Monday, March 5, 2018

The Road to Our Current NRA Hell

I know I harp all the time about how the Second Amendment was based in the perceived need for white militias to control enslaved people, but there's more to our country's current dis-ease of gun proliferation than that.

How did we get from 200 years of the courts never finding the amendment guaranteed an individual right to bear arms to the place we find ourselves today?

This recent episode of Radio Lab breaks down the reasons to three sequential actions:

  1. Huey Newton went to law school for a couple of years, and so as the Black Panthers were forming in Oakland in 1966 — in part in response to police violence against black people — he knew there was a right to observe the police and (he thought) a right to have a long gun, as long as it wasn't concealed. After local police tried to disabuse them of the notion that it was legal to observe them from a distance (while armed), the Panthers gathered with their guns at the California Capitol, coincidentally at the same time then-governor Ronald Reagan was there talking to a group of school kids. The Panthers carried their guns into the building for the public legislative session... and the reaction by the white-dominated power structure (including Reagan) was to pass a law banning loaded weapons of all kinds in public (sounds like a great law!).
  2. Not too long after, rural white male gun-owners reacted against that law because they thought it would be applied to them, too, in the midst of the late-1960s–70s crime boom. So they did what any good American would do: they organized and took over an existing organization (the NRA), turning it from a gentlemanly educational institution to an activist lobby for gun manufacturers and gun nuts.
  3. The 2008 Supreme Court Heller decision, which was bought and paid for by that transformed NRA. In which you get to meet Heller.
All of which brings us to the present, where the NRA doesn't even acknowledge the first clause of the Second Amendment (the part about the well-regulated militia), and pretends the amendment clearly has always been about individual access to weapons for personal protection when the court record clearly shows that was not the case for 200 years.

I knew about the Panthers story and Heller, but what I didn't know was how the NRA came to be what it is today.

I can't help thinking that if the Panthers had had cell phone cameras instead of guns back in 1966 when they started watching the police, maybe we wouldn't have the gun problem we have today.


Doug Muder at the Weekly Sift was thinking like thoughts today, publishing Three Misunderstandings about Gun Control and the Constitution.

1 comment:

Gina said...

Thanks for drawing my attention to this. I'm working on a long blog post about guns and money, and I plan to link to your post. Excellent information.