Gun Violence is in Our National DNA
By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and Published on May 29, 2022
An Editorial Opinion
I have been sick over the senseless and preventable massacre of 19 elementary school students and two female teachers in Uvalde, Texas last Tuesday. After experiencing so many of these senseless massacres as a nation, I have come to realize that today's Republican politicians will never place the safety of our school children above the National Rifle Association's (NRA) political agenda of flooding America with military-grade assault weapons and ammunition.
In the aftermath of so many school massacres, church shootings, theater shootings, night club massacres, the slaughter of concert-goers, and other mass murders by homegrown terrorists using assault weapons, I have tried to understand why our Republican politicians think any American 18 years of age and older has an absolute constitutional right to own and openly carry military-grade assault weapons like the one that was used to kill the 21 unsuspecting and defenseless victims in Uvalde.
The reason boils down to one indisputable fact -- America was built on guns, gun powder, and other weapons of war!
America's Long, Ugly, and Documented History of Violence
From 1612 to 1906, guns, gun powder, and other weapons of war enabled white European settlers to: (a) massacre up to 60 million Native-Americans in 550 tribes across the country, (b) seize 1.5 billion acres of Indian Tribal lands by armed force and redistribute this valuable land, via the Homestead Act of 1862, to white settlers for free from 1862 to 1986, and (c) force Native-Americans to relocate from their Tribal lands, via the Trail of Tears, to desolate reservations in Oklahoma and elsewhere.
Guns, gun powder, and other weapons of war were used by early colonists to declare and achieve independence from Great Britain during the celebrated American Revolution. The success of the Revolution demonstrated to colonists the importance of a "well regulated Militia" that was "necessary to the security of a free state" in the absence of an organized national army at the time, which we now have. The Second Amendment's "right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" occurred within this specific context.
Most Americans have never read the Second Amendment. If they had, they would know that the "right of the people to keep and bear Arms" is not an absolute one. Its express purpose was to create a "well regulated Militia [that was] necessary to the security of a free state," and not an unregulated gun haven for angry men who enjoy shooting defenseless young school children with assault rifles.
We should note that the Second Amendment was passed by a Congress that was comprised of white men only and was ratified by white male voters in the 13 original states. Furthermore, only white men could vote at this time in our country's history.
Guns, gun powder, and other weapons of war power were used to implement, enforce, perpetuate, and protect slaveholding interests in America for over 300 years. After private slave holding and commercial slavery ended with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 (while state and federal penal colony slavery continues to this day), whites law enforcement agents and vigilante groups strictly enforced Jim Crow laws with guns, gun powder, and other weapons of war for the next 100 years.
This era of white gun violence against innocent men, women, and children of color gave birth to unrelenting and wide-ranging acts of domestic terrorism, including church burnings, church bombings, unimaginable beatings, assassinations, lynchings, burning people alive, boiling people alive, and the torture and mutilation of human beings in the name of "God and Country."
Many Southern states have now banned the teaching of this long, documented, ugly, and unrelenting violence against Americans of color in their public schools. The actual history of ruthless violence against Indians and Americans of color has been replaced by one that romanticizes gun violence in our cultural and national histories.
Guns, Gun Powder, and Weapons of War are in the National DNA of White America
Today, guns, gun powder, and weapons of war equate to voting power in the political arena, which is clearly in the DNA of white men and Republicans politicians. Today, white Americans own more guns than there are people in America. And, these gun owners are buying military-grade assault weapons in record numbers.
For a variety of reasons, including historical restrictions on gun ownership for Americans of color, the percentage of gun ownership by Americans of color is substantially lower than their collective percentage in the general population.
After Black Panthers armed with .357 Magnums, 12-gauge shotguns, and .45- caliber pistols peacefully protested racial discrimination and police brutality at the California state capitol in Sacramento during Ronald Reagan's governorship in 1967, gun control swept the nation in a tidal wave. Led by Reagan and the NRA, California passed the Munford Act of 1967, which prohibited the open-carry of loaded firearms and banned loaded firearms at the state capitol. The Munford Act jumpstarted a surge of national gun law restrictions.
Congress followed suit with the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968, which prohibited certain people from owning guns, provided beefed up licensing and inspections of gun dealers, and restricted the importation of Saturday night specials (or pocket pistols).
The reason for this prompt action was simple -- white Americans were afraid of armed blacks whom they thought were militant. The mere photos of armed Black Panthers terrified white America.
As discussed in my August 5, 2019 article titled, "Once Upon A Time, Gun Control Swept Across America," these new gun control laws, which were enacted with lightening speed, were designed to target and stifle black gun ownership.
Black Panthers had advocated the right of citizens to carry guns of all types with little to no government interference. Ironically, Republicans and the NRA disagreed with this political view only when Black Panthers became the standard bearers for gun rights in America.
After passing these restrictive gun laws, state and federal court systems across the U.S. rammed as many Americans of color through their rigged criminal justice systems as was possible. It is no coincidence that state and federal correctional facilities across America house overwhelmingly black and brown inmate populations in a country where whites make up 60% of the population.
In recent years, every Republican candidate running for public offices, from local constable to President of the United States, has been featured in campaign ads holding and firing assault rifles. In May of 2022, radical right-wing Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene was featured blowing up a car with an assault weapon.
Gun manufacturers are now marketing their assault rifles by using ads depicting young white toddlers holding them. These ads encourage their loving parents to train their children in the use of this deadly assault weapon.
White Americans, at the urging of gunmakers and others, are buying military-grade assault weapons and military-grade bullets at an alarming rate. There is scant evidence that these weapons are being used for hunting big-game animals.
Instead, white Americans appear to be arming themselves with assault weapons for what they believe will be an inevitable armed conflict with Americans of color after whites become a racial minority group in America between 2030 and 2040.
Fueled by white America's obvious phobia of African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Jews, and Native-Americans and their well-documented history of violence towards these minority groups, there is massive resistance today from pro-gun rights whites, the NRA, and Republican politicians to any form of gun control.
The goal of arming white gunowners for a race war seems to override all other legitimate public safety concerns, including the protection of elementary children from slaughter by assault rifles.
Republican politicians do not seem to care if white, brown, or black elementary school children are massacred with assault weapons in their classrooms, or whether church members are slaughtered during routine church services, or whether blacks shoppers are at neighborhood grocery store are shot down by homegrown terrorists in a hail of bullets from high-powered assault rifles.
In the minds of Republican politicians, no amount of deaths of innocent men, women, and children will inspire them to "well regulate" Americans who have an unquenched thirst to acquire military-grade assault weapons.
Who Are the Real Enemies in this National Mess?
As Americans, we need to take a long, hard look at the top leadership of the National Republican Party, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (who looks as cold and ruthless as he is), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (who has proven himself to be incapable of telling the truth on any subject), Republican Party puppet-master Donald Trump (who is a verified draft dodger from the Vietnam War era), Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (who is today's equivalent to former Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace, another wheelchair-bound demagogue), Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (who allowed Donald Trump to insult his wife by calling her "ugly" during the Republican Presidential debates in 2016, without defending his wife's honor), Marco Rubio (whose only response to the 2018 mass shooting of Parkland, Florida school children and teachers in his state was to get on his knees and perform political fellatio on President Trump for the next two years), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (who needs guns in political ads to make himself appear more manly).
All of these Republican men are fully committed to protecting tiny fetuses in the wombs of pregnant women by any and all means necessary. Yet, none of them will lift a finger to protect young elementary school children and teachers in the classrooms of America. The only children who seem to matter to them are their own.
We should never forget that these Republican men do not have to worry about the safety of their children and grandchildren because taxpayers pay to provide security for them. Furthermore, their children and grandchildren often attend well-guarded private schools on gated and electronically monitored campuses. Their children and grandchildren are never at a high risk of being massacred in a classroom by an active shooter using an AR-15 assault weapon.
What is more, six far-right Republican conservatives justices on the U.S. Supreme Court can always be counted on to provide judicial cover for these phony, self-centered, and gutless Republican leaders. These justices also have taxpayer-paid protection for their children and grandchildren. For reasons they have never bothered to explain, the lives of their children and grandchildren seem to be more important than the lives of ours.
None of the Founding Fathers believed that the "right of the people to keep and bear Arms" gave Americans the right to own military-grade assault rifles and bullets, rapid-firing machine guns, artillery canons, grenade launchers, C-4 explosives, shoulder-fired missiles, tanks, tactical nuclear bombs, and/or other weapons that are capable of mass destruction in seconds because these weapons did not exist at the time. All of these weapons fit the modern-day definition of "Arms." The "Arms" our Founding Fathers had in mind were pistols, muskets, and gun powder, and even these "Arms" were to be "well regulated" for Militia purposes.
In the event there are American men and women who need the thrill of holding and using military grade-assault weapons, they should enlist in the U.S. armed military forces where they will likely have the opportunity to use these weapons in conflict zones and special military operations around the world. They can also work as mercenaries for military contractors and fight for other national armies in places like Ukraine.
The shortsightedness exhibited by today's Republican leadership on the issue of gun control is the same fundamental flaw that ruined George Wallace on the issue of racial segregation -- their shared demagoguery for a politically expedient moment in time will eventually evolve into a permanent badge of shame that their children and grandchildren will be forced to carry for a lifetime.