The U.S. Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights is the foundation of our democracy. If you had to pick a right to celebrate, perhaps even to cherish, which would it be? There are so many important ones, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, our right to privacy (the fourth amendment), and so on. There are other amendments that righted old wrongs, including prohibitions against slavery and the granting of the vote to Blacks and women.
Yet which right/amendment is the best known in U.S. politics today? The second amendment, or the right to bear arms, which Mike Pence referred to yesterday when he noted, “people who cherish the Second Amendment have a very clear choice in this election.”
OK, I’ve owned guns and enjoy shooting, but I hardly “cherish” my right to spend thousands of dollars on lots of guns. I have friends who hunt and friends who collect guns and I wouldn’t deny them their rights to do both, but again why is this the one right that deserves to be singled out as worthy of being “cherished” in a democracy?
I know: the NRA and its followers claim that an armed citizenry is the best guarantor of all the other rights, a position that is, quite frankly, ridiculous. Believe me, your personal collection of guns is not going to stop a trained military using tanks and artillery and all the other heavy weaponry of war. And no: this is not an argument for you to have the right to purchase your very own M-1 Abrams tank!
Look: No political candidate plans to take away anyone’s guns. Nevertheless, the NRA and Trump/Pence persist in scaring gun owners while encouraging a “cherishing” attitude toward guns. And here’s the telling part: Even as the gun cherishers bloviate about the extreme importance of gun rights, they virtually ignore all the other rights that do need protecting in America, especially our rights to speech, assembly, and privacy.
Stop fixating on guns, America, and start cherishing what really matters: your rights as a citizen to have a real say in politics and the running of this country. Those are the rights that truly need protecting.