The foot soldiers of every army marching on the Earth had muskets, not rifles. This means that the interior of the barrel was smooth, and the projectiles didn’t spin when they were fired. Muskets weren’t very accurate, so the best way to do damage to the enemy was to literally line everybody up and have them fire at a target at once.
Also bear in mind that in order to actually load and fire one of those things, you had to do all of this shit.
When the founders of our country wrote the Second Amendment to the US Constitution in 1787, these cumbersome, inaccurate, pain in the ass weapons were considered state of the art.
Nowadays, most Americans can purchase a rifle that can fire with superb accuracy as fast as you can pull the trigger. For instance, there is the AR-15, which is a semi-automatic knockoff of the M-16, which was the standard firearm of the U.S. Army for decades. These come equipped with 30 round clips, meaning anyone can quite easily take out the entire mezzanine of a shopping mall in about as much time as it takes for the average person to tie his shoes.
You would think that this would alter the conditions of the Second Amendment somewhat. But as far as many Americans are concerned, and, more importantly, as far as the National Rifle Association is concerned, what the weapon is capable of makes absolutely no difference. The Second Amendment is the Second Amendment is the Second Amendment, and “…Shall Not Be Infringed” means exactly that.
I think that’s completely insane, of course. And so do many other Americans. But as we have long since figured out, what we think doesn’t matter for shit.
Not All Gun Owners Are Nuts
I’m pretty sure that when you guys think of America, the first thing that pops in to your head is New York City, or Los Angeles, or maybe Chicago. That’s completely understandable, but it’s also misleading. Cities in America are the exception. Rural, semi-rural, and deep suburban is more likely to be the setting where your average American lives.
Most American gun owners live in rural America. Guns mean something different to them out there. Going out in the woods and bagging a deer or two is not just a fun way to spend the weekend, it’s how they feed themselves. I know a few guys in rural Virginia who step foot into the meat section of the grocery store maybe two or three times a year. The rest of the time they get their food out in the woods.
Now, nobody in their right mind is going to demand that these people relinquish their deer rifles. And nobody is talking about having people turn in their revolvers or pistols. These same rural folk live in areas where it can take the police twenty minutes to get there, and “rural” certainly doesn’t mean “crime free.” But these aren’t the guns that people are referring to when they talk gun control. They mean the big, bad, semi-automatic rifles, or handguns with extended clips. And for the most part, gun control advocates are simply trying to expand the background checks for people who want to buy those sorts of weapons.
But the NRA sees absolutely no distinction here, and they make sure that no distinction is made when they are battling gun control legislation. Their default position on any public gun control measure is at the very bottom of the slippery slope. If legislation is put forward in a state that asks for an expanded background check on someone who wants to buy a semi-automatic rifle, the NRA immediately tells everyone that “The Government Is Coming for Your Guns.” Not just semi-automatic rifles, but all of them. And YOURS, specifically. You, yes YOU, Clyde McPherson of Staunton, Virginia, with the Remington deer rifle. YOU.
The NRA are paid by gun manufacturers to protect gun rights, but they are also paid for their church bell-sized balls. Whenever there is a mass shooting, or any gun violence in general, the NRA’s stance is that the real tragedy is that the victims died without experiencing the glory of returning fire with their own weapons. The line is not “How did the schizophrenic manage to legally buy a Glock with a 33 round clip while having an active conversation with the voices in his head?” but rather “Why weren’t any of those citizens armed? Why wasn’t anyone available to fire back? What’s the matter with you people? Don’t you know how many guns there are in this country? Why don’t YOU have a gun to protect yourself against all these crazy people with guns?”
Some Gun Owners Are Certainly Nuts
These tactics work really well. Gun sales spike pretty significantly when there is a Democrat in the White House, and they also spike pretty significantly after a mass shooting. And these guns aren’t flying off the shelves because your average shipping clerk thinks he can shoulder roll over the hood of a car and stop a mass shooting with pinpoint accurate fire (which fucking NEVER happens, despite what the NRA might have you believe), but because he thinks that the Democrats are going to make owning a gun illegal, and he wants to get as many as he can before this happens.
This paranoia flies in the face of political reality. In the first few years of Obama’s Presidency, he signed exactly two pieces of gun-related legislation, both of them expanding gun rights. Since the appalling massacre of children at Newtown, Congress has passed precisely one piece of gun control legislation, which was to renew a ban on plastic guns. But if you go on the conservative websites, or ask the NRA, or ask your average gun owner, you would think that we are living in East Germany circa 1971. People with gun collections big enough to see from outer space will tell you with rock solid conviction that their guns are being taken away from them.
This is where these militia folks come in. They all seem to miraculously disappear whenever a Republican is in the White House, but the minute a Democrat gets in, all of these bearded gun humpers run off into the woods and pretend that “Red Dawn” has gone down. They do maneuvers, go on patrols, and make contingency plans for the day when the government comes for them. So far, the government does not seem to give much of a shit about them, which I think is appropriate, but would probably really disappoint the militias if they realized it.
This detachment from reality also manifests itself in the “open carry” phenomenon. These are guys who marched into a gun store and legally purchased rifles that can shoot thirty rounds in about ten seconds. They strap those rifles over their backs like so many Somali pirates and walk into a grocery store, family restaurant, or around the grounds of an elementary school. And in many states, these guys will find themselves in violation of no laws whatsoever, and will not be arrested. And if you ask them why they are marching around with their legally purchased rifles strapped to their backs without fear of arrest, they will tell you that it’s because their rights have been taken away from them.
Now, we can all see what this is, right? In the case of the militias, it’s paranoid fantasy. They think it would actually be pretty cool to go out and be the Wolverines for a while. And they also seem to think that a government with an Army that can obliterate entire city blocks from 10,000 feet would be stymied by a few armed numbnuts out in rural Michigan.
And in the case of the open carry guys, it’s a fetish. They get off on going out into the woods, yelling “YEEEEEHAAAAAAAA” and going full auto on bottles and cans, and they also get off on the fear and confusion on the faces of everyone as they walk around with their rifles strapped to them. As far as psychology goes, there isn’t much of a difference between the open carry guys and a creep masturbating on a park bench, except at least the creep can’t actually get someone killed.
Ultimately, these folks are manifestations of the fear, paranoia, and utter misinformation that the NRA puts out on a daily basis, and the NRA thinks that great. When people are scared, they buy guns, and they vote. And NRA President Wayne LaPierre is the Mozart of scaring the shit out of people.
A lot of people hate the NRA and everything they stand for, but every lobbyist, interest group, and non-profit in DC would give at least one testicle to have half the organizational pull, money, influence, and ability to get people out to vote that the NRA has. A lot of elected officials have lost a lot of jobs for not only defending gun control, but for not being strident enough about gun rights. And some of these guys the NRA helped send packing were conservative as hell. NRA members vote, and they always and without fail vote the way the NRA tells them to. Everybody who runs for office in rural areas knows to either shut the fuck up about guns, or to have a ton of pictures of themselves on their website brandishing fire arms or blasting the shit out of ducks, deer, or paper targets at the range.
Absolutely Nothing Will Change
Your average American is much more likely to get shot and killed by a fellow American than killed in any kind of terrorist attack. About 289 people are shot every day in the United States, and I think it’s safe to say that barely any of these gunshot victims were evildoers cut down in the midst of criminal acts. There are suicides, victims of domestic violence, and plenty of gun-related accidents. The NRA marks these down as “tragedies,” but not really tragedies that they give much of a shit about. And the Congressmen and Senators on the NRA’s payroll know damn well what will happen if they actually do something about it. Like the NRA, they view gun violence as a tragedy, but not enough of one to lose their jobs over.
Knowing that getting anything through Congress regarding guns (or, really, much of anything) was an impossibility, Obama signed a bunch of Executive Orders regarding background checks, and the NRA sent out the standard wails of hellfire, damnation, and blood-soaked communist rule coming out of Washington. Really, all these executive orders did was clarify what “mentally ill” meant, and it provided a way for states to have an easier time submitting information about the mentally ill to the NICS background check system. But that doesn’t matter, because the state governments are equally owned by the NRA. In 2012 it was determined that 17 states only submitted 10 records of buggy ding dong crazies to the system itself. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you make it easier to do something that people are afraid to do or didn’t want to do in the first place. And aside from that, Executive Orders are incredibly temporary. All it takes is a new executive, and those old orders are dust at the stroke of a pen.
So why allow crazy people to buy guns? Well, “The Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms Shall Not Be Infringed,” forever and ever, thus sayeth the National Rifle Association, Amen. And this isn’t ever going to change.
So that’s it. We’re fucked. Mass shootings and gun violence are just sort of a thing that happens here, like happy hour drink specials, the NFL, and all you can eat buffets. We’re sadly getting used to it, and that suits the NRA just fine.