Wednesday, October 4, 2017
It's like clockwork, at this point. There's a deadly shooting in this country, followed by an ocean of "thoughts and prayers," then a debate over whether more gun control is needed, then not a damn thing done. Every time someone mentions their personal disdain toward this country's gun violence, a wave of conservative, National Rifle Association-talking-point-carrying soldiers acquire their marching orders and take to the streets and social media to spew out pro-gun rhetoric, as if gun control were the equivalency of "freedom" control.
The day guns became synonymous with freedom was the day America became a nation obsessed with protecting that "freedom" by any means necessary. The protection is so obsessive that people go out of their way not to defend the person committing the atrocities but defend the gun used to commit those atrocities—which include killing schoolchildren at Sandy Hook or club-goers at Pulse or concert-goers in Las Vegas.
As long as the gun culture is ingrained in American society, organizations like the NRA will remain as American as apple pie, never mind that the NRA's great source of power resides in the money from gun purchases and not perceived American freedoms. The organization's propaganda campaign has allowed it to seemingly sit on this moral perch as it proudly defends Second Amendment rights that each and every American citizen is guaranteed at birth (except if you're Philando Castile, of course), even if those same Second Amendment rights had everything to do with the right to bear arms against the Red Coats in 1791 and nothing to do with personal gun ownership in 2017.
While people see other constitutional amendments such as the First Amendment—which apparently doesn't protect ashy knees caused from kneeling during the national anthem—as conditional, the Second Amendment, our three branches of government say, is fairly absolute. A conservative-led majority on the Supreme Court reiterated the Second Amendment's power in the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller. The court held that the "Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home."
The president of the United States, also known as the Great Divider, has spoken time after time about his obsession with "gun freedom," and Congress is so bought and influenced by pro-gun organizations that they couldn't even pass an assault-weapons ban after 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7 were fatally shot in Newtown, Conn.
Once again, America will decide that a massive amount of lives lost is the cost we must pay to have our (their) Second Amendment rights. After an endless amount of thoughts and prayers as the only combative threat against gun control and mass killings in this country, we all know there will be no federal gun legislation passed of any kind, even if the Second Amendment's language bears the words "well-regulated."
In a country where it is easier to purchase a gun than it is to purchase health care, smarter gun legislation shouldn't be viewed as anti-gun—it should be viewed as pro-humanity. But instead of humanity prevailing, the paranoia of taking away one's "freedom" wins the day. The foundation supporting this freedom paranoia isn't a romantic "give me liberty or give me death" mystique. No, the true real-world reason is that guns are a business, and business is booming, baby. If our Congressional "leaders" were to disrupt the gun trade in any way, the bribes, I mean donations, would stop, threatening their job security.
This fact isn't nearly as romantic and mystifying as a bald eagle soaring through the skies, holding a semi-automatic rifle. So, like clockwork, as America combats rampant gun violence with thoughts-and-prayers legislation, the Second Amendment remains true and absolute. The same Second Amendment that was drafted when one had to reload a musket against tea-sipping Red Coats from across the pond, not a fully powered assault rifle.
Leslie McLemore II, a Jackson native, is now in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of Jackson State University, North Carolina Central University School of Law and American University Washington College of Law.