The only thing stopping a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke. Plus, 'We the People'...if they're our people.
This is an excellent column, by Rutgers history student Tom Verenna, that goes to the heart of the manufactured and disingenuous controversy over the Second Amendment. I say manufactured because, as Verenna points out, it was not the intent of the much-ballyhooed Founders that each citizen keep and bear arms for his own individual purposes. To quote the author, "Weak links are fabricated between the modern gun culture and the Founding Fathers, often under the guise of critical research. In fact, if the founders' will on gun control were reinstated, gun rights activists and the National Rifle Association would be very unhappy."
Although I will hereinafter leave Verenna to speak for himself, which he does quite well, those paranoiac Glenn Beck listeners who say they need guns in order to be ready to revolt against tyranny should be mindful of Sam Adams' opinion, quoted by Verenna, that "anyone who dared rise up against the laws of a republic 'ought to suffer death.'" (Could we apply that to the Tea Party types who refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of the law known as the Affordable Care Act?)
To widen the lens, however, and like many who argue against universal gun ownership, I'm skeptical of citing the Founders as the unimpeachable authority in these matters in any case. Even if one wants to interpret their words literally (which I'm not sure is possible, given the convoluted wording and punctuation of the amendment itself), that was a long, long time ago. And incidentally, as I pointed out once in a piece for The Los Angeles Times, a literal interpretation of the operative amendment would theoretically give each of us the right to own, say, a tactical nuke. Why draw the line at AKs?
I was listening to the Dick Morris Show yesterday on Philadelphia's big talk-radio station, 1210, and the host made an in-passing, throwaway comment that really caught my ear. To me, it had much more significance than Morris could have imagined, and unwittingly helped highlight so many observers' problems with today's ultra-right-leaning GOP. Morris, who was once Bill Clinton's Karl Rove, if you will, has since basically become Karl Rove. On Thursday he opined that he couldn't see why the government shutdown was such a big deal, inasmuch as the only people really affected were the government functionaries (I'm paraphrasing) who have to go without a paycheck. He's wrong anyway, but without getting into all that, my point is that he gave no emphasis at all to that observation and then moved on immediately to another point. This callousness, this utter disregard for everyday people, real people, people who in this case must go without pay (in an era when perhaps 40% of the nation's families live paycheck to paycheck), is the most troublesome aspect of latter-day Republicanism. There are 96,000 government workers in my home state of Pennsylvania alone, and they will swell the unemployment rolls if this mess isn't fixed soon. Regardless, they are people, and they matter, even if Dick Morris doesn't think so.
I'm also reminded of radio host Mark Levin, whom we mentioned last time. Levin likes to get himself and his audience all worked up over the Constitution, and Obama's supposed crimes against same. He recently wrote a book, The Liberty Amendments, in which he lays out, in migraine-inducing detail, the documentary evidence that allegedly bulwarks the extreme views he disgorges on-air. Toward that same end, he is forever quoting from America's grand archival papers, excoriating the President in the name of "We the People..." But that's the thing: It is very clear to anyone who listens to even one show that while Levin is doing all this bloviating about "We the People," he has precious little feeling for any actual people, unless they happen to be his people, which is to say, the improbable alliance of rich and redneck that drives today's right wing. Levin and others of his ilk, manifestly including Mr. Morris, are more than willing to let the unwashed masses fall by the wayside as they cling steadfastly to words on a page, penned hundreds of years ago, that were often ambiguous to begin with and have about as much relevance to today's life as those laws, still on the books, that prohibit driving with an uncaged bear or, in some Bible Belt states, prevent a man from giving oral pleasure to his wife (as it was put in that memorable scene* from Pulp Fiction).
And by the way, if you're a male reader who lives in Connorsville, Wisconsin, you may not fire a gun while your lady is having an orgasm. (Much as some of would be tempted to, in mere celebration...)
* skip to 3:55 or so if you're in a rush to hear the words.