Time To Revise The Second Amendment

As the casualties from America’s long love affair with guns continue to mount to levels unparalleled in other developed countries, the idea of vastly overhauling the Second Amendment seldom come up. In 1982, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) was commissioned to do a history of the Second Amendment in Strom Thurmond’s Senate Judiciary Committee. This is when the lost amendment (as it was known because no one ever wrote about it) was successfully manipulated to serve the bottom line of the profit-driven National Rifle Association. This was the beginning of the end of sensible discussion on guns. The NRA along with Reagan and Utah Senator Hatch helped usher in an era where hundreds of thousands Americans have needlessly been killed by a gun.

The facts are very clear: nations with stricter almost prohibitive laws on guns have minute levels of gun deaths when compared to our country. The Second Amendment wasn’t designed to arm all citizens. Verifiable statistics and study shows states with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides. This is fact. More guns equal more homicides, suicides and gun-related accidental deaths. Naturally, the gun-pushers will pawn the issue off as a mental health matter, but the prevalence of mental illness in a society is only weakly correlated with gun-related deaths. Guns are responsible, in the USA, for the deaths of more people, occurring more easily and more often than gun-free societies.

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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. This does not mean every Tom, Dick and Henrietta out there should brandish a lethal firearm. The big problem is we have over 300,000,000 guns in America. How can our nation change the insanely psychotic statistic that there are 88 guns for every 100 Americans?

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One way to vastly lower the number of weapons is to offer a gun buyback program. These events have enjoyed tremendous success for the gun owners and the community. In cities like Baltimore, Los Angeles and Phoenix gun buy backs were wildly popular and beneficial. What happens when the gun buy back becomes MANDATORY by law? How does that fare?
After the tragedy in Port Arthur, Tasmania in 1996, Australians collectively decided to outlaw casual gun ownership and made it extremely complicated to own a firearm. The buy back was a success and the country has not had a mass shooting in over seventeen years. By outlawing all semi-automatic rifles, along with semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns, and then created a restrictive system of licensing and ownership controls, the Australians enjoy a far lower gun homicide rate. It CAN be done in America, but no one will try to battle gun manufacturers who enjoy the fewest restrictions on liability and loosest regulations of any industry.

1. A federal firearms trace database is off-limits to the public
.The ATF can’t require gun dealers to conduct an inventory to account for lost or stolen guns; records of customer background checks must be destroyed within 24 hours if they are clean enough to allow the sale; and trace data can’t be used in state civil lawsuits or in an effort to suspend or revoke a gun dealer’s license.
2. The military can’t impose additional regulations on service members who own guns. Less than one year after the Fort Hood shooting, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., introduced a bill prohibiting new regulations on Defense Department personnel’s private guns. It also prohibited commanders from inquiring into private gun ownership.
3. You can carry a gun inside a national park or check a gun when riding Amtrak. In 2009, Congress voted to allow visitors to national parks and wildlife refuges to carry a loaded firearm. (Previously, the guns had to be locked, unloaded and stowed away).
4. (Perhaps most importantly) The gun industry is shielded from many lawsuits involving criminal misuse of guns. The law has not stopped gun litigation, but it has created an obstacle for litigation, where judges are more inclined to dismiss suits of negligence filed against manufacturers and dealers for not taking proper safety precautions.
5. Congress has removed federal funding for firearms-related research. So in actuality, we don’t have accurate data reflecting the trend that a gun in the home makes you FAR MORE LIKELY to be a victim of gun violence than those in households without a gun.

The lower 48 states are all connected to one or more states. Prohibitive gun laws in one state will not change the rates of gun homicides if an adjacent state has much looser laws. The entire country must be united to achieve the goal of lessening the unacceptable levels of gun-violence. With a mass shooting almost weekly, we have yet to hit the tipping point where people are fed up enough to change the gun culture. The lawmakers are far too well financed by gun companies to be motivated to change policy. The myths that more guns indicate a safer society are believed by far too many.

It’s time to stop the malicious, calloused and irresponsible people from twisting the Second Amendment and put sanity back in our legal system. Senseless gun proliferation is the problem, PERIOD! Guns kill, statistics don’t lie and Americans don’t need to die needlessly from senseless gun ownership. No small change will make a difference. It’s time to apply the Second Amendment as it was intended. If only outlaws have guns, wouldn’t their chances of ownership be a hell of a lot smaller if the Black Market price of a gun approached $10,000+? Couldn’t the problem be mitigated by charging exorbitant prices on ammunition? Of course these ideas all could work, but without the country coming together to achieve this goal by taking drastic measures, these gun-induced nightmares will continue.

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The GOP Vision For America Depends On False Christian Doctrine

Let’s face facts; the GOP’s vision for America is a Theocratic, Corporatist Utopia where income inequality is accepted without question. Republicans can only accomplish their goals with an electorate comprised of malleable sheeple too terrified, too ignorant and too powerless to think for themselves. More importantly, an unlikely group of poor Americans will actually vote against their own self-interests and contrary to their well-being. Their Republican Party has no interest in their well-being.  The values of the plutocrats in charge are universally upheld by the masses, always without challenging the inherent inequality of their system.

What’s the best means to this end? Since the late 1970’s, the Heritage Foundation has worked tirelessly to promote the erroneous idea that America was founded on Christian Principles. By furtively ending the separation of church and state and ushering in a Dominionist/Fundamentalist Government even the Taliban would love, the Religious Right has been hard at work promoting Draconian Old Testament-insanity as the law of the land. 

Paul Weyrich strategized the current platform of the Republican Party largely during the Reagan Administration. The four insidious tactics he recommended are still being used today.

1) Falsehoods are not only acceptable, they are a necessity. The corollary is: The masses will accept any lie if it is spoken with vigor, energy and dedication. (Medicaid expansion will bankrupt the states, trickle down economics works).

2) It is necessary to be cast under the cloak of “goodness” whereas all opponents and their ideas must be cast as “evil.” (Muslims bad, Christians good).

3) Complete destruction of every opponent must be accomplished through unrelenting personal attacks. (The swift boating of John Kerry, endless attacks on Black Americans Eric Holder, Susan Rice and President Obama).

4) The creation of the appearance of overwhelming power and brutality is necessary in order to destroy the will of opponents to launch opposition of any kind. (NRA, military hawkishness).

The fundamentalist wing of the Heritage Foundation shapes the public personalities of today’s Tea Party Republicans. As religiously insane as he is,  Ted Cruz, the Dominionist Tea Party Corporatist Senator from Texas, (with his numerous fundamentalist endorsements), can’t compare to the latest Texas Tea Party hero, Steve Stockman.

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Tea Party Born Again Christian Tx. Representative Steve Stockman

Stockman, best known for inviting Ted Nugent to the State of the Union Address in 2012, has a sick fascination with arming all Americans (even fetuses). The representative from Texas is even primarying the ultra-conservative Senator Jon Cornyn citing how much more right wing he is by comparison. The “Christian” values he claims he espouses are as ludicrous as the Rand Paul claim that denying jobless Americans unemployment compensation is the compassionate Christian thing to do. He is pro-life (which means only pro-fetus), a born again Christian and a fierce advocate of harsh immigration policies. Among the other bills and resolutions Stockman sponsored: a proposals for a constitutional amendment to block the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants from being granted automatic citizenship, a measure to define human life as beginning at conception, and a bill to eliminate background checks, waiting periods and registration requirements for firearms.

To make matters worse, the Koch billionaires vehemently support the ruse that Christian doctrine purports the notion that prosperity, above all, was espoused by Jesus himself. Charles Koch made a sizable contribution to Catholic University’s School of Business to combat the recent declaration by Pope Francis that unfettered capitalism is inherently evil. Religion is used by the wealthy on the Right to ignore what Jesus taught: It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.  

Another popular idea with Conservatives is the total rejection of raising the minimum wage to a level where no public assistance is necessary to supplement the worker.  They believe that there actually should be no minimum wage, no unions and somehow they dupe poor Republicans into agreeing with them.  The whole concept of “Right to Work States” is espoused by the Heritage Foundation, which unfortunately means they are against the best interests of the worker’s well-being.  Technically this philosophy amounts to looking a lot like states giving workers the right to work for less.  If you look at which states are right to work states, you’ll also notice those states are generally controlled by the GOP and consequently have higher rates of poverty and perform the poorest academically.

Right To Work States Are Mainly Red States
Right To Work States Are Mainly Red States

As the most religious Western industrialized nation on earth, I believe the American obsession with eliminating the separation of church and state is a dangerous path for so many reasons.  Religion discourages critical thinking (Creationism over Evolution), while promoting bigotry and misogyny (War on Women).  It is also more bellicose than the secular philosophies.  The Religious Right’s embracing of the concept of the Rapture as official Christian Doctrine shows their intent on bringing about the end of the world just to meet the savior. It’s the absence of mental health which causes the ignorant to elect people to govern who are interested in bringing about the destruction of society.  In fact, we should question the mental health of anyone who would vote GOP that is not in the top 1%.