“People Who Cherish the Second Amendment”

Worthy of being cherished?

W.J. Astore

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.”

Uneducated Voters

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.



10 thoughts on ““People Who Cherish the Second Amendment”

  1. I say Collect Telescopes not Guns!. I’ve done both, and I much prefer the Former over the Latter… More rewarding, and entertaining, enlightening, and lastly Educational…! Though nowadays make sure you set-up said “Light Bucket” in a non- threatening location, and definitely not a Camoflage Colored Tube… :/ :o)


    1. How true! Why do we “cherish” deadly weapons? Why not instruments of knowledge and discovery? I for one love old maps and globes and all the knowledge they represent.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ” … scaring gun owners ..”

    I don’t get it. Doesn’t ownership of a gun make the bed-wetting, diaper-soiling American feel bolder and stronger; more fearless, if not invincible?” How can anyone possibly “scare” — using nothing but words — such a paragon of patriotic fortitude? Unless Gore Vidal had it right when he called Americans “among the most easily frightened people on earth.”

    The late Umberto Eco had another slant on this which he explored in his famous essay, ” Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt (1995)

    “[Number] 12. Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters.

    This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons — doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.”

    OK. I get it.


    1. Mike: Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and a gun is just a gun — and then sometimes it isn’t.

      There’s no doubt that people who are impotent — and I don’t just mean sexually, but politically and economically and socially — may find a symbol of potency in a gun.

      In a way, buying a gun is also an easy right to exercise. It’s not so easy to exercise your freedom of speech in an informed way, or your freedom to assemble, but people do like to boast about how they’re “exercising” their 2nd amendment rights, as if it’s a vigorous duty deserving of great respect and societal pride.

      As an aside, there’s a telling scene in the movie “Kalifornia” in which a killer (played by Brad Pitt) instructs a neophyte on how to handle and shoot a gun. His instruction: “Hold it soft — like your pecker.” Just so.


  3. Colonel, I just wanted to say that I think your latest piece for TomDispatch is an excellent article. I can see how the pressures of conformity can affect one’s mindset. But what is a soldier such as a private to do when ordered to carry out a task that he or she thinks is morally wrong? How often have we heard “I was following orders” and that this is not an adequate defense in some cases? When is a soldier to know when to “follow orders” and when not to? And should there be protections in place to protect that soldier or soldiers that do not follow orders for valid reasons? But then look at what has happened to whistle blowers under the Obama administrations, and yes, there is quite the conundrum. Thank you.


  4. Reblogged this on Bracing Views and commented:

    Student-led protests this past weekend have helped to renew calls for gun control. Speaking louder than these students, however, is the NRA and its lobbying and political power. The only thing that will work, I think, is when politicians start losing elections because of their blanket support of the NRA. Voters have to hold these politicians accountable, and people, especially the young, have to get off their duffs and vote.

    Even so, gun control measures are only part of the solution. Our society is saturated in violence, and guns are everywhere. (Just watch “coming attractions” to TV/Cable shows and movies and count the number of guns you see, especially the number of people threatened by guns.) As the HBO series “Westworld” intoned, “these violent delights have violent ends.” We need as a society to stop reveling in violence.

    Finally, an observation. It pains me to say that when I was a college professor teaching in rural Pennsylvania, my students’ knowledge of the Bill of Rights often began and ended with the 2nd Amendment. We need to do a much better job of teaching our youth what freedom really means. Freedom doesn’t begin and end with the right to keep and bear arms. Sadly, some of these same students believed in unchecked government surveillance, using the rationale “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve nothing to hide.” Thus they freely relinquished their 4th Amendment right to privacy even as they fought vigorously to defend gun rights.

    It’s a stunning achievement by the NRA to have defined “freedom” mainly in terms of buying and shooting lots of guns. We need to do better.


  5. If NRA members were sincere about valuing our rights, they would join the ACLU, that fights in court every day for all of our rights rather than only one.

    Liked by 1 person

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