politics, not our history.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution, on which modern-day arguments for widespread gun ownership rest, is one simple sentence:
“A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
There’s not a lot to go on about what the Framers meant, although in their day, to “bear arms” meant to be part of an organized militia.
As the Tennessee Supreme Court wrote in 1840, “A man in the pursuit of deer, elk, and buffaloes might carry his rifle every day for forty years, and yet it would never be said of him that he had borne arms; much less could it be said that a private citizen bears arms because he has a dirk or pistol concealed under his clothes, or a spear in a cane.”
Today’s insistence that the Second Amendment gives individuals a broad right to own guns comes from two places.
One is the establishment of the National Rifle Association in New York in 1871, in part to improve the marksmanship skills of American citizens who might be called on to fight in another war, and in part to promote in America the British sport of elite shooting, complete with hefty cash prizes in newly organized tournaments. Just a decade after the Civil War, veterans jumped at the chance to hone their former skills. Rifle clubs sprang up across the nation.
By the 1920s, rifle shooting was a popular American sport. “Riflemen” competed in the Olympics, in colleges, and in local, state, and national tournaments organized by the NRA. Being a good marksman was a source of pride, mentioned in public biographies, like being a good golfer. In 1925, when the secretary of the NRA apparently took money from ammunition and arms manufacturers, the organization tossed him out and sued him.
NRA officers insisted on the right of citizens to own rifles and handguns but worked hard to distinguish between law-abiding citizens who should have access to guns for hunting and target shooting and protection, and criminals and mentally ill people, who should not. In 1931, amid fears of bootlegger gangs, the NRA backed federal legislation to limit concealed weapons; prevent possession by criminals, the mentally ill and children; to require all dealers to be licensed; and to require background checks before delivery. It backed the 1934 National Firearms Act, and parts of the 1968 Gun Control Act, designed to stop what seemed to be America’s hurtle toward violence in that turbulent decade.
But in the mid-1970s a faction in the NRA forced the organization away from sports and toward opposing “gun control.” It formed a political action committee (PAC) in 1975, and two years later it elected an organization president who abandoned sporting culture and focused instead on “gun rights.”
This was the second thing that led us to where we are today: leaders of the NRA embraced the politics of Movement Conservatism, the political movement that rose to combat the business regulations and social welfare programs that both Democrats and Republicans embraced after World War II.
Movement Conservatives embraced the myth of the American cowboy as a white man standing against the “socialism” of the federal government as it sought to level the economic playing field between Black Americans and their white neighbors.
Leaders like Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater personified the American cowboy, with his cowboy hat and opposition to government regulation, while television Westerns showed good guys putting down bad guys without the interference of the government.
In 1972 the Republican platform had called for gun control to restrict the sale of “cheap handguns,” but in 1975, as he geared up to challenge President Gerald R. Ford for the 1976 presidential nomination, Movement Conservative hero Ronald Reagan took a stand against gun control. In 1980, the Republican platform opposed the federal registration of firearms, and the NRA endorsed a presidential candidate—Reagan—for the first time.
When President Reagan took office, a new American era, dominated by Movement Conservatives, began. And the power of the NRA over American politics grew.
In 1981 a gunman trying to kill Reagan shot and paralyzed his press secretary, James Brady, and wounded Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy and police officer Thomas Delahanty. After the shooting, then-representative Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced legislation that became known as the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, or the Brady Bill, to require background checks before gun purchases. Reagan, who was a member of the NRA, endorsed the bill, but the NRA spent millions of dollars to defeat it.
After the Brady Bill passed in 1993, the NRA paid for lawsuits in nine states to strike it down. Until 1959, every single legal article on the Second Amendment was concluding it was no guarantee for individuals the right to own a gun. But in the 1970s, legal scholars funded by the NRA had begun to argue that the Second Amendment did exactly that.
In 1997, when the Brady Bill cases came before the Supreme Court as Printz v. United States, the Supreme Court declared parts of the measure unconstitutional.
Now a player in national politics, the NRA was awash in money from gun and ammunition manufacturers. By 2000 it was one of the three most powerful lobbies in Washington. It spent more than $40 million on the 2008 election. In that year, the landmark Supreme Court decision of District of Columbia v. Heller struck down gun regulations and declared that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms.
Increasingly, NRA money backed Republican candidates. In 2012 the NRA spent $9 million in the presidential election, and in 2014 it spent $13 million. Then, in 2016, it spent over $50 million on Republican candidates, including more than $30 million on Trump’s effort to win the White House. This money was vital to Trump, since many other Republican super PACs refused to back him. The NRA spent more money on Trump than any other outside group, including the leading Trump super PAC, which spent $20.3 million.
The unfettered right to own and carry weapons has come to symbolize the Republican Party’s ideology of individual liberty. Lawmakers and activists have not been able to overcome Republican insistence on gun rights despite the mass shootings that have risen since their new emphasis on guns.
Tonight, I am, once again, posting yet another version of this article.
Data Detailing Types of Guns and Deaths in the U.S., Angry Bear
Why Do Republicans Allow the Slaughtering of Children to Protect Guns? Angry Bear
I have been watching a lot of old Gunsmoke episodes. Matt Dillon banned carrying guns in Dodge in more than one of them. In some episodes he tells someone to get out of town, just because, and in others he cannot act because someone has broken no laws. Even for a fictionalization of the old west, it sometimes seems very odd compared with how we do things today. Not all the endings are happy.
The USA was born with a few curses attached to the body politic.
One was slavery. We got over that, more or less, after a bitter struggle that continues to this day in some ways.
Another was ‘free speech’, in the form of the 1st Amendment. That became manifest when it was realized that anyting uttered or printed, especially in pursuit of votes, was, eventually giving way to the Citizen’s United decision by the Supreme Court which declared that wealthy people who could afford to publish their opinions were entitled to do so, even if ordinary people who could not afford to do so were not. The ‘Big Lie’ was born.
Another was ‘the right to bear arms’ (2nd Amendment), usually not including automatic firearms – fortunately. Semi-auto will have to do. Something to do with being ready to join the nation’s armed forces and protect the citizenry from danger. How is that working out?
So, that’s how it has to be in The Land of the Free & the Home of the Brave. Live free or die.
maybe live and die?
Yep. Or as we say
in this part of the Good Ol’ USA, Ayuh.
About the Word “Ayuh”
all this tells us someting about the nature of politics in a democracy (this one, today). but it doesn’t tell us much about the wisdom of gun control, maybe that is assumed as obvious. but mostly it doesn’t tell us about the difficulty of “controlling” guns once half the population believes it is their important right. (note to Dobbs: that’s my “half”, try not to take it too literally.)
now, if we were Russia or Nazi Germany, we could just say anyone caught with a gun in his possession will be shot on the spot, and that might make us all safer.
It says something about the importance of Free Will in the American Psyche.
Which is to say, anyone must be free to lie, to inflict pain or commit a crime, at any moment, and be tried in a court of law by a jury of peers, until all legal maneuvering one can afford is exhausted. Which can be endless, it seems, if you’re a ‘star’, or at least sufficiently wealthy.
And, as the Supreme Court has implied, with Citizen’s United, even if you are wealthy, you are entitled to spend as much as you like on influencing public opinion to get your way. Perhaps more so even than ordinary folk. Some of us are more equal than others after all.
I find Philip K Dick’s ‘Minority Report’ particularly inspiring, because it imagines that society can simply do away with crime (or can it?) by using some technology or other to discover crime before it is committed. That shouldn’t be too hard to achieve, right?
Once that is achieved, evil doers are simply rounded up before they act.
This is, of course, the ultimate liberal solution, which PK Dick was chary of, to say the least.
(It follows that since one really can’t, or shouldn’t do the first part, you can’t do the second part either. Free Will remains intact.)
“A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
As I have mentioned here a few times, under Title 10 of the US Code (the master legal scheme of the country), all adult male citizens of this country are de facto members of what is oddly referred to as an ‘unorganized militia’, which can presumably become organized (and ‘regulated’) at a moment’s notice.
From this it followed, around 1900 I think, that such persons (and maybe their spouses and children also) should be able to freely participate in gun-ownership & use, which eventually led to young student Tony Scalia toting a rifle in the NYC subway & remembering the import of that right. Just so as to be ready to shoot some enemy or protect his private property from evil doers.
(The above right is in the US Bill of Rights because Madison & Jefferson found it in the Virginia Bill of Rights which preceded the US one.)
Well-regulated militia’ means National Guard
It is presumably the right & responsibility of any and all state legislatures to figure out how to transfer able-bodied males from their ‘unorganized’ local militias into their National Guard ranks, perhaps against their (free) will.
actually, i wrote here about that some time ago to resounding applause.
basically offer all wannabe owners of military weapons to become members of an organized (but not state) militia which would offer them training, fellowship, weapon storage, shooting range… and the possibility of creating communicaion with similar organized militias to alert them to emerging needs (imminent gummint attempt to take away their weapons?) for their armed presence.
preumably it was also give them the chance to observe theri members for mental issues.
i think they do something similar in Switzerland.
Conscription in Switzerland
Wikipedia: Switzerland has mandatory military service in the Swiss Army for all able-bodied male citizens, who are conscripted when they reach the age of majority, though women may volunteer for any position. Conscripts make up the majority of the manpower in the Swiss Armed Forces. …
(What a great idea. We should try that here.)
As long as it is citizens conscripted.
You want a gun in Switzerland even after you finished military service? Fine, but you have to apply for one and get a license unless you want a hand bolt-action rifle or a multi-barreled hunting rifle– in which case you do not need a license.
So, let’s say you are Swiss, you have military experience, and now you want a real, thoroughly lethal gun, not a multi-barreled hunting rifle that’s good for bringing home venison, and also, you’re 18 or older: Can you pack heat without a bureaucratic problem?
Here for the Swiss, unlike Americans, regulations are quite a bit more finicky. Not only are you supposed to be criminal record-free in order to get a gun, but you also must be deemed unlikely to cause harm to other Swiss. Local police who have doubts about a prospective gun owner’s well-being (or even those who are assured of the same but worry nonetheless) may and sometimes do ask local psychiatrists or friends about an applicant’s mental state or alcohol and drug use.
Also, that gun license, even when approved, is only valid for a maximum of nine months, and applicants are allowed only one weapon. Period.
That’s right. Twenty semi-automatics are unlikely to find their way into the basements of Swiss adolescents. So if the NRA wants to point to Switzerland, it needs to tell the whole story, please…
similar is not “same as”. I am not NRA.
conscription is slavery. i understand why a community would feel the need for conscription to require everyone who is able to contribute to the defense of the community, but i personally could not survive such slavery and i would not force anyone else to suffer it.
my suggestion was intended …designed…to answer the problem in terms of the situation in America. Self regulated militias for those who feel the need. My hope would be that like democracy itself, people would see the need for sane self regulation, perhaps with limited government oversight. Otherwise we have this perpetual war against each other which only distracts from the real dangers that confront us…and we get “militias of the crazies” anyway.