(pnews-list) Guns, Gays and Guns

Submitted by Editor on Fri, 29/10/2004 - 19:51

(1) Guns, Gays and Guns
(2) The Second Amendment Today
(3) Repealing the Entire Twentieth Century


October 29, 2004, 1:06:48 AM

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There is a cultural backlash in America where some of the poorest people are willing to support the economic interest of the rich because of guns, gays and God. They are against gun control, they are against gay marriage as much as they hate and fear homosexuality and they are all for god.

It is nowhere more obvious than in the heartland. Thomas Frank wrote an excellent survey book on attitudes in Kansas and middle America which clearly demonstrates this phenomenon and why so many who should be supporting Democrats (or some Third Party), but instead vote for Republicans.  They support their own oppression. They give the gift of tax cuts to the rich for guns, gays and God. And for them it is a no-brainer.

"The poorest county in America isn't in Appalachia or the Deep Sourth. It is on the Great Plains, a region of struggling ranchers and dying farm towns, and in the election of 2000 the Republican candidate for president, George W. Bush, carried it by a majority of greater than 80 percent.

The Democrats, he says are the "party of workers, of the poor, of the weak and the victimized." So he asks, "How could so many people get it so wrong?

Indeed, they have a simple perspective and their backlash is against the changes they have seen, heard about, but few have experienced, since the 60s, and they look for easy and simplistic "black and white" answers, which is the kind that George Bush has offered them. They don't want the nuances that complicated issues present to them. They're not the experts and they don't want to think about it. The believe that big government is their nemesis, not big corporations. They have it all wrong.

"The backlash is what has made possible the international free-market consensus of recentyears, with all the privatization, deregulation, and deunionization that are its components. Backlash ensures that Republicans will continue to be returned to office even when their fre-market miracles fail and their libertarian schemes don't deliver and their "New Economy" collapses.." (Thomas Frank, What's the Matter with Kansas" 2004)

They have to have their guns to protect them from the government. They really feel this way, as irrational as that may seem. As if they could defend against a tank with an assault rifle, as if they would have to.

My daughter's right wing boy friend, who I often mention here, is one of those gun nuts who wants everyone to have the right to obtain assault weapons or any kind of weapon because he says, the Second Amendment grants him that right. I said, if there is an absolute right to bear arms, which of course there isn't, why not tactical nuclear weapons? (He got flustered, as often happens with Republicans, and almost walked out -- because you can't reason with unreasonable right-wing positions) Anotherwords, where do you draw your lines and if you do set limits, which he thought necessary with small tactical nukes, so why not with assault weapons?

He, like others, who are under the delusion that his guns are going to protect him in the coming civil war have misconceptions about the Second Amendment means. I jest about a civil uprising, but with the degree of fragmentation in the U.S. there is that fear among some, especially if elections are stolen again.

There are no absolute rights - to bear arms, or anything else. There can be reasonable restrictions on gun ownership regardless of the Second Amendment, although philosophically, gun nuts and the National Rifle Association argue against any opposition to even modest gun control.

The Brady Center states:

"The NRA's constitutional theory is, however, divorced from legal and historical reality. It is based on carefully worded disinformation about the text and history of the Second Amendment and a systematic distortion of judicial rulings interpreting the Amendment. The result is a Second Amendment `mythology' which has been difficult to counter."

Also from the Brady Center regarding the original meaning and intent of the Second Amendment:

"The Second Amendment states: `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 NRA tends to omit the first, crucial, half of the Second Amendment - the words referring to a `well-regulated militia.'"

"When the U.S. Constitution was adopted, each of the states had its own `militia' - a military force comprised of ordinary citizens serving as part-time soldiers. The militia was `well-regulated' in the sense that its members were subject to various requirements such as training, supplying their own firearms, and engaging in military exercises away from home. It was a form of compulsory military service intended to protect the fledgling nation from outside forces and from internal rebellions."

Get it now? The well regulated militia is the National Guard -- and Bush is not using them on the homefront where they belong, he is sending them to Iraq.

"The `militia' was not, as the gun lobby will often claim, simply another word for the populace at large. Indeed, membership in the 18th century militia was generally limited to able-bodied white males between the ages of 18 and 45 - hardly encompassing the entire population of the nation."

"The U.S. Constitution established a permanent professional army, controlled by the federal government. With the memory of King George III's troops fresh in their minds, many of the "anti-Federalists" feared a standing army as an instrument of oppression. State militias were viewed as a counterbalance to the federal army and the Second Amendment was written to prevent the federal government from disarming the state militias."

Guns belong in the military. Want a stinger missle? Too bad. Join the army. But you can't take one home...


(2) GUNS, GAYS and GOD

More from the Brady Center:

---The Second Amendment Today

"In the 20th century, the Second Amendment has become an anachronism, largely because of drastic changes in the militia it was designed to protect. We no longer have the citizen militia like that of the 18th century."

"Today's equivalent of a "well-regulated" militia - the National Guard - has more limited membership than its early counterpart and depends on government-supplied, not privately owned, firearms. Gun control laws have no effect on the arming of today's militia, since those laws invariably do not apply to arms used in the context of military service and law enforcement. Therefore, they raise no serious Second Amendment issues."

As for the law, the Second Amendment in the courts:

"As a matter of law, the meaning of the Second Amendment has been settled since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939). In that case, the Court ruled that the "obvious purpose" of the Second Amendment was to "assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness" of the state militia."

The state militia is the National Guard.

"Since Miller, the Supreme Court has addressed the Second Amendment twice more, upholding New Jersey's strict gun control law in 1969 and upholding the federal law banning felons from possessing guns in 1980. Furthermore, twice - in 1965 and 1990 - the Supreme Court has held that the term "well-regulated militia" refers to the National Guard."

"In the early 1980s, the Supreme Court addressed the Second Amendment issue again, after the town of Morton Grove, Illinois, passed an ordinance banning handguns (making certain reasonable exceptions for law enforcement, the military, and collectors). After the town was sued on Second Amendment grounds, the Illinois Supreme Court and the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that not only was the ordinance valid, but there was no individual right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment (Quillici v. Morton Grove). In October 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of this ruling, allowing the lower court rulings to stand."

On the basis of the Second Amendment there is no absolute right for citizens to bear arms. It is in the best public interest to control access to guns and all weapons, just as it is to anything else which is harmful. It is not inconceivable however, in this political environment of deregulation that gun control also will be removed -- but it will not be in the public's best interest,

"In 1991, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger referred to the Second Amendment as `the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word `fraud,' on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime...(the NRA) ha(s) misled the American people and they, I regret to say, they have had far too much influence on the Congress of the United States than as a citizen I would like to see - and I am a gun man.' Burger also wrote, `The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon...[S]urely the Second Amendment does not remotely guarantee every person the constitutional right to have a `Saturday Night Special' or a machine gun without any regulation whatever. There is no support in the Constitution for the argument that federal and state governments are powerless to regulate the purchase of such firearms...'"

"Since the Miller decision, lower federal and state courts have addressed the meaning of the Second Amendment in more than thirty cases. In every case, up until March of 1999, the courts decided that the Second Amendment refers to the right to keep and bear arms only in connection with a state militia. Even more telling, in its legal challenges to federal firearms laws like the Brady Law and the assault weapons ban, the National Rifle Association makes no mention of the Second Amendment. Indeed, the National Rifle Association has not challenged a gun law on Second Amendment grounds in several years."

It was a set-back in public safety to let the assault weapons ban expire and also part and parcel of the right-wing _populist_ cultural backlash.

Hank Roth


(3) GUNS, GAYS and GOD

Repealing the Entire Twentieth Century

Rights are NEVER absolute. When the Constitution was drafted and ratified it was a different world.

"The rights guaranteed by the Constitution have never been absolute. The First Amendment protects the freedom of the press, yet libel laws prevent newspapers from printing malicious lies about a person. The First Amendment also protects free speech, yet one cannot yell "Fire" in a crowded theatre. It is doubtful that the Founding Fathers envisioned a time when over 30,000 people are dying from gun violence a year, when high-power military-style weapons like AK-47's with 30-round magazines are available on the streets, when an 14-year-old can take his father's guns and mow down his classmates, or when parents leave a loaded pistol around and a two-year-old can easily fire it. The vast majority of the American people support reasonable gun control laws and view them as necessary to reduce the level of gun violence in this country. The framers of the Constitution would surely agree."
(Brady Center: http://bradycenter.org/)

The gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association has political clout and money. There is absolutely no justification for owning assault rifles by the NRA. They are not hunting rifles. They are only used to kill people and they often end up killing cops.

Republicans are not rational. "About one-third of the nation's Republican governors have backed stronger gun laws in their states, including those in some Western strongholds of the National Rifle Association.
(Christian Science Monitor, 5/10/2000)

There is no doubt where George Bush stands on this matter, anymore than there is any doubt on where he stands with regard to turning back progressive vis-a-vis the environment, social programs, social security and veterans. George W. Bush stands with the richest in America. The greatest beneficiaries of his programs are the rich.

"Old-fashioned values may count when conservatives appear on the stump, but once conservatives are in office the only old-fashioned situation they care to revive is an economic regimen of low wages and lax regulations. Over the last three decades they have smashed the welfare state, reduced the tax burden on corporations adn the wealthy, and generally facilitated the country's return to a nineteenth-century pattern of wealth distribution. Thus the primary contradiction fo the backlash: it is a working-class movement that has done incalculable, historic harm to working-class people."
(Thomas Frank, "What's the Matter with Kansas?" -2004)

That has been his strength (though not a good thing), in spite of how bad his polices have been; to rally the working class poor in America behind him, which is not unlike the other Republican president, Ronald Reagan, who also was notorious for pushing "traditional values" while unregulating capitalism and doing all he could to repeal New Deal legislation, making it once again the Old Deal of "winner take all" and "nothing for the rest."

George Bush opposes gun licensing and registration:

When he was governor, "In his own state, he has signed into law bills that allow Texans to carry concealed weapons and that would prevent municipalities from suing gun manufacturers - two areas where the NRA has had success in statehouses across the nation." (Christian Science Monitor) And it was during his first term that he did not renew the assault weapons ban.

"With a little more effort, the backlash may well repeat the entire twentieth century."

Hank Roth




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