Fight to end gun violence is key to defending democracy


In the wake of the Newtown massacre, polls show the great majority of Americans are now insisting that the ability to live free from the fear or threat of gun violence is a fundamental democratic right - one that far supercedes any so-called personal gun rights allegedly contained in the Second Amendment.

In fact, the right-wing extremists opposing all efforts to curb gun violence are the same forces that rallied behind Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, hoping to undermine every other democratic right as well as the living standards of workers and ordinary Americans. It is for that reason, as well as the need to protect public safety, that the same coalition of labor and its allies that worked so hard and effectively to re-elect President Barack Obama must now go all-out to back his common sense proposals for gun law reform.

As Obama has charged, the extremists recklessly "gin up fear" that the government is coming to take away hunting rifles and personal weapons owned for legitimate self-defense. Led by the hate-mongering leadership of the National Rifle Association, they use a totally fraudulent and only very recent interpretation of the Second Amendment which they falsely claim as necessary for protecting every other freedom contained in the Bill of Rights.

One of their unhinged spokesmen, Texas talk show host Alex Jones, launched a national petition drive to deport CNN commentator Piers Morgan for questioning the Second
Amendment. Jones said the amendment "isn't there for duck hunting. It's there to protect us from tyrannical government and street thugs," and then went on to threaten insurrection "if you try to take our firearms."

Actually, the Second Amendment wasn't enacted with any of these things in mind.  The amendment was adopted as a means to enable the new American republic, lacking a standing army or state national guards, to muster militia to put down domestic uprisings, including slave revolts, to repulse any attempted return by the British and to deal with clashes with Native Americans on the expanding frontier.

These issues vanished long ago. The Second Amendment is obsolete and now has been twisted to threaten the basic safety and security of all Americans. There is no basis for claiming this amendment was intended to permit unregulated personal acquisition of firearms, including amassing military weapons and private arsenals for "protection" from the government. No government, especially one that is new and fragile, has ever authorized citizens to arm themselves against it.

Until the Reagan administration, U.S. courts rejected any use of the Second Amendment to prevent rational gun control laws, which prevailed throughout the country for over 200 years.

It was only with the recent rise of right-wing extremism, including its 1977 takeover of the previously benign NRA, that a well-financed and aggressive effort was launched to undo all gun control laws  These efforts culminated in a 5-4 Supreme Court decision, written in 2008 by arch-right-wing Reagan appointee Antonin Scalia, that reversed two centuries of court decisions when it threw out a Washington, D.C., restriction on handgun ownership and asserted for the first time that the Second Amendment protected virtually unrestricted personal ownership of firearms.

The campaign leading to this decision was denounced in 1991 by the previous very conservative chief justice, Warren Burger, appointed by President Richard Nixon. Burger said the Second Amendment "has been 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."

As investigative reporter Steven Rosenfeld has pointed out in an important article, "How the Second Amendment was Hijacked by the NRA and Antonin Scalia," before 1980 only five states allowed concealed weapons to be carried in public.  Now it is 44.

Personal ownership of guns now has skyrocketed to 300 million, and 10 of the 12 deadliest mass shootings in American history have occurred since 1984, six within the last five years since the Scalia decision. It is also in this period that the delusional "militia" movement took off, leading directly to the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. According to an Alternet report there have been 65 mass shootings just since Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in 2009. Guns now kill 30,000 Americans every year. That is 300 times as many as in nearly every other industrialized country, where the same mental health problems, films and video games exist but where guns are strictly regulated.

This is the blood and carnage that the NRA leadership, the right-wing extremist movement and Antonin Scalia have on their hands.

Having lost the 2012 election, these forces are now howling for utilizing "Second Amendment remedies" to get their way. They are goaded on, not only by the NRA, but by right-wing talk show hosts and Fox News, where commentators have responded to the president's call to restore Clinton-era restrictions on assault weapons with calls for impeachment and warnings about "civil war" (Arthur Herman), declaring the country to be in a "pre-revolutionary condition" (Pat Caddell) and that states would be justified to secede if the "radicalized, abusive federal government" continues on its current path (Sean Hannity).

At his Jan. 16 press conference President Obama warned that winning the needed reforms will be difficult. "If Americans of every background stand up and say 'enough!'" he said, " only then change will come."

It is not only, as Vice President Joe Biden said, "a moral obligation." We must rally behind President Obama to protect our safety and security and our basic democratic rights.

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  • I wonder if anyone will bother to report that existing gun control laws aren't being enforced in the 3 cities where they are most strict. The district attorney and the president aren't prosecuting people who break gun laws in New York, LA or Chicago. Is it not their job to ensure laws are enforced?
    Also, these "assault weapons" everyone is so find of screaming against account for less than one tenth of one percent of the deaths caused by firearms.
    If you really want to stop gun violence make any crime involving guns carry a mandatory sentence of 10 years with no chance of parole, period. Maybe after these criminals, who by the way already violated laws just in the way that many of them obtained their guns in the first place, spend half their lives in jail they'll come to their senses. Either way they, and their illegally obtained guns, will be off the streets

    Posted by Craizer, 04/06/2013 2:31am (3 years ago)

  • It isn't the amount of guns since 1984, that has caused this increase in shootings, it's the morality of the Country.
    The USA has turned it's back on God and the morality and protection that God gives a Country in His blessings will surely haunt that Country. We are not the first in history when this has happened, nor are going to be the last.
    You take out morality, you know no right from wrong. People are a lot different than they were since the 70's. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this one out.

    Posted by gilbert, 03/14/2013 9:04pm (3 years ago)

  • This is for those that agree with the infringement of the Second Amendment.

    "Actually, the Second Amendment wasn't enacted with any of these things in mind. The amendment was adopted as a means to enable the new American republic, lacking a standing army or state national guards, to muster militia to put down domestic uprisings, including slave revolts, to repulse any attempted return by the British and to deal with clashes with Native Americans on the expanding frontier.

    These issues vanished long ago."

    Did they?

    domestic uprisings=common criminal

    to repulse any attempted return by the British=Why the British? What about any other group/organization/power that would take away the rights given by those that died for our Constitution?

    I don't really agree with the NRA or the Brady Bunch. Someone else mentioned abortion. More people die in auto related incidents than are killed WITH a firearm. I have yet to find the actual number of people killed BY a firearm. Guns don't kill anyone any more than a car, a bus, or a plane. People are the culprits. A knife, baseball bat, bottle of liquor, or a hockey puck is just as dangerous.

    Has anyone seen "Whinestein's" list? Why are these guns included? There is no basis. No one that wants a ban on guns knows anything about them. The very common 22lr is on the list. I just CANNOT recall any time I was ever issued a 22lr while fighting in the middle east. I also never encountered any terrorist or military using this as a functional military round.

    Here are some questions:
    1. Were all 30,000 people that died, murdered?
    2. If there are roughly 300 million guns in the USA, why is there anyone still alive? Our population is roughly 384 million.
    3. If guns are the culprit in these deaths, and since they kill so many people, the entire world population could be wiped out in a matter of days. Why hasn't this happened?
    4. Does Obama know that gun control does not work? Anyone can reference Chicago, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, and most other large cities that prevent or limit ownership.

    Here some interesting reading. Read the last paragraphs carefully.

    After the Second Amendment is stricken from the Constitution, they will take away everyone's right to freely post their opinions.

    Posted by Ned, 02/16/2013 3:39pm (3 years ago)

  • To keep the NRA and the second amendment is of no benefit to a progressive America , to eliminate them is no loss .

    Posted by Mel, 02/03/2013 8:30am (3 years ago)

  • Yes we will rally behind President Obama no matter what the fanatical right threatens to do. The NRA supports the "merchants of death" who will sell military, assault weapons to anyone. They must be stopped and now is the time to stop them.

    Posted by Frabk Chapman, 01/28/2013 8:44am (3 years ago)

  • I think, and with history on its side, The second admendmint is for the peoples right to own guns. why? to PROTECT THEM FROM THE STATE.

    In the case before it was, THE PEOPLE, (USA) vs The Government (UK) I support some ideas of Communism, and Socialism. but I do respect the consitution, and what it really means.

    Posted by Gregory M., 01/27/2013 12:47am (3 years ago)

  • "Guns now kill 30,000 Americans every year."
    Abortion kills 1.37 million Americans per year. Why aren't you upset about that?
    The founders were very, very clear. Starkly so. The reason for the people to be armed was to discourage tyranny. Your article has not much basis in fact, but it was a very interesting piece of fiction.

    Posted by Misty Williams, 01/26/2013 7:21pm (3 years ago)

  • The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government. -Thomas Jefferson

    Posted by William, 01/26/2013 7:12pm (3 years ago)

  • Argumentation against this author's position, while proceeding from the curious theory that the founding fathers' intent in drafting the second amendment was to thereby facilitate (if not advocate) a violent overthrow of the United States' government by its disenchanted citizens is just about the most ludicrous thing that I've heard all week.

    People are using guns to kill other people in record numbers, and it is high time that some few of us take a stance against those that would promote fear and untimely death in this world. It is to the credit of communists and socialists that they have opted to be in the vanguard of the forces championing such change.

    Posted by Bhuvana-Mohan Dasa, 01/26/2013 5:06pm (3 years ago)

  • The United States is not a "democracy" it is a republic.

    Posted by LibertyToad, 01/26/2013 8:04am (3 years ago)

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