Sunday, June 20

America’s Gun obsession has its roots in slavery | Carol anderson


BHates are building over the Second Amendment as two of America’s pandemics converge. The “plague of gun violence” and the inability to mount an effective response, even in the wake of multiple mass shootings, is, unfortunately, rooted in the other pandemic hitting the United States: anti-blackness and the feeling that African Americans are a dangerous threat that can only be neutralized or stopped by a well-armed white citizenry.

For too long, the Second Amendment has been depicted with the founding fathers aura shrouded in stars and stripes.

But “a well-regulated militia” was not, as the story goes, about how brave and effective the militias were in repelling the British. George Washington he was disgusted with their lack of fighting ability and the way men would just cut and run away from fighting a professional army. The military was also unreliable as a force to uphold the law. In Shays’ Rebellion, gangs of armed white men, who were in the state militia, attacked the Massachusetts government due to foreclosures and debt liens, proving, once again, how unreliable the militia was. Boston merchants had to hire mercenaries to quell the rebellion.

On the other hand, where the militia had been firm was in controlling the enslaved black population. Access to firearms for whites was essential for this role.

In 1788, at the constitutional ratification convention in Virginia, a major source of controversy was that the draft constitution had placed the training and arming of the states’ militia under federal control. Virginians Patrick Henry and George Mason objected and raised the specter of a massive slave revolt that could not be controlled because Congress could not be trusted to summon forces to protect plantation owners. Mason warned that if and when the Virginia slaves rose up (as they had before), the whites would be “defenseless.” Patrick Henry explained that the white plantation owners would be abandoned because “the North hates slavery.” In short, black people had to be subdued and contained, and state control of the militia was the way to do it.

The sheer brutality of human servitude, where plantation owners were known for “barbarities such as scalding, burning, castrating, and extracting the tongue or eyes of slaves, ”had created overwhelming fear among the whites of the slaves’ ability and desire for retribution. A series of riots in the 1600s and 1700s terrorized white residents and resulted in a series of laws that prohibited blacks from owning weapons, including pistols. The most important role of the militias was to quell these revolts, especially if the uprising was widespread, as in the Stono Rebellion of 1740 in South Carolina.

This role of the militias was so important during the war for independence that governments like South Carolina devoted most of their white labor to containment of the enslaved. As a result, the colony did not have enough white men to join the Continental Army and repel the British. The calculation was simple: It was more important for the plantation owners in the colonial government to maintain slavery and control blacks than it was to fight for American independence.

In other words, concerns about keeping enslaved blacks at bay are the context and background of the Second Amendment. The same is true for today.

In May 2000, NRA President Charlton Heston invoked the constitution and later claimed, while holding a 19th century rifle over his head, that the only way Al Gore and other liberals would take up his weapon would be to “from my cold dead hands”. That uncompromising statement was a response that his people were supposedly under attack. Three years earlier, Heston had declared: “Heaven helps the God-fearing, law abiding, Caucasian, middle class, Protestant, or worse, admitted as straight, gun owners or worse, NRA card holders, stiff average job. “

Almost two decades later, Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, who bragged about wearing it Glock working in Washington DC, he echoed that same challenge and fear when he wrote to his followers: “I told Beto [O’Rourke] HELL NO to take up our weapons. “Unarmed, he exclaimed in a fundraising ad, his overwhelmingly white constituency I would be defenseless against “gang members, drug dealers and thugs”, Pejoratives that are often deployed as synonyms for African Americans.

Previously, Dana LoeschA spokesperson for the NRA had painted a similar picture of “them” yelling “racism”, smashing windows, burning cars, intimidating and terrorizing “the law abiding.” And, he added, when the police are called “to stop this madness,” “they” are outraged. The only way to save our country and our freedom, he said, is “to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.” Clearly the same clenched fist that Heston held above his head with a pistol.

Thus, the killings at Sandy Hook, the Pulse Club in Orlando, Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, and San Bernardino did not lead to any significant gun safety laws despite staggering casualties. The rampant anti-blackness that dominated Barack Obama’s presidency helped short-circuit a tangible legislative response. Instead, the fear of being defenseless in the face of a nation with a sizable black population and black leadership was palpable. Gun sales soared 158% as did the emergence of right-wing anti-black militias.

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who has a A rating of the NRA, sums it up. He was not afraid of the white insurgents who stormed the United States Capitol, wounded 140 policemen, built a gallows to “hang Mike Pence” and searched for Nancy Pelosi; He should have been scaredHowever, if it had been Black Lives Matter. In fact, because that fear and the Second Amendment mean that black lives don’t matter. And the targets and others caught in the crosshairs of mass shootings are the collateral damage and pay the price.




www.theguardian.com

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