Have You Heard The One About The Second Amendment?


OK. It doesn’t happen often but I know the warning signs and if I don’t vent, right now, I’m liable to go stark raving bonkers right here on my skimpy little raft which is the only thing keeping me from drowning in a vast Sea of American Stupidity.

Inspired by my President, Barack H. Obama, who only has one term left and is currently refusing to play nicely with morons, I too am ready to stand up and howl for the survival of standard intelligence which is currently fighting a losing battle with pandemic nonsense.

When I was a child, Americans prided themselves on being intelligent, well-educated, open to new ideas and (literally) reaching for the stars.  Something awful has happened in the ensuing fifty-or-so years since then.  Some Americans seem to actually embrace life in the fact-free-zone, getting their information from an echo chamber and spending their leisure time dumbing down in places like The Creation Experience.  Or teaching schoolchildren from fairy tale books rather than science texts.

But enough is enough.  There’s a definite threshold to my ability to play along graciously with sophomoric silliness and the people who promote it.  And the Great American Gun Debate has definitely pushed me over the edge.

I really don’t care if there are grown-up people out there who still like to play shoot ‘em up, in their spare time.  As long as they keep their very dangerous toys locked up the rest of the time and don’t expect normal people to ooh and ahh over their hunting or shooting range performance.  If you really, really need to get your “man card” punched, go for it.

But please, please don’t lay anymore of the pious Second Amendment sermonettes on me because all that does, in normal people circles, is stamp you as a really pathetic dumbass who doesn’t know squat about American History or your precious Constitution that you thoroughly misinterpret and mangle every time you mention it.

Maybe, instead of spending so much time thinking about guns, some of you might want to take a continuing-ed course in American History in the hope that someday you might actually know what you’re yammering about.

One thing that’s likely to jack up the IQ (Ignorance Quotient) of the Great American Gun Debate is the fact that the TEA Party finds itself momentarily issue-less.  The spanking they took in the 2012 election, the disdain of a majority of Americans for their ideals and their inept candidates and the Republican Party’s survival tactics resulting in numerous ideological cave-ins have not presaged a rosy future for the TEA Party. 

But now they have GUNS!  Now they have a reason to get the tricorn hats and Gadsden flags out of mothballs again.

Here’s a preview of what’s to come:

“The Second Amendment is there to protect us from losing the rest of them,” said Adam Brisebois, 34, of Hudson, who cradled his 3-year-old daughter on his right shoulder and a rifle on the left. “If we don’t fight, we’ll lose our rights.”

“There is an assault going on on the Constitution. And that is job one of ours - to protect our flank and protect gun owners,” said Tom Gaitens, a Tampa, Fla.-based tea party leader. “To us, this is the fundamental issue on the founding of our nation.”

Many protesters are hunters, but say access to hunting is not their prime concern - just as a sign hanging behind the podium at the New Hampshire rally said: “The right to keep arms is not about deer hunting. It is about defending the republic from tyranny.”

“I don’t have an automatic weapon. I don’t want an automatic weapon. But the citizens need to have guns that are equal to the guns that the government has,” said Roger Rist, a 69-year-old business owner from Meredith. “I certainly hope I don’t have to take up arms against the government. Might we have to? Yeah.”

Please.  Spare Me.  Do you people really believe that your flea-market pea-shooters are ready to take on drones? or chemical or biological or nuclear-enabled weapons like those that you know your government has?  or would you like to see every citizen stockpiling such stuff because—Second Amendment?  Your premise is pseudo-historical and completely hysterical.  If the US government ever becomes the tyrant of your paranoid delusions, it won’t need gun laws to squash you like a bug.  It’ll just do it.  Whether you have guns or not.  Better get out now while you can . . .

And, of course, there’s the Grand Poobah of Gun Nuttery, Wayne LaPierre, Vice President of the National Rifle Association, tendering his utterly uninformed opinion in a congressional hearing last week:

I think without any doubt, if you look at why our Founding Fathers put (the Second Amendment) there, they had lived under the tyranny of King George and they wanted to make sure that these free people in this new country would never be subjugated again and have to live under tyranny.

What stuns me about that last bit is that in an audience made up of elected representatives of the American people, serving at the highest levels of the federal government, people who are well-educated specialists in American government, not one of them interrupted Wayne LaPierre to say “that part about the Second Amendment? Wayne.  That’s total BS” [or words to that effect].

So now, I’m starting to wonder if the rest of us aren’t somehow complicit in this “dumbing-down” of the national discourse because we don’t call anyone on lies, exaggerations, melodrama or nonsense, anymore.  We just let it ride, which is tacit agreement.

There are so many ways in which the Second Amendment has been mutilated and miscast by gun nuts that it would take more than this post to thoroughly explore them all.  So here, for anyone interested, are some jumping-off-points for learning more about the reality based and well-documented rationale for the Second Amendment despite the TEA Party and Wayne LaPierre’s efforts at fictionalizing it to serve their own ends.

How about starting with the fact that the entire Bill of Rights, of which the Second Amendment is a part, was actually a sort of marketing tool, like the Federalist Papers, cooked up by James Madison to get some reluctant state governors on board with ratifying the Constitution which, for a while, looked like it might fail.

And all of this effort was in aid of switching from a distributed model of government, as set up in the Articles of Confederation, in which states held more power than the central government, to its opposite, in which the federal government was supreme, as set forth in the US Constitution.  That was a tough sell to the States and the federalist founders had to do some fancy footwork to make it happen.

So.  Back to the Second Amendment which was designed to accomplish exactly the opposite of what TEA Party and gun rights advocates would have us believe.  The Second Amendment was meant to assure the people that the federal government could guarantee “domestic tranquility.”  It was conceived of as a tool to prevent insurrection against the government, not to enable it.  And no one, but no one, of the founding fathers believed that it would be necessary for American citizens to protect themselves against their own self-government.

Indeed, as Robert Parry of Consortium News so aptly puts it:

. . . the Right has invested heavily during the last several decades in fabricating a different national narrative, one that ignores both logic and the historical record. In this right-wing fantasy, the Framers wanted everyone to have a gun so they could violently resist their own government.

This bogus “history” has then been amplified through the Right’s powerful propaganda apparatus – Fox News, talk radio, the Internet and ideological publications – to persuade millions of Americans that their possession of semi-automatic assault rifles and other powerful firearms is what the Framers intended, that today’s gun-owners are fulfilling some centuries-old American duty.

The mythology about the Framers and the Second Amendment is, of course, only part of the fake history that the Right has created to persuade ill-informed Tea Partiers that they should dress up in Revolutionary War costumes and channel the spirits of men like Washington and Madison.

But this gun fable is particularly insidious because it obstructs efforts by today’s government to enact commonsense gun-control laws and thus the false narrative makes possible the kinds of slaughters that erupt periodically across the United States, most recently in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 schoolchildren and six teachers were murdered in minutes by an unstable young man with a civilian version of the M-16 combat rifle.

The Second Amendment actually says this:

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 brand new nation—America—was, in fact, rather chaotic, in the beginning.  News travelled slowly and the colonials were self-interested separatists.  Several notable uprisings of citizens occurred while the new government tried to figure out how to govern.
For example, Shays’ Rebellion, in western Massachusetts in 1786, occurred when a former Continental Army captain, Daniel Shays, along with other veterans and farmers took up arms against the government because the new government was slow to address their economic grievances.

Under the Articles of Confederation, the United States lacked an army, or any other peacekeeping force, to put down the rebellion.  George Washington was rightly concerned that if the country appeared to be in disarray, the British who had so recently recognized American self-government might try to take advantage of the chaos.

In 1786, Washington wrote “I am mortified beyond expression that in the moment of our acknowledged independence we should by our conduct verify the predictions of our transatlantic foe, and render ourselves ridiculous and contemptible in the eyes of all Europe.”

As a result of Shay’s Rebellion, Washington decided to take part in the Constitutional Convention, which was convened to revise the Articles of Confederation but instead threw them out and created the U.S. Constitution, which shifted national sovereignty from the 13 states to the Big Gubmint we have today.

When the 1791 anti-tax revolt, known as the Whiskey Rebellion, arose in Pennsylvania the Second Congress expanded on the idea of “a well-regulated militia” by passing the Militia Acts which required all military-age white males to obtain their own muskets and equipment for service in militias.

In 1794, President Washington successfully led a combined force of state militias against the Whiskey rebels demonstrating how the Second Amendment helped serve the government in maintaining “security,” as the Amendment says.

As usual the reality is just about the exact opposite of what the gun rights contingent have convinced themselves, and millions of others, to be true.  So the rest of us have a choice: either nod complacently when the Right spouts these fractured fairy tales or call it what it is—pure, unadulterated bullpucky.  Maybe we’ll all learn something in the process.

And, in closing, I’d like to retweet President Washington’s sentiments: “I am mortified beyond expression that in the moment of our acknowledged independence we should by our conduct verify the predictions of our transatlantic foe, and render ourselves ridiculous and contemptible in the eyes of all Europe.”  Because, Roasters, for some time now, that seems to be what Americans are bent on.


Posted by Bette Noir on 02/03/13 at 01:26 PM • Permalink

Categories: PoliticsNuttersTeabaggeryOur Stupid Media

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Bette Noir I want to give you a huge hug for this. Thank you so very much. Excellent, excellent post.

I wish this sentiment:

“The Second Amendment is there to protect us from losing the rest of them,” said Adam Brisebois,etc…

were not so unthinkingly parroted. It’s as if they were unaware of the gathering together and pamphleting and all the other work the founding folks did before the first shot was fired. For that matter, if they have a greivance with government, it might be neat if they cherished ballots over bullets, representative governmernment being sort of the whole point of what they were going for.

But it isn’t surprising that the modern-day minutemen aren’t aware of 2nd amendment history, in a conservative movement where originalism is divorced from intent, traditionalism from stare decisis, and where today’s New Federalists are yesterday’s anti-federalists.

@aimai Thank you.  All huge hugs gratefully accepted.

And, @Vixen

For that matter, if they have a grievance with government, it might be neat if they cherished ballots over bullets, representative government being sort of the whole point of what they were going for.

Incisive, as always.

I echo Aimai’s sentiments!

As I understand it, the “well regulated militia” was basically a self armed volunteer army, not unlike what we have today (except now we buy the guns).

The perversion of that into the idea that citizens need guns to turn on their own country is particularly unsettling.  Our country’s not perfect but we do have a pretty efficient checks and balances system up and running, thanks to the far-seeing individuals who drafted the Constitution, (certain members of the Supreme Court notwithstanding) and the idea that a bunch of loonies in tri-cornered hats armed with high powered rifles will need to make an assault on the capitol is pretty ridiculous.  Especially in light of the utterly tragic collateral damage.

I am giggling madly...seems appropriate here as well.

@domynoe—it’s good to see LaPierre getting slammed on FOX. His dishonesty apparently tests anyone’s patience, given enough of it.

To be fair, some of the Founding Fathers DID see one of the functions of having a citizen’s militia as keeping the government honest.  The Founding Fathers, after all, romanticized the Swiss Confederacy about as much as they did the Roman Republic.  But a) just because the Founders said it and thought it doesn’t make it right, and b) they most certainly did not mean it in the sense of ‘you have to buy lots of guns so you and your hunting buddies can resist government oppression’—that, as you note, belongs to the Bacon’s/Shay’s/Whiskey Rebellion school of thought that the Fathers more or less rightly abhored.

On a related note, I saw an idiot gun protester with a sign that read “Obama = Hitler” yesterday.  So, yeah, I’m feeling the stupid too.

I am giggling madly…

Wow, that has to be some form of the irresistible force and immovable object thing, doesn’t it.

I can’t add anything to the above except to reinforce that the “Founding Fathers” did not intend that the defense of the country would be random gangs with guns.  Witness the reaction of the early years of the country (Whiskey Rebellion, etc.) and the reaction to the Nullification controversy.

@domynoe—it’s good to see LaPierre getting slammed on FOX. His dishonesty apparently tests anyone’s patience, given enough of it.

I think the real problem is not LaPierre’s dishonesty, it’s the creepiness factor… if he were merely lying, his lies would be glossed over.  Problem is, he looks like goddamn Skeletor and he scares the children.

Problem is, he looks like goddamn Skeletor and he scares the children.

Spot on! @B4 The little prick also has delusions of grandeur:

The written testimony he submitted to Congress came with a biography describing him as a “Renaissance man,” a “skilled hunter,” and an “acclaimed speaker and political force of nature” as he preserved freedom. “There has been no better leader of this great cause than Wayne LaPierre!” the bio boasted.


To be fair, some of the Founding Fathers DID see one of the functions of having a citizen’s militia as keeping the government honest.

And, of course, you are right @John Ball.  I am no cheerleader for the “founders”—they were human like the rest of us and without benefit of a time machine it’s not possible to accurately suss out the purity of all of their motives.

For example, we can be pretty certain that these wealthy aristocrats and slaveholders appreciated the expediency of bearing arms to keep the peace in all sorts of situations, not the least of which were protecting their own and the young republic’s assets from needy working stiffs, disgruntled slaves and uncooperative indigenous peoples.

Given those compelling concerns, I suspect that allowing citizens the means of rising up against the new government if it got too full of itself was way down on their list.  If it was on it, at all.

The National Guard is the Well Regulated Militia.  Everything else is the “unorganized militia” which is just a handy term for all males.  I does not have a history.  There is also a State Guard (answers to the governor only) organization which the governor could call out in an emergency if the National Guard units were deployed.

Gun Control…We already ban and control firearms.  This is nothing new.  See the National Firearms Act of 1934.  The law was originally written to ban hand guns but “somebody” pulled that part.  It did however ban hand greanades, silencers, sawed off shotguns, sawed off long guns or “short guns”, and Gangster Guns etc.  It also allowed for the licensing of fully automatic weapons keeping track of exactly who owned that gun and when.  I feel that we should just extend this registrations system to all guns not just the automatic ones.
Wiki has a very good entry/discussion.

Oh yes, before I go…. There are many states with anti-militia laws and anti paramilitary training laws.

Google “Militia Watchdog Militia”

FAQ on the Militia or New Militia

I voted for Barack Obama.  I think he’s doing a fine job.  I’m pro-LGBT equal rights.  I love blacks, hispanics and whites.  I think society is well served with the social programs we have in place.  I’m a card carrying member of both the ACLU and the NRA.  I find no incongruity there.  Inalienable.  This is a resolute term.  Please review the constitution and think carefully before trying to curtail others rights.  My right to defend my rights is greater than your right to infringe upon them.  My favorite amendment is the 9th.  Don’t tread on me.  Ever.

Don’t tread on me.  Ever.

Or what? @samuel magmite, you’ll pre-empt the treader’s rights for all time?

This is not a post about rights, inalienability, or measures that potentially curtail others’ rights.

It is a post about ignorance, and scheming mis-characterization and the amplification of both to revise our history to suit special interests.

I’d be interested to know your interpretation of the Ninth Amendment . . .

Well, yes.  I have no problem defending myself or others with deadly force.  Defending.  I agree that this article is absolutely about ignorance and scheming mis-characterization and the amplification of both to revise our history to suit special interests.  I am also pointing out that the article is pretty much doing everything you just espoused.  You seem to lump everyone who enjoys the right to bear arms into nice little cliche’s in a pathetic attempt to suit your special interests.

Perhaps a separate discussion on the 9th?

You seem to lump everyone who enjoys the right to bear arms into nice little cliche’s in a pathetic attempt to suit your special interests.

Please provide even one example of where the author attempted to “lump everyone into nice little cliches”.  She made it extremely clear, both in the original piece and in her response to your first rather sad effort at trollery that she was referring specifically to the people who use fear to gin up the masses and continue to enable the gun industry to profit off of the sufferings of gun violence victims and their families.

If you can’t make a cogent, non-spittle flecked argument, then go troll somewhere else.  A fine piece like Bette’s deserves a lot better trolls than you.

Apparently there’s a town here in Georgia that REQUIRES every head of household to own a handgun. o.O

They claim it’s why their crime is so low….

@samuel NO right is absolute. By law, you can’t yell “FIRE!” in a crowded theater, and no one argues that this should be changed because of freedom of speech. No one on God’s green earth who isn’t in the military or in law enforcement needs a semi-automatic or automatic weapon. There’s nothing wrong with restricting those weapons for their rightful place. Such restrictions are in place for the safety of the many, which even Spock held over the needs the of the one.

*watches Star Trek reference fall flat*

inb4 far-fetched home-defense scenario analogous to ticking bomb justification for torture

@ marindenver the troll’s screen name, @samuel magmite, says it all.  This is all just a game for him/her.

Kids just want to have fun . . .

@marindenver forgot to say thanks for the kind words of defense

@marindenver - How about “gun nuts” who need their “man card” punched…

@domynoe - you are absolutely right, which is why one does not simply possess a pocket nuke…

@Bette Noir - thank you for the intellectual response.  I troll not, but I’m guessing that your “normal circle” includes only those people who agree with you 100 percent.

I consider this article to the left as Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock are to the right.  In both cases I’m disgusted.

How about “gun nuts” who need their “man card” punched…

If that line wasn’t effective Bushmaster wouldn’t be using it in their ad campaign.

Take it somewhere else now, please.  The ban hammer’s hanging over your head.

samuel magmite I have deleted your last comment due to abusive content.  But you verified my hypothesis - it was the “mancard” thing that got you so wound up.

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