Author: Rafael Wolf | Libertarian Candidate, Michigan House of Representatives
Editor: Bonnie Warren
Guns. Bullets. Children facing the horrors of their own executions, and those of their classmates. This is what seems to be on everyone’s minds these days. When paying attention to any number of mainstream news outlets, or the discourses of our elected representation, one would think that “mass shootings” in the United States are a major problem, and that gun violence resulting in the killing of children is THE number one problem to solve. There happen to be so many problems to solve, in fact, that it can make your head spin…almost like you are having an exorcism…that is, if you are paying close enough attention! Captain Obvious straight dope alert! It is not only the “gun problem” that requires a solution. Many others require attention, too. I am often asked, when disclosing a run for political office, “How are you going to solve the gun problem?” or “How are you going to solve…[insert problem here]?” What is considered a “major issue” ebbs and flows depending on how many children lose their lives in the next school shooting, or whatever the news cycle might throw out at us this week – anything from heat waves and drought, which bring the so called “climate activists” out, to an uptick in drunk driving, which brings the MADD people out, to [insert issue here and special interest group here] which brings the “X” people out for whatever cause. People forget about last week’s problem when their attention is drawn to whatever the latest news topics are. Whatever happened to BLM and the peaceful protests from 2021? Oh yeah, COVID lock downs, and government helicopter money is over, so I guess we all had to go back to work. I guess “ain’t nobody got time fuh dat” (Sweet Brown!). Meanwhile, nobody ever asks for my thoughts on British Royal scandals, what I think about Amber Heard and Johnny Depp, or what my thoughts may be regarding alien life. Oh! Gun violence! Yes! One moment…gun violence – another difficult problem neither myself nor my political party affiliation created, that needs to be solved – another “hot topic” people are passionate about. We tend to line up on one of two sides on this issue, and, on occasion, vote solely based on our position about guns. Guns and gun-associated violence are heartfelt issues, like abortion, and as a result, people are passionate about the topic. Political staples like guns are to Americans like potatoes were to the Irish in the 1800s. Guns and the right to bare arms, immovable objects and unstoppable forces – these are problems voters seemingly care about. Come November, however, this same group of vocalists will continue to throw away votes without ever even knowing it. Why? Because voters perpetually vote for establishment duopoly candidates who typically have little to no understanding of the problem, or who have no practical solutions other than empathetic (or pathetic!) tokenism like, “We need to protect our children.” Derp alert! Continually saying something without action, effectively does nothing at all. Sometimes “doing something” results in nothing more than inconsequential paper-pushing, a close cousin to continually saying something without actually doing anything, only there is no “there…there” involved.
While we are contemplating, I wonder why it is that people asking hot-button questions, like the gun problem question, do not take the time to self-reflect? Perhaps through inner discourse, such as, “Golly gee! Why are the people I keep voting for and electing to public office continuously creating problems and never seemingly solving problems like gun violence?” The question I am often asked sort of assumes this problem has suddenly appeared out of nowhere, or that it is something other than the result of a long-standing, systemic, historical problem, as if a politician can walk on water, solving an enormously difficult issue like gun violence with a one-liner or silver bullet that is shot out of a political policy gun. Gun problem? Boom! Ban them! (A perfectly unreasonable and absurd answer in the context of American politics, unless you want to pander to a political base favorable to that idea.) There ya go! Next question?
I question whether or not the majority of potatohead politicians (no offense intended to the Potato Head Family), fully understands the “gun problem” at all. They certainly cannot explain it to the American public reasonably or rationally. It is impossible to give a simple solution to such a complicated and systemic problem in America. Politicians, cycle after cycle, often attempt to do that very thing, feeding Americans an impossible quick-fix solution, or a pandering virtue signal, in order to buy votes. Voters should carefully consider all candidates, but they don’t. Do you know what else voters don’t do? Voters don’t review a candidate’s credentials and statements on issues, look at the information politicians give them about their thoughts on a wide range of topics, or hire persons to represent them and their businesses or personal interests. Sadly, most voters pick a candidate at random, one who is more “likeable,” or who has the best hair. Who you would drink a beer with? (Sorry whiskey people!) Also considered is the candidate who is “good” at business (even if he or she has never actually been successful in business), the candidate who represents one of the major political parties, and the list goes on. Many voters will confess to the most absurd reasons for choosing a candidate, reducing elections to mere beauty contests. It is quite unreal to think it’s rational for anyone to evaluate a political candidate like this, yet this is what happens. It might speak to American society’s simplistic, reality-TV approach to politics. We allow absolute garbage to influence us in deep and profound ways. That is why we get actors as politicians, some good, some bad – Reagan, Schwarzenegger, Trump, Sonny Bono, Clint Eastwood (Go ahead, vote for me, make my day!), Al Franken from Saturday Night Live, Fred Thompson, and the list goes on! Even Obama became an actor with a Netflix show I suppose… Seriously? Actors? I shake my head when a seriously dense potatohead like “Dr. Oz” runs for political office. You know he will get massive support, because a base of people in America is blindly on that side of the ballot, regardless of logic. I do not like quacks, con artists, and celebrities running the US government, and neither should you, but this is why America “gets what we got!”
Most of the discourse concerning gun violence is what Noam Chomsky would call “manufactured consent,” where those in control, aka “the establishment” (the Democratic and Republican parties), leverage media outlets to influence your thinking on a particular topic, albeit in favor of their respective views. Note here that “Democratic and Republican parties” also encompasses the gaggle of allies, companion institutions, lobbying groups like the NRA, the Hoover Institute (a think tank), colleges, university institutions, and many others, including partisan, mainstream and sister news outlets in “independent media” on platforms like YouTube. Any issue you think is important in politics is most assuredly part of a propaganda narrative war. Remember this important point – there is a narrative war taking place in the country. There always has been. Throughout our nation’s history, the war has been active, with varying degrees of fervency, for a variety of reasons. Oppositional factions – left vs. right, red vs. blue, good vs. evil, pro vs. con, etc. – will attempt to push you into one of two camps of thinking. Somewhere along the way, we became rooted in binary thought patterns and rejected three or four camps in favor of two, right? Think, MSNBC and Fox News here, or whatever your echo chamber of choice might be, continually pounding a narrative into your ears, hoping to guide your thinking into one of two way to see the world – partisanship, partisanship, partisanship. It’s no wonder why we have people living in completely different worlds, believing society works in completely different ways, resulting in “group think” partisanship, which, as noted in the political framework, can be a serious roadblock to achieving successful outcomes.
As a result, the political “system” is broken for all but the establishment, which thrives under these conditions. Political brokenness is nothing new – most voters simply do not realize how long it has been going on. Parties interested in seizing or maintaining power want to tell you how you should think about an issue and that you should think about it their way, much like I am dong here. The difference between the establishment and myself, however, is that I have no special interests or power to maintain, nor do I have the massive outreach capacity to share my views with tens of millions of people. I simply want to understand an issue and see what potential solutions exist, chugging along, running for political office the best I can. My approach is called “problem solving.“ The establishment does not actually want to solve problems; this is not their approach. On the contrary, the establishment continually creates new and ever more complicated problems, using crisis as opportunity. Most status quo politicians use any number of issues (problems) as opportunities for virtue signaling, which in turn motivates their support base. Why do establishment candidates not want to solve problems? How is it that politicians create ever more complicated problems? Is not my congressman or congresswoman in an epic battle of a good vs. evil fighting to “Make America Great Again”, to “Build Back Better”, to [insert BS propaganda campaign slogan here]? No, they are not trying to do any of these things. It is all political theater, they are acting. Politicians in the establishment simply want reelection and they will promise nonsense or flat out lie to you in order to get it. They use a massive infrastructure of propaganda outlets to keep telling you any number of half truths or perhaps, telling you nothing at all with unintelligible mealy mouthed word salads. It is about maintaining majority power, usually for their real constituents, big business and the donor class. If you hear something long enough, you will begin to believe it. Establishment politicians and establishment candidates do not want or intend on accomplishing anything they promise usually blaming an opposition party or some unforeseen circumstance that is supposedly out of their control like COVID. COVID is the new “dog ate my homework” excuse. Hey, [insert politician x] will fix it if you just vote for them the next cycle, they are fighting for you! The promise of a fix is the carrot on a stick dangled in front of you every election cycle. The carrot can be a $15 dollar minimum wage, universal healthcare, free college tuition, a good job, lower gas prices, lower taxes, safe neighborhoods, that the government won’t take your guns, more opportunity, fixed roads, housing the homeless, a chicken in every pot or…the list could go on. A vote for the establishment buys you a ticket on the BS train to BS town and the loud tooting whistle is them talking. I almost think the voters enjoy being lied to and that believing their falsehoods is almost comforting in some kind of weird smells like baked chocolate chip cookies kind of way except when I smell it, I smell BS.
I am certain any team red voter is thinking, hey wait, “Promises Made, Promises Kept“; President Trump delivered baby! Not exactly. The primary fallacy with believing this propaganda talking point is that one man, like when Trump says things such as “I alone can fix it“, are utter nonsense. One example is “great healthcare” which he promised during his campaign. He tried to push through a few policies by executive order only to largely fail not significantly reducing overall health care costs at all and today, they continue their upward trajectory in cost. Why? Because it is a systemic problem, a beast he alone can not slay, a disease needing to be dismantled and rebuilt over generations and one that will not be dismantled by the establishment who literally built it. The establishment, yes, the establishment Trump represents built what we have, purposefully. Nobody can unilaterally solve problems. This is not how government works unless you live in a monarchy. Trumps talking point about his grand ability as a deal maker to solve problems is the lie, promoting it via the establishments media outlets, the propaganda getting some people to believe the lie. His executive orders were the tokenism to make it look like he is doing something while doing little to nothing at all. Trump is not alone in this approach. Here in Michigan it reminds me of Governor Whitmer’s ban on Enbridges Line 5 of which she and the state have no legal authority to do. The state can not ban international commerce between nations. She knows this. She and the state have no authority because of things like the USMCA (formerly NAFTA), an international treaty made by the federal government under “the commerce clause” which gives the power to the federal government and not the state to make deals with Canada and thus, Enbridge, a Canadian company. It is Governor Whitmer’s version of tokenism for her base to make the base think she’s doing something, while doing nothing at all. President Obama as another example on the left, who is dearly beloved as much as President Clinton by many on the left, perhaps more, was an equal opportunity propagandist rivaling that of President Trumps self aggrandizement. One example, and like Trump there are many, is President Obama’s “Presidential Climate Action Plan“. He made promises to curtail the effects of climate change in that plan. His administration supposedly did a lot of work on “climate change”. Meanwhile, on the other side of the White House, at the back door of reality, he held hands with big oil expanding fossil fuel oil and gas production like no other president had in our modern era. Trump later took credit from the work of a prior administration that had actually focused on a “drill baby drill” policy! You would think Sarah Palin was Obama’s secretary of energy. At a 2018 Rice University gala event he all but confessed saying…
That he was “extraordinarily proud of the Paris accords” (something meant to curtail climate change)
“I know we’re in oil country and we need American energy.” (Rice University is in Houston, TX)
“You wouldn’t always know it ,but it went up every year I was president” (oil & gas production)
“That whole, suddenly America’s like the biggest oil producer and the biggest gas that was me, people.”
“Suddenly America is the largest oil producer, that was me people … say thank you.”Associated Press
The perception that Democratic political candidates are “green” or friendlier to the environment than their team red counterparts, that they “believe science”, and that they “believe in climate change”, is in fact the lie. Maybe they do believe those things but you would not know it by their deeds. The work they do on climate change is the tokenism paper pushing nothingness. They are not “green” and don’t believe science in practice. Like Trump, it almost seems like an “I alone can fix it” moment from former President Obama who says he alone gave us cheaper barrels of oil and lower gas prices at the pump. That is the propaganda. The reality and facts are, that under President Obama, fossil fuel production was expanded, not curtailed, and green energy or alternative energy expansion was a big nothing burger. “Green energy” output can not competed with fossil fuels in terms of “energy capacity” to drive an American economy, an economy designed to use fossil fuels. Of course, it was as Obama said, “that was me people” and indeed it was. He should say, that it was his administration in truly bi-partisan corporate Democrat fashion in lock step with Republicans as a team, a uni-party, and as political double speakers who expanded the use and consumption of greenhouse producing products. Keep up the great environment work (SMH)! The voters who decide to turn out every cycle, are played like fiddles which should make you mad, not happy. It should make you feel tricked, not treated. It should motivate you to try something different but having read this perspective, will it?
As we discuss the “gun problem” lets keep these facts in mind. It is extremely likely that you, as I, have probably been, highly exposed to the propaganda surrounding this issue. That you already have feelings on the matter. That you probably already have an opinion and what you are looking for is, if I, as a political candidate, am with you. Does this candidate agree with me and what I think on the matter? Are they a part of my “tribe”? Can he or she confirm my bias? I guess this is how things work in our current political, heavily propagandized system and why I have to work hard writing lengthy pieces explaining issues in great detail. This process is exhausting at times.
So, lets finally delve into how I see things and perhaps, with some thought and measured restraint on feelings, we can come to a common understanding concerning the problem of guns, gun rights and how it all fits together in the greater context without the propaganda or me attempting to ear rape you for a vote.
In the public discourse on the subject of guns, Libertarians, as in most subjects, are not invited to the party unless of course the media finds an outrageous nutjob to poke fun at turning them and perceptions of opposition candidates like me into a joke thereby discrediting any opposition en masse. The result of media stunts like this cause many people to make assumptions about all Libertarians having at one time or another seen a “crazy Libertarian” trotted out by media outlets with that very goal in mind, to make them look dumb, irrational and a joke. This is propaganda 101 with the goal of finding the absurd, highlighting it and getting the opposition to embarrass themselves in front of rational voters thereby leveraging innate biases dissuading the public from considering a vote for that nutjob or perhaps other candidates affiliated with the party the nutjob allegedly represents. I hope you will consider me as a serious candidate and not a joke. Simply compare my deep dive short essays on issues to that of the democratic or republican candidates in the 41st district. You should see stark differences. Their websites and information about issues could be fit into a small tract handout, are shallow and represent the classical tokenism I discuss. The exact thing I am describing here, how the media picks out a libertarian extremist to poke fun at happened not too long ago with a Libertarian candidate on the East side of Michigan running for a congressional seat in 2018 advocating “guns for the homeless“. Yes, this actually gained national and some world wide media attention (FFS SMH). I and many Libertarians I personally know on the other hand, would rather advocate for medical care, mental healthcare, housing and food for the homeless instead of guns but what we all see here is one wacky Libertarian trotted out ruining it for everyone on the national and global stage. Thanks for that (forehead slap). The media loves the “one bad apple” approach to political discussion, and I do not mean that #1 hit by the Osmonds in 1970, although, listen to them! “…one bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch giiiiirlll…“. Popular media attempts to put all Libertarians into the camp of the far right, pro second amendment and the pro gun category without considering a persons own views on the matter which might actually be reasonable or rational. Perhaps you have similar views but ask yourself, why do you think the way in which you do or make certain assumptions? What does “pro gun” even mean and what does the deep complicated debate about guns mean in a historical context? Nobody seems to care, nobody seems to discuss this issue in proper contexts because they absolutely love agitating the fight between two apposing sides. They love the divisive nature, anger and fervent bickering it creates in turn which drives revenue dollars on TV, print and online or how it gins up the base to turn out the voters!
Remember, news media outlets have their own political and business interests. They invite establishment candidates onto the air and radio waves to discuss often complicated topics using soundbites with an occasional nutjob getting a stab at something. These are PR and propaganda stunts, they are mostly shallow nonsense. Genuine opportunities speaking to the public are only given to the establishment reserving the clown show for third parties or perhaps an establishment political rival. The establishment never speak to these complicated issues with substance because they are usually only given a few minutes to do so resulting in, no surprise, tokenism, virtue signalling to their respective bases and the same tired talking points time after time that meets political expediency. These opportunities are given because of a current tragedy, when the gun topic is top of mind (Columbine 1999, Virginia Tech 2007, Fort Hood 2009, Sandy Hook 2012, San Bernadino 2015, Orlando Florida 2016, Las Vegas 2017, Uvalde 2022, etc) as part of the news cycle, which makes it part of the political cycle.
With respect to guns in America you have to absolutely keep in mind the evolving context of what becomes a nation through the process of its evolution until our current moment in its national history and how guns play a role in that development. Perhaps we call this process “growing pains”. The right leaning minded voters in contemporary politics, which public media often lumps Libertarians into, although I would argue Libertarians are more center on the spectrum sharing both left and right values, love the constitution and the bill of rights in an almost liturgical religious text kind of way. These are your biggest defenders of gun rights in our country. On a number of issues with respect to both the political left and right you find cult like zealotry concerning many topics which, when reasoned through logically, often defy logic. The Second Amendment is the political rights Eucharist, consecrated with a half wafer sentence of truth, washed down with sips of wine propaganda from conservative bishops speaking their truth to the masses in echo chamber media outlets sharing ideas handed down from the diocese in Washington DC (the RNC, NRA, the Supreme Court, etc).
The Second Amendment reads as such…
For a free scholarly discussion on the matter you can read the Wiki. I encourage you to at least read a few of these notes, they are interesting and put into context the way relative contemporaries thought about those words and what the discussion was like. In summary, conclusions are made that a melitia is made up “of the people” and they seem to conclude protection from foreign and domestic governments is important. What we must, as previously mentioned, is understand historical context. I do not often bold, italicize and underline something unless it is absolutely critical to get your attention. It should be assumed that in the 1700’s people would own and carry guns for any number of reasons, even before “the United States” came into existence in the late 1700’s. Guns were for selling, trading, smithing, army’s, hunting, local defense, local offense, defending yourself from things like “savage Indians” (feather not dot) and for keeping your slaves in check (if you had one or more), etc. In fact, some have argued the second amendment exists because Virginians in particular wanted rights as white slavers to chase escapees across state lines or quell potential slave uprisings. Whatever you think the intentions of the second amendment are I think we can first agree that in the 1700 and 1800’s, guns were an integral and important part of the country. The United States was a newly formed “nation” in the process of “being built” if you will. It was assumed that most people had guns although, they were certainly not the military style firearms we have today. Militias too in fact were the cultural norm and the back bone of the American Revolution especially during a time when the United States had a weak Continental Army. It is my view, and others including a few circuit court judges like Karen Henderson, that the entire subject of the Second Amendment is the first part of the sentence, “A well regulated militia“, then what it is for, “being necessary to the security of a free State“, then who makes up that “free State” and what their right is, finally ending in how it should be applied, being un-infringed. It seems obvious to anyone with a basic understanding of their native tongue (English).
The Continental Army was supplemented by local militias and volunteer troops that were either loyal to individual states or otherwise independent.Continental Army – Wikipedia
Militias, defined by public law in 1792, some of these leaders having been “framers” of the constitution and the bill of rights, defined militias for us as “free able-bodied” white men from ages 18 to 44 years old.
If reading and interpreting the second amendment in the bill of rights as an “originalist“, you already have a problem. Militias were for the States, were for men of a certain age and color. Most citizens at this time were more loyal to their state than “the nation”. The territory of Michigan and the state of Toledo in 1835 deployed their respective militias to defend what they perceived was their territory or states land in an almost bloodless skirmish between them which came to be known as The Toledo War. A territory’s militia vs a states militia. That is why it says “…being necessary to the security of a free state…” and why Karen Henderson’s comments on a court case about baring arms in Washington DC, a “district”, is interesting in this context. Would that make the territory of Michigan’s “militia” at that time illegal? Technically yes with our modern views but then, of course not, because militias were the cultural norm! It is the right of the people within a state (or apparently a territory) to bear arms for the protection of their state (or, apparently territory) in collective protection, many of whom having greater loyalty to their state or territory than the country in this historical context. The second amendment does not say anyone including minors, blacks, Indians, foreigners or women have the right to bear arms as is often read into the understanding of this passage as an “originalist”. It could be argued, as I often do, that the pro gun crowd likes doing a bit of historical revisionism on the understanding of that passage in our bill of rights. The supreme court in their decisions on this matter also expands understanding away from an originalist viewpoint, in my view. They read into what it does not say more than they read into what it does say. Culturally and at that time it was assumed most people could wield a firearm and the uses seem to get extend by this “unspoken rule”. The passage is intentionally vague and non-specific because they were trying to get a bill of rights passed and needed state consensus! The more specific you are, the more people will disagree who will in turn refuse to sign off on them. The context during the birth of our nation is that it was “vulnerable”. Vulnerable to things like civil war or crumbling from disagreements on a basic structural or legal framework like what people’s basic rights should be. Things like the second amendment all exist because of historical context and there are reasons why things are the way they are. Another example is slavery and yet another reason why slavery was not banned as some people complain about. Southern states with interests in maintaining slavery would not have been on board with abolishing it. The constitution and the bill of rights is more of a “lets just all get along” set of documents to put the fledgling nation on a path forward, these are starting documents, a rough outline if you will. Think, baby steps here. The nation was frail, far more fragile than we can imagine today. The country at this time was like freshly poured concrete not yet having set up to harden. People alive during this time could remember when they were under British rule, sometimes occupied by foreigners including other countries than that of the British like the French! Loyalty sentiment during this time was much more local than we might imagine today. When putting yourself in the place of a person living in 1792, it puts new meaning on who you are as an individual, in a country barely formed, more concerned about your property and immediate local area (state or territory), or…your life. You were first and foremost, a Virginian, a New Yorker, or an [insert state or territory here], than you were “an American”. This is why for most of our nations history the Second Amendment is important and that the right of bearing arms shall not be infringed! It was useful to nation building, protecting the larger union of states against foreign invaders and for the protection of your individual state or territory within the context of a militia. Which came first? Gun ownership or the militia? You can not have a militia, with people skilled in marksmanship using a gun without prior gun ownership. The gun, owning one and using one, came first.
Some people, as noted, prefer reading the constitution in historical context by asking, what did the framers mean when they said something (as noted it is called originalism)? Remember, gun advocates love the constitution and the bill of rights with religious fervor clinging to their understanding of the second amendment like a Karen clings to her pearls when offended by something innocuous. Contemporary right leaning ideology (Republicanism or Conservatism) attempts to use religious dogma, many of whom in their ranks are religious, keeping static the original meaning and intent of the framers, or so they say. Organizations like the NRA, RNC or GOP are technically not originalists only reading what they want to read, only understanding what they want to understand in the way they want to understand it for a political goal. They read the Second Amendment in ways that benefit their cause in my view, changing the original strict interpretation. They read it with political motivation which will benefit them in some way, either with political power, fund raising efforts or as a wedge issue dividing voters creating for themselves a fervent base. Religious communities that endlessly argue about the bible usually call the method of interpretation used by the political right “proof texting“. When a pro-gun second amendment advocate reads the passage, they always seem to only quote the second half of the passage “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This is not how you read a sentence in the English language and you only read a sentence in this manner, if you want to abuse the original meaning or intent changing the subject from the militia, to the right of the people thus stripping out the context in which those people are to exist or have those rights applied. With proof text reasoning, gun ownership or rather, the right to bear arms, becomes the right of all people regardless of where they reside, it is the right of the people with no context. If read properly and understood in context however, it would be that of able-bodied white males from 18 to 44 years old who were well regulated and in the context of protecting your state (questionable on the territory or DC). Almost one hundred years later, the scope here of who could bear arms in a militia was later expanded having been amended in 1862 to include blacks! Oh my!
You can not have it both ways and where I probably diverge from typical pro-gun advocacy to a degree on this simple and basic understanding. If post framer legislators could continually amend the constitution expanding its meaning, expanding ownership to blacks, as history demonstrates even within the context of militias, why could it not be further amended today to possibly shrink gun ownership or perhaps expand it differently? Does our understanding of the second amendment need to be amended? The second amendment is not a right of the people directly, as Republican and Conservatives read it. It is the right “of the people” indirectly, through the conduit of how the state deems it necessary in regulating its state militia and we should expand the definition to include women, people over 44 and include all legal residents of a state regardless of color. My line of reasoning however is train wrecked because of arguments that took place at the supreme court like in cases such as the District of Columbia v Heller. In this case, the supreme court concluded…
…that the second amendment “guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation” (id. at 592); that “central to” this right is “the inherent right of self-defense”(id. at 628); that “the home” is “where the need for defense of self, family, and property is most acute” (id. at 628); and that, “above all other interests,” the second amendment elevates “the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home” (id. at 635). Based on this understanding, the Court held that a District of Columbia law banning handgun possession in the home violated the second amendment. Id. at 635.DC v Heller conclusions
It is interesting to note that in the United States, States rights have been progressively stripped in favor of a more powerful central government. In 1788 the states were originally “sovereign” and given authority over their own interests. State legislatures elected Senators to protect and represent state interests in Washington DC. Yes dear reader, state interests not the interests of “the people”. Did you know that US Senators used to be elected by a vote of state legislators and not “by the people”? This is why the whole “of the people, by the people, for the people” historically is BS in my view. The senate was filled “by the people” of an elite class, by elected house members! Indeed, it was not until 1913 that electing a senator was changed to the format of “popular vote” we have today. In my view, this essentially stripped representation of states away corrupting the federal government in new and different ways from the present corruption and minimized the power states have within a larger framework of national government. All this in a proper historical context speaks to the malleability of the constitution, the malleability of power structures in the United States and the malleability of our understanding in proper contexts where legislative power, soft power and hard power are shifted to the centralized federal government.
The fact of the matter is, we have a long history of firearm ownership in the United States. We have legal decisions, right or wrong, handed down to citizens by the supreme court which explicitly state that rational adults can own firearms for self defense and for the protection of your home or property. The more state and federal legislators whine about gun rights, the more lawsuits come out of the woodwork defending that right. The more people line up on their sides, left and right, who continually disagree in understanding of this issue, the further divided we are as a nation. With an even more conservative court than ever, any attempt at stripping gun rights will fail. It seems to me that, however you feel about reality, the reality is, all rational and sane Americans who want to own and carry a firearm, have the right to do so. That is the law whether you like it or not or whether seeing someone with a firearm makes you uncomfortable or not.
What are we to do then about the “gun problem”?
Gun Deaths – diseases not symptoms
Do you know what the number one problem is with respect to gun deaths in America is? Suicide. Only 43 percent of the problem is “murder” thus making murder by guns less than half of the disease and I would be willing to wager, a portion of the 43% are people with mental disorders. Solving the largest problem would cut the death rate in at least half, if successful, but little attention is given to these facts even though they are plainly available. This talking point is not politically expedient, does not win brownie points with your respective base, if you have one and is not sensationalized by the media. Suicide is a solitary act, unlike a shooting rampage, a racial killing spree in a church, or a mass shooting of children in a school.
What we have here folks, firstly, it not a “mass shooting” problem. We have a health care crisis problem and more specifically, a mental health care crisis problem. In the larger discussion of mass shootings or gun violence, people can not even agree on what constitutes the “mass” in “mass shooting” which they argue is a number, depending on year from 24 annual mass shootings to over 200. Perhaps in your echo chamber of choice you have heard a number within that range and someone passionately using a lower or higher number. Think, political agenda here when picking a number so it can fit into a preferred narrative they think you like to hear. The narrative in fact should not be how many mass shootings there are, that is a distraction from the larger narrative and context of gun death statistics and the actual data. The narrative should be the total number of deaths by firearms regardless of the act. In 2019 Michigan had 1220 gun deaths, that is 12.1 per 100,000 in our state as a population. In 2020 that number was 1454, 14.6 per 100,000. Michigan seems to hover around 11 > 12’ish per 100,000 regularly depending on the year. 2020 had a bit of a spike which was the norm nationally, many blaming it on the isolation of COVID lock downs, financial stress, etc. Putting this into perspective, the worst state concerning murder and gun deaths is Mississippi at 28.6 per 100,000, more than double that of Michigan! In Kalamazoo, MI we experienced “the Uber Shooter“. Jason Dalton, now known as the Uber shooter, who grew up in the area, graduated high school from Comstock, attended and graduated from community college in 1992 with an associates degree in law enforcement (KVCC), and who lived in Cooper Township, MI. He was married, had a few kids, and he was well past the age of 21 having been born in 1970 (45 at the time of the shooting spree) with no known history of criminality or mental illness. He killed 6 people and injured 2.
After his arrest, Dalton confessed to committing the shootings. However, he blamed his actions on his Uber mobile app, claiming that its symbol resembled that of the Order of the Eastern Star, and that it took over his body during the events after he pressed the button of a new app resembling the Devil when it abruptly popped up. He later said that he was no longer experiencing these problems. Police indicated that he had no known criminal history or mental health record.2016 Kalamazoo Shootings
Do you think sane and rational people commit murder? Do you think more “gun laws” will help keep guns out of the hands of people like Jason who was over the age of 21 with no criminal history or history of mental health problems? It does not seem like any age requirement, red flag law, background check or other hoop would in this case, have prevented the Uber Shooter. Sorry politician, you fail. Karens unite! We want to speak to the manager! Getting new gun legislation passed is a monumental effort because of political agendas regardless of whether it would accomplish a reasonable goal. In reality, the only thing that may have prevented this specific tragedy is a psychological evaluation for every would be gun owner forced by law to have a follow up physiological evaluation every five years. Oh, but wait, what if someone mentally breaks at year two after having passed their “gun ownership psych eval” with flying colors? Then my logic and awesome new legislative proposal mandating a psyc eval is a failure and we would not have prevented this particular mass shooting from taking lives. Therein lies the difficulty of making laws. Nothing is perfect, it never will be because humans are imperfect living in an imperfect society with far too many mentally ill and mentally unstable people that fly under societies radar with no criminality or past history of mental illness (especially the politicians).
This is the difficulty of living in a society that has a long history of guns, gun ownership, political agendas revolving around guns, an ever evolving love of guns, the need for guns to hunt, protect property or simply because you live in a culture of historically being “pro gun” as discussed earlier in this piece. Banning all guns would mostly solve the problem but not 100% because of criminal elements who need guns as enforcement tools (like government). Nothing is or can be 100% perfect in an American gun culture and you can not ban guns unless you strip the right to have one in the bill of rights, which is not going to happen. We have to, in this case, live with “best effort” gun legislation, legislation that is reasonable, the primary responsibility being held with each state. The old “states rights” issue arises again! Thanks second amendment!
Mass shootings are absolutely the wrong talking point to have when discussing the gun problem even after a mass shooting but is the talking point of ignorant politicians simply to win points with angry people, some of whom are voters. Mass shootings are certainly a problem but as a total number of dead annually from them it is not. The number of mass shootings is relatively low compared with the total number of suicide gun deaths. This is how you know what all the discussion on the topic is truly about. Certain interests are sensationalizing the issue on purpose for political gain because mass shootings are shocking. Sadly, children dying at the hand of a mentally ill person with firearms is a political opportunity to garner support from your base and nothing else. It is an opportunity to show your empathy for the grieving survivors, an opportunity to point fingers and place blame onto your political opposition as do nothings or perhaps, place blame on the people wanting to take your firearms or your ability to defend yourself away. A serious discussion of guns should revolve around mental healthcare with about 54% of the talking points and on the other 43% of the issue, what causes “murder” and what components of the category murder is made up of. Mass shootings are a small over sensationalized symptom and not the disease.
OK tough guy, what is your solution?
Sorry to break it to you but the horse has left the barn. You can not put the genie back into the bottle. On the topic of the second amendment half of America, or more, only read half of an important sentence so they can proof text to own the libs on their second version of the bible. The supreme court too has ruled multiple times that sane Americans can own any number of firearms (rifles, hand guns, etc) outside of a regulated state militia. There is bi-partisan religious zealotry on the topic of guns, abortion, free speech, taxes, climate, mask mandates, COVID, education, and the list goes on. Most of America thinks there are silver bullets to problems, that there is a right and a wrong, or that if we just keep voting for team red or team blue, if we just give “my team” majority power, that problems will get solved. No, that is not how it works. The gun problem, like most every other problem is a shit cake of ingredients. A shit cake with propaganda frosting and candles telling you it is your 25th birthday but you are really a 50 year old who is over weight that should probably go for a walk and skip eating the cake. Nobody really wants to eat that cake but it is the cake they have so put a candle on it, blow it out make a wish then hold your nose and take a bite. This is what you do every election cycle whether you know it or not. Happy birthday (or anniversary)! A country with terrible education and low literacy rates with half of American adults (and of course, students past the 8th grade on their way to adulthood) who are unable to read or comprehend above the 8th grade level. Large media outlets controlled by partisan hacks propagandizing low information voters tricking them to believe utter nonsense on just about every topic under the sun. Half the country believes that more government is an answer and the other half believe it is not. Governments with elected “leadership” in addition to a number of ancillary apparatus’s like the FBI, CIA, IRS, Federal Reserve, State Department, the number of military branches, and the Capital Police, etc all, fundamentally act autonomously and operate at the behest of corporate interests not at the behest of the public who elect them. We have a government at all levels having been taken over by a big business coup at some point in the late 1800’s (probably in the 1880’s and 90’s). Technically, whether you know it yet or not, the country operates as a banana republic (and I don’t mean the bougie brick and mortar retail outlet at a dying mall). Much of what gets done in the country is at the behest of big business. Now that school shootings seem to be all the rage, there are any number of organizations lining up to the trough for the tax payer to waste money on converting schools into prisons. Politicians advocate for police surveillance, bars on windows, constant monitoring, barriers to entry like tall fences, white boards that can act as bullet proof shields and when I hear about these “solutions” I think, these are what prisons look like. You are treating education like the prison system to protect children while acclimating them to being locked up, locked down, caged and surveilled by the state. There is no freedom and no liberty here. This does not seem reasonable wasting billions on so called “upgrades” which are really downgrades in my view none of which have data showing it actually solves a systemic problem.
I do not own a firearm but I would like the option. I would like the option, as a sane adult and a citizen of Michigan, to buy a firearm if simply to exercise my right in my last year as a white 45 year old male. That is, if you interpret the meaning of militia in its original context.
Reasonably, we can raise the age to 21 at which time you will simply get older shooters like The Uber Shooter. Take away assault style weapons and they will use hand guns, long rifles or both like the Brooklyn Subway Shooter who used a Glock hand gun and a smoke bomb. Create more red flag laws, they will not be flagged (New York State has had red flag laws since 2019 and it did not stop the Brooklyn Subway Shooter). Do background checks, they will pass. This is what humans do, in many respects as it pertains to laws they always act like children. They will find the loophole, they will find the chink in the armor and exploit it. Bed time is at 8! But mom, It is not 8 in China! Sure, do all those things but in reality, unless you 100% take away all guns, you will never have a zero murder and gun death rate. Taking away all guns in America is impossible, is unreasonable in context nor would I want to, as I said, I would like the option to buy one if I so choose as a sane person.
What we need is to treat the disease not the symptom. Half or more of the disease, as noted, is mental health and healthcare. We need to spend less money on incarceration of non-violent offenders, less money on the imperial foreign war machine, less money on subsidizing big business, less money on inefficient “big government” and allocate more money into things like education with smaller class sizes, year round schools, less administration, more school counselors, training educators to better identify troubled youth with potential mental diseases, fund treatment programs that can flag individuals earlier in life while preserving the option to own, use and buy firearms by sane Americans. If a sane American owns a semi-automatic, lets assume, with a 50 round large magazine clip, that does not mean they will use it in a mass shooting or any other shooting. Additionally, the market is flooded with grandfathered in automatics and semi-automatics with or without large capacity ammunition clips. The horse has left the barn! A large percentage of Americans believe in reading the second amendment in ways that confirm their bias to get what they want. They have been propagandized to believe one way or the other for political purposes and gain. All we can do is a best effort not by banning guns or further restricting them which causes more divisiveness using mechanisms of more ineffective loop holed legislation but rather, treat the disease of mental health or healthcare in general as the data shows. Once we have properly and publicly funded mental healthcare successfully applying it to our state or nation as a whole, we can then move on to “murder”. If we properly fund mental healthcare solutions you may find that the “murder” piece of the pie slice shrinks. Again, a percentage of the murder category is done by mentally unstable and mentally ill individuals, not by sane, rational people. Over the long haul, the narrative of what the second amendment is needs to be understood by Americans in its proper context. Good luck, without more funding for education and mental health that will not happen in any of our lifetimes. It is easier said than done but if we continue voting for establishment candidates from the duopoly I can guarantee you that nothing will get done.