On HBO’s Homeland, they attempted to assassinate the president of the United States. Another they—the president herself—curbed Constitutional rights. In real life, survivors of the mass shooting at Parkland, Florida’s Stoneman Douglas High School demand greater gun control. In response, some Americans believe they have created a conspiracy against gun owners.

Pioneer America accepted citizens’ possession of rifles and pistols. The closing of the frontier and growing urbanization necessitated curbs on weapons for public safety. Over recent decades, the gun lobby pushed back, exhibiting religious reverence for the Second Amendment: 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.

Questions abound. Must the right to bear arms be unmindful of technology? Muskets and muzzle-loading, single-shot rifles are relics. Who, boar hunters included, needs an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon—adaptable to automatic—designed for combat? Can any ad hoc group call itself a “well-regulated militia?” What is the National Guard? And are our armed forces our defenders or oppressors?

A large majority of Americans favor stricter gun control rather than abolition. Hunters and people in self-defense mode would not be affected. But a minority holds sacrosanct the position of the National Rifle Association, a political donor with major clout. The NRA, as does President Trump, points to mental illness as the cause of mass shootings. Their solution? Arm teachers.  

Per capita, the U.S. suffers no more mental-health problems than the rest of the world, which experiences far fewer per capita mass shootings. Further, as Dr. Amy Barnhorst of the University of California, Davis, wrote in Tuesday’s New York Times, “The mental health system doesn’t identify most of these people because they don’t come in to get care. And even if they do, laws designed to preserve the civil liberties of people with mental illness place limits on what treatments can be imposed against a person’s will.”

It’s our stock of weapons—about one for each of us—that’s sets America apart.

Still, the slippery slope theory underlies opposition to common-sense gun measures: They want to ban assault-style weapons first—then confiscate all guns. The NRA and its adherents support that position with a second theory.

They plot against the people. On Wednesday, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre excoriated Democrats and liberals: “Their goal is to eliminate the Second Amendment and our fire arms freedoms so they can eradicate all individual freedoms.”

Stoneman Douglas survivors disagree. These young people, at the muzzle-end of real horror, have been eloquent in calling for banning assault-style weapons and determined in confronting politicians. So?

A Florida legislative assistant claimed that two students are actors; he was dismissed. A YouTube video singles out one student as an actor; it may still be online. Rush Limbaugh claimed that the students are being used by the Democrats; he’s still on the air. And Internet broadcaster Alex Jones—on whom Homeland based a major character—preaches that the dead children of Sandy Hook, Connecticut (2012 shooting) and their parents were actors.

Top that? Last Tuesday, as Stoneman Douglas students bused to Tallahassee, the Florida House voted 71–36 against discussing banning assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines.

Now I’m wondering, exactly who are they?

To respond, click on “comments” to the right just below the title of this post. Then go to the response space at the bottom of the post.


  1. Jerry Robinson on February 24, 2018 at 1:38 am

    I think the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is incorrect. I think the suggestion that teachers be armed is idiotic.

    • David on February 24, 2018 at 4:00 pm

      Jerry, I wonder, re Tracy’s comment, if the Supreme Court’s decision of 130 years ago seemed correct then but needs review in a different world. I agree that arming teachers is not likely going to work. The solutions to this problem will be varied. One factor—disturbed people. Australia reduced its cache of weapons and hasn’t suffered a mass murder in 20 years. But do they may as many emotionally disturbed/angry people per capita as the U.S.? If so, that should tell us a lot about making certain types of weapons unavailable. If not, what makes Australians more emotionally sound than Americans?

  2. Tracy on February 24, 2018 at 7:25 am

    Re: what is a “well trained militia” — it doesn’t matter.

    The Supreme Court ruled the Second Amendment right was a right of individuals, not militias, and was not a right to form or belong to a militia, but related to an individual right to bear arms. In essence, it declared, although individuals have the right to keep and bear arms, a state law prohibiting common citizens from forming personal military organizations, and drilling or parading, is still constitutional because prohibiting such personal military formations and parades does not limit a personal right to keep and bear arms.

    Oh, and this ruling was handed down about 130 years ago.

    • David on February 24, 2018 at 3:54 pm

      Tracy, thanks for this comment. I am interested in the meaning of “the security of a free state.” Would the individual citizen be protecting a particular state or, more likely, the nation? Or is the citizen protecting him/herself—a free state of being? I wonder, too, can a ruling handed down 130 years ago not be reconsidered in an age with new firearms—not to take firearms from people but to limit the nature of those weapons? Is the Constitution too brittle for this kind of discussion? The political system seems to be. I would ask then if American freedoms include the right to question “old” Supreme Court rulings and receive answers based on serious thought that at least concedes we live in a different environment.

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