December 23, 2021
The Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision said no Black person can have any rights. That set a high bar for decisional badness. But today’s court seems determined to clear it, careening toward an unfettered right for anyone to tote guns anywhere, with no regulation or restrictions.
The Dred Scott case was soon countered by constitutional amendments abolishing slavery and giving its victims citizenship and equal protection of the law. But in today’s political dysfunction, no amendment on guns is possible. Even though an overwhelming majority of Americans favor limits on gun rights.
Constitutionally, the coming decision will be an extremist and idiotic application of the Second Amendment. It’s a fundamental principle that no rights are ever absolute, they’re always subject to some restriction to protect the public. The classic illustration is shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Nor does freedom of speech cover slander or libel, or divulging state secrets. Freedom of religion does not include human sacrifice. And so forth. Yet the Second Amendment is now to be held virtually absolute, allowing no restrictions on carrying guns.
No other civilized nation countenances such gun madness. America, with 4% of the world’s population, has 46% of its privately owned guns. And while gun nuts are often the same people hammering on “law and order,” they themselves make “law and order” a problem, with gun violence killing tens of thousands annually. It’s why most Americans, as noted, favor basic gun regulations.
Yet the Court is about to expand gun rights while curbing women’s reproductive rights — in both cases defying strong public opinion, in service to political agendas. Very destructive for the court’s legitimacy as a bulwark for rule of law and democracy.
Columnist Paul Waldman, in November, pointed out that while a small minority of Americans revel in gun culture, other communities cherish a culture too, one wherein freedom from the gun menace is important. And while the Supreme Court is sanctifying gun lovers’ rights, it’s trampling those of everyone else — saying to every American, “You live in Oklahoma now.”
And what is the psychology behind this gun obsession? A recent survey found pro-gun views correlate most strongly with belief in Satan. As if bullets could be effective against supernatural evil.
Note that this is not about sporting or hunting use of guns, which nobody has a problem with, and which are not affected by the kind of regulation at issue before the Court. Let’s be real. This is about shooting not at targets, animals, or Satanic demons, but at human beings.
That indeed is what captivates the imagination of the gun nuts. They fantasize blasting “bad guys,” manfully protecting themselves and their families, if not at the OK Corral. Never mind that the vast majority of persons actually shot by those guns are not criminals (let alone supernatural foes) but their own family members, their children, and often the gun owners themselves. Such realities are not allowed to intrude upon their gun fantasies, enwrapped in macho ideas of manhood.
Real men don’t need guns.
Another Waldman columnties all this to the Republican party’s growing bedazzlement with violence. With ideations of violently taking down enemies; wearing T-shirts depicting Trump shooting guns. Recall Congressman Gosar’s creepy video showing him killing Biden and AOC. And it’s not just fantasizing, but an all too real danger, as we saw on January 6. Which GOP politicians are increasingly unapologetic about.
For a lot of Republicans, guns have become integral to their personal sense of identity. Thus lionizing Kyle Rittenhouse for shooting three people. With a gun he was not even lawfully carrying. So much for “law and order.” Watch for Rittenhouse in a featured speaking slot at the 2024 GOP National Convention. His inexplicable exoneration can only encourage more vigilante violence.
All this — Republicans abetting their supporters’ “most savage impulses,” Waldman wrote, “is utterly repugnant and a threat to the very idea of a civilized democracy.”
The coming Supreme Court gun decision — frankly an insane decision — plays into this. Playing with fire. The country is cracking up. Future historians, chronicling America’s downfall, will wonder “what were they thinking?”