A MARTIN J. RYAN VIEWPOINT:
(And later, check MOMS DEMAND ACTION: http://www.momsdemandaction.org/)
THE 2nd AMENDMENT SCAM
Guns Are Made For Shooting And Killing. Think about it. While target practice might be fun, it is for shooting more accurately. In the end, killing more accurately.
I am angry. If I could show the graphic movies of the horrific wounds of war we were shown in basic training, I would.
Instead, as a prelude to my article, I am inserting a current dark event:
On March 30,1981, when President Reagan was brought down by gunfire, the President’s press secretary, Jim Brady, was stuck down by a bullet to his head. Recently, after 33 years of struggle Mr. Brady died. I have copied and pasted the following unpleasant quote to illustrate what a bullet can do to a human:
“Brady was hit first, above the left eye. The bullet that entered his head shattered into more than two-dozen fragments. Reagan was hit by a bullet that ricocheted off the limousine. Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and D.C. police officer Thomas Delahanty were also wounded.
“Brady’s recovery was marked by ups and downs. Within several months, he underwent two surgeries to stop spinal fluid from leaking from his cranial cavity, had an operation for a pulmonary embolism, and had epileptic seizures, pneumonia and persistent fevers. “He was discharged from the hospital but needed continuous nursing care at home. He also required extensive outpatient physical therapy. A year later, he was back in the hospital because of a blood clot in his left leg, which had been partially paralyzed, along with his left arm.”
Life in a weapons culture is not a movie. I recall my Dad, who served in France in
WWl, telling me, when I was a small child drawing scenes of war, I should understand that red crayon was not the same as blood. How right he was.
Meanwhile, keep in your heart the beautiful Arizona Congresswoman who is still with us–Gabrielle Gifford.
Aside from the later “gun that won the West,” (which meant taking it from the Native Americans who owned it in the first place), our earlier eighteenth century forebears were militant in guarding their independence from overbearing monarchies with the use of their single shot muskets, and they regarded these weapons as lawful and practical.
While I fired a variety of weapons in the military I have never hunted. My late father-in-law (1900–1976), an outdoorsman with whom I fished for trout, small mouth bass and flounder, was raised on a farm in New Jersey where hunting and fishing were more for food than sport, and so embedded were these activities in his genes that he continued both for as long as he was able; though both deer and fish were always taken for the table. The fish was always great, while the venison was too gamy for my taste, which I ate anyway to please him. I mention this good man because however many rounds he fired for game, I know he would be appalled and outraged by today’s assault weapons culture, and the resultant and ever mounting number of bullet riddled bodies.
If one visualizes Darth-Vader-like militarized swat teams invading elementary schools because of the ripping apart, the slaughter, of six and seven year old children, one is forced to see that what was once a practical and legitimate right has become a dark stain on the American soul.
The Second Amendment, so often referred to by the members of the NRA:
Prior to the creation of the Constitution, men between 16 and 60 were expected by law to own and bear arms, and were frequently called into service as militia, sometimes to enforce local laws, sometimes to engage in battle with the above-mentioned Native American Indians.
The first ten Amendments to the Constitution of the United States are the Bill of Rights, a bill created to regulate the existing and future government’s power that could be used against its own citizens. The Second Amendment to the Constitution, the right to bear arms, was enacted as part of the Bill Of Rights, and was ratified on December 15, 1791.
All of which refers to the originally held belief in the danger of a too ambitious federal government—federal having been equal in the minds of our founders to the tyrannical British Monarchy, against which our founders rebelled. Therefore, for many, back then, the notion of a standing army was repugnant: organized federal soldiers ever at the ready, that could impose a government’s unpopular will on a less well-armed state. So it should surprise no one that this was a serious bone of contention until The Second Amendment was settled as:
“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.”
Three statements follow to illustrate the temper of those times:
Thomas Paine before ratification in 1775, said:
“Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, (think Britain) and preserve order in the world as well as property. . . Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.”–(think weapons).
Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers:
“The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.”
Thomas Jefferson, Proposal, Virginia Constitution: “No Free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” I have similar statements from other founders, but the above three should suffice.
Currently, one could say, the amendment’s key problem has been interpretation: “Individual rights” being the right for one to own, possess, to transport arms. “States’ rights” concerning the right for one to bear arms in connection with an organized state militia. In a more modern American setting one could reasonably equate an organized state militia with our State Guardsmen nationalized for war, as was done in WWII. (The practice recently misused and abused in Iraq. But that’s a complaint for another article).
A ten-year ban on 19 types of assault weapons, signed by President Clinton in 2004, was allowed to expire by President Bush. While police were unhappy, and 7 out of 10 American citizens had favored the ban, the weapons lobby had bribed and intimidated our congressmen into a craven submission. It seemed to me then, this could be open warfare on people. Yet one happy gun dealer at the time, feeling otherwise said: “Now we can sell guns with flash suppressors, folding stocks, larger magazines, pistol-type grips, grenade launcher mounts, and a lug for bayonets.”
There are now more than 300 millions guns in America, one for every man, woman and child.
I have found it difficult to find current statistical evidence. I am certain another more experienced researcher could do better than me; but I offer the following: The Center Of Disease Control stated there were 32,163 gunshot deaths in America for the year 201l, with a yearly average of 32,000. I discovered that the yearly average for our apparently more civilized neighbor, Canada, is a mere 1,300. But elsewhere I have found the following: In 2010 (aside from deaths) 73,505 Americans were treated in hospital ERs for non-fatal gunshot wounds. The Vietnam War caused the deaths of 58,000 American soldiers, less than American civilians killed in an average two-year period. In the first seven years of the Iraq war 4,400 soldiers were killed; but almost as many American civilians are killed with guns every seven weeks. In 2007 more preschool kids were shot to death than police officers in the line of duty. About eight kids and teens are killed by guns every day in America. And background checks are resisted. Blame it all on the mentally challenged, the mentally disturbed, yet not even partly to blame is the incredibly uncharted proliferation of guns in America.
Keep in mind, in order to drive a car or truck—potential killing machines—one has to pass written and driving-skill tests. One has to register the vehicle. One has to be thoroughly insured. When President Obama proposed “universal background checks” designed to target private gun sales that are not covered by the current system, and to remove barriers to information sharing among state and federal agencies, the NRA and the weapons manufacturers had a collective, frothing, seizure, stating that only criminals will benefit. Really?
In recent times our Supreme Court has interpreted the Second Amendment to mean virtually any weapon is proper for personal protection, in effect destroying laws against handguns. Of course this is the same court that has decided corporations are American people—just folks like you and me (you know, weapons manufacturers and us), thereby opening the floodgates to secret money and corrupting our American electoral system. (Again, sorry, a complaint for another article).
While many Americans are vegetarians, most of us are meat eaters. We consume living things, including the flora, in order to survive. That said, while it is not for me, I am not objecting to regular hunting, which many have argued is a more humane method of obtaining meat than it is from the often grossly unsanitary and painfully crowded conditions of animals, shot full of antibiotics, that end up butchered in our shops. But don’t be fooled.
What I’ve just offered above is a reasonable argument set forth by saner hunters who would support background checks and other moderate reforms, but also set forth by knee-jerk rejecters who, having presented this rational and gentler image of themselves, will express rage and border on extreme paranoia in the face of the most tepid suggestion of regulation. Humaneness doesn’t enter into it. For them there is no middle ground.
But returning to the Second Amendment. It is important to note, the signers had in mind the considerable challenge in the use of unwieldy single-shot muskets by those who hunted for food, those involved in self-defense, and especially those who were called to arms in the militia.
Not being an expert I may have missed a step or gotten the sequence wrong, but you’ll get the idea. Musket cartridges consisted of a lead ball wrapped in paper that had a twisted end containing the gunpowder. The militia man pulled back the hammer to half- cock, tore open the paper with his teeth, poured the powder into the muzzle, inserted the ball, then shoved the paper as a form of wadding, tamping all of it down into the breech with the ramrod he had to draw from the musket, however it was held in place, in or on the musket. I believe he also had to pour powder into a “pan” for the hammer to spark for firing. Finally, having done all this, he aimed, pulled the trigger and hoped or prayed for the best because it often misfired. Oops, too bad. Pause in the midst of chaos; reload if he had the time. When overrun, a militiaman might have to resort to bayonet, knife, hatchet or bare hands, engaging in a terrifying eye-to-eye combat. Not recommended for the faint of heart, or those preferring reliability and auto-fire speed.
It is important to note that the signers of the Second Amendment were considering the possession and transport of their quirky muskets, and not the possession and transport of automatic assault weapons using thirty round magazines with extras in convenient ammunition belts. A truth when reflected upon by the most reasonable of American men and women that should ring as clear as a flawless bell: that the notably intelligent signers of the Second Amendment would have had second and third thoughts as to the possession and transport of hi-powered auto-fire weapons without some regulation; would think it insane, criminal, perhaps suicidal, not to. And in this light it is simply fraudulent to make a direct unregulated-right-to-bear-arms equation between the 18th and 21st centuries. It is the ultimate scam.
One can see that our current government’s allowing of the NSA’s seemingly unfettered data collection, its snooping into our cell phones, our emails, our social networking, which most of us resent, could easily feed into and expand the fears of a more paranoid militia, and be used to equate the NSA to the British monarchy of yesteryear; but this is not yesteryear. Hopefully we will not arm ourselves with guns against the NSA. Hopefully we will cooperatively protest while using whatever means to free speech that remains available, including the Internet and the ballot box. But again, that is a subject for another article. I choose for the moment to recall the shattered bodies of children and caretakers at places like Columbine and Newtown, to be concerned for the future dead and wounded on American soil, to remain concerned that our courts and legislators are now in service to corporations; in this case the big- bucks manufactures of guns.
I’ll say it again: the ongoing shooting to death of children is a dark stain on the American soul.
(To reach my HOME PAGE: hover & click the America, America… title atop this page.) COMMENTS are welcome, below.
Martin J. Ryan