“In Sudan they carry firearms the way Americans carry cell phones. No one shoots anyone. If they even try they are shot dead.” – A gun owner defending the right to bear arms
The onslaught of gun violence is reaching a tipping point in America. At some point, Americans will simply decide that the death of innocents is too much, and the arguments and maneuverings of the pro-gun community will lose all power. It is worth recognizing that the touchstone of pro-gun apologists – the second Amendment – has already lost all meaning. The “debate” about gun control will soon follow.
The Second Amendment reads, “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 first part of the Amendment asserts the conditions that make it necessary for the people to have the right to bear arms. But those conditions do not exist in America today, which makes any discussion of the merits of the Second Amendment nonsensical.
First, we do not need a well regulated militia of private citizens with guns to keep us secure from foreign invasion. It is beyond reason to suggest that we must accept daily mass murders to ensure that our “well regulated militia” is ready to defend us, lest the most awesome military ever assembled lets us down. Second, though the State may be secure, its citizens are not, because people with guns keep committing mass murders. That which is asserted in the Second Amendment to be necessary for our security is the very thing that threatens our security every day in our schools, at our jobs and on our streets. Finally, for all of the millions of guns now in the country, we do not have a free state. We are more subject to state surveillance than any nation ever. The right of habeas corpus has been essentially suspended. Our government puts more people in prison than any nation on earth. Our votes no longer influence our laws, which reflect the desires of the billionaires and the corporations. For all of their talk of needing guns to defend freedom, our pro gun community has done nothing to stop the quiet dismantling of the conditions that we once thought of as making us free.
It is nonsensical to debate the Second Amendment in light of our current circumstances. It is explicitly premised on a world reality that no longer exists. Logically, the amendment may as well read, “Because the sky is green, in order to keep gravity working in reverse, the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed.” But even if the second amendment had not included the conditions placed upon it in the text, our gun culture would still be set to collapse. Gun violence exists now in our collective psyche at a stratum deeper than law, deeper even than our sacred rights. It has reached that primal place where resides the instinct to protect our children from violence, that place where the intolerable will no longer be brooked, because too much that we love is at stake. When we finally decide to remove the gun culture from our troubled society, no physical force, no legislative tactic and no purist lament will prevent the power of our collective will to stop the madness.