Friday, January 18, 2013

On Guns And Slaves And Indians and Militias And Oh My!

The Gun Rights issue is getting very heated in parts of New Mexico, and much of it is getting stupider by the minute. There was someone on the teevee the other day pontificating about how horrid the tyrannical Obama background check will be -- because it'll keep the "good people" from getting guns, you see, and then only the "bad people" will have them, eek. We're doomed. Again.

The Single Action Shooting Society people are pressing the locals to let them run their Shooting Ranch year round and open to the public instead of just members and guests, and the locals are up in arms about it (in a manner of speaking) given that the shooting events they hold at the Ranch as it is have raised something of a ruckus what with the constant pow-pow-pow of gunfire and the traffic and the costumed Wild West Characters and all the rest of it. It's a big deal, this Gun Thing.

In fact, on the way into town (Abq) yesterday on the highway, I spotted a billboard I'd never seen before demanding that local, state and federal governments protect rather than curtail rights to free speech, religion ...and guns.

What a country.

Yes, and guns are a big deal around here. It's genuine cowboy country (well, there are some poseurs, but mostly the cowboys in these parts are real cowboys, not the ersatz you see in the City), and the Code of the West still lives proud and strong. I've never seen any problem with the SASS and their costuming and play acting and shoot-em-ups, because from what I can tell, they're self-aware and honest enough to know that what they do at the Ranch is in the nature of a show and a hobby. They aren't going out shooting up one another or the countryside.

Some of our neighbors are active game hunters, others have been in the habit of varmint hunting, for varmints can be a real problem around here (ask me about the skunks sometime). But as I've said before, most of the people around here are highly conscientious and responsible. There are probably some crazy gun-nuts among them, but if there are, they keep their profiles low.

I'm not into guns personally. But I don't begrudge most people who keep and fire arms -- so long as they are conscientious and responsible. Unfortunately not everyone is or can be, and it only takes one man (rarely a woman) with bad intent and a gun to cause utter mayhem.

Thom Hartmann raised quite a ruckus himself the other day with his piece at Truthout asserting that the Sacred Second's purpose was to preserve slavery by prohibiting the federal government from interfering with slave revolt suppressing militias. He's been called every name in the book for making this outrageous assertion, even though most of those expressing outrage and calling him "dishonest" acknowledge that he's "partially right."

Of course he is. But it goes a little farther than the preservation of the peculiar institution. Militias were also charged with running down the Indians and slaughtering them.

I've written before that the Sacred Second is derived from the English Bill of Rights imposed on William and Mary in 1689. In the English Bill of Rights it is specifically stated that the King's subjects "that are Protestant" shall have the right to keep and bear arms appropriate to their status. What is left unsaid is that the King's subjects that are Catholic are to be disarmed -- regardless of their status. Just so, the Sacred Second itself did not apply to slaves, to Indians not taxed, or to anyone else so deemed unworthy to keep and bear by the states. The armed militias were organized to suppress -- to murder if need be -- these groups, after all.

And in some ways, that's the reason why the Second is so Sacred. The right to keep and bear arms is the emblem of those with the ability and sometimes the authority to oppress, or in the USofA, the right of the Free Citizen, and taking it away, or even limiting it in any sensible way, is seen as reducing the status of the Citizen to that of subject or outcast or worse.

In other words, there the Rule of the Second requires that someone be disarmed.

The right to keep and bear arms was denied to large numbers of Americans from the beginning, and even now, it is not by any means a universal right (nor should it be in my view.)

But restricting it is a terrifying thing to many of those who believe their ability to have and keep firearms is a mark of their humanity and citizenship.

Take away their guns, or make it more difficult for them to get armaments, and you have reduced them to the status of subjects -- or slaves.

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