Trump appointee Judge Ryan Nelson wrote: “America would not exist without the heroism of the young adults who fought and died in our revolutionary army. Today we reaffirm that our Constitution still protects the right that enabled their sacrifice: the right of young adults to keep and bear arms.”
Had Judge Nelson examined demographic data from the Revolutionary War, he would have found that very few men under 21 fought in the Continental Army. In ignoring historical facts, he follows in the footsteps of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, whose leaked draft majority opinion in the Dobbs case that will likely spell the demise of Roe v. Wade, also played fast and loose with history.
Three days later, an 18-year old racist, anti-Semitic white supremacist walked into a Buffalo, NY supermarket and used an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to end the lives of 10 innocent Americans and injure three others. A 180-page “manifesto” this monster posted on social media is a screed about “replacement theory”—the ridiculous idea that there is an active plot masterminded by Democrats, Jews and other minorities to replace white Americans with immigrants, a racist fear tactic advocated over 400 times by Fox News’ prime-time host, Tucker Carlson, according to a recent New York Times investigation.
The right to bear arms ensconced in the Second Amendment is, like every other Bill of Rights amendment, not an absolute. Like all the others, it is subject to reasonable regulations. But not if you heed the National Rifle Association or the members of Congress that nestle comfortably in the NRA’s deep pockets. For these folks, no mass shooting is any reason to impose modest gun controls such as private gun sales background checks, prohibitions of enhanced capacity magazines that make it easier to kill people, or age-based restrictions on gun ownership.
Today in America there are more guns than people. The U.S. gun obsession is unique in the developed world. So is the number of Americans who lose their lives every year to gun violence. The gun lobby has won. That’s dangerous enough. But when you combine the immense abundance of guns and the ease of obtaining them with white supremacist replacement claptrap that has sadly become a mainstream Republican Party trope, the danger of mass violence escalates.
The purveyors of these ideas are as much to blame for these tragedies as the ones who pull the trigger. It is inevitable that replacement theory rhetoric will lead to violence. When you vote for reactionary zealots, you are voting for continued gun violence, for Newtown (26 dead), Las Vegas (58 dead), Orlando (49 dead), Parkland (17 dead), El Paso (23 dead), Pittsburgh (11 dead) and Buffalo (10 dead). Expect more of the same.
And what do the merchants of death tell us is the solution to this danger? (1) more guns on the streets would make us safer, and (2) a good guy with a gun counters a bad guy with a gun. I’m still waiting to see one of these good guys stop a mass executioner. The good-guy security guard in Buffalo ended up dead.
What can be done?
- Elect politicians who support reasonable gun regulations; throw out those who oppose them.
- Boycott companies that advertise on Tucker Carlson’s show and other racist programs that traffic in white supremacy; and don’t buy their products or services.
- Sue the hell out of individuals and outfits like Fox News that inspire domestic terrorism. I would argue that their irresponsible, dangerous and inflammatory assertions put us all at risk, thus we all should have standing to sue. A national class action with millions of plaintiffs would be ideal.
- Demand that Congress and state legislatures regulate social media. Algorithms that prioritize hate and misinformation for profit have no business polluting these sites.
- Ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high capacity magazines. We had such a law for a decade. It expired in 2004 and Congress hasn’t revived it.
- Strictly enforce “red flag” laws that authorize law enforcement to take guns away from people deemed dangerous and lobby for their enactment in the 31 states that don’t currently have them. Broome County, NY law enforcement was asleep at the switch when it had the chance to red-flag the Buffalo butcher.
- Be careful out there.
May 20, 2022