The Day I Discovered The Dangers Of Historical Distortion
As children, we grew up learning about Cowboys and Indians. Cowboys were always the heroes, and their primary job was to kill the bad guy Indians. Any six-year-old with a cap gun loaded, silver 6 shooter knew the routine. Then there was the romanticization of the gunslinger. He was the quick draw artist who could gun someone down in the street before they could get their gun out of the holster. It was the way arguments were settled; the ‘Wild West’ theory of kill or be killed.
Those distortions of history bled over onto television and movie screens. They helped solidify our fascination and love affair with guns. In truth, cowboys didn’t really shoot many Indians. They were mostly farmers and ranchers who used their guns to kill rodents and other animals that infringed on their livelihood. As for the gunslingers, there may have been a few, but they weren’t as pervasive as Hollywood would like you to believe. In today’s culture, they’d probably be classified as mercenaries. There were no daily shootouts on Main Street or gun fights at various OK corrals. Those that did occur were immortalized by storytellers who travelled throughout the country. Much like the child’s game of telephone, where information goes in one end and comes out the other end in a completely unrecognizable form; the legends that grew were, for the most part, unfounded. Actually, when you think about it, that’s not so different from today’s social media platforms.
According to the Small Arms Survey website, in 2017, there were approximately 393 million firearms in the United States. At that time, the country had a population of about 326.5 million people. There was a gun for every man, woman, and child; with about 67 million guns to spare. Since then, the population has grown, and so has the number of registered gun owners. In fact, Americans account for almost half of all the privately owned guns in the world. It is one of our most enduring cultural claims to fame.
In 2016, I wrote a book on politics entitled the year of my life reminiscences and rants politics. For those of my listeners who may be interested, it is available on all major bookselling platforms. As part of how our political process works, I talked about the United States Supreme Court. I specifically focused on how it was created to be impartial but has morphed into a semi-political body. My intent was to shine a spotlight on the weaknesses of our political system. Because it’s a mixture of my personal life and factual history, there are times when my opinion becomes part of the story. If you believe that what I am about to say is solely my opinion, so be it. But the following excerpt is based on fact and whether you choose to believe it or not, relates actual events.
Everyone knows the Second Amendment to the Constitution, “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.” This amendment is actually made up of two parts. The first part is “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State….” You see, this was written before we had a standing army. We were basically a bunch of reservists who grabbed a gun when there was a threat to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Eventually, we built a standing army, and no longer needed a well-regulated militia. The second part of the amendment is “… the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The idea was that if there was any threat to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; the men folk would be able to grab guns that they kept in their homes and immediately form a well-regulated militia.
Strict constitutionalists believe that you should never interpret the constitution in a way that would remove any right that has been given to you by the Constitution. As with most things, that’s open to interpretation. My interpretation of the Second Amendment is that you have the right to own a gun if you’re part of a well-regulated militia. But a strict constitutionalist focuses more on the second part of the amendment stating that a person has a right to own a gun.
When this came before SCOTUS, the justices ruled that the Constitution gave every American the right to own a gun. It was a majority ruling of a Republican controlled Supreme Court. Here’s where I have a problem with any political control of SCOTUS. The Supreme Court of the United States is supposed to be an impartial legal body, but that rarely seems to be the case. We have more guns than people in this country. We have the highest rate of firearms related deaths and injuries in the world. And yet, a Republican controlled Supreme Court opted for political dogma over impartiality. I’m not saying that a Supreme Court controlled by Democrats would have been any more impartial. I’m pretty sure that it would have been just as partial to a liberal point of view. What I am saying is that a society that has moved from muskets to assault rifles needs to be more flexible in its judicial decisions, whichever political party is in charge. That’s what I wrote in 2016.
So where does that leave us? I think gun ownership, in this country, will continue to grow as long as we continue to grow more paranoid about the dangers lurking around every corner. Ironically, that paranoia will contribute to the number of gun related incidents which will perpetuate the danger that, we fear, lurks around every corner. It will become a much more pervasive vicious cycle in our everyday activities. We are, in effect, increasing the probability of events we fear the most.
I would like to hear your thoughts on this topic. I would especially like to hear the thoughts of my listeners outside of this country. You can contact me through my website the year of my life vr.com or by calling or texting 702 509 1424 anytime of the day or night. Although I will never use your name, I may use your comments on a future podcast.