As a resident of Florida, I have carried a concealed firearm almost everywhere for years, everywhere, except where it’s specifically prohibited by law or by the policies of a specific business.
Hanging in my office is a 100% American-made Gadsden flag. For quite a while I voted exclusively for Republicans, including twice for former Donald Trump, and once for Ron DeSantis, in 2018. I was formerly a lifetime member of the NRA — until I renounced my membership. I used to own an AR-15.
And I’m here to tell you that Second Amendment mythologies and revisionist history continue to result in needless firearm-related deaths, suffering and trauma. If law-abiding gun owners do not start publicly speaking up, we cannot expect to find solutions to our nation’s unacceptable levels of gun-related violence.
I understand and appreciate why gun owners — the large majority of whom are law-abiding — are reluctant to risk the slings and arrows of the Republican Party, the conservative media, right-wing pundits and conspiracy theorists and pundits, and perhaps even their friends and family.
I ask gun owners this, respectfully: Which is more uncomfortable — the pain of potential ostracization, or the pain of a nonstop loop of stochastic and targeted terrorism, aided and abetted by an endless supply of handguns and rifles, the latter often equipped these days with 30 bone-shattering rounds per magazine? If you’re a parent with school-age children, the fear of a Columbine, Parkland or Uvalde-type event is impossible to fully suppress.
Last week in Jacksonville, Florida’s most-populous city, we saw a ghastly mass shooting perpetrated by a delusional neo-Nazi yearning for the resurrection of the mythical Aryan super-race; in addition to taking his own life, he made his contribution to the ever-growing tabulation of gun-death statistics gun-dead, murdering Anolt Joseph “A.J.” Laguerre, 19; Jerrald Gallion, 29; and Angela Michelle Carr, 52.
Such a violent death — from machines with the sole purpose of killing so swiftly that their victims are rarely allowed time for the dignity of final breaths — is uniquely American. A victim of any age is of course traumatic for their bereaved, grieving families, but the death of a teenager qualifies as yet another Molochian offering. Jacksonville’s mayor, Donna Deegan, took office in July; it took less than two months for her administration to be christened with the blood of gunned-down innocents. Responding to a mass shooting is a rite of passage for every elected executive of virtually every jurisdiction in America. Deegan now joins the club of elected officials whose membership increases daily.
And what about our governor? As a husband and father of three, he doesn’t want to be surrounded by too many guns himself, even as he peddles the inane hypothesis that more guns make us more secure, which I suspect wasn’t part of the curricula of his Yale and Harvard Law educations. DeSantis signed a permitless carry law earlier this year, and would surely sign an open permitless carry law if our legislature passes it. I’m relieved he thinks that anti-Black murder (not “racially-motivated” murder, whatever that means) is “unacceptable,” but I wish he could have mustered up even half the righteous indignation he exhibited toward Dr. Anthony Fauci at the recent 2024 candidates debate aired by Fox News. Oh well.
Google the name of a municipality name, and odds are the next word in the search will be “shooting”; if that word does not appear, consider that place very fortunate, and pray it remains that way.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that your town or city will remain unaffected by this bloodshed forever.
Responsible gun owners: Are you OK with child sacrifice? I am certain you are not, but if we don’t hear from you it will keep happening.
By the way, for all the flack that Democratic-majority cities receive from the right, Jacksonville has long been the biggest GOP-controlled city. Even with the recent election of Deegan, a Democrat, 13 of the 19 city council seats are held by Republicans; the local sheriff, supervisor of elections and state attorney, among other local elected officials, are also Republicans.
As for the purported urban/rural divide, in which big cities are wastelands of violence and rural areas are utopias? Another mythology propagated by GOP politicians and their yellow journalists.
Responsible gun owners: Are you OK with child sacrifice? I am certain you are not; but if we don’t hear from you — loudly and frequently — our necessary voices are suffocated and held hostage by the most politically traumatized voices.
Those who carry a firearm, such as myself, should be especially vocal: We are the ones who take an unofficial oath to protect our families and innocents. Though the “good guy with a gun” is more myth than substance, it is true that defensive gun use likely happens on a daily basis, given that Americans own 400 million (or more) guns and several trillion rounds of ammunition. It was not helpful that the CDC under the Biden administration removed information on defensive gun use from its website; that unforced error undermines gun safety advocacy.
Deadly Second Amendment myths
Even when I was deep down the MAGA rabbit hole, from 2015 until the summer of 2021, I was not a Second Amendment absolutist. But I was close enough. (Some of the reasons I left the manufactured reality of MAGA are catalogued here.)
To paraphrase Hemingway, my personal and political epiphany occurred gradually and then, suddenly, all at once. One of the results of my road-to-Damascus moment was an increasing discomfort with an official GOP platform that accepts widespread, preventable death and suffering. I don’t actually believe most Republican voters accept that either, but the GOP apparatus does — not because party officials do not comprehend the gun-created, blood-splattered abattoirs in community after community, but because they need the votes of everyone who believes that any constitutionally reasonable laws to reduce gun-related deaths and injuries are a coordinated conspiracy between Democrats, RINOs, communists, socialists, globalists (aka a global Jewish cabal), Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and the Marxists. (I ask you: What did the Marx Brothers ever do to incur the ire of the Republican Party?)
My personal road-to-Damascus moment involved increasing discomfort with an official Republican platform that accepts widespread, preventable death and suffering
Anyone who believes that kind of outrageous hysteria has a right to do so. I question whether they should be legally permitted to own a gun. Such an individual likely also adheres to a mythology that the Second Amendment was crafted as a means to foment revolt against a tyrannical government. For all the ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ perversion and lack of understanding of the amendment (on both left and right), historically speaking it was a compromise engineered by James Madison. Its most important goal was probably to prevent the federal government from starting a professional army. This was especially relevant to Southern states, where the population of enslaved people was disproportionately higher than in other states. Militias controlled security on the state level, especially because of anxiety over slave revolts. There was a fear among some of the founders that the Haitian revolution — the first known successful slave uprising in the Americas — would inspire similar events in the U.S. The Second Amendment at least partly assuaged these worries. (And in fact Black people were overwhelmingly prohibited from keeping and bearing arms.)
Nothing in the amendment legally permits insurrections against the government — and just to err on the side of caution, the 14th Amendment addresses the issue of rebellion directly.
Our nation has a long and storied history of regulating firearms and other weapons, including a national registry of firearms (finally eliminated by Ronald Reagan). Post-Reagan, the Newt Gingrich political right and gun lobby discovered just how lucrative the fantasy was of taking up arms against Bill Clinton (who wanted to “make America great again”), Barack Obama — who raised more money for the GOP than a million Reagans could have — and other gun-grabbing Democrats. I once bought into this belief, and finally came to view it as the Big Lie of the gun fetishists. The NRA, which at one time, supported reasonable gun restrictions, chose literal blood money over saving lives.
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Was a nation awash in guns what the framers of the Constitution intended? I am loath to speak for them, but if those who constructed our Constitution and Bill of Rights were alive today, I doubt they’d ratify the Second Amendment. If they did, they would surely seek to modernize it.
If they chose not to strengthen our current federal gun laws, then we would know they were not the sagacious, prescient, august and erudite intellects we’ve been taught to believe in. And if our constitutional rights are God-given, then the Lord did some sloppy work, considering that chattel slavery and the oppression of women were overlooked. To quote the late George Carlin, that doesn’t sound like divine planning to me.
There are solutions
It would take some time to realize the efficacy of these proposals, but I guarantee they will save lives (including those by suicide, which account for more than half of all firearm-related deaths), reduce injuries and restore some of the freedom from fears that a trip to the bank, the mall, a movie theater a supermarket, an outdoor festival or our workplaces and schools will be the last trip we ever take:
- A minimum age requirement of 21 to own any gun, long rifle and so on, with some reasonable exceptions, such as working in law enforcement, military service and inheritance exemptions (which would only cover certain types of guns, carefully stipulated by law);
- A national firearm registry, to assist law enforcement in criminal investigations;
- Mandatory record-keeping and reporting to federal databases by all states;
- All firearms sales include background checks performed by federally-licensed dealers;
- Background checks on ammunition sales;
- Annual Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives background checks, conducted by dealers;
- Reclassification of any firearm (handgun or rifle) that holds more than 10 rounds in a magazine; they will be subject to an excise tax at time of manufacture, with the funds collected from excise taxes used for gun violence studies and research and perhaps a federally-administered program of injury and liability insurance;
- Reduce magazine ammunition size on AR-15s and similar weapons from 30 rounds to 10 or fewer. Larger magazines should be regulated similar to the way fully automatic weapons are now, with buyers subject to lengthy, demanding (and entirely constitutional) background checks;
- Eliminate all “ghost gun” loopholes;
- Require mandatory permits for concealed carry in federal law; prohibit open carry.
The work of perfecting our Union has always been accompanied by struggle. We are now a nation held hostage by trauma entrepreneurs who wield and brandish firearms as weapons of holy war. Believe it or not, the vast majority of my fellow firearm owners will broadly agree that these reforms are necessary. I speak to them now: Like all of us, you have the right to remain silent; but now it is time to consider your duty to lead the change you wish to see.
about guns and the American right