Saturday, May 31, 2014

Surprise! Gun Control Is Not A Violation of Your Rights

I don't understand why you
left out half the quote
I recently spent a weekend camping with a gun-enthusiast friend. He owns nearly fifty firearms of various sizes and types. He is an NRA member, subscribes to several gun magazines and considers himself quite knowledgeable on the subject.

We got into a conversation about the Second Amendment and gun rights. He feels the government is trying to ban guns because there is a certain gun he wants which is illegal in this state. He feels he should be able to buy what he wants when he wants and anything else is a violation of the Constitution.

He quoted the line, "Congress shall pass no laws restricting the people's right to bear arms." I asked about the first part of the amendment, the part about "A well regulated militia". He looked puzzled.

I quoted the full text of the Second Amendment, "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." He said he had never heard the first part and wasn't sure if he believed me.

I was flabbergasted. How was that possible? This is Mr Guns. Mr. Second Amendment rights. How could he be exposed to all this gun information and never heard the full amendment?

His ignorance is not unusual. The part that permits, even requires regulation is purposefully omitted to change the meaning and deceive the public. Conflating all regulation with banning / seizing guns is dishonest, self serving and assumes American gun owners are easily fooled by scary propaganda. The depressing part is, it appears they were right.

Fear sells: Sales of guns skyrocket during the Obama administration. 
Gun sales had been slipping for decades. In 1980 about 55% of households owned a firearm. Those numbers fell steadily for the next thirty years and by 2010, only slightly more than 30% of Americans kept a gun at home.

Conspiracy theories surrounding President Obama and the deliberate deception that Americans are entitled to any and all weapons was a financial savior to the struggling gun industry.

Fear sells and US gun ownership has doubled during the Obama presidencies.

Gun enthusiasts bought up vast stores of ammo and guns in the years following President Obama's election. Spurred by rumors that Obama was going to seize their weapons, the run on guns and ammo resulted in a shortage for a time, which ironically was also blamed on Obama.

Smith and Wesson earned about 80 million dollars in profits in 2010. By 2013, profits had reached 136.5 million. Likewise, Sturm Ruger & Co made about 60 million dollars in 2010, but by 2013 those numbers had nearly doubled to 118 million dollars. The NRA now boasts 4.3 million members, and rakes in 205 million in revenue.

Talking to gun rights advocates, it seems they believe that any restriction on their desire to acquire weaponry is a violation of their rights. They proudly wave the flag and spout the portion of the Second Amendment which supports their uncompromising position.

The Supreme Court ruled in the 2008 District of Columbia vs. Heller that individuals held the right to own guns but the states had a reasonable right to regulate them. Even Justice Scalia, no friend to liberals, held in the majority opinion that the personal right to possess weapons was not unlimited.

Rumors of a secret Obama plot to seize guns resulted
in ammo shortages which were, ironically,
also blamed on President Obama
Justice Scalia felt that a complete ban on handguns was unconstitutional, but certain restrictions could apply. He specifically mentioned the mentally ill and felons should not be able to purchase guns, that the states can ban especially dangerous or unusual weapons, that weapons can be forbidden in sensitive locations such as schools and government buildings and the state had the right to regulate the commercial sale of guns.

How can these otherwise intelligent adults be so ignorant on a topic they obviously feel passionately about? I can only blame the gun lobbies whose job is to increase sales of weapons, ammo and most of all, fear.

The gun rights extremism seen today is corporate manufactured ignorance and fear. It is designed to confuse and frighten the population, drive right wing voters to the polls and increase sales of guns and ammunition.

As the gun and ammo manufacturers, the NRA and other big political and business interests ride high on profits derived from selling fear, lies and half truths, the ignorance spreads like a virus. Extremism, fed by corporate profits and fear, creeps into the collective thinking until lies are taken as truth.

Fight ignorance with facts. Question everything. Remember, they lie because they believe you are stupid. I share these facts because I believe you are smart.