The Constitution. The Second Amendment. And blah, blah, blah, blah…

If we are not including repeal of the Second Amendment in our national conversation, we are not serious about stopping gun violence. For therein lies the solution.

If we are not including repeal of the Second Amendment in our national conversation, we are not serious about stopping gun violence. For therein lies the solution.

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.

We need an American version of Greta Thunberg to call out the blah, blah, blah, blah on the issue of guns in America. A child, who will sit quietly on the lawn outside a school or in a town square, cut through the bullshit and speak truth to power with a sign saying, THE SECOND AMENDMENT MUST BE REPEALED. This amendment, a profoundly egregious error, among many made by our Founding Fathers, (the moms were, unfortunately, home making dinner,) was a sop to the southern states, especially Virginia, who wanted to ensure that their slave patrols could operate with impunity… and with arms. In a January, 2013 article by Thom Hartmann in Truthout (The Second Amendment Was Ratified To Preserve Slavery), Hartmann states:

“The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says “State” instead of “Country” (the framers knew the difference — see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia’s vote. Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason and James Madison were totally clear on that… and we all should be too.”

So what keeps us from thoughtfully questioning the existence of the Second Amendment? Nothing in the Constitution is written in stone, although some seem to revel in a sclerotic concept of the document. Why then would those who wrote the document have included Article V?  

“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.”

In fact, there is no reason for which the Constitution of the United States cannot be replaced in its entirety. The process may be onerous, but a process does exist. Given that the original was brought into existence by a group of white male landowners, a small fraction of the population at the time, can we really argue for its legitimacy? Nobody invited Mrs. Franklin to step up and sign the document. Had she been part of the Founding Parents, I am sure John Hancock would have, out of politeness, ceded the first signature to her and we would be putting our Deborah Franklins on our documents instead of our John Hancocks. Martha Washington was probably home having tea. And all the slaves and Native Americans? Nobody thought to ask what these “other Americans” wanted, or if  anyone thought of it, they kept their mouths firmly shut.  

Moreover, what happened to all that visionary thinking of the Founding Fathers? Looks like they gazed no farther than the end of their noses and certainly not 250 years in the future. But it is, for the moment, our Constitution until we declare that it isn't, and Nathan Robinson makes a pretty good argument for starting over with a “new Constitution” in his article, “I Don’t Know Why I Should Care What the Constitution Says.” From Robinson:

“We have never set up a binding constitution, because we have never passed a democratically legitimate one. Until the early 20th century, the female half of the population was completely disenfranchised. Black people did not get the franchise fully guaranteed until the 1960s, which let us remember is within the lifetimes of people who are alive today. (And since not everyone is allowed to vote today, arguably we still cannot call ourselves a democracy.)”

How would the Constitution look if we considered the words of Massasoit, the sachem (chief) of the Wampanoag Confederacy? He, unfortunately, aided the pilgrims to the detriment of all who followed. But he was also the one who famously stated: 

“What is this you call property? It cannot be the earth. For the land is our mother, nourishing all her children, beasts, birds, fish, and all men. The woods, the streams, everything on it belongs to everybody and is for the use of all. How can one man say it belongs to him only?”

The Constitution and the laws that flow from it are replete with rules about property. What if we considered a new Constitution that adopts Massasoit's concept of property?  

It is the 21st Century, but we are trying to operate according to 18th Century thought, however enlightened in its time. It is as if I were trying to run this two year old Dell XPS PC I am using by looking for guidance in the instructions for a Wang 2200 computer from 1973. Luckily, my modern computer has modern instructions and so should our country be instructed and informed by a modern document.

Now, we the people can complicate all this by saying that it would be impossible to do, or that the nation is too divided, or that civil war would erupt, or blah, blah, blah, blah… For starters, we must not be afraid to talk about rethinking and rewriting the Constitution. And we surely then must not be afraid to talk about repeal of the Second Amendment. Gun advocates will scream bloody murder but that is to be expected. What is not at all helpful is the so-called proponents of gun control who speak to laws on firearms that may or may not actually control much of anything. Unfortunately,  in the next sentence these advocates of gun laws, among whom I include the so-called faux liberal nooze like MSNBC, CNN, NPR, limit their own arguments by saying they are supporters of the Second Amendment, that they have a gun at home, that they grew up hunting, that target shooting is a “sport” …and blah, blah, blah, blah.

[And will someone find and tell that guy in the flag shirt in the photo above that he is violating  4 U.S. Code § 8. FLAG AND SEAL, SEAT OF GOVERNMENT, AND THE STATES: Respect for flag:  Paragraphs (d) -The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery and  (j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.

About Dick Conoboy

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Member since Jan 26, 2008

Dick Conoboy is a recovering civilian federal worker and military officer who was offered and accepted an all-expense paid, one year trip to Vietnam in 1968. He is a former Army [...]

Comments by Readers

Randy Petty

Jun 02, 2022

This school boyscott proposal ( see link) seems to at least have some potential, unlike hoping for a repeal of the 2nd Amendment.  The majority, including the majority wanting assault weapon bans and background checks , is held hostage by the “two Senators for every state” provision of the constitution.
We have to find ways to put enough pressure on those fighting the majority ( Republican Senators generally) so they will agree to votes in the Senate without filibuster.   
Other, more “pie in the sky” suggestions have been for millions to move from big blue states to smaller red states where they can tip the scales and get more Democratic Senators.
My own, admittedly  in the “pie in the sky” camp, would be to bring back the “No taxation without representation” mantra with states refusing to send tax dollars to the Federal government unless changes are made to adequately represent the will of the majority ( in the Senate).  The 435 reps in the House hasn’t been updated since 1910, but even if it was, tell me what initiative from the House or Executive branch can’t be shot down by the Senate?  It’s all about the Senate.

“Students Should Refuse to Go Back to School ( this Fall)  Despite the hopelessness after Uvalde, we’re closer to understanding the kind of social movement that might actually affect gun reform.”



https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2022/05/uvalde-school-shooting-gun-control-walkout/643120/?fbclid=IwAR2n87lAqzCOvWIcYavQSzaq0tJ-xveMqsYqEPJOGOd3dk3VLfl9nxsan3g

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Dick Conoboy

Jun 02, 2022

 Randy,

Thanks for being the first one out of the starting gate on this topic.  A brave soul!

You have raised some interesting points, however, I would like to respond to one point only and that is “hoping for a repeal of the 2nd Amendment”.  I never said I hoped for repeal.  I don’t hope for anything.  It is an empty concept.  Action is what interests me.  That is why I wrote the article.  The action has to start now. 

Are you rejecting totally a repeal?

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Randy Petty

Jun 02, 2022

I guess it depends on what such a repeal would mean, as interpreted by the courts ( this month, since the courts don’t seem to stand on precedent as much these days).  I don’t want to see a ban on all private ownership of firearms, but I would support tremendously strengthened requirements.  Ninety day waiting period, no problem here.  Full background checks, no problem. Ban on assault rifles, no problem.  I think I could live with revolvers, bolt action rifles and pump shotguns only.
Might be time to buy stock in metal-detector companies because I’d like to see airport-style detectors in many more places, prior to anybody reaching the actual entrance door to stores, schools, hospitals ( churches?)

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Pearl Follett

Jun 02, 2022

The horrific actions of killers across this country are overwhelming evidence that major changes need to be made in the structure of our society if our dreams of an America where everyone is protected and everyone has the right to live in diginity are to be realized.

Looking the other way while children are killed. What could be more sinful?

We MUST sweep away the Second Amendment.  This is imperative. If weapons of war are allowed to be owned as a constitutional right, “we the people” will continue to be in unwarranted, undeserved peril. 

In addition to the repeal of the Second Amendment, we must change our values and diminish the will to fight.  Rather than having the warmongers and rober barons control our consciousness, we must create a new paradigm  to abolish the desire to kill. We must change from a society that promotes and honors violence to one that values peace, compassion and love.

The way our national treasure is spent reflects our worship of arms. The billions of dollars we dole out on killing devices clearly states that the taking of lives is more important to us than providing the means whereby individuals and families can live in comfort and happiness. 

If a small portion of our “killing monies” could be spent on addressing mental health Americans would be much safer. Our “killing monies” need also to be diverted into public schools to raise self-esteem, teach critical thinking, and nonviolent resolution to conflict.  

Abolishing the Second Amendment will take concerted action from the millions of Americans working together.  Mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, grandmothers, grandfathers can join with churches across the nation as well as PTAs, peace groups, and every other organiztion grieving for these sensless acts of killing to work for this common sense goal:

Repeal the Second Amendment!

 

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Tim Surratt

Jun 02, 2022

For those who might like to know a bit more about the “Fouders’ intent”, I recommend the Scene on Radio Series 4:  https://www.sceneonradio.org/the-land-that-never-has-been-yet/.  It is worth the time.   It talks thoughtfully about the many limits of the Constitution.

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Ray Kamada

Jun 02, 2022

Well, unlike Mr. Conoboy, baby steps are OK by me.

But here’s one that doesn’t infringe on anyone’s rights. In fact, while also speaking to the utility of the US Constitution as well as the disproportionate representation among certain states in the US Senate, this particular baby step actually expands on people’s rights.

I.e., the 2nd 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.”

So, what about invoking it as the basis for DC statehood?

Even if you’re an “originalist”, what did ‘well-regulated’ mean back then?
 
From the National Constitution Center…
 
“Well-regulated in the 18th century tended to be something like well-organized, well-armed, well-disciplined,” says Rakove. “It didn’t mean ‘regulation’ in the sense that we use it now, in that it’s not about the regulatory state. There’s been nuance there. It means the militia was in an effective shape. In other words, it didn’t mean the state was controlling the militia in a certain way, but rather that the militia was prepared to do its duty.”
 
But regardless how you view gun control, one can hardly argue that a militia from a neighboring state that arrives three hours too late to prevent the storming of the seat of government, while engaged in the formal transfer of power, is a militia that’s shown that it’s “prepared to do its duty”.
 
Ergo, aren’t the events of January 6th prima fascia evidence that the District of Columbia needs to add, by obtaining its own state militia, the capacity to mount its own defense? Isn’t that precisely what the 2nd Amendment says as the very reason for its being written and adopted?
 
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Dick Conoboy

Jun 02, 2022

Randy,

I find it difficult to fathom why anyone needs a gun except for the military and the police… and I am not too sure about the police recently.

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Dick Conoboy

Jun 02, 2022

Pearl,

Where would you stand on revision or replacement of the Constitution as prescribed in Article V? I seems that you might be leaning that way.

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Dick Conoboy

Jun 02, 2022

Ray,

Would it not be easier to just rid ourselves of the 2nd Amendment and at the same time place another amendment giving DC statehood?   That avoids quibbling over 18th century English.

And what happens during the period of the baby steps.  And those steps are to eventually do what?  What is the goal?

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Randy Petty

Jun 02, 2022

The old saying was that “when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”  I still think self-defense is a legitimate reason for a restricted list of firearms to be legal in the hands of private citizens.  Hunting?  I don’t do that but don’t see why it can’t continue ( again with revolvers, bolt-action rifles and pump shotguns).
If a ban on privately owned firearms includes anything short of “skinned alive” as the punishment, many will obtain them anyway—starting with those who don’t pay much attention to laws.

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Karen Steen

Jun 02, 2022

Thank you, Randy and Ray, for your well-informed, reasonable comments. I concur with most everything you’ve said. There are children whose mothers are still alive and with them because she had a gun to defend herself against a violent abuser; and similarly single women; and people who defended themselves and families with guns against increasing numbers of home invasions. As for Greta Thunberg, she alienated as many as she influenced by not having the maturity to acknowledge the countless thousands of dedicated environmentalists whose shoulders she stands on. Neither idealism nor extremism make for effective policy; rather, they lead to state oppression, totalitarianism, and genocides.

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Angelo Tsoukalas

Jun 02, 2022
1st person to tell me what historical figure said this quote gets 50 points, which can get you a pair of crusty ol’ beach flip floppers: (Young people, especially woke - pay special attention to it so you can please learn from history so it doesn’t repeat itself again.) “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subjected people to carry arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subjected peoples to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the underdog is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty. So let’s not have any native militia or police.” 
 
If we repeal the 2nd Amendement, how long till we are like Ukriane, murdered like animals by an invader. Ukraine had disarmed! They even disarmed their nuclear weapons while Russia kept theirs and even happily received them from Ukraine. I repeat Ukraine had disarmed. Do you seriously think everyone loves us or abides by liberalism/wokeism? Russia wants Alaska back, repeal the 2nd Amendment and see their endeavours. Wake up before we are being invaded, it’ll be too late then. If you’re a woman and a thug/rapist is banging your door, how long will it take for the police to get there when they’ve been defunded? (Wooops that’s already kinda happened, LoL.) Wouldn’t it be nice to have an equalizer? What sounds better, “beat it - I have a 45 caliber or beat it I’m going to call my attorney, NPR or CNN after you”, LoL. 
Have you never heard of the black market??? Criminals shop there! You can make all arms illegal and they will still get guns, but not you the law abiding citizen or non citizen. Disarm the citizens and destroy our ability to protect ourselves, be it from invaders, burglars or rapists. Wake up! Checks and balances are important, it’s why we still have a republic going on 245 years - the envy of the world. Russia doesn’t have checks and balances and their soldiers were told they were going on a drill, not realizing they were on a long haul invasion, killing children, women and the elderly in a country of their own type of ethnicity - Russian.
One of their generals killed himself after he found out the warehouse full of state of the art tanks was full of broke down junk tanks - checks and balances they surely lack! The 2nd Amendment is a big check and balance, eliminate it and you will make all our enemies proud and teary eyed. Please don’t be the last generation remembered in history for being responsible for destroying our republic.  
“A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, ‘Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?’ With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, ‘A republic, if you can keep it’.”  
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Randy Petty

Jun 03, 2022

Angelo’s quote is from Adolf Hitler.
I don’t think repealing the 2nd Amendment woud get rid of our military forces.  It could pave the way for laws prohibiting private ownership of firearms in most places, but would the 2nd amendment repeal itself make private ownership illegal everywhere ( I don’t think so).

I mentioned some possible ways of applying pressure on the Senate in my first comment because without that background checks and waiting periods face an uphill battle.  Outright appeal of 2A?—not sure it’s possible, politically—not sure it’s desirable either.

Anyone who has taken some training should be able to hunt and defend themselves without AR-15s or other semi-automatic weapons. Make such training a requirement.   In many of the recent mass shootings, even a modest waiting period might have prevented the killing.  In Tulsa the murderer bought his AR-15 the same day he killed people at the Hospital.  I think the purchases were also just before the shootings in Buffalo and Texas. ( In Buffalo the Bushmaster AR-15 was purchased in January of this year—- so add a 60-day waiting period on buying ammunition)
Once semi-automatic weapons, including pistols and hunting rifles that are not bolt-action, are made illegal, start a buy-back plan.  Ban and buy-back ammunition for such weapons where possible.  ( You couldn’t do that with common deer-hunting ammunition , for example, because many bolt-action rifles and semi-automatic deer rifles use the same ammo)


https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/2022/05/15/buffalo-shooting-gun-bought-bushmaster/

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Pearl Follett

Jun 03, 2022

No, my thoughts were not on replacing the constitution but on repealing or changing the Second Amendment in the same way prohibition was repealed. The Eighteenth Amendment that prohibited the sale of alcohol brought about crime and lawlessness, not the desired results that the citizens who pushed for it wanted. The Twenty-first Amendment, ratified by state ratifying conventions, repealed the Eighteenth. 

I think a constitutinoal convention to reframe the US constitution would be unwise because it could be used as tool to accomplish change that would not benefit the nation. For instance, just last December, the notorious ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) began the push for a constitutional convention, see: https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/584835-conservatives-prepare-new-push-for-constitutional-convention/. For more on ALEC see: https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/American Legislative Exchange Council.

Legal minds without radical thoughts may find the emans and way to address the Second Amendment without the loss of other of our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. 

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Angelo Tsoukalas

Jun 03, 2022

     Randy you’re right you win! However, I know that getting rid of the 2nd Amendment, God forbid does not get rid of our military, but ordinary citizens right to bear arms. Had this been the case for the colonists, we would have lost the revolutionary war and remained a colony for a long, long time; an economically depressed and over taxed colony that is, the exact reason the founding fathers wanted to split from Brittain. (King George did not like the colony’s success, fearing less dependence on him, and found out their success emanated from their printing of their own moneys, so he prohibited it. This caused a depression in the colonies.)

     Now to get rid of (or rewrite) the Constitution and/or 2nd Amendment, God forbid, (Is the Bill of Rights next?) when these have led to the most successful  economic, military system and uninvadable country in the history of the world, would be a very scary, tragic and bad idea. All the countries of the world, especially the western world, that have followed this model have had success and unprecented prosperity and a middle class (something not very common in the history of the world). Even the poor on welfare are considered rich in other countries and their people are dying to come through our porous borders (and Europes). Sure our system is not perfect by any means, but is there better, serously?

     Afterall is there a better system out there to go to? Please I’m dying to hear an answer to this question? The post communist somewhat depressed Russia, full of incompetence and corruption whose losses in Ukraine are huge - whose military would lose in a minute in a conventional war with US. Who have threatened using nuclear war if they fail in a conventional war? The CCP China, who gave up on a communist economy and went to a semi capitalist economy which is nothing without the western world? (who crush anyone that doesn’t agree with them - remember Tianamen Square? Now they have a social credit system that keeps people from jobs, travel, etc if they decide they don’t like you? A most despotic unprecedented development.) Cuba who has turned to tourism to keep from starving (sure they have a good health system I hear)? Venezuela - once the most richest country in Latin America, embraced Marxism, enjoyed the seizures, and now barely have running electricity and WATER - and let’s not forget food and medicine? N. Korea - whose portly leader you can tell from a distance amonst his twig, stick figure starving soldiers and civilians forcefully applauding him? Whose soldiers will shoot anyone trying to move to out of the country? Iran whose sharia police force you to cut your beard or hair if they deem it too long or repress women even when they defend themselves from rape and punish them (huh? Yup).

On the other hand, should we trust our politicians, Democrat or Republican to edit the US Constitution or 2nd Amendment? Did our current politicians from local to state to federal not give in to the anti police predujiced mobs for something terrible that happened at a corrupt police department in another city and in another state to defund successful police departments around the country leading to unprecedented crime? Think about it - car thefts quadrupled in the first 3 months of 2022 right here in good ol’ Bellingham, not to mention all the other crimes! ***Would you trust these intellectual giants to rewrite our Constitution, 2nd Amended (your equalizer right to defend yourself against someone armed, crazy and / or on drugs and / or bigger than you, please think about this, especially you women)?   

     I encourage you all to study history, for when Nazi Germany - Hitler, CCP Mao Tsetung, Communist Russia’s Lennin and on and on, disarmed the citizens the most brutal death followed - millions upon millions of people.  Before you, you have the internet (as well as books at the store or library) full of good as well as bad information, I beseach you all to study history, compare and contrast and learn from it so it doesn’t repeat itself. (***Please for the love of your loved ones!) We are at the strangest crossroads people have ever found themselves in the history of the world. Please don’t be the generation that ended our 245 year old republic and traded our Constitution, right to defend ourselves - 2nd Amendment for something of the ilk of those repressive systems mentioned above, because our system is not perfect, and there are manipulators pushing violent games, movies and antidepressants upon our youth, indirectly or directly creating violent sickos. 

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Ray Kamada

Jun 03, 2022

Firstly, ala impeachment, DC statehood is, at this point, a purely Congressional issue beyond the purview of interpretive jurisprudence. So, what ‘well-regulated’ means in the 2nd amendment is ancillary, not critical, except to explain the subtext for just one of several rationales for DC statehood. E.g., taxation without representation is another big one. Same applies to Puerto Rico. 

But to respond to your queries, a) No. It’d be procedurally far easier for DC to obtain statehood than to repeal or clarify the 2nd amendment, as the House voted by simple majority in both 2020 and 2021 to grant statehood to DC. So, it only remains for the Senate to do likewise, again by simple majority vote. OTOH, it requires a 2/3rds vote of both Houses to propose a consitutional amendment or its repeal, with 3/4ths of state legislatures or state conventions required to ratify. Such high hurdles render modern amendments nearly impossible. 

But I suspect you know all that and have another motive for asking, or maybe you mean simpler, as in more direct, rather than easier. At any rate, DC would be a solidly blue state, which would then make it easier to instate Puerto Rico, as well as to pass more sensible gun laws. 

To your second point, the Washington Post recently ran an article detailing a series of other baby steps: outlawing large magazines, shoring up background checks, raising the legal age for lawful possession of assault-style weapons, along with evidential studies for how well they might work in the US to reduce accidental, suicidal, and homicidal gun deaths, along with more sensational mass killings and terrorism. 

But to add some context, it’s clear to me that there’s a urban/rural divide about firearms, both pragmatic and political, and much of the latter is based on the former. I.e., rural dwellers feel more need for self defense, as timely police protection may be lacking in their locale. Urban dwellers want fewer guns in the hands of violent teens and their gangs, mature criminals, and abusive relationships. I suspect that specific legislation can be written to address both of these concerns more precisely. 

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Dick Conoboy

Jun 04, 2022

Nathon Robinson writes in Current Affairs:

EXCERPT: No matter how horrific you imagine the Uvalde elementary school shooting to have been, it was much, much worse than that. The local justice of the peace and de facto coroner, Eulalio Díaz, Jr., who was in charge of entering the crime scene and identifying the children’s bodies, said that he tried to prepare himself for the worst sight imaginable, but that nothing he could have envisaged was remotely as horrifying as what he saw once he went inside. Seeing the body of any 10-year-old child would be disturbing enough, even if they died peacefully. But the children of Uvalde died in the most traumatic and gruesome manner imaginable. When police finally breached the classroom, they found dead children in “piles,” their bodies destroyed beyond recognition. Díaz, Jr., tried to identify the children by what they had been wearing to school that day, but even that was impossible, and DNA samples had to be used to confirm their identities. 

An AR-15 is “designed to blow targets apart. It’s a weapon built for war.” An ER doctor who treated victims of a previous mass shooting has said that the carnage inflicted by an AR-15 shocks even those who are used to dealing with blood: 

“It’s not just the bullet going through the body like it is with a simple handgun, they have these shockwaves that they send through the organs that destroy the tissue. And so I had patients that night that came in with their intestines hanging out, with half of their heads shot off. It was such a graphic scene that I had never, ever seen in my career as an ER doctor.”

The U.S. news media heavily censors violence, never showing us the up-close reality of gore and death, so that while the public will be horrified and outraged by a crime like the Uvalde shooting, we will be kept safe from having to confront the full truth. We will not have to know what Eulalio Díaz, Jr., knows—in other words, what “piles of dead children” look like. 

One might think this is for the best. Díaz, Jr., himself said that “he has no intention of ever sharing exactly what he saw.” But can we have an honest public conversation about gun policy if we don’t get too close to the darkest truths about what guns do, because we have deemed these truths too gruesome for to look at? We are a violent society squeamish about violence, and as a result we allow powerful corporations to spend massive amounts of money to lobby politicians so that we can purchase and use weapons of war, but keep ourselves from having to think too hard about the suffering and deaths that the use of these weapons causes.

Moustafa Bayoumi writes in the Guardian:

Excerpt: “Every day, America’s obsession with guns and violence terrifies its citizens, but it also reflects its own genocidal and racist past. In fact, American violence has its roots in its own settler-colonial origins. When you moved to a colony as a settler, Hannah Arendt observed long ago, you freed yourself from the morality of your home country and acted any way you wished, as long as you had your carbine by your side. Colonizers were “functionaries of violence”, Arendt explains, able to define themselves both by their opposition to their home country and by their brutal subjugation of the natives around them. This particular kind of colonial arrogance sounds familiar. In American mythology, we call it rugged individualism.”

Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence reports:

“Every year, nearly 40,000 Americans are killed by guns, including:

  • More than 23,000 who die by firearm suicide
  • 14,000 who die by firearm homicide
  • More than 500 who die by legal intervention*
  • Nearly 500 who die by unintentional firearm injuries
  • More than 300 who die by undetermined intent

This equates to more than 100 gun deaths every single day.”

There are consequences to our actions [The graphic is graphic.]

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Angelo Tsoukalas

Jun 04, 2022

The AR15’s are terrible weapons. But what I don’t understand is why did the cops waited 40 mins outside the school? And most importantly why did they run in and rescue their children and not stop the gun man? Here’s an MSN article and video on this. 

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/uvalde-police-officer-admits-cops-saved-their-own-kids-from-robb-elementary-before-stopping-shooter/ar-AAXLzkH

I like the Swiss approach to guns who have almost 0 murders and one of the highest per capita gun ownership. Here’s a great video from 2018 my Finnish friend sent me on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkuMLId8SqE

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Angelo Tsoukalas

Jun 04, 2022

Nevertheless, South Africa is one of the most violent countries, with surging violent crimes and murders through the roof first 3 months of 2022 as they have laxed law enforcement like we have. I guess it could be worse in Bellingham the surging in crime is property crime: 400% rise in auto theft. 

https://www.barrons.com/news/brutal-violent-crime-surge-in-south-africa-police-01654254607

But they also have tough gun laws and regulations, so tough you have to wait 2+ years…

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

“In South Africa, the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000 regulates the possession of firearms by civilians. Possession of a firearm is conditional on a competency test and several other factors, including background checking of the applicant, inspection of an owner’s premises, and licensing of the weapon by the police introduced in July 2004. The process is currently undergoing review,[1] as the police are at present, not able to adequately or within reasonable time, process either competency certification, new licences or renewal of existing licences. Minimum waiting period used to exceed 2 years from date of application.” 

So while the law abiding are waiting for years, so where are the criminals getting the guns? The black market!

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Jon Humphrey

Jun 05, 2022

Dick, excellent article. I’ve had to talk a lot about gun violence with my 5 and 8 year old lately, again. Sadly, I’ve had to do this often. I watch other publications like “The Week Junior” try to explain to my kids why not only what happened in as tactfully a way as possible, but the schools weasel away from their responsibility to beef up security in a meaningful way.
I’ll start by saying that I don’t think the nation is as divided on guns as it may seem. I’m am technically a gun owner. I enjoy target shooting and am a bad hunter. I own a bolt action rifle with a small clip for this purpose.
The truth is that most gun owners want much more regulation too. It’s not something we talk about at the range a lot since everyone is armed and the craziest people tend to have the AR-15s with cyanide tipped armor piercing bullets. However, it’s time for the gun community to start to talk about this too. It’s time for rational people to assert themselves. I am not an NRA member because I want to be part of an organization that is about gun safety, not whatever the hell the NRA is now instead. It seems to me that the overall modern NRA motto is “freedom for people with money to own guns to continue modern slavery with economically. Oh, and to justify why people need AR-15s after every tragic school shooting.” Most gun owners want more background checks. They want more accountability. 
From a technological point of view, I doubt the “founding slave owners” (I mean fathers) conceived of an AR-15 hanging over every fireplace when they wrote the amendment. So let’s take the 2nd amendment in the spirit it was written. I propose a gun trade program where every AR-15 owner can trade in their weapon for a shiny, new, musket the founding fathers would have approved of.
Thankfully, we have a candidate that is trying to give us real gun reform, Jason Call. https://www.callforcongress.com/
He and I actually had an excellent conversation on the topic. We talked about the responsible gun owners in my family vs. the ones that kept their weapons under the bed that he knew. With kids in the house of course.
Call’s opponent, the corporate neo-liberal establishment embarrassment Rick Larsen, not only never took this issue seriously but just accepted a bribe from Lockheed Martin to create more weapons of war. When Larsen sees the “Cha-ching” a comin he doesn’t care what the product attached to it is. But we shouldn’t just pick on Larsen. Most of our corporate-democrats do the same things.
How has the Democratic Party establishment reacted to Call’s reasonable gun control approach, overall integrity and progressive values? Well, establishment corporate shill bullies like Sharon Shewmake report anyone they don’t agree with for disciplinary action in session everytime they can as a tactic to violate their free speech rights and shut them up. So Call has been unjustly reported just about everytime he disagrees with the Corporate Democrats in the Shewmake Cartel. What does this mean? It means that Shewmake has no intention of acting on gun reform. Which actually means she’s anti-woman. Regardless of what she says, or Larsen says, etc. look at their lack of significant work on the issue. Guess what guys, you want to show the women you claim to care so much about that you care? Well guess what, mothers and fathers alike don’t want to have to worry about their kids getting shot at school. So how about instead of accepting bribes from weapons manufacturers you work on gun reform.
When push comes to shove establishment Democrats always roll over and the Republicans want to pretend that there is no problem at all. Good thing the Democrats told better candidates that they better not run against Sharon or we might see some actual progress. Phew bomb makers, no need to worry, we’ve been told to vote from another ballot full of abusive corporate Democrats. 
Extend this really to any progressive issue. Establishment Democrats are just about as bad as Republicans and no real progress is made.
We would have to be out of our minds to vote back in anyone that was serving during the pandemic. Remember the riots? They abandoned us then on gun control too.
However, I should note that real gun control has to be linked to a demilitarization of the police force. Why? Well because when your police force is militarized it gives fuel to everyone being armed to the teeth. What did our local officials do when the argument was made that our local police force should ditch it’s tank and military style arguments. From the mayor to councils to the school board to the house to the senate and beyond they told our police to keep on keeping on when it comes to arming themselves like they’re ready to invade Normandy just to deal with average citizens. Most of them gave the pesky citizens no response at all. Most of them are Democrats. The city council and mayor could have easily demilitarized our police force, but nope, apparently they want to be Ted Cruz style Republicans on that one.  
Most of the people that pushed these draconian policies, like Mayor Fleetwood, are Corporate Democrats. They pass off this militarization as “supporting our police force.” You know, so they can murder us more easily. Can’t have those pesky citizens having rights now can we? Need some armed thugs to enforce it.
So you put a Fleetwood together with a Shewmake with a Larsen with a Democrat controlled city council and what do you get? A militarized police force and no real action on gun control. Perhaps they should just cut the charade and invite Ted Cruz to party already. They can hold it inside of one of the C-5 Galaxies that Larsen just accepted his bribe for.  
Again, these “leaders” have had years to give us real reforms and never have. They will blame their opponents, and should, but there have been times when the Democrats had clear advantages over the Republicans and they still sat on their hands on this issue. I ask everyone to remember that this election season. We need real reformers this time around. Before the next tragedy.

 

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Steve Harris

Jun 05, 2022

Our own WA State Constitution (Article 1, Section 24) is pretty clear on gun ownership (much more so than the 2nd Amendment) and would apply even if the 2nd Amendment was repealed. 

“The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in the defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain, or employ an armed body of men.”

Whether you believe the 2nd Amendment (or the Constitution itself) is “outdated” or needs to be repealed, there should be no misunderstanding as to why it was included.  There are hundreds of quotes from men of the time that made it clear:

“The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.” – Samuel Adams, Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, 1788

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country.” – James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434, June 8, 1789

“The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.” – Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 1833

“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined…. The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able might have a gun.” – Patrick Henry, Speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 5, 1778

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Abe Jacobson

Jun 08, 2022

Nice article Dick, thank you for writing it.

Justice Scalia fancied himself as an “originalist”, and this is also a conceit of his surviving right-wing colleagues. But given the chance to actually stick with the original text, Scalia chose instead to innovate (less polite: pull it out of his ____) and get rid of the pesky original text about “well-regulated militia”. 

Additionally Scalia and his right-wing colleagues have in the case of guns ignored another tenet of originalism, which is to time-travel back to the time that the 2nd Amendment was written to understand its meaning. Well, let’s do that, and ask, what is an “arm”? What did it mean in those days “to be armed”? or “to bear arms”?? Clearly it meant, the right to have un unrifled gun, into which one inserts a lead ball and some charge, and (about a couple of times per minute) fires the weapon. 

In truth, the absurdity of today’s deference to the 2nd Amendment is that there is no definition of “bear arms” that is pertinent to the time the Amendment was written. Failing that, the righties impose their own ad hoc inventions, e.g. a free man has the right to an AR-15 but not to a Stinger missile. Say what? Where is that distinction coming from? The men of the constitution-writing era knew nothing about semi-automatic weapons or about shoulder-launched missiles.

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Lisa E. Papp

Jun 10, 2022

Perhaps the 2nd Amendment should be repealed or rewritten. I’m not a constitutional law expert so I can’t speak to that. Regarding guns, I’ve never understood why automatic and other high-powered weapons are needed in the first place or why it seems they are so easy to obtain.

Shouldn’t we look at and address the root causes of violent behavior and the increase in violence?

The article below gives an extremely thorough analysis of a wide range of factors that contribute to aggressive, violent, or suicidal behavior. From chemicals in food, soy baby formula and other soy-based foods, lack of good nutrition and lack of certain nutrients, stress, use of alcohol, toxins in Rxs and vaccines, pollution, and use of psychiatric drugs! SSRIs and drugs for ADHD, depression, anxiety have side effects which include high rates of suicide, aggression, and violent behavior.

And what about the adverse effects of excessive screen time, not enough time spent in nature, social distancing, masking, not being able to see full faces because of masks, remote learning with even more screen time, severe lockdowns, and the government and media’s ongoing barrage of fear-based messaging? These activities and policies have negatively affected individual and collective mental health. They’ve contributed to increased rates of drug and alcohol addiction, suicides, violent behavior, and jeopardized the health of our families, schools, communities, and economies.  

Let’s please address the sources of violent behavior.

https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/environmental-toxins/violent-behavior-a-solution-in-plain-sight/

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Dianne Foster

Jul 02, 2022

 Yes,  nice article Dick.   I think about the mother of the Sandy Hook killer,  who had a houseful of guns,  yet the kid was able to kill his mother before he went to the school.   What use were a bunch of guns really?   All other civilized countries have gun laws.   Australia went through one mass shooting,  outlawed guns, none since.  But they don’t have a multibillion dollar gun industry as well.   I had thought about a Constitutional Convention, but what Pearl said makes sense.   It would probably be dominated by a bunch of right-winger Tea Partiers and by corporate donors like the Koch Brothers.   When Pearl and I were in Occupy Bellingham,  we discussed this at length.   I do think repeal of the 2nd amendment makes more sense. 

Addressing Lisa’s concern about vaccines and anti-psychotic medications,  I submit that is ridiculous.  My younger siblings are all schizophrenic,  and were completely out of control, psychotic, and unintentionally suicidal at times.   The anti-psychotic meds they took (and my youngest sister continues on today) were magical in healing,  and they are functional,  happy, and productive citizens because of those meds.   Unfortunately,  we don’t have much availability today of psychiatric help due to lack of funding for mental health….  much more important to fund military adventures abroad.

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Dick Conoboy

Jul 03, 2022

Dianne,

Thanks for your thoughtful comment.  Might I say though that our conversations about the necessity of a constitutional convention need not be dominated by the right wing or the corporate world. If we do not even bring it up, it will never happen.

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Dianne Foster

Jul 03, 2022

Dick,

Got it!

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Pearl Follett

Jul 03, 2022

“To promote the general welfare”

When welfare is mentioned, conservative, selfish, compassionless members of our society start rattling their nonsense about the self-made man and the holiness of the work ethic while letting the merchants of death, the warmongers, millionaires, and robber barons push the ordinary citizens to poverty.

Welfare, in the form of financial aid, circulates money from the bottom up. Rather than being like money given to kill others, it stimulates the economy while relieving suffering and increasing the quality of life. Rather than putting millions into the dead end of the military, it promotes “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Money needs to circulate and not be in the hands of the few.  Guaranteed family income would benefit the entire nation.

The forgiveness of student loans would free the student slaves who cannot enjoy the blessings of liberty while enriching the bankers who are oppressing them. Emancipating these debtors will allow money to go into others’ coffers that will benefit society at large and fulfill the promise of happiness.  

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Wendy Harris

Nov 13, 2022

I do not think it needs a repeal so much as an accurate interpretation and enforcement. It does not speak to individual gun (musket or rifle) ownership but to an armed militia, which keeps its arms locked up in the armory. To assume that the white land-owning and slave-owning elites who drafted the amendments wanted peasants who did not own land to own weapons is ridiculous. 

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Dick Conoboy

Nov 13, 2022

Wendy,

I agree except that my preference is for no guns in the hands of the populace at all.  Rewrite the 2nd Ammendment to specifically authorize state national guards beyond which no weapons will be owned.

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