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Rich writes: "If we are going to start to find our way out of gun-worship, it's going to take many leaders over time to affect that change, just as in, say, the abolitionists' movement or any other major political or social movement that changed our country and helped it grow up."

Is america ready to give up its worship of guns? (photo: NY Magazine)
Is america ready to give up its worship of guns? (photo: NY Magazine)

FOCUS: Guns Are America's Other Original Sin

By Frank Rich, New York Magazine

19 December 12


New York Magazine writer-at-large Frank Rich talks with editor-in-chief Adam Moss about the Newtown tragedy, its political fallout, and our centuries-long worship of the gun.

dam Lanza's mother, Nancy, was among the 45 percent (!) of Americans that have guns in their homes. So I'm not going to ask you about gun control here; obviously you're for much stricter regulation, as most of your readers are. I want to know your thoughts about the culture of guns in America, and particularly in the last decade, during which public support for gun control has tumbled even as the incidence of mass rampages like Newtown increases, and the American people just get more enamored of their guns. Please try to help me understand why. The first step on the long path to curing a deep illness in a society is to diagnose it properly and own up to it. We must acknowledge that guns and violence are not some new "modern" problem subject to a quick fix. We must recognize that they have always been intrinsic to the very idea of America and "freedom" - enshrined in our Constitution's Second Amendment (however one chooses to read it), romanticized in our glorification of both our revolutionary and frontier past, and a staple of our popular culture not just in this era but every era: from James Fenimore Cooper's The Deerslayer and Buffalo Bill's Wild West shows through The Birth of a Nation, Zane Grey, Stagecoach and The Wild Bunch, gangster movies and gangsta rap, Bonnie and Clyde and Zero Dark Thirty, The Untouchables and The Sopranos. As Garry Wills wrote over the weekend, in America, the gun is a god, and like most gods, it "cannot be questioned." And it has rarely been questioned over the course of our history except by the outnumbered and outgunned gun-control advocates who remain largely on the margins of American political power.

So that's the size of the problem. There's only one other malady that was so deeply embedded into the country's DNA at birth: slavery. We know how long it took us to shake those shackles. And so in a country with some 300 million firearms (for a population of some 311 million people, many of them children), we must recognize that overthrowing America's gun-worship is not a project that will be cured in a legislative session; it's a struggle that's going to take decades. Which doesn't mean that we shouldn't start right now - assuming we actually want to do so once the Newtown coverage has faded with the holidays.

There has been much talk in the last few days about the violence of our popular culture, the rise in point-and-shoot video games, and the easy brutality you see in movies and television. Just how relevant is a violent "play" culture in tragedies like this? And inevitable follow-up: Is it worth censoring the culture for public safety?

Well, we now know that Adam Lanza played the video game Dance Dance Revolution at the local mall. Maybe it'll turn out that he watched The Matrix - which was blamed for inspiring the killers in the Columbine massacre, at least until journalist Dave Cullen debunked that media myth. Even if you are certain that violent entertainment and video games trigger violence in crazy people - a debatable proposition empirically - and even if you believe there should be First Amendment abridgments to regulate cultural violence, who should we put in charge of censoring the culture in a way that might be sane and effective? Congress? The entertainment industry? The Simpson-Bowles commission? Talking heads who were advocating such censorship (though they avoided the word) over the weekend, led by the forgotten-but-not-quite-gone Joe Lieberman, should be forced to take the next step and explain exactly how this would work in practice. On ABC's This Week yesterday, one proponent, writer Joe Klein, did have an action plan: "What we need to do in this society is treat people who create violent movies and violent video games with the same degree of respect that we accord pornographers. They need to be shunned." Klein works for Time, a corporate sibling of Warner Bros. (The Dark Knight Rises), Warner Home Video-Games (Spy Hunter), and HBO (Boardwalk Empire). Perhaps he is confronting the pornographers in their executive suites at the Time Warner Center or Burbank even as we speak.

I'm sure you read the harrowing essay by Liza Long that made its way on the web over the weekend describing having a son with high intelligence, mental troubles, and a seething capacity for violence. Most of these shooters are young male loners with high IQs. Why is this profile so amazingly consistent? I don't know what course of action it could possibly prompt, but the persistence of this Travis Bickle-like figure in these tragedies just stuns me.

I greatly identified with Liza Long. In my adolescence and teen years, I grew up with a step-sibling of roughly my same age (we shared a household, though not biological parents) who fit this profile. Even at the time - the sixties, when these incidents weren't quite so numerous - my mother, my other siblings, and I felt a chill every time there was a news bulletin about a deranged young gunman, fearing that our own intelligent, seething loner might be the culprit. He received some of the better mental-health treatment available at the time, but, as Long describes her own plight, there was only so much that could be done. What does it say that some four decades later, we've made so little progress in both identifying and treating these cases? The persistence stuns me, too.

What are you wanting from Barack Obama right now? He can take certain actions by executive order, and he can enforce existing laws more strenuously - but beyond that, what should he be doing? There's not much constituency for gun control among chicken-shitted members of Congress and gun-loving Americans.

Guns - like another looming disaster, climate change - were off the table in the election for the Democrats, for the usual cynical political reasons. (Romney, of course, disdained gun regulation.) Obama has hardly been a leader on this issue over the past eight years. That's inexcusable, but we do have to fear that he is literally taking his own life into his hands by venturing into this hot political area. The utterly groundless conspiracy theories of the angry far-right that he wants to "take away our guns" have been a staple of the rise of our first African-American president. "Don't retreat, reload!" was the Sarah Palin political battle cry, at least until Gabby Giffords was shot. On Sunday night, the sports site Deadspin found an outpouring of unexpurgated racist rage on Twitter aimed at a black president (the word used was not black) who had the audacity to interrupt the Patriots-49ers game to address the mourning community of Newtown.

Obama can issue executive orders, call for better enforcement of existing laws, etc., but he really hit the bigger point in his Sunday address: "We'll have to change." Now, in reality, people don't change - or change overnight. If we are going to start to find our way out of gun-worship, it's going to take many leaders over time to affect that change, just as in, say, the abolitionists' movement or any other major political or social movement that changed our country and helped it grow up.

David Gregory on Meet the Press: "We reached out to all 31 pro-gun-rights senators in the new Congress to invite them on the program to share their views on the subject this morning. We had no takers." Have at them.

They'll stay on the down-low through the holidays, hoping that the coast will be clear and that the Sunday shows will return to the good old "fiscal cliff." Even so, we are seeing the conservative establishment's talking points emerge. Both George Will and The Wall Street Journal editorial board are citing the massacre last year of 69 mostly teenage victims in Norway, with its tight gun restrictions, as proof that gun regulations can't work. John R. Lott, Jr., a social scientist whose works include the 1998 More Guns, Less Crime, remains the right's go-to intellectual godfather in making the case that if more Americans carry concealed weapons, there will be less crime.

On that same morning, Michael Bloomberg said that the power of the NRA is a myth, that commentators and politicians vastly inflate its influence. You agree?

Political fear is in the eye of the beholder, and the NRA, like Grover Norquist and the Family Research Council, remains a perceived superpower on the right, whatever the reality. Bloomberg bases his statement on a very limited sample: He gave money to seven congressional candidates running against pro-NRA types in this election, and four of them won. Good for him. But a lame-duck New York City mayor may be inflating his own influence (as well as that of the president, who he seems to think can fix this in his second term). David Brooks argued that Bloomberg may actually be a liability "as the spokesperson for the gun law movement" because he won't earn the respect from "rural and Red America" that's needed to affect change. (Translation: He's an East Coast Jew.) Brooks may have a point.

Now what? Does anything change, or will this blow over like these horrors always do? Could twenty dead children somehow make a difference?

I don't know. Just because someone says we've reached a "tipping point" every 30 seconds on cable news doesn't mean we've reached one. There's a lot of piety on display now from the press and some politicians. Liberal pundits and editorialists are rolling out the same arguments they always do after one of these horrors (and as I certainly have done in the past). They are (in my view) irrefutable arguments, well stated, and it makes us feel good to repeat them to an audience that already agrees with us. But there's no reason to believe that pounding our fists on the table will get any more action now than in the past. In the non-liberal precincts of Fox News, a writer for Fortune, Nina Easton, called for "a commission, an urgent commission." Bill Kristol wants "hearings ... serious hearings." All very urgent and serious! This morning, Joe Scarborough, who had the highest possible rating from the NRA when he actually could affect legislation in Congress, announced on MSNBC that he had finally seen the light on guns (even as he spun a false equivalency between gun lobbyists and the purveyors of Hollywood violence). Better late than never - and by late, I mean after Tuscon, Aurora, Virginia Tech, and all the others. I found his long sermon almost as moving as the tearful mea culpa delivered by that sobbing pair of Australian D.J.'s after the nurse in Kate Middleton's hospital committed suicide. But Scarborough did make one telling admission: that he might have been affected by this massacre more than others in part because it was so close (literally) to his home.

That proximity to the media hub of New York has certainly facilitated the rush of news media stars to the scene of the crime, heightening the sense that maybe this time is different and change will follow. Unfortunately, not all of them are there to report the news or explore the issues it raises. Too many are sob sisters (male and female) exploiting the tragedy as an opportunity to prove to the audience how empathic they are with the victims - a particularly tasteless form of show-business self-aggrandizement. The treacly background music in the television coverage is also offensive: Newtown isn't a Lifetime movie or a human-interest Olympics feature.

So let's see what happens when the circus folds its tent and we are back in the bitter winds of January, redirecting our attention to the Inauguration and the Super Bowl. By then, we may have a better idea as to whether this is actually a tipping point in the history of our enslavement to the gun culture, or whether it's just another chapter in the modern history of America bingeing 24/7 on the pornography of other families' grief, declaring "closure," and then moving on. your social media marketing partner


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+31 # Merschrod 2012-12-19 13:37
The disarming of America will require a program of long duration:
1) it is a cultural problem and parents will have to start by not giving toy guns to little kiddies, Hollywood needs to be be toned down, the Pentagon should not be a war games collaborator with Hollywood, There needs to be an anti-violence campaign for at least two generations;
2) remove weapons of all types from the population - as in many demobilization programs - buy them back; prohibit auto-matic and semi-automatic weapons, and also highly destructive bullets for all weapons.
3) National gun safety program - locking in safes, not cabinets with glass fronts.
4) Where by a well regulated militia... all gun owners should be members of official militias in order to own a gun - mandatory monthly training. No attendance, no weapon.
5) Mental health programs have been poor in the country, and one would assume that a massacre was the sign of lunacy, Mental health issues in a family need to be taken into consideration when granting permits/registration.

There needs to be a change in culture - that is a tough chore that simple legislation will not address.
-24 # WestWinds 2012-12-19 14:21
I'd like to add a #6:
That ALL schools are required to have a guard booth at the doors equipped with metal detectors and x-ray machines like any other public building. If we can splurge trillions on war overseas, we can spend some money at home to protect the kids. You either have an appointment and can pass through the metal detector, or you don't gain entrance to the school. High School kids put all metal into their back packs and that gets screened as they pass quickly through a puffing detector. Any kid who sets off the metal detector more than three times get suspended and then has to go through mental health screening.
+20 # propsguy 2012-12-19 16:31
great! get kids used to spending their futures in prisons by spending their childhoods in pre-prisons.
when i went to school (the dark ages, i know) the doors were open and anyone walked in and out, no metal detectors. whatever security there might have been didn't make any impression on me.
no one was killed. we are going in the wrong direction if we have to turn schools into armed fortresses, we are really doomed
-1 # Pickwicky 2012-12-20 11:38
Yet, don't we have to take precautions? We make people go through metal detectors to get on a plane, why not give the same protection to children in school? It's not ideal, true, but don't we have to do it now?
+15 # Glen 2012-12-19 14:57
Disarming America will never happen. Guns, historically, are a big part of society. Kids years ago played cowboys and indians with cap guns, shooting straight at each other. Most of those folks became the most supportive citizens of the U.S. in history. Then came war type plastic weapons as a result of the hoorah type stuff over "winning" WWII. Certainly, the next step with video games upped a level of indifference to violence, but the home and community were responsible for setting standards and education. All those standards and expectations gave way to social changes that will most likely never be recovered.

Turning the country into a huge prison system, though, is not the answer.

The best of what you suggest is the education aspects, just as with no smoking and seat belts. What would be the point of a militia, though? How much family and community regulation also tears down rights and freedoms?

WestWinds adds a #6, which is tantamount to a prison type scenario that punishes mostly students and generates rebellion and resentment and detracts from learning. Anybody walking through that school door with a serious weapon is not going to give a shit about xrays and getting suspended from school.
+29 # RufRydr 2012-12-19 13:37
In my opinion, part of the problem with "gun worship" and all of its trappings, is they are great indoctrination methods for the successive generations of bloodthirsty warriors that we churn out to do the job of securing U.S. hegemony around the globe. To overcome that one aspect of what is an integral part of the shooter games, and proliferation of assault weapons in our society is herculean in scope.
If you also consider that racial bigotry integral to slavery has never died (as cited in this article), the resistance to change in our culture for this other disgraceful American institution is surely equally impossible.
+8 # David Heizer 2012-12-19 18:03
Completely agree. Many (if not most) of these folks who use the Second Amendment to claim they need arsenals to fend off a future tyrannical government ALSO are pro-big military and foreign intervention. They cream over "kicking Saddam's ass," while believing that, if necessary, they'd be able to fight off the same military if it was turned on them. But in reality they are just in love with the fantasy of combat action and mowing down an enemy, a fantasy that keeps them enlisting.
+6 # natalierosen 2012-12-19 22:33
What you say MAY be true, RufRyder, or not. I do disagree with you slightly. Social change takes place so slowly that one barely recognizes that it has done so. Is there still racism, for example? Yes, of course there is. Will we ever get rid of it entirely? I suspect we will not. STILL, even though that is true there HAS been change in the racial composition of our culture and racial occupational diversity. One need look to television to see this is so. When I grew up there were NO, NONE, ZILCH African American broadcasters, there were no women, there surely were no gays. There are now and by the carload in all professions. Does 1776 differ in that respect from 2012 -- I WOULD SAY YES! We just did not realize it was happening when it did.

Likewise, our nation's love affair with guns may in fact not change BUT it can if WE the people over and over and over again will it so. Just because change is difficult does not mean we should not attempt it.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony NEVER saw women get the vote BUT women did. We think these changes just presto occurred. No they did not. It takes work but it can be done incrementally in steps. Overnight? No. Years, YES. What we do may not help BUT we MUST at least try something!
-7 # Milarepa 2012-12-19 13:51
You was suppose to have growed up already, no? I mean 200 and more years of growin up is enough, ain't? Not having growed up in 200 years simple means you ain't gonna!!!
+11 # indian weaver 2012-12-19 18:28
that's right. still stupid after all these years. and australia was a frontier not long ago too. australia suffered its most horrific massacre of over 40 people (30+ tourists) 15 years ago. 12 DAYS later, they totally revamped their culture by dealing with guns bigtime, including a buy back of $cost + 10% of all assault weapons owned by the entire populace. this subject and an interview was on NPR yesterday on Democracy Now. that is how enlightened is australia - because they suffered such a masacre. australia has not had a mass shooting comparable to america's daily ones for 15 years now, and counting. i worked and visited europe over the decades and have always found it so much more friendly and peaceful than our country, just doesn't have that vicious edge of america's "every man for himself" attitude. shoot first, ask questions later. european gun ownership laws keep the peace there. the more weapons, the more shooting, a no-brainer direct relationship. some percentage of that shooting included 20 children a few days ago. on and on ...
+19 # Old Man 2012-12-19 14:17
How about a bereavement tax that is double the price of any gun, ammo, parts, along w/a six month waiting period for a back ground check for each and every weapon purchased.
The Second Amendment is Not a right, it is a privilege that needs to change.
-2 # MidwestTom 2012-12-19 14:20
Mexico has extremely tight gun control laws. No private citizens are allowed to own automatic weapons, and all rifles and pistols must be registered. So it must be a very safe place to visit.
+12 # Nell H 2012-12-19 14:44
Mexican gun come from the U.S. Our gun laws are so lax that we are a ready source for arming Mexican gangs.
+5 # Glen 2012-12-19 15:03
I really don't know about Mexico and weapons except there is a buttload of weapons down there. Your comments are the perfect sarcasm for this issue. Thanks for that. All the laws and regulations possible will not stop violent people, either. It is NOT a simple issue.
+13 # Todd Williams 2012-12-19 15:35
Hey Midwest, do you have any clue where all the guns in Mex come from? No? Well it's not Canada, that's for sure. Let's see now. Just suppose we banned all semiauto weapons, rifles and pistols. And since they are banned in Mex and Canada, then where would we get them? From aliens? Think before you post.
+10 # propsguy 2012-12-19 16:32
from friends who have houses there, i hear that it is safe as long as you stay away from the USA border. it's our "drug war" that keeps the violence going
+1 # HerbR 2012-12-19 14:23
So far as I know, there is NO case of any nation founded without considerable violence ( Is Norway the exception ?), and no government living up to the theoretical condition of sovereignty in claiming an actual monopoly of violence. I am sure that the U.S. is close to the top in that among the nations of the world, but nations of the former Empires are close competitors.
+10 # pushingforpeace 2012-12-19 14:40
Deep societal changes need to be made, starting with public education, where kids are forced into over crowded classrooms with others of the same age. The pressures are enormous and often children are cruel or at least uncivilized, almost like caged animals. Competition is fierce and encouraged and failures are called losers. Aggressive students are rewarded for having a competitive edge. Adding guns to an already explosive situation is a terrible idea. Non religious peace programs would help.
+11 # Nell H 2012-12-19 14:41
Recently, conspiracy theorists such as the birthers have spread a rumor that President Obama wants to take away our guns. That rumor is just one more of the lies spread by the far right. It is not easy to examine facts when this kind of garbage is spread.

The people who benefit from the lies are right-wing Republicans. They probably won't let us do anything sensible, such as close the gun show loophole and limit the number of bullets in a clip.
+11 # Patrice Ayme 2012-12-19 14:42
Plutocracy is violence and violence is its prophet. Thus plutocracy, and the media it controls, favor violence. As plutocracy increases, so does the violence,and it starts with violating reason.
+6 # gdp1 2012-12-19 14:48
...pragmatic beginning: Require all gunowners to pay into an equivalent of 'un-insured -motorists insurance'....Y ou can own a gun....BUT....y our insurance card and proof of registration please....Recei pts apply to a bereavement fund mentioned by previous commentor... Late on your payment? Heavy penalties in lieu of turning in your gun....STRICT COMPLIANCE REQUIREMENTS WOULD BE NECESSARY.....
+7 # Deboldt 2012-12-19 15:14
In a similar way, through proper training, people can be taught to avoid the unwanted unleashing of the reptilian brain and the often disastrous consequences. To emphasize again, I am amazed police departments and the military apparently do not train their personnel to understand and avoid the immergence of the reptilian brain, especially since they possess the potential for the irresponsible use of deadly force.

Someday we may have a truly civil population where every member possess the degree of self understanding and self-control to make their possession of weapons of lethal fire power a safe possibility. Of course why would such a population then even want guns? Not everyone wants to hunt for sport or needs to kill animals for sustenance—yet.

Other civilized countries, in this as in other matters, seem to be way ahead of us. Most other advanced countries agree: people and guns do not mix.


Bob Boldt
+2 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-12-19 17:38
"I am amazed police departments and the military apparently do not train their personnel to understand and avoid the immergence of the reptilian brain..."

Because they are ruled by their lower brains.
0 # Glen 2012-12-20 07:16
Personally, I would not have referred to a "reptilian brain" relative to what rules human beings. Your comment is closer to the matter of these behaviors, which are distinctly human. The human brain is delicately wired and influenced by so much more than any other animal that what we are seeing today, with so very many human beings on this planet, is no surprise.

But again - it is distinctly human.
+4 # Deboldt 2012-12-19 15:16
First, we need to recognize the unified mind theory as a delusion. We have to accept that each and everyone of us is, without exception, capable of not only being a saint but also a Hitler. This is a hard pill for most of our egos to swallow.

Second we need to be far more present with and observant of our own internal states as well as aware of the conditions in the environment around us. In aviation there is a period following the onset of oxygen deprivation called “the time of useful consciousness” in which the pilot is trained to recognize the symptoms and can act to save himself and the plane before loosing consciousness. Why can’t we have a “time of useful consciousness” in which we are able to act to ameliorate the stress, remove ourselves from the situation or take other useful steps to delay or inhibit the emergence of the terrible reptilian brain?
+2 # Deboldt 2012-12-19 15:19
The illusion of what I all the unified self is one of the most dangerous delusions so-called reasonable people suffer from. The idea that I, my thoughts and my perception of reality at all times and under all situations are under my rational control is as dangerous as it is delusional. Professor Philip Zimbardo demonstrated in his infamous Sanford Prison study and again in his defense of guards accused of atrocities in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, that there is a “Lucifer Effect” in which otherwise kind, decent people behave in ways that can only be described as demonic when placed in certain situations and under measurable stresses.

What hope is there then when people can be arbitrarily subjected to emotional states or placed in situations that can overthrow every rational, humane or civil response?
+3 # Deboldt 2012-12-19 15:20
We have seen ample documented evidence of reptilian-like behavior on the part of soldiers and police acting under the anger, fear and stress of combat, demonstrator management and suspect apprehension. I am still amazed these two groups apparently receive no training in the recognition of the damage the power and authority of their reptilian brains can inflict. Neither do soldiers and cops ever undergo any non-routine debriefing after either specific, non lethal, violent incidents or upon the conclusion of their terms of service. It is not unusual for traumatic flashbacks to trigger reptilian responses long after the initial stimulus has passed. This can be deadly for spouses, close family members and even innocent strangers.
+6 # Deboldt 2012-12-19 15:20
After the Newtown massacre there is renewed interest in finding some way of keeping guns out of the hands of people with untreated mental disorders. Of course this is a point that must be addressed with the utmost urgency. More important is the recognition of the disgraceful state of the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness in this country.

For the purpose of this essay I would like to address the issue of how to keep guns out of the hands of peaceful, normal, nominally rational people. Surveying all the comments and reviewing the arguments of the gun control advocates, one rarely finds a discussion of how gun possession poses a self-induced threat to rational, law-abiding people. The focus of gun violence always seems directed at criminals, the mentally deranged or the macho conceal-and-car ry George Zimmerman types.
+8 # baldyc76 2012-12-19 15:25
Although stricter gun laws would help, we still would remain violent. We are a violent nation. It started when the big white men came over from Europe to "convert" the heathens, and take their land away. Our favorite sport is football which is very violent. Our least watched sport is soccer which is non-violent. Violence seems to be in our DNA. Look at our military. Look at our road rage. We'd have to change.
+1 # Rain17 2012-12-19 18:08
It started when the big white men came over from Europe to "convert" the heathens, and take their land away.

My response to people who bring up this claim is that we are hardly the only country who "conquered" other people and "took their land away". Many countries, including the UK and many European countries, "took land away". Many countries in the third world conquered other civilizations and treated them horribly. We are hardly the only country in that regard.
+3 # grouchy 2012-12-19 15:32
I really appreciate the approach you are taking here. Going after the deep roots of the problem as it exists embedded in our society is much need as the focus currently is on gun control. The problem is deeper and needs to be rooted out and dealt with quickly so more of these incidents don't haunt us. Gun control will only partially help here. There are obvious things such as our nation's aggressive posture internationally , our traditions of violence as per the pioneer and his musket standing solo on the hill fighting off "savages", and the John Wayne hero solving all problems with a six-gun. Such things are very deep in our culture and I believe many citizens are not conscious of them. WE NEED HELP! Let's get on with it!
+13 # Robert B 2012-12-19 15:45
A point I haven't seen anyone make (yet) is that the far-right gun nuts don't just want to go hunting, they want to have the firepower to defeat the U.S. military in an effort to "take our country back." And who they want to take the country back from is invariably a Democrat.

I don't see any reason in the world why we should be coddling these deranged revolutionaries in their efforts to overthrow the government. We should put the brakes on these self-proclaimed "patriots" who are obviously dangerous and don't give a damn about the country. They aren't going to be happy unless they have machine guns, bazookas, nuclear weapons. We need to stop having "respect" for their "point of view." The Rosenbergs went to the electric chair for a lot less.
+10 # Todd Williams 2012-12-19 16:07
How true, Robert B. Most of the pro gun people posting here over the last days are not talkng about hunting or target practice. They are talking about defending themselves from the government. I think this goes well beyond their cry to preserve the Second Amendment. I truely believe many of these posters would love to overthrow the elected goverment of the US. Think of that in the context of the recent voting in several states authorizing secession from the Union.
+6 # reiverpacific 2012-12-19 15:47
Hell, O had cowboy suits, toy guns and what you call "bee-bee" (pellet guns as a kid in Scotland as well as sling shots (got really good with one of those) and we imitated John Wayne and the Lone Ranger + and our war heroes, having just emerged from WW11, and acted out dying in all sorts of dramatic and spectacular ways. Even had "gang-huts" in trees and spy-platforms for the more courageous of us to check out rival "gang's" movements.
But we grew out of it.
Not here it seems.
0 # rlhollow 2012-12-19 16:17
Another "fire bell in the night" - only all Americans are the slaves.
+3 # dbass1215 2012-12-19 16:26
The Second Amendment to the US Constitution says: "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."

I have always found it rather odd that the first half of this sentence is a justification for the right bestowed by the amendment. No other constitutional amendment incorporates a justification into itself like this. I wonder why this one required it.

If we really examine the language and its context at the time the 2nd Amendment was added as part of the Bill of Rights, then the whole discussion about gun control and gun regulation should INCLUDE discussion about repealing or revising the 2nd Amendment itself.

How about this: "... the right of active duty or reserve members of the U.S. military or any state-sponsored militia (i.e. National Guard) to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
+1 # julz50 2012-12-19 16:27
You lost me at gun owners worship inanimate objects??? Equating gun ownership to a religious experience alienates the audience and sets a tone that is bound to insult, objectifing readers rather than intelligently conversing on a subject in a way that might help us all for the future.
+9 # fredboy 2012-12-19 16:28
Just visited Best Buy and lost count at 70 the number of death and killing video games displayed. Desensitize the nation's youth to killing and suffering, then sell them all the guns they want. And look what happens next...
+7 # lamancha 2012-12-19 16:46
Remember - the 2nd Amendment is a total sham -a fraud, at least in its present incarnation or interpretation. We've been blindsided all these years by the NRA with their flawed misrepresentati on of it. Just read it - the SUBJECT is NOT "the people" - the subject is "A well regulated militia." In this sense, the people and the militia are - or were - intertwined. Now that our "militia" has replaced "the people" with a paid standing army, the people are no longer required to bear arms - and should be stripped of weapons.
+1 # Regina 2012-12-20 15:46
Most of all, the amendment speaks of muskets, not AK-47s and 100-shot magazines. The so-called "originalists" are demanding that 21st century armaments for individual citizens be authorized for an 18th century freedom.
+5 # fredboy 2012-12-19 17:00
Went in a crowded gun store today to test the waters. One smug bastard said "Christmas came early this year!" and chuckled. Huge gun sales spike in south Florida and likely the rest of the U.S.

The strangest think about Americans is how much they hate other Americans.
+7 # tbcrawford 2012-12-19 17:55
Our country has little soul, too much religion! Our values reflex this materialism to our peril.
0 # Rain17 2012-12-19 18:06
I used to support gun control until I realized that it is fundamentally a civil rights issue. I supported it because I grew up in an affluent suburb and didn't understand the challenges many Americans in lower-income communities face on a day-to-day basis. The more that I thought about it gun rights are fundamental civil rights.

I say this because, in many neighborhoods, you have upstanding people who constantly live in fear of gangs other violent criminals. They worry about their own safety. In many of these areas the police are either unable and/or unwilling to effectively protect them and apprehend violent criminals. In some cases the police are even corrupt. Against these realities I fully support the right to self-defense and protection because the police aren't always going to be effective. And I can't support taking away the right of those citizens to be armed when they have little other options to protect themselves.

This is why I don't support gun control anymore. It's a fundamental question of civil rights to me.
+4 # Kathymoi 2012-12-19 18:41
What a disappointing article. No, it doesn't need to take decades to get gun control. It didn't in Australia. We have lots of models to copy where gun control already exists and buy back plans were implemented. And we have lots of evidence that gun control reduces gun violence. ---- How can this point be in question?----- We need it,and it doesn't help to publish an article that says, "You have to lower your expectations."
+3 # indian weaver 2012-12-19 20:06
See this same comment by "indian weaver" above. Australia got a clue. America remains clueless (worse than that actually).
-7 # cordleycoit 2012-12-19 18:50
This is not about guns my brother says,"It's about the Constitution. The is a large group of Neo liberals who think they can rule the people, rather than the people ruling them. These people know they are better, wiser, and on enough pay rolls to carry out the orders they get from their corporate master who wish to turn the United States into a fascist state. To pull that off one has to have a disarmed public. To do that we must lose any means of self reliance and assume the position not of citizen but rather be subjects. Looking at the demographics there are enough gun owners to prevent that sort of coup if they stay together and peaceably let the would be do gooders rage.We are stronger than the neoliberal's deep feelings.
+1 # reiverpacific 2012-12-20 14:33
Quoting cordleycoit:
This is not about guns my brother says,"It's about the Constitution. The is a large group of Neo liberals who think they can rule the people, rather than the people ruling them. These people know they are better, wiser, and on enough pay rolls to carry out the orders they get from their corporate master who wish to turn the United States into a fascist state. To pull that off one has to have a disarmed public. To do that we must lose any means of self reliance and assume the position not of citizen but rather be subjects. Looking at the demographics there are enough gun owners to prevent that sort of coup if they stay together and peaceably let the would be do gooders rage.We are stronger than the neoliberal's deep feelings.

Quoting cordleycoit:
This is not about guns my brother says,"It's about the Constitution. The is a large group of Neo liberals who think they can rule the people, rather than the people ruling them. blah blah----. We are stronger than the neoliberal's deep feelings.

There you go again with that ill-defined "Neo-Liberal" phrase.
Please explain the context, which is usually coined by default, as a definition of the IMF's economic policies resulting in NAFTA, GATT and so on.
+3 # Todd Williams 2012-12-20 15:03
Yea man! Do it! Instead of letting that damn liberal government turn us into Facists, let's take the bull by the horn anf REBEL NOW! Militia types need to band together and take back the goverrnment from Obama!

Seriously, it's this kind of paranioa that scares the shit out of me. To me, armed right winngers are just as dangerous as common criminals, maybe more so.
+4 # Utopia Bold 2012-12-19 19:33
MALE violence is the worst problem on Earth.
MEN are the problem, not guns.

Below is data from the Bureau of US Justice Statistics:

Males were almost 10 times more likely than females to commit murder in 2005.

All Homicide Types by Gender 1976-2005 -- 88% male, 11.2% female."

Eldercide Male 85.2% Female 14.8%
Felony murder Male 93.2% Female 6.8% female
Sex related murder Male 93.6% Female 6.4%
Gang related murder Male 98.3% Female 1.7%
Drug related murder Male 95.5% Female 4.5%
Workplace murders Male 91.3% Female 8.7%
Argument murders Male 85.6 % Female 14.4%
GUN homicide Male 91.3% Female 8.7%
Multiple victims Male 93.5% Female 6.5%
Child murder Of those children killed by someone other than their parent, 81% were killed by MEN

And last but not least, legal mass serial killings listed by the MILLIONS of people MEN killed in WARS (started by MEN).
+4 # rosross 2012-12-19 20:32
Given that this is a particularly American problem only Americans can solve it.
The irrational and unhealthy obsession with guns must be sourced in cultural and social attitudes, beliefs and fears.
No other nation is like this and no other developed nation both hates and fears government which is a reason given by many for holding onto their guns.
So much of the constitution which Americans revere and which is more like theological dogma than political sense is sourced in 18th century circumstance and belief. Time to grow up, move on and bring the US into the modern world.
-6 # charsjcca 2012-12-19 21:42
For my purposes I want to call attention to one item-the drone. This instrument is merely elaboration of the hand gun, created by comprehensive research universities. You know the names. When we value life we have policies that reflect this state of mind. One must understand that Barack Obama is not on the program of civility and human responsibility. He does not care about the death of anyone but his children.
+1 # Todd Williams 2012-12-20 15:05
"Barack Obama is not on the program of civility and human responsibility. He does not care about the death of anyone but his children."

That's one of the dumbest things ever posted on RSN!
+1 # fredboy 2012-12-20 15:14
Haven't heard of one church speaking out on this topic. The GOP flipped them, now they are neoconservative and anti-Christian. Wild times, up is down and down is up. And hatred streams from the pulpits.
-1 # Martintfre 2012-12-21 18:27
//.... And hatred streams from the pulpits.// yea -- like God Damn America so sayith Obama's preacher
-1 # Martintfre 2012-12-21 18:25
//"If we are going to start to find our way out of gun-worship, it's going to take many leaders over time to affect that change, just as in, say, the abolitionists' movement //

With the Abolitionist they wanted to protect peoples inherent right to life -- the anti gunners want to eliminate peoples inheerent right to self defense
0 # Hirspray 2012-12-23 18:59
We can first begin by having our media fill its pages with investigative reporting about comparisons to other countries, types of gun deaths, costs to society,etc. Americans need to understand the toxicity of this culture of violence. Americans are exposed to so much violence that they are desensitized. They must wake up to the reality in ways other than the loss of 20 kindergarteners . We need to name names and point to the people who gain financially from this horror. Educate the public!!!!

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