Let's get real: the true reason the U.S. doesn't have sensible gun laws has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. Instead, it has everything to do with our broken political system and our "cash & carry" legislative process, in which our politicians whore themselves out to the highest bidder.
Does the Second Amendment really forbid any and all restrictions on guns? It's a silly argument that only extremist crazies like National Rifle Association members make. But does it hold up to scrutiny?
Americans of previous generations didn't believe in unlimited gun rights. In fact, during the so-called "Wild West" era of the 1800s, many areas had stricter gun control than what we have today.
I was at a right-wing acquaintance's house recently and I noticed that he had a magnet on his refrigerator that purported to list the Bill of Rights. It included the Second Amendment---or rather a paraphrasing of it. It read: "The Second Amendment guarantees the Right to Bear Arms."
I wondered why the text didn't simply include actual wording of the Second Amendment itself. After all, the latter is only one sentence.
The Second Amendment reads: "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."
It's a convoluted, vague sentence that frankly defies any easy explanation.
To me, the words "well regulated" indicate that the Second Amendment does not give a blank check to unlimited gun rights. And the word "militia" indicates that maybe we're talking about gun rights for a militia, not ordinary individuals.
One thing I do find amusing, though, is the gun crowd's tendency to tip-toe away from the actual wording of their beloved Second Amendment. I've had a number of debates with gun lovers over the years and, invariably, I'll ask them to quote the Second Amendment. Without exception, they're stumped when I ask them to quote the Second Amendment, word for word. (This, despite the fact that they claim to know for certain exactly what it means).
Many so-called "experts" have debated how the Founding Fathers really felt about gun rights. But they're missing the real issue.
A "gun" to the Founding Fathers was nothing like the devices we call "guns" today. To the Founding Fathers, guns were bulky, unreliable, crude, primitive, often-inaccurate, contraptions that fired only one shot. They had virtually nothing in common with a modern high-precision lethal killing instrument like a Glock.
I think it's entirely misleading and idiotic to debate what the Founding Fathers thought about "guns" when the weapons of their century were so completely different from today's guns. After all, one person armed with an modern day assault rifle, fitted with a high-capacity magazine, could easily and quickly have taken out dozens of armed soldiers from the era of the Founding Fathers.
What would the Founding Fathers have thought about an AK-47? We really have no idea.
In fact, the Second Amendment doesn't even mention the word "guns." Personally, I think one way progressives could fight back against the NRA is to beat them at their own game.
If the NRA really believes there should be zero restrictions on arms, then we need to call their bluff. We need to start pushing for everyone's unlimited right to hand grenades, plastic explosives, rocket launchers and shoulder-fired missiles. We need to back the NRA into a corner and force them to finally admit that there has to be at least some limits to the ownership of arms.
Despite former Congressman Anthony Weiner's flaws, there was one thing he did that was brilliant: his 2009 amendment to repeal Medicare. Weiner's move revealed the GOP to be the hypocrites that they are, when they refused to support his amendment, despite their stated hostility toward Medicare. (True, the mainstream media didn't give this story the attention it deserved---but if progressives started using this tactic more often, we could go a long ways toward exposing the hypocrisy of the Republican Party).
Of course, all of this would require the Democrats to finally grow a backbone---and, there's little chance of that ever happening. Outside of a few tough-as-nails progressives, like Alan Grayson, today's Democrats are a bunch of wimps who are afraid of their own shadow.
In fact, on the gun control issue, we progressives get screwed in numerous ways. First, the NRA has won every battle, to the point where it has a tough time coming up with new targets to rally its base. Second, the Democrats refuse to stand up to the NRA. And third, despite the latter, the Conservatives have successfully painted the Dems as "the party that wants to take away your guns," when, in fact, the Dems have no intention of ever standing up to the NRA.
Meanwhile, the horrific massacres go on and on---as America continues to suffer from by far the highest violent crime rates of any First World nation.
Since Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were killed in 1968, an astonishing one million Americans have been shot dead with guns. For all the attention the media has given the Aurora massacre, it's important to remember that on any given day in America, many people are shot dead with guns. And we can expect the bloodshed to continue for a long, long time, thanks to our broken and corrupt political system.