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
Police who responded to the latest school shooting in Uvalde, TX, were faced with assessing the situation before taking action. As a result, they have been heavily criticized because they treated the attack as a barricade situation where the shooter allegedly held students hostage instead of an active shooter situation where they were trained to take immediate action. Some say the delay in taking a more forceful approach may have resulted in the needless deaths of those who could have been saved if police had acted faster.
The problem is, it was both. Yes, there was an active shooter and immediate action was warranted. It was also a hostage situation, but the entity holding the children, and the rest of America hostage wasn’t the shooter. It was the powerful gun lobby and Republican lawmakers who insist they are only defending the Second Amendment.
So, does the Constitution give anyone the right to to unfettered access to an endless amount of firearms? The political right would have you believe so, and carefully cherry-pick only the part of the Second Amendment that fits their narrative.
A Well Regulated Militia
Taken in its entirety, the purpose of the Second Amendment is to defend the nation from its enemies, foreign and domestic. It’s a role to be filled not by your Average Joe, but by a “well regulated Militia”. Its intent is to create a standing army for the purpose of national defense. Yet the right choose to ignore this part of the Second Amendment, or they elect to expand the meaning of the Second Amendment to include citizens’ militias.
Attorneys for Kyle Rittenhouse used this rationale to justify his murdering of two individuals. They claimed that Rittenhouse was within his rights because he was defending someone’s business from being damaged by those protesting yet another Black man being shot by law enforcement.They reasoned that Rittenhouse was protected by the Second Amendment because he was acting as an ad-hoc member of a citizen’s militia, and therefore fit the meaning of the amendment.
The intended meaning has been further perverted to mean anyone has the right to military grade weaponry; the kind that has been used in a majority of mass casualty shootings. And when one of these horrific events occurs, as they have been far too frequently, Republicans are all to willing to cite only the part of the Second Amendment that suits their needs. And they are willing to point their hypocritical fingers at anything else but the very things that are the root of the problem: guns.
And yet they choose to ignore one word in the amendment: regulated. In fact, they oppose any type of regulations, despite roughly half of those who identify as Republican being in favor of stricter gun laws. This makes it all the more obvious that Republican lawmakers are more beholden to the gun lobby than the people who elected them.
Law Abiding Citizens
Whenever there’s even a hint of stricter gun controls being discussed, Republicans will inevitably whine that Democrats are trying to take away the guns of “law abiding citizens”. Except, the reason they are “law abiding” is due to the lax gun control laws currently on the books that allow gun owners tremendous leeway. Backed by the gun lobby, lawmakers have typically enacted such weak gun control measures, under the guise of “doing something”, that has allowed the violence to continue.
The recent spate of shootings is concrete evidence of this. The shooters in Buffalo and Uvalde had just turned 18, which is the current legal age to purchase the deadly weapons they used. President Biden has requested that the minimum age be raised to 21, citing the fact that most school shooters are in the 18-21 age bracket.
That begins the usual dance. Republicans offer “thoughts and prayers” while Democrats demand change. Typically, nothing happens as neither side budges on their demands, leaving us to wait for the next mass slaughter.
A prime example of this dance, and the enormous power of the gun lobby, is the events that immediately followed the massacre in Parkland, FL. Florida enacted measures which included raising the age of when someone could legally purchase a firearm from 18 to 21. Of course, the NRA quickly filed a lawsuit to oppose the law. It has been suggested that the law be used as a blueprint for Federal legislation following the Uvalde murders.
Even the “all powerful” Donald Trump is not immune to being blackmailed by the gun lobby. He also proposed action after Parkland, only to do an about face following a meeting with members of the NRA. He then proceeded to hold a tone deaf meeting with the survivors and their families where he ignored his previously mentioned gun control measures and instead rambled on about illegal immigrants, while holding notes that instructed him to fake empathy.
The Blame Game
After any mass casualty shooting, Republicans always attempt to shift the focus on anything but the firearms themselves. Fortunately, for them at least, the gun lobby is at the ready with scripted responses to the call for increased gun control laws. In addition to the useless “thoughts and prayers”, Republicans were told to respond “now is not the time”. They were trying to give the false impression that their silence was out of respect for the families of the victims, rather than outright avoidance of the issue.
Nice try, guys, but we see right through that hollow attempt at deflection.
Seeing this as a failed effort, they shifted their response to claiming the shooter was mentally ill. They called for more funding for mental health instead of the obvious solution of making changes in the laws. Then, they would contradict themselves by saying there were already enough laws on the books to address mental health issues.
If that were the case, how were the shooters able to purchase their weapons?
Then there were those who couldn’t be bothered with remembering what the current talking points were. You know who they are. They are the ones who forgot there was a test that day and end up regurgitating whatever BS buzzwords they can recall.
Because they lacked specifics, they relied on the scattergun approach. They blamed video games, music, the breakdown of the family unit and even that “god” was no longer allowed in the classroom. (Even a perfunctory perusal of the Bible would have you questioning all the violence contained within, so perhaps Jesus isn’t the answer).
Still others got more creative in either suggesting the shooters’ motivations or giving possible solutions to preventing further bloodshed. Arming teachers is one such brain dead solution. Not only does this put children at further risk, it also can result in the armed teachers being shot because they are mistaken for the shooter.
Another brainstorm is to have retired military or law enforcement take over the duties of a community resource officer whose position has been eliminated due to budget cuts. Nothing screams safety more than an individual who may be suffering from dementia or having a PTSD flashback. And of course there are the frequent bathroom breaks required by senior citizens, so they would likely be away from their station more often than not.
If you are seeking a sensible solution to thwarting an active shooter, you need look no further than Ted Cruz. After all, wasn’t his solution to his constituents freezing to death to emulate the actions of “Leavin on a Jet Plane”? So, leave it to Ted to find the REAL culprit in these cases: doors. His solution to lock all the doors but one would certainly run afoul of local fire marshal regulations, but at least it shifts the blame from those pesky assault weapons.
But the absolute winner in this Excuse-o-Rama undoubtedly goes to Fox’s Laura Ingraham. In an effort to divert attention from gun control, she took the odd journey back to the 1930s when the anti-drug propaganda film “Reefer Madness” was released. Instead of blaming access to firearms as the reason for so many deaths, she accused the Texas shooter of suffering from “pot infused psychosis”.
All of these excuses are lame attempts of absolving the gun industry of any responsibility for these tragedies. Unless they are held accountable, and the gun lobby effectively disarmed, the death count will continue, and keep climbing and climbing and climbing. And far too many of them will be children.
Lawmakers or Hostage Takers?
Following any school shooting there is the inevitable call to “do something”. So, Congress will hold hearings to give the appearance that they are taking action to prevent such tragedies from happening again. Survivors, including a fourth grader who smeared herself with the blood of a dead classmate and played dead, and families of victims have been invited to speak.
Both sides will feign sympathy and then predictably return to their partisan corners. While the sensible thing to do would be to reinstate the 1994 assault weapons ban, Republicans have declared that a non-starter. Likewise, they oppose raising the minimum age for purchasing certain firearms.
They have indicated they may support enhanced background checks with conditions. They oppose closing the gun show loophole, want any bill to include more funding for mental health and also contain measures for “hardening schools”, which includes enhanced security and the ability to arm teachers.
The Republican solution to America’s gun problem would be akin to suggesting the drought in the Western United States can be solved by turning off a light switch in Albany, NY. Yeah, it makes no sense because it will have no effect.
Instead, Congress will continue to allow America to remain hostage to the gun lobby. The NRA has abandoned the practice of donating to both parties and is now exclusively supporting Republicans in their blatant efforts to prevent any sensible gun control measures from being passed.
The old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Given the tremendous flow of cash from the gun lobby to maintain the status quo on gun laws, Republicans see no reason to change the rules. Why risk angering the cash cow that is filling their coffers?
And yet for millions of school-aged children the system is irrevocably broken. Schools are supposed to be places of safety, yet there are constant reminders that this is an illusion. Active shooter drills and school lockdowns are uncomfortable facts of life that reinforce the fact that, with each school shooting, they might be next.
When will this madness end? America has more guns than people, yet less than half of Americans own a gun. So, we are being held hostage by a minority of people who are using their access to an endless amount of firearms to stoke fear and intimidation.
And there is nothing to stop them… except the ballot box.