Your Argument Sucks: Uber-Patriotism & the Second Amendment

Your Argument Sucks is a recurring column where I tackle major arguments about the modern US political system by detailing actual facts through the narrative of historical context. All I ask is this: Go into these posts with an open mind and the ability to change said mind, if necessary, no matter which side of the argument you fall. I did. And because no matter how much you want to be right, no matter how much being wrong would flip your world upside down, being able to accept the facts and alter your opinion as necessary is a vital part of co-existing. And maybe, just maybe, your argument will no longer suck.


The Arguments

  • “The Second Amendment gives me a right to protect my family!”
  • “Democrats are going to take away all our guns!”
  • “Assault Rifles are better for hunting and protection.”
  • “More guns/concealed carry will stop mass shootings.”
  • “Criminals will just find a way to get them anyway.”
  • “Criminals will use cars, knives, bombs, etc. if guns are removed, and it will be just as bad.”
  • “It’s a mental health problem.”
  • “Video games cause gun violence.”
  • “We need common sense gun laws.”
  • “Flags and statues aren’t racist!”
  • “Democrats are trying to change history!”

The Complex Explanation

The Second Amendment has brought about some of the most heated debates in recent history. Really, what these debates come down to is interpretation issues. One side says owning a gun is a basic human right as declared in the Constitution. The other side says that’s a misinterpretation, and the Amendment does not give that right. Even the U.S. Supreme Court has taken both sides over time. One issue, outside of basic interpretation, is the need for context—both then and now.

During the time of creation, there was a frequency for governments to suppress its people with military might, and the people have been left unable to defend themselves against such a government attack. It happened in England. Also, at the time, the US did not have an established military and, thus, had no way to defend itself against any coups or uprisings, such as if slaves took arms against their owners or government. Thus, the Second Amendment was added into the Bill of Rights:


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.

The most quoted part of this Amendment (though usually paraphrased) is the right to bear Arms. Almost every proponent of the Second Amendment interprets the words to mean every individual has a right to keep guns. Here’s what the Amendment actually means: the States have a right to keep an armed militia to fight against a tyrannical government should one come about—think Shays’ Rebellion. Shays put together an armed militia, using government weapons, to rebel against a government deemed unfair, eventually leading to the construction of the Constitution.

Looking at the Amendment even grammatically, we can come to this same conclusion. If the dependent clauses (clauses of the overall sentence that cannot stand on their own and act as a way to add information to the actual sentence) are removed, the subject and predicate of the sentence is only “A well regulated Militia shall not be infringed.” This well-regulated Militia is “necessary to the security of a free State” and said Militia itself is the right people are given to keep and bear Arms. Well-regulated means the States control and train this part-time Militia, giving us a force like the National Guard. Also, according to the Constitution, the government could have control and use over these Militias.

This did eventually happen, as the National Guard can now be called upon for active federal duty, much like any other branch of the US military. Militias more or less went by the wayside due to active military. The military grew powerful—far more powerful than any armed civilian would be able to defend against, though one would hope to have no real fear that the US military would be turned overtly against its people.


Beginning in July 2020, President Donald Trump, in reaction to Black Lives Matter protests, sent military personnel in unmarked vehicles into Portland, Oregon (and later into other cities) to attack, subdue, and capture many non-violent protesters in the streets without any request from state or city officials. This is exactly the type of situation the Second Amendment was created for in order to protect against.


Laws also changed, the biggest of which is the addition of the Fourteenth Amendment. In 1833, there was a Supreme Court case, Barron v. Baltimore, which concluded that the Bill of Rights only needed to be enforced at the federal level—the States could do whatever they wanted. States could deny basic rights to its citizens, particularly slaves, who were not freed until 1863. The Fourteenth Amendment was created in 1868 so that all basic rights would have to be enforced at a State level, as well.

Enter: Selective incorporation.

While not actually a law, selective incorporation is a doctrine that basically cherry-picks parts of the Constitution and its Amendments to enforce on a State level when the need arises. So instead of the Bill of Rights being enforced all at once, courts have brought it in over time when an issue comes up. So even one section of an Amendment could be pushed through whereas other sections might not. But let’s back up a bit first.

It all started with something that isn’t even about guns: the US Supreme Court Slaughter-house Cases. In 1869, New Orleans, Louisiana meant to help clean up the city by mandating a monopoly of one slaughterhouse company to move away from water sources, which would be enforced. White butchers sued, stating that the city was taking away their life, liberty, or property and was violating the Fourteenth Amendment. Supreme Court Justice Samuel F. Miller concluded that the Fourteenth Amendment only enforced laws about ex-slaves and citizenship, drastically altering the intention of the Amendment.

In 1873, a white paramilitary group (similar to the KKK) in Colfax, Louisiana, massacred over 200 black men, some armed, who had been assembled in a courthouse over a recent political voting issue. The white men, including a man named Bill Cruikshank, were vaguely indicted for not just the violent crimes, but also on their Unconstitutional attack on the black men’s freedom to assemble and bear arms. The case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court in 1876, where the ruling was overturned. The Court infamously ruled that individuals, outside the working of the government, could not be indicted for laws that are supposedly only restrictive at the federal level, in a strict reading of the Fourteenth Amendment. This led to 100 years of black suppression and the rise of paramilitary groups like the KKK to bear arms against minorities.

Pinkertons

In the 1850s, a private militia called the Pinkertons were put together and hired by government and companies, the latter primarily to spy on and attack unions. This led to a man named Herman Presser who, in 1879, put together a militia of his own to march against the likes of the Pinkertons. In 1886, the case went to the Supreme Court, as he claimed the Pinkertons were not an official federal militia organized by the US government. In short, the Supreme Court upheld the Cruikshank ruling, stating that nothing was wrong because the Bill of Rights did not extend to the States—only federally—so the group could form and assemble at the State level.

Both Cruikshank and Presser began a debate on individual rights versus collective rights. According to both cases, the Supreme Court ruled that States and municipalities have the ability to create their own gun laws as long as it does not become a federal issue (such as the States removing the right to bear arms completely, which would devoid people the ability to create Militias—still a common occurrence at the time).

In 1934, President FDR signed the National Firearms Act of 1934, the first federal gun-control law. This law, in reaction to the Tommy Gun gangster era of Prohibition, as well as the Valentine’s Day Massacre, added a $200 tax to the manufacture or sale of machine guns and sawed-off shotguns, and all sales needed to be recorded in the national registry. This was updated in 1938 to include licensing interstate dealers and banning purchase from anyone who had accused of or committed a violent crime.

The bad-boy “Tommy Gun” of Prohibition-era crime.

In response, known bank robber Jack Miller was accused of having a short-barrel shotgun taken across state lines. The case first went to District Court Judge Heartsill Ragon. Ragon liked the gun control law and knew Miller himself would never make it to the Supreme Court to testify. Therefore, the National Firearms Act would not be proven Unconstitutional. As such, Miller was killed before a ruling could occur. The US Supreme Court ruled that the only reason it remained Constitutional is because a short-barrel shotgun is not typically used for Militia purposes. In other words, military-grade weaponry can be owned by private citizens if used for Militia intent. This case has sense been used in future court cases, pointing to that very ruling.

After the assassinations of President JFK, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr., President Lyndon B. Johnson put through stricter gun laws in 1968, which prohibits people like felons and mentally ill from purchasing guns. He also strengthened gun dealer licensing and record keeping, as well as raised the purchase of handguns to age 21.

The 1980s saw more extreme legislation. In 1981, Morton Grove, Illinois became the first town to ban handguns. A lawyer named Victor Quilici sued the city, though the courts found it Constitutional, and the Supreme Court agreed. In 1986, people feared the government was becoming too controlling over guns. Congress passed the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, which forced the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to inspect gun dealers only once a year. It also passed an amendment banning civilians from owning machine guns made after May 19, 1986. Finally, it prohibited a federal creation of a national registry for gun ownership.

1993 saw the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act add mandatory background checks to anyone buying a gun. This was regulated by the FBI (though they were not able to keep records, as that would go against the 1986 law). 1994 saw, through the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, a 10-year ban on the production of semi-automatic assault rifles, such as AR-15s, certain AK-47s, and more, as well as large capacity ammo magazines. This bill was not renewed in 2004.

The next major court ruling came in 2008—The District of Columbia v. Heller. This case began in 2002, when a Constitutional scholar named Robert A. Levy wanted to make a case on gun laws similar to how Thurgood Marshall had challenged school segregation. He put together six diverse plaintiffs, including Dick Anthony Heller, a special police officer who had a firearm for work but was not allowed to have one in his home. This was due to a 1975 law that disallowed civilian gun ownership in Washington D.C. The courts, including the US Supreme Court, came to the following conclusion: the Second Amendment extends beyond just Militia use, and an individual’s right to guns does not rely on being a part of a Militia. It is more a natural right for self-defense and goes beyond what the Constitution states. Finally, handguns could not be banned by D.C. These rulings were in large done via the beliefs of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who felt the Constitution should not be looked at by how the drafters technically meant it, but rather by how it could be interpreted based on how the words of that day were used—such as the intent being self-defense rather than literally forming Militias. This ruling was upheld in 2010 in McDonald v. Chicago, which found it Unconstitutional to ban handguns within the city of Chicago and gave a right to bear arms to private citizens (though it was not unanimous, and there was even a written dissent concluding that the Founding Fathers were being taken out of context).

And then there’s these guys.

Outside of court cases, there is one elephant in the room that is always at the center of gun control conversations: The National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA was created in 1871 after the beginning of the Civil War as a way to teach about guns and even offer shooting ranges. The NRA expanded its clubs to multiple states and became so popular that, in 1901, Congress created the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice. This included members of the NRA, the National Guard, and US military. The NRA moved its headquarters to D.C. in 1907 for easier advocacy purposes. The early NRA, however, was not overly political in gun control, focusing more on guns for sport and hunting. They were not even against gun control when they were politically involved. The NRA supported the Federal Firearms Act of 1938 and the Gun Control Act of 1968, and the NRA president in 1934 even stated he did not believe in toting guns, and they should be strictly licensed and regulated.

By 1975, however, a man named Harlon Carter became the director of the Legislative Affairs division, eventually becoming NRA Vice President in 1977. Neal Knox became head of the legislative department. Formerly nonpartisan, the NRA began siding with the Republican Party. Both men believed in more extreme beliefs, such as no gun control or regulations, even pushing against the Gun Control Act. By 1991, Knox had more supporters on the board of directors, and he was almost solely focusing on gun control laws of the Clinton Administration. Though he might have pushed too hard, because he lost re-election in 1997 to moderates who preferred views of actor Charlton Heston, despite the fact he himself had supported gun control.

Former actor and NRA head Charlton Heston at a rally

But the change from Carter and Knox had been done, pushing the NRA as an anti-gun control lobbying group that spearheaded the movement in the United States. Not only that, but it became one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in the country, having a strong hold over Republican politicians, spending $412 million in 2016 for political purposes, and donating to Congressional races of 223 Republicans that year alone. That does not even include PAC (Political Action Committee) funds. Because of this, the NRA (along with other major lobbyists) have been accused of buying politicians and helping corrupt the government and spread propaganda. The NRA, who backed Donald Trump earlier than most of their Presidential backings, has since been accused of accepting foreign money from Russia to support Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign, which the NRA denies, and into which the Republican majority continues to block investigation. As of August 2020, there has been a call to dissolve the NRA after a string of controversies and lawsuits wherein the organization has been accused of conflicts of interest, extortion, financial misconduct, fraud, harassment, and misuse of charitable funds.

That also is not the end of the controversy behind the NRA and its influence in gun reform. The NRA has gone on record to being against universal background checks for private sales of firearms as well as at gun shows. They also have a history of being a part of the politicizing of gun control after mass shootings. For example, after the mass shootings of Sandy Hook Elementary School and Stoneman Douglas High School, the NRA publicly stated they were still firmly anti-gun control and instead wanted to add more guns in the form of armed guards at every school.

Mass shootings are the core of the gun reform debate.

  • In the 1990s, the decade of Columbine, there were only a total of 29 mass shootings.
  • Between 2000-2009, there were 36 mass shootings.
  • Between 2010-2017, there were 83 mass shootings.
  • In 2018 alone, there were 323 mass shootings with a total of 387 people killed and 1,274 injured.
  • 2019 saw 435 mass shootings, with 517 dead and 1,748 injured.
  • As of July 2020–including the pandemic, social distancing, and closed schools and businesses for at least 5 of the 7 months–the numbers are already at 339 mass shootings, 297 deaths, and 1,437 injuries–already surpassing (or coming close to surpassing, in the case of deaths) the entirety of 2018.

These numbers do not even include regular gun-related violence or suicide. Despite increasing numbers, including at safe havens like schools and churches, both sides continue to argue with little being done in the meantime.

The left want to add stricter laws to make it more difficult for guns to fall into the wrong hands. Their primary arguments include the following: There need to be common sense gun laws; military-grade assault rifles should not be owned by civilians; gun reform won’t end the violence, but it will drastically reduce it; more guns will not solve the problem; guns could be regulated like cars; the Second Amendment does not give the right to own a personal arsenal.

The right want to loosen gun laws and add more guns (in the form of concealed carry, armed guards, and armed teachers) or regulate other areas to solve the problem. Their primary arguments include the following: Democrats want to take away all our guns; gun control goes against the Second Amendment; bad guys will get guns anyway, and we will be less armed; a good guy with a gun can deter or stop a bad guy with a gun; AR-15s (and other similar guns) are not military assault rifles and are easier for self-defense; bad guys will find other methods of violence (see other countries); Chicago has the strictest gun laws in the country and one of the highest gun violence rates; guns don’t kill people—people kill people; and violent video games and mental health are the leading causes of gun violence.

Let’s look at these one at a time.

First, the Second Amendment does not make it Unconstitutional to control or limit guns. Also, as is written, the Second Amendment directly states the right to bear arms is for Militia use only. Only since the use of selective incorporation and interpretive reading (since roughly the 1970s), proponents of the Second Amendment have ignored the Militia clause to focus primarily on the right to keep and bear Arms. So based on the Second Amendment, it is actually Unconstitutional to own guns not for Militia purposes; however, the US Supreme Court has, in recent years, ruled otherwise. So, in short, it is technically Unconstitutional, but it has been deemed legal.

Democrats as a whole have never said or attempted to take away all guns. That is straight-up myth pushed by propaganda. The left has always wanted stronger, more common-sense gun laws. But very few, and usually radicals, actually advocate to take all of them away. The closest many claim to taking away guns is a ban on military-grade assault weapons. Other suggestions include stronger licensing rules, stronger mandatory background checks, and stronger mandatory training, such as with concealed carry licensing. Another common comparison here is the guns-like-cars argument: mandatory testing, licensing, registration, etc. However, there is then the argument that we can control the purchase but not the use. People still drink and drive, text and drive, speed, and don’t buckle up, all despite the testing, licensing, speed traps, and laws. People can just steal guns or get them elsewhere. We can’t regulate human behavior, right?

Chicago, poster-city of violence

There is a notion that gun control won’t do anything—people will still find a way, either by buying on the street or using different methods. After all, Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, yet their gun violence per capita is also one of the highest. Actually, that’s not entirely true. This false statistic harkens back to the fact Chicago had a handgun ban, which, as we know, was gotten rid of with the McDonald v. Chicago court case in 2010, a follow-up to District of Columbia v. Heller from the 80s for the same issue. Illinois still had a ban on concealed carry until 2012, when that was deemed Unconstitutional, becoming the final State to approve conceal carry laws. Then there was a spike in gun-related crimes in Chicago in 2016 and 2017. They also had unsuccessfully attempted stricter punishments on repeat gun offenders for years until 2017 when the penalty for repeat offenders was raised. The gun crime rate has since gone down compared to those two years. Illinois also requires a license or permit to buy a gun, as well as require a waiting period. So while Chicago does have a high gun-based crime rate, it does not have the strictest gun laws in the country (nor even all that strict in comparison to what is being suggested).

Before we move on, let’s put this into perspective. As of 2016, six countries make up over half of the gun-related deaths in the world (not including things like war, terrorism, or police). Let me say that again: If you look all the gun deaths in the world (almost 200 countries), six countries have more than the rest of the world combined. Those six countries, from most to least gun death, is as follows: Brazil, United States, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Guatemala. The US ranked #2, and that’s before including the jump in mass shootings starting in 2018 (per capita, the US ranked 20th in 2016, but that’s comparatively. Greenland, for instance, ranked #5, but that was only 13 total deaths as opposed to the US’ 37,200).

But what about the violence in other countries outside the US that have enforced gun control laws? First, let’s look at some we just mentioned. Brazil has a higher gun death rate than America. To own a gun in Brazil, you have to have a license, re-register it every 3 years, be at least 25 years old, and can’t typically leave your house with it unless you’re a special group like police. Yet Brazil’s gun crime rate is so high. Brazil also happens to have around 17 million guns within the country, over half of which are unregistered. They also happen to be the second largest arms manufacturer in the west, just after the US (which, only having 5% of the world’s population, has 46% of the world’s civilian-owned guns). Brazil exports its guns to neighboring countries (like Colombia and Venezuela) and illegally smuggles many back into the country.

What about Mexico and Guatemala? Like the US, Mexico and Guatemala are the only other two countries in the world that have a Constitutional right to own guns (though the US is the only country in the world with no Constitutional restrictions). Mexico also has strict laws, but with an *. There is only one gun store in the entire country, but Constitutionally, they are allowed to keep certain caliber semi-automatic handguns, shotguns, and revolvers within their home (if more than 2 guns, they have to be justified). Most higher caliber weapons are for police and military only. Guatemalan citizens cannot own automatic rifles, but they can own semi-automatic weapons, as well as handguns, shotguns, rifles, and limited ammo as long as they have a permit (which requires mental health checks and clean records) which must be renewed. Despite all this, Guatemala has a high percentage of civilian gun ownership.

But what about something more extreme? The Top 2 countries with the strictest gun laws are Japan and Australia. Very, very few civilians in Japan own guns. If you do need to purchase a gun (for one of the few reasons they are allowed), it requires tests such as background, mental, and drug. You also have to have instruction on using it. As such, Japan’s gun death rate is literally one in a million. Their overall crime count (not just gun) in 2017 was under a million crimes total. A lot of their crimes are more technological, such as white collar crimes.

Australia is also strict. After 12 years of extreme gun violence, Australia had its biggest shooting in its history in 1996—the Port Arthur Massacre (35 dead, 23 wounded), wherein the gunman used two semi-automatic rifles. Prime Minister John Howard (head of a then-conservative government) implemented the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) within 12 days. This Agreement did multiple things: You had to be at least 12 to use a gun and 18 to own it; there was a 28-day waiting period; implementation of a registry; stricter licensing; and a near-ban on auto and semi-auto weapons, unless a licensed individual can prove they need it for something besides self-defense. They also enacted a temporary gun buyback program, where people could sell their now illegal weapons to the government—they ended up buying back over 650,000 guns. Although there have been few hard statistical studies on the effects of the NFA since it was implemented, we do know this: There were zero mass shootings for the next 20 years, and gun-related crime rates decreased dramatically after the NFA implementation, though some argue the dropping crime rates might be unrelated. In recent years, various Australian states or territories have gone lax on the gun laws, such as the wait period.

Memorial for UK knife violence.

And then there’s the U.K. Many people cite the U.K. as having strict gun laws (which it does—like Japan and Australia, gun ownership is quite limited) but also higher crime rates of other weapons, like knives, bombs, and vehicles (which, again, is true—particularly knives or other sharp objects, and primarily in larger cities like London). So what’s going on there? England and Wales, in particular, had common police stops and searches that lessened people having knives or other weapons. Though due to accusations of profiling young black men and police shortages and budget cuts (whether statistically accurate or not), these common practices were drastically cut down, and the rise in knife-related crime began to jump. However, due to some of the highest rates in years, these stops and searches have recently begun increasing again.

Also, within the argument of bad guys will find guns anyway, this is both seemingly true and false. Looking at places like Japan, Australia, and the U.K., while there is no doubt illegal gun ownership, the gun-based crime rates are still so comparatively non-existent. Looking at the aforementioned six countries with the highest gun crime, the difference is clear: guns are readily accessible in each of these countries, offering the highest amount of gun ownership (with 3 of the 6 being the only countries worldwide to give those rights Constitutionally).

You can also see that most countries ban automatic and many semi-automatic weapons. Of the Top 30 deadliest mass shootings in the US, only 2 did not use semi-automatic weapons. Just to define what automatic and semi-automatic means, an automatic gun fires multiple rounds while the trigger is pulled, while a semi-automatic weapon fires one bullet per trigger pull, re-loads, and is ready to be fired again as soon as the trigger is pulled again. The other term most commonly brought up is “Assault” weapons/rifles. However, there is controversy in just what that means. Let’s break it down:

By definition, “assault” means to physically attack. Technically speaking, saying “assault weapon” is redundant. All weapons are assault weapons. That’s why they’re called weapons. As such, all types of guns are assault guns, as they all are used to physically attack something, whether it’s a paper target, a bottle, a wild animal, or a human. When it comes down to it, the term “assault weapon” is usually in reference to automatic weapons (which are banned for civilians in the US). As of late, the definition is altering to include semi-automatic weapons, which—again, technically speaking—is not unheard of. Definitions of words and terms have always frequently changed throughout the history of language. The idea, however, is to lump all weapons of a particular type (weapons often used in mass shootings) under a single category, whether it is correct or not. (Also, for the record, it is legal to own fully automatic weapons, but they are highly regulated and, since the 1930s, have been almost non-existent in crime.)

The AR-15, a popular weapon of choice

One of the most common problems with this is the categorization of the AR-15, which is usually at the center of controversy when talking about “assault weapons.” First of all, the AR does not stand for Assault Rifle but rather ArmaLite Rifle—the company that first created it. The original AR-15 was not a semi-automatic weapon. However, ArmaLite had to sell to Colt in 1959 due to financial issues, and Colt rebranded the weapon, creating two semi-automatic weapons based on the AR-15 style: the M16 (for the military) and the Colt AR-15 (for civilians), the latter of which was banned in the US between 1994 and 2004.

The AR-15 is one of the most popular guns in the US. It is lightweight, easy to use, and modular, meaning it can be modified or upgraded easily with basic tools (some even calling it the LEGO of guns). This makes it one of the most accessible guns, even for gun newbies, and can even be created using scrap parts in hours (with the right tutorial). Due to this, the AR-15 in itself is not automatic or semi-automatic, but it does have the capability to be easily upgraded to semi-automatic. All of these things make the AR-15 popular amongst hunters, as well. And while the AR-15 is not overly common in regular gun crime (that’s handguns), it is one of the most common styles for mass shootings, which puts it in constant spotlight.

Regardless, all of this terminology is just used as a distraction to argue semantics and rile up both sides of the political spectrum rather than discuss the issue at hand. Whether AR-15s are good for hunting and protection, are semi-automatic or not, or are considered “assault weapons/rifles” or not, the primary fact is they are frequently used in mass shootings. So what does that mean for gun control? I’m not sure—I’m not a legislator.

Even if these guns are banned or limited or made more difficult to get access to, many people will still point to a rise in other weapons (like knives in the UK). But it could be argued that gun reform is not the end of the problem. Most vocal conservatives and/or gun owners want to bypass gun reform altogether and find solutions elsewhere. The most popular argument is this: Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.

So, then, what makes people kill people?

Fingers are commonly pointed at mental health and video games. Many countries do, in fact, have stricter mental health checks before being able to purchase guns. President Trump has stated after the mass shootings in 2019 that it needs to be more difficult for mentally ill to get guns, despite the fact that, in 2017, he quietly removed Obama-era legislation that had made it more difficult for mentally ill people to get guns. And while the US does have major mental health issues and stigmas, the American Psychiatric Association has stated only 1% of gun violence occurs from mentally ill people, who, if violent at all, are more likely to harm themselves than others. Even segmenting it to mass shootings, the majority of shooters have no history of mental illness.

One of the leading scapegoats to the video game violence argument.

Video games are the other scapegoat. There is a long history of video games and violence accusations, so let’s look at the highlights. While there were game controversies prior, one of the first famously scrutinized games was Mortal Kombat in 1993. This and a few other games led to the creation of the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board), which gives ratings to games, similar to movies, to show age appropriateness. In 1997, an attorney who also happened to be an anti-video game activist named Jack Thompson filed a lawsuit against violent video games after a high school shooting. But it wasn’t until the Columbine massacre in 1999 when the height of video game violence arguments really hit center stage, as both shooters were fans of violent games. In 2001, the Surgeon General of the United States found very little effect that violent video games had on people. This was the typical back-and-forth over the years: politicians blaming video games and all research stating otherwise.

The most common response by opposers of the video game violence argument is the most common-sense: people from every developed country play video games, yet the US is the only one that has as much violence. China, Japan, and South Korea are three of the biggest video game playing countries in the world, yet they all have some of the lowest gun violence in the world.

Besides video games and mental health, gun legislation from the right has suggested adding more concealed carry would solve the problem—whether that is in schools or in public. Let’s first look at the concept that a “good guy with a gun” can stop these types of situations. On the one side, concealed carriers have, indeed, stopped various crimes and shootings across the country. On the other side, despite every state allowing concealed carry laws, gun violence is at an all-time high—and at its highest where gun accessibility and concealed carry laws are loosest.

Since schools are one of the biggest mass shooting targets, arming teachers has been in the talks, as well. As of 2019, it is already legal in at least 11 states for teachers to carry concealed firearms. However, the idea raises risks in multiple areas, such as kids finding the guns and teachers having the mental fortitude during a time of crisis to not only think straight with a steady hand but then have the ability to shoot a kid, possibly one the teacher has known or taught. Teachers are already overloaded with work, as well as mental, emotional, and physical stresses—adding a gun into the mix and adding student-killing training for teachers is not the best move. This reasoning is exactly why legislators have also suggested specially-trained armed guards at every school. The left argues this will turn schools into, essentially, prisons. It also would not be cost-effective (schools and districts are, by and large, poor) and would add a level of constant fear amongst students and faculty.

So what is the answer? Statistically speaking, looking at the facts presented in this post, countries that offer more accessibility to guns will have higher levels of violence. The fewer guns available, the less gun violence there is. It’s simple and proven. Removal or heavy restriction of guns will not stop crime in general, and it will most likely cause violence with other weapons to increase, although laws could then be set into place to help with that (like in the U.K.). The argument here is, then, the Second Amendment preventing total removal of guns, although strict reform would not be Unconstitutional.

When it comes down to it, the problem is not just a gun problem—it’s a culture problem. Particularly after September 11, 2001, there has been a drastic upswing in hypocritical Uber-Patriotism. The US has always been a country of hardcore patriotism, but there is a current trend in Uber-Patriotism (super-patriotism) that is skewing history and facts in exchange for God Bless America-ism. For example, the US displays more flags than any other nation in the world and pledges allegiance to it with the most frequency. It’s put on clothes, bathing suits, blankets, vehicles, and any other item you could possibly think of. Yet, federal flag code states flags should not be used in clothing (or be put on the body at all) or in any form of advertising and can lead to fines and/or short-term imprisonment. Some argue this is false because the clothes are not actually made of flag, which is the difference, but it isn’t—the code also talks about it representatively, not just the actual flag. Of course, this is never enforced, but it is technically against US code.

Technically, this is just as much against Flag Code as kneeling during the Pledge.

Many core elements of our country are inadvertently mocked. For a country of immigrants, where everyone came from somewhere else in their history, there is a current condemnation of immigrants that are being spat upon rather than helped, even after they have become legal citizens. For a country that loves its military and what it represents, there is a lack of care what happens to them after their tour. For a nation that is built on protesting (it’s even in the Constitution!) there has always been an accusation that protesting is strictly un-American.

For as many people who claim to love the Constitution, a low percentage of Americans don’t know much about it, its Amendments, or how any of it works. Only a little over a third of Americans would be able to pass the multiple choice US Citizenship test. US History is taught in all schools, though it is frequently altered by statewide legislations, particularly in regards to important female figures, the founding, and the Civil War.

Current controversies include the removal of historical statues and flags in connection to the Confederate South, as well as the downplaying of slavery and racism in teaching the Civil War. The argument there is that the left wants to alter history, while the left responds with these artifacts being a symbol and celebration of a racist south and not of the current America. Truthfully, the left does not want to alter history—these relics of history would be placed in museums to be learned about and respected as a part of history that shaped the country, rather than openly celebrated (particularly in a modern time where white nationalists/Neo-Nazis are marching and gaining more power and prominence).

Also, just as the US flag was created to represent freedom and the togetherness of the states as one, the Confederate flag represents a segment of the US that withdrew from the Union in order to fight for state rights in the form of the expansion of slavery (no matter how you look at it). Proponents of the flag say it’s about heritage, though that heritage is literally racism, suppression, and quite literally anti-Americanism. It would be no different than if people in Russia waved the Soviet flag or if people in Germany waved the Nazi flag (both also examples of Uber-Patriotism). Sure, it’s in their heritage and history—but is it something you want to celebrate?

What does any of this have to do with gun laws and the Second Amendment? There is a widespread lack of historical knowledge or Constitutional understanding, but at the same time, many claim they not only know all of this, but that everyone else is wrong and un-American. This automatically sets the country up for failure no matter the side. This is almost universally shown with the Second Amendment, which has been seemingly twisted, ignored, or cherry-picked despite any contrary evidence, all under the guise of Patriotism.

So, in summation, the United States has a gun problem and a people problem. And no worthwhile laws will be passed to fix the first problem unless the second problem is first addressed. Unfortunately, the second problem has a built-in ego that won’t allow for easy solutions.


TL;DR

  • Technically, the Second Amendment allows a right to gun ownership in use with a Militia. However, the US Supreme Court has more recently removed the Militia aspect from debate and declared it as a human right.
  • Democrats are not trying to take away guns, although mass gun removal has been shown effective in countries like Japan and Australia.
  • There is no easy solution to the gun problem for a variety of reasons, though it has been proven that strict gun legislation can have a positive effect on gun-related crime in other countries—depending on the legislation and enforcement.
  • Knives and other weapons have been used in place of guns in other countries, but that is due to less stringent laws outside of gun control.
  • “Assault Weapons/Rifles” is a useless blanket term used in debate to argue semantics and ignore the real issues. Same with the “AR” in AR-15 (which stands for ArmaLite, not Assault Rifle).
  • It is not a mental health or video game problem.
  • It’s a culture problem, spurred on by an increase in hypocritical Uber-Patriotism and a large misunderstanding of US History and the Constitution.
  • And, of course, decades of greed and the political control of the NRA paying off many political figures leading to widespread propaganda for a false cause had a major play, as well.

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