History Lesson For Future Student Gun Change Action
BY KENT GREENE
A quick history lesson to help the amazing students leading this new revolution against gun violence, as they take their crusade to the next level: The United States? First Congress NEVER included any rights whatsoever for civilians to bear the kinds of offensive military weapons currently being used to slaughter students.
Twisted logic by the NRA has indoctrinated many politicians today into believing that the Second Amendment provides an unlimited right to bear military-style arms to self-defend. The onset of mental illness begins the moment any legislator chooses to support the right to own and possess military-style semi-automatic weapons for ?self-defense.?
In addition, predatory gun marketing perpetuates the mythology that the best defense against a prowling bad guy armed with a standard AR-15 — with multiple banana clips and a semi-automatic pistol — is for good guys (including teachers) to be equally self-armed. A supposed side benefit is the ability for “sportsmen” to hunt unprotected species such as wild hogs with high magazine capacity assault rifles.
To debunk these notions, let’s first venture back to United States v Miller (1939), a U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled the Second Amendment provides LIMITED arms bearing rights, with a reasonable connection to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia. Consequently, long arms with barrels under 18 inches and automatic weapons were banned for civilian use.
Since June 2008, however, as a result of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision (District of Columbia v. Heller), military-style weapons intended as lawful for “common defense” are now lawful for “self-defense.? Worst Supreme Court decision ever!
At the same time, deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made it imminently clear in 2008 that the majority decision in District of Columbia v. Heller did not secure an “unlimited right” to buy or carry weapons. Yet recipients of NRA donor contributions adamantly believe the Second Amendment legalizes maximum firepower, other than sawed off shotguns and fully automatic machine guns.
It’s not the law, it’s the money. Politicians continue to advance the cause of the NRA by expanding the lawful right of self-protection to include military-style weapons. Self-armed flag-waving patriots claim these are their ?rights? even though the First Congress limited access to federally authorized state militias.
Bearing arms for INDIVIDUAL DEFENSE originated with the 1689 English Bill of Rights. That enabled European settlers in colonial America to join British- controlled militias. A few years later, these same lawfully armed colonists rebelled against their masters and defeated the British. The First Congress subsequently restricted the federal right to bear arms to state militias in the Second Amendment. Following ratification of the Constitution in 1791, most states gradually included the right to bear multi-purpose arms to include individual defense in their respective constitutions.
Yet in no uncertain terms was the newly formed U.S. government under President George Washington willing to repeat the mistakes of the British and include a “federal right” for civilian arms bearing rights under the guise of self or individual defense.
For two hundred years, FEDERAL arms bearing rights for COMMON DEFENSE complemented STATE arms bearing rights for INDIVIDUAL DEFENSE. Generations later, extensive NRA lobbying was used to misrepresent the First Congress?s decision. Every citizen is now imperiled when any of the roughly 170 million semi-automatic weapons in the U.S. right now ? guns designed for military combat — are unleashed in restaurants, shopping centers, concerts, and schools.
The reinstatement of English arms bearing rights by the Supreme Court in 2008, accompanied by the expiration of the assault weapons ban in 2004, drove military-style gun sales skyward. Violent firearms crime that bottomed out in 2008 also began a steady upward assent. Yet the resulting billions of dollars in societal costs attributed to firearm violence apparently pale in importance to NRA-funded election campaign donations that “PURCHASE” allegiance from targeted federal and state lawmakers.
Furthermore, the idea that law enforcement can counterbalance mass firepower was put to the test in Dallas in July 2016. A lone sniper armed with a seventy-year old Saiga AK-74 assault-style rifle killed five and wounded seven police officers armed with modern assault rifles. Offensive combat weapons used by dead and injured law enforcers were cumulatively ineffective against a lone shooter with both a plan and a purpose.
Until students rebelled after the February 14, 2018 massacre at Florida?s Stoneman Douglas High School, military-style weapons targeted to citizens for ?self-defense? were largely defended by a chorus of NRA lobbyists and targeted lawmakers. Voters will soon, and once again, have the opportunity to decide whether they support the NRA?s self-marketing campaign that facilitates slaughter of police and civilians ? a campaign that is tantamount to treason.
Plain and simple, when the federal constitutional override of the First Congress by the 2008 Supreme Court ruling restored 1689 British gun rights, the resulting carnage from semi-automatic weapons turned against civilians and police became virtually unstoppable. Until, perhaps, now.
The Stoneman Douglas Valentine’s Day student massacre has sparked a movement for change that just might turn the tables on the NRA?s warped ?self defense? mythology. But to effectively move the fight into the future, this energized and committed new wave of student leaders must also be certain to master the lessons of history.
Editor’s Note: To read Kent Greene’s previous Reporters Inc. articles about gun control, gun violence and the Second Amendment, enter his name into the search bar at the top of your screen.?
The Reporters Inc. is a proud member of the Institute for Nonprofit News, a consortium of more than 300 nonprofit newsrooms dedicated to serving the public interest. Our articles are syndicated and shared with hundreds of other media organizations, online magazines, top blogs, etc. Please send news, feature and investigative story tips and ideas to .
Looking for one of our previous articles, investigations, commentaries, essays or book excerpts? Search our archives by typing key words into our SEARCH bar above, or at the top left corner of our site!