The holy verse of conservatives in America is the Second Amendment passed in 1789. Like any verse in any holy book, it is brief and open to different interpretations. As in any religion, they are theological interpretations, that is, political.
A conservative interpretation leads us to conclusions unwelcome by conservatives. Thomas Jefferson (his books were banned for being an “atheist”) was of the undogmatic idea that all laws should be changed according to the needs of each generation. But both Jefferson and the rest of the “founding fathers” were racists, a detail that is not recognized even by today’s racists.
The verse of the 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.”
Five words are the keys to understanding what the amendment means: Militia, free State, people, and Arms. Let’s start with the last one.
5. Arms. In the same way that the word “car” then meant something quite different from what “car” means today and hence the new traffic laws, the same occurs with the word which meant “arms” meant a flintlock or a musket rifle. In any case, for a person to be able to kill another, he had to be at a distance of a few yards, and, after shooting, he had to do some craft work to reload. For some decades, “the people” and the judges understand that with the word “weapons”, in 1789 the founding fathers also referred to an AR-15 and other assault rifles capable of killing, at a much greater distance, several dozens of people.
4. People. From the same constitution of 1787, the word “people” in “We the people” meant “white man, a slaver, and owner”. By no means black, Indian, or poor white. But a word is an ideolexicon, that is, a bag used to load different ideological meanings.
3.,2. Free State. The idea of “free states” as opposed to “slave states” belongs to an advanced nineteenth century that was struggling to abolish slavery, long after expanding it over Indian and Mexican territories where slavery did not exist or was illegal. In 1789 and for a few generations thereafter, “the free state” was the slave state of whites. In fact, in all the letters, congressional transcripts, and newspaper articles it is assumed that “the free race” was the white race, since the others were incapable of understanding freedom. Slavery expanded in the name of Law, Order, and Freedom. The third stanza of the national anthem written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, proclaims:
“No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave”.
The song was prompted by the British burning of the government house in Washington, later painted white by the slaves to hide the memory of the fire. England punished a similar attack by the Americans on Canada, when they wanted that territory as the fourteenth state. Many black slaves sided with the invader, for obvious reasons, and the patriot Scott Key, a slaveholder by law, unleashed his poetic fury in the famous song, now the National Anthem.
1. Militia. As anyone in their right mind can see, the expression “a well-regulated militia” does not mean individuals acting on their own. But that is not all. In both the 18th and 19th centuries these militias were the slavers’ police. How could a handful of white masters subdue a majority of black slaves? Not by the whip but by firearms. But since the masters formed a confederation in each state and among the slave states, the armed militias were of vital importance to safeguard the lives of the white masters and the system itself, which produced the richest men in the country, the slave capitalism of the 19th century, even when the north was already an old pole of commercial and industrial development.
Every right is regulated, and all interpretation depends on the political interests of the moment. Let’s see an absurd example referred to the First Amendment, of which I count myself as a radical defender.
In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United, a “non-profit” organization in favor of the rights of large corporations. Its founder, Floyd Brown, defined it as follows: “We’re just old-fashioned, blue-collar social conservatives. These are people who couldn’t care less about politics, want to be left alone by government, but if their country calls for them to fight abroad, will”. For this type of old Anglo-Saxon fanaticism, the brutal interventions in other countries are not political nor are they about racism and economic interests.
In the lawsuit and in the final ruling, five members out of nine of the Court understood that the limitation of donations from any group to a candidate constituted a “violation of freedom of expression.” In addition, they began to have the right to do so anonymously, which is known as “dark money”. Of course, again, in the “Nation of Laws” everything is legal. Corruption is a thing of Latin Americans and poor blacks in Africa.
As is often the case in a democracy hijacked by corporations, the citizens had a different opinion. In 2010, a survey by ABC and The Washington Post had revealed that 80 percent of Americans were opposed to the elimination of barriers and limits on donations to politicians proposed by Citizens United.
The (political) interpretations against regulations always favor those who are in power. Nobody says that in every airport in the United States the Constitution is violated because the carrying of weapons is not allowed. The age to buy assault rifles is 18 years, but if it were up to the fans, it would be six years, when the victim enters school and does not feel free and safe. Now, is the 18-year limit not a regulation? It is not in the Second Amendment.
Meanwhile, 40,000 people die each year in this country from gun violence. Not accidentally, the killings are often racially motivated against “inferior races,” since that obsession is in the DNA of this country’s history. Blacks, Asians, or Hispanics do not slaughter whites out of hatred. The problem of crime in black neighborhoods is due to this same history of discrimination: when they became citizens, they were immediately segregated at gunpoint and by various policies such as the layout of highways or the criminalization of certain drugs introduced by the same CIA to the country and used by Nixon, deliberately, to criminalize blacks and Latinos.
This is the concept of freedom of those who suffer from a paranoia that does not let them be free. And they impose it on others in the name of freedom—and, as in times of legal slavery, are defended even by the “happy slaves”.
Jorge Majfud, June 2022.