a conversation

Reasonable Person: Another mass murder.
MAGA Person: Thoughts and prayers.
RP: There’s so much hate in the world.
MP: Amen. Lotsa hate.
RP: So much division, so much hostility.
MP: Buttloads of hostility.
RP: The nation hasn’t been this divided since the Civil War.
MP: Can’t argue with that.
RP: Something needs to be done.
MP: Absofuckinglutely.
RP: This has to stop.
MP: Got to.
RP: Something has to change.
MP: Yep.
RP: We don’t have to live like this.
MP: No, we don’t.
RP: You know what this country needs?
MP: I surely do. Trump.
RP: …?
MP: …!
RP: Trump?
MP: Yep. And more guns.
RP: But…
MP: And Jesus. In schools.
RP: I have to disagree.
MP: STOP SHOVING YOUR BELIEFS DOWN MY THROAT!
RP: …?
MP: This is why I carry a gun. To protect myself. DON’T MAKE ME SHOOT YOU!
RP: But…
MP: pew pew pew.
RP: [bleeds all over]
MP: I felt threatened.
MP: Stop bleeding on me.
MP: …
MP: Maybe I should run for the local school board.

paint over the second amendment

You know what? Fuck the Second Amendment. Oh, it was a perfectly fine amendment when it was written, but c’mon, it was written in 1789 (it was ratified a couple years later, in 1791). That was a long time ago. Things have changed. That’s the nature of things, isn’t it. They just change.

Look, the US Constitution has been amended 27 times. Why? Because things change. Because stuff that made sense at one point in time doesn’t necessarily make sense at another. Because even smart, reasonable, concerned people sometimes make a mistake or do something stupid. I mean, back in 1917 it must have seemed reasonable to amend the Constitution to prohibit the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors. But a decade and a half later, the American people thought “Lawdy, we fucked that up” and they had to repeal the entire 18th Amendment.

We can do that again, only with the Second Amendment. We could just repeal it. Or rewrite it so it’s not so fucking stupid. The 18th Amendment probably saved a bunch of lives by making it a lot more difficult to get drunk. But we’ve been able to find a somewhat reasonable balance between saving lives and being able to have a decent merlot with our supper.

We can do the same thing with guns. We really can. We can shitcan the 2nd Amendment. Hell, Thomas Jefferson (who knew a lot about writing Constitutions) kinda thought we could scrap the whole entire Constitution every couple of decades and cobble together a new and more timely one. You know, a Constitution that met modern needs. Seriously, Jefferson said, “The earth belongs always to the living generation.” Ain’t no reason for us to be locked into something written by folks 230 plus years ago.

Here’s what Jefferson wrote to James Madison in September of 1789:

[I]t may be proved that no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation. They may manage it then, & what proceeds from it, as they please, during their usufruct. They are masters too of their own persons, & consequently may govern them as they please. But persons & property make the sum of the objects of government. The constitution and the laws of their predecessors extinguished then in their natural course, with those who gave them being. This could preserve that being till it ceased to be itself, & no longer. Every constitution then, & every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force, & not of right.

And yes, usufruct is an actual word. It refers to the temporary legal right to use and enjoy the fruits or profits of something belonging to another. It’s from the Latin usus (meaning ‘use’) and fructus (meaning ‘fruit’). Let’s say your daddy dies and leaves you everything, including the house you grew up in, BUT because your daddy is a complete asshole, he stipulates the woman he divorced your momma for can continue to live in the house as long as she wants. It’s legally your house now, but your asshole dad’s girlfriend still gets to enjoy it. If she wants to paint the walls red, she damned well can, even if you think it’s a bad idea. Usufruct.

What Jefferson is saying is that the next generation can enjoy the Constitution their parents left for them but they’re not locked into it forever. When your asshole dad’s girlfriend dies (yeah, this is a metaphor), you get control of the house and you can repaint the walls.

What Jefferson was saying is this: we can paint over the 2nd Amendment. We can and we should. Because the walls have been red way too long.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Five people were killed and at least 18 were wounded/injured last night during a drag show at Club Q in Colorado Springs. Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, the annual event honoring the memory of transgender people killed by acts of anti-transgender violence.

We shouldn’t have to live like this.

a regular intruder drill

“We thought it was just a regular intruder drill. But when we started hearing sirens outside and the teachers started to even get scared, then we knew that this wasn’t just a regular drill and it was real.”

A regular intruder drill. Three people, including the shooter, are dead. But students thought it was just one of their regular intruder drills. At least eight people have been transported to local hospitals. So, NOT just a regular intruder drill.

The fact that a high school in St. Louis, Missouri even HAS regular intruder drills is an indictment of US politics. It’s an indictment of the Republican Party. It’s an indictment of American gun culture. But given the horrific reality that there have been at least 545 mass shootings THIS YEAR in the US, then yeah, regular intruder drills are probably needed. Because the GOP is sure as fuck not going to let anybody do anything about the guns.

The GOP and the NRA will argue we need to arm teachers. The St. Louis school had SEVEN security officers INSIDE the school, but some 20-year-old asshole still managed to wander in toting some sort of long gun (and will anybody be surprised if we learn it was some AR-15 variant?). But hey, most of the 545 mass shootings this year DID NOT take place at schools. Maybe we also need to arm cashiers at the supermarkets. Maybe we need to arm receptionists and the kid who puts your burrito together and the person who passes the collection plate at church. Because guns make us safe?

Following the shooting, the mayor, Tishaura Jones, texted “Help us, Jesus.” Jesus ain’t gonna help us. You might as well call on Thor to help us. Prayer doesn’t do shit to stop a bullet. But you can be assured the GOP will be calling for thoughts and prayers, and holding out their hands for the NRA to donate to their campaigns.

You know what would help? Making it harder to buy guns. That would help. Making it illegal to wander around the streets openly carrying a rifle or shotgun, that would help. Open carry of long guns in public is completely unregulated in Missouri. This shooter would have been legally able to walk right up the school doors openly toting his gun, and that would be just fine with the GOP. That’s just fucking crazy, right there.

Even if the US Congress passed some minimal firearm legislation (which, hey, they did), it wouldn’t help. Why? Because in 2021 the Missouri GOP passed what they called the Second Amendment Preservation Act (SAPA). This specifically prohibits state and local law enforcement officials from enforcing federal gun policies. Hell, SAPA even punishes state and local police officers for trying to enforce federal gun laws.

In fact, more than 1,200 jurisdictions (state, county, municipal) in 37 states have adopted some form of resolution or law restricting local law enforcement from enforcing federal laws IF they feel those laws violate the Second Amendment. Want to guess which political party pushed for that?

Republicans are simply willing to sacrifice children to protect the gun lobby’s shaky interpretation of an amendment written 230 years ago. An amendment written at a time when there were no police and no standing army in the US. A time when there was open conflict between settlers and the native peoples whose territory they were intruding upon. A time when the most common firearms were muskets capable of firing a single round (maybe three rounds per minute) and with a maximum accuracy range of around 50 yards.

If the St. Louis shooter had an AR-15 variant, even without any training, he could easily fire at least 30 rounds per minute, probably closer to 60, with a lot more accuracy. The Second Amendment, as it was written in 1791, simply doesn’t address modern killing tech.

What happened in St. Louis today wasn’t a regular intruder drill. Sadly, it was just a regular school shooting, around the 40th school shooting this year (we average about one a week–and let me just say that again, this year we averaged about one school shooting every fucking week). Unless a couple more people die, it’s not even a mass murder.

It’s just another day in America.

willfully and deliberately stupid

I don’t know if you’ve read any of the SCOTUS decisions from the last few weeks. I mean actually read them, not just read news reports or blog posts about them. I suspect most folks haven’t. Can’t blame anybody for that; it takes time to churn through these decisions (the Bruen decision is 135 pages long, for fuck’s sake) and big chunks of them (while certainly/probably important) are mind-numbingly boring.

But if you do take the time to read the most important decisions, I think you’ll discover a theme running through them. And that theme is this: the conservative majority is being willfully and deliberately stupid.

I’m just going to focus on the Bruen decision (and the concurring opinions) because we just went through a long holiday weekend that delivered sixteen mass shootings. The issue in Bruen was a New York law stating an individual who wanted to carry a concealed firearm outside their home had to prove they had a “proper cause” for doing so. In other words, you had to have a good reason for going strapped in public.

In essence, SCOTUS said, pffft, you don’t need no stinking reason, this is America, bitches.

The Court’s majority decision begins by noting that “this Court has long cautioned that the English common law “is not to be taken in all respects to be that of America.” It then (and I am NOT making this up) it spends pages explaining how common law back in Merry Olde England allowed folks to carry guns.

[W]hatever place handguns had in English society during the Tudor and Stuart reigns, by the time we reach the 18th century—and near the founding—they had gained a fairly secure footing in English culture.

You may be asking, “Greg, old sock, when were these Tudor and Stuarts reigning in England? And why should we give a shit?” I’m glad you asked (and stop calling me ‘old sock’). The Tudors and Stuarts were big hats in England from 1485 to 1714. A long fucking time ago. That means we’re talking about flintlock pistols—big honking single shot handguns weighing a couple of pounds, with an effective combat range of about 20 feet, that took a trained soldier at least 30 seconds to reload. Why should we give a shit? No idea. I confess, if I see a guy walking into Starbucks with a flintlock pistol strapped to his belt, I’m not going to get too concerned.

Flintlock pistol

The SCOTUS decision sporadically repeats its finding from Heller decision: “[T]he Second Amendment protects only the carrying of weapons that are those ‘in common use at the time.’” To say flintlock pistols were in common use at the time is bullshit, mainly because most folks didn’t have any need to tote a pistol around (and besides, those things were expensive). But it’s true that IF folks carried a pistol back then, it was a flintlock. Does that constitute ‘common use’? I don’t think so. The Court then goes on to say:

Whatever the likelihood that handguns were considered “dangerous and unusual” during the colonial period, they are indisputably in “common use” for self-defense today.

Dude, they’re in common use today because y’all allowed them to be in common use. It’s like saying colonial era folks never kept their dogs on a leash, then arguing that leash laws aren’t justified in cities now because unleashed dogs were common back then. Willfully and deliberately stupid.

The Court notes that historically, there weren’t a lot of laws in the US restricting the carrying of guns. Not until we passed an amendment restricting firearms.

Only after the ratification of the Second Amendment in 1791 did public-carry restrictions proliferate.

Maybe that’s because the 2nd Amendment specifically mentions that well-regulated militia? Once you link keeping and bearing arms to the militia, state and local lawmakers are going to base laws on that. Right?

The Court, in its review of the history of firearm restrictions, also notes there was an “uptick in gun regulation during the late-19th century—principally in the Western Territories.” You know why there was an uptick in the Old West? Because that’s where cowboys carried guns and got in gunfights. Cowboys had a need for handguns when they were out rounding up cattle and stuff. There were snakes and predators that threatened the cattle and understandably pissed-off native Americans. But when those cowboys rode into Dodge, the sheriff made them take off their guns to stop drunken cowboys from fucking shooting each other. This is NOT hard to understand.

The notion that states and cities have limited power to regulate firearms because the US doesn’t have a history or tradition of regulating firearms is massively stupid. We didn’t have a history or tradition of cowboys riding riotously through a town, shooting at random until cowboys started riding riotously through towns, shooting at random. You don’t need laws preventing folks from doing shit UNTIL THEY START DOING SHIT.

What we DO have now is a history and tradition of mass shootings and mass murder. We are contributing to that history and tradition every goddamn day. As I noted earlier, we had sixteen mass shootings from July 1 through July 4. Four days. Sixteen mass shootings. Eighteen dead, 105 wounded. In four days.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Alito scolds the three Justices who dissented from the majority opinion. He wrote:

[T]he dissent seemingly thinks that the ubiquity of guns and our country’s high level of gun violence provide reasons for sustaining the New York law, the dissent appears not to understand that it is these very facts that cause law-abiding citizens to feel the need to carry a gun for self-defense.

Alito is being willfully and deliberately stupid. The ubiquity of guns and the high level of gun violence ARE EXACTLY the reason for sustaining a law that requires people to demonstrate an actual need to carry a firearm.

Again, it’s like claiming I need to walk around with my dog unleashed to protect me from all those goddamned unleashed dogs out there.