Gun Lover, This Isn’t About the Constitution

Gun lover,

Can we just be honest, here?

This isn’t about the Constitution.

I know you say that it is, and admittedly you sure do name-drop it an awful lot in our interactions.

On the surface, you seem really passionate about the document—at least while you’re trying to somehow connect the dots between well-regulated Militias and muskets—and the present proliferation of high-powered, military grade weapons specifically designed to expediently kill lots of people.

That in itself would be an absurd correlation to try and make, which seems obvious to the rest of us:

As they drafted the 2nd Amendment, the Founding Fathers certainly would have never dreamed of tools of such quick carnage, so easily attainable by the mentally ill, the unstable, the young, and the angry.

They couldn’t have foreseen one of our political parties fully beholden to a fringe group of violent radicals like the NRA; contributing millions upon millions to our elected officials in exchange for legislative protections and bully pulpits.

The architects of our laws weren’t imaging the likes of Wayne LaPierre and Dana Loesch, perpetually harassing shooting survivors and dismissing grieving parents and vilifying the media and taunting gun reform activists on Town Hall stages, over social media platforms, and in incendiary videos.

There would have been no way for them to anticipate the culture of wanton weapon lust we’d have cultivated here; the gun shows and trade expos and merchandising—or a secondary market where any pissed-off person with enough cash can accumulate enough ammo to level a city block.

Invoking the 2nd Amendment in light of such things is a fairly nonsensical tactic, if you really think about it—and we have.

But even if we agreed on what the document says you’re allowed as far as firepower, I’ve noticed that you don’t really love the Constitution—at least not for everybody and not all the time:

You have little regard for freedom of the Press (at least for non-Fox News outlets). In that case, you’re normally fine with a President using his platform and office to discredit, malign, and make an enemy out of it. The Bill of Rights, in these moments is far less pressing for you.

As fond as you claim to be about the Second Amendment, your love for the First, doesn’t seem quite as unconditional or fervent. You tend not to want people to speak freely if they’re not white, anti-abortion, Christian Republicans. If they claim that Black Lives Matter or they’re LGBTQ-affirming or they acknowledge climate change or they favor sensible gun reform—the last thing you want is for them is the freedom to say so.

From what I’ve seen, you also really aren’t that big on religious freedom either (Conservative Evangelical Christianity excluded). I don’t see you rushing to the defense of Muslims being persecuted and marginalized here as a result of the open hostility created by this President. In fact, you usually applaud it.

And I can’t help noticing that you’re decidedly against the Constitutional rights of people to protest, if they’re black or professional athletes or teenage shooting survivors or women with pink hats. No, in those cases you’re pretty quick to shut that sh*t down—Constitution and inalienable rights be damned!

You’re dead set against illegal searches, and of people’s rights not to be harassed in their homes and at their workplaces and in their cars—unless of course they fit the profile of the kind of people you’re okay enduring such things. (You know the ones I mean.)

In other words, you have a lot to say about the sanctity of the rule of law—unless the people you voted for disregard it for whatever reason. (And they do quite often these days.)

In the end, all your flag-waving fervor and your constant Constitution name-dropping and your America First rhetoric—that’s not what this is about at all.

This is about you and your guns.
It’s about how much you love them; about how big and strong they make you feel.
It’s about the cowboy fantasies you have in your head and the mythology you’ve created about “good guys with guns”—and you think you’re the good guy.

It’s about your idolatry of the weapons themselves; about you not being willing to suppress your passion or reconsider the status quo or bend an inch—even to save the lives of millions of other Americans also trying to cash in on that Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness stuff you want for your self.

If that wasn’t the case, you wouldn’t be so strident in opposing sensible gun reform, you wouldn’t be ignoring the NRA’s influence on our political system, and you’d be a lot more zealous regarding the rights of people now living in a country awash with weapons.

If you were all-in on an America where the freedoms and opportunities our forebears had in mind, were indeed fully available to all who come and reside here, we’d be able to have a productive conversation about what the 2nd Amendment should mean at this place and time. (And it doesn’t include AR-15s.)

We could find a place of compromise that would make everyone here safer.

But I don’t think that America is the one you claim to love and value and defend—or have that much interest in.

I don’t believe that sprawling, diversity-protecting, equality-defending Constitution is all that vital to you.

I think you just really love your guns, far more than any of the human collateral damage crested by them.

Just a shot in the dark.



39 thoughts on “Gun Lover, This Isn’t About the Constitution

  1. Not sure why I received this email because I detest guns and I have spoken out about their availability many times. I would hate to think that anything I have said would have been misinterpreted in relation to this. I support all you are doing in your quest for the authentic practise of Christianity

  2. When I ask those that embrace the second amendment so veraciously which constitutional right they will loose if guns are more strictly regulated, they do not have a cogent answer. It’s usually something along the lines of “you’re trying to take my guns away from me.”

    Restrictive gun laws still allow for hunting and sport shooting. We are trying to stop human carnage, not confiscate all weapons.

  3. John, you’ve done it AGAIN! Wonderful piece! You really have the knack for speaking about very important matters, yet in a way that the press just doesn’t- can’t I guess. Thank you!

  4. No, it really has nothing to do with the Consitution. An acquaintance tried to argue that and I shut him down quickly. The Second Amendment is not a risk and can’t ever be at risk short of a Constitutional convention.

    The issue appears to be one of idolatry. It sounds to me as if too many people in the USA worship weapons. Instead of God.

  5. Excellent article, and I agree with all of it, except I think you’ve left out a very important world view that truly fervent gun owner all seem to share – they believe the world as we know it, is ending soon.

    I’m not talking about the rapture or anything religious, I’m talking about the collapse of western civilization. More specifically, if you spend any time talking to big time American gun enthusiasts, and get through all of the 2A talking points, and all of the various “studies” of gun violence, it all comes back to a single idea – “America is on the verge of social collapse”. Whether it be a “race war”, a totalitarian government, foreign attack, or asteroid impact, it’s all gonna end soon. When that happens, all those guns and ammo are going to be needed for survival.

    It’s a “survivalist” mentality. This is why these guys are spending thousands of $$ stocking up on high powered weaponry and ammo, because when society collapses, it’ll be every man for themselves. I have friends – highly educated, socially liberal friends – that actually are considering buying remote land, security fencing it, and building reinforced bunkers where they will take their families and friends. It will be stocked with food, and there will be enough guns for everyone. Included pacifist me, who will be begging for a gun once “those others” come for my food. I joke that this is “zombie apocalypse” planning, and they laugh as say “zombies are a lot easier to deal with than people”.

    The level of preparedness varies. Some don’t worry about building bunkers or stocking food because they intend to use their guns to take whatever they need. For them, they want the biggest, baddest guns they can buy.

    The details of this “dystopian future” varies, but the idea that the country (and world) as we know it will collapse in their lifetimes is very consistent amongst all pro-gun groups. Every time there’s a riot, a giant fire, an earthquake, or a hurricane, they all point out how easily and quickly civilization falls apart. One friend is convinced we’re due for a massive solar discharge that will completely destroy the US electric grid and in less than 10 days America will revert to a “Mad Max” level dystopia where people will kill for gasoline.

    Regardless of the varied details, what it all comes down to is one single notion – FEAR.

    Every guy with a dozen AR-15’s and 50,000 rounds in his basement is so afraid of the future, he’s spent all of his money on guns. Cause he’s gonna need them. Soon. Cause we’ll want his food and gas, and also his guns, which they’ll have to pry from his cold dead hands.

  6. Alright, I’ll bite.

    First off, I loathe the current administration, I think Fox News is a cancer, and the school shootings are, to me, the worst continuing tragedy of our times. That kids can get to a point where that seems like the best solution to their problems, or even that it’s the only way for people to listen, is the most damning indictment of our society that I can imagine.

    That being said, I don’t think more gun control is the answer. I DO think we need to enforce the laws we have on the books. I think we need to close the gun show/private sale loopholes on background checks. I think we need to computerize the sale databases and make firearm provenance checks almost instantaneous.

    I think we need to improve school funding to give kids more opportunities and outlets for their interests. I think we need to decrease class sizes so that teachers can get more time with students and have a better chance of seeing if the students are in distress. I think we need to de-stigmatize mental illness so that people are more likely to seek out help. I think we need to fund public health initiatives to allow for all people to be able to get the help they need.

    I DON’T think we need to restrict what guns are owned. The Founding Fathers, flawed men though they may have been, had just watched a revolution occur with weapons that citizens grabbed out of their homes. It is true that the Framers didn’t envision weapons as powerful as the ones we have today, BUT they did envision citizens owning military grade weapons (hence the bit about militias). I’d even go so far as to argue that the Second Amendment probably gives you more right to own a military version M-16 than it does a .22 target pistol.

    We both want the same thing – mass shootings to stop. Banning weapons is easy. It does stop the problem comparatively cheaply and quickly. It strips us of our ability to defend ourselves. It strips us of a fundamental part of our heritage as Americans. I’m not willing to do that.

  7. Hello, John–

    Just desiring some clarification on part of what you said:

    “You have little regard for freedom of the Press (at least for non-Fox News outlets). In that case, you’re normally fine with a President using his platform and office to discredit, malign, and make an enemy out of it. The Bill of Rights, in these moments is far less pressing for you.”

    By saying this, do you mean that they think if it’s not Republicans constantly preaching against Democrats, instead of actually reporting the news (the very same thing that they claim the Democratic channel does against Republicans), then it’s not really news? That’s just how I’m reading you on that, and, as such, I’d like to know what you mean.

  8. Yes John, I’m sure you’re right. Men who were intelligent enough to know how to not only build a country but to write laws to help guide it, which still stand two and a half centuries later, could NEVER have imagined that technology would improve or that innovation would ever happen. They just knew deep down that all history and advancements in technology ended with them and the new nation they were creating. Keen observation.

    Also, I don’t know of any Christians who are saying the right to speech shouldn’t or doesn’t exist for those they disagree with. They are however saying that their right to speech doesn’t mean that their speech gets to go without criticism, resent, or disagreement. That’s how that freedom works.

  9. Especially, a well regulated militia…why does all efforts to rain in this gun madness ignore this phrase? It seems to suggest some regulation and control over the person who bares arms.

  10. In an exchange with a cousin who lives in Florida about immigration, I was told that he didn’t allow anybody in his home who didn’t share his values. He went on to say, “I have my gun and my Bible,” and I guess that was all he needed. Your post today reminded me of that conversation, which was before the 2016 election. It is so sad that these people don’t see the “golden calf” that they have made out of their guns because of their fear of what is on the other side of the walls they have built to protect their personal reality from being contaminated by “the other.” In this case, they have built their walls to exclude the god they claim to worship.

  11. Gun lover,

    Can we just be honest, here?

    This isn’t about the Constitution.

    Really now? Are you now an expert on US Constitutional law, or a telepath? I don’t think so.

    Do you own one, or more firearms?
    Do you hang out with gun owners?
    Are you seeking to deny your household anything at all?
    I imagine it is ‘no’, ‘no’, and ‘no’.

    Here is a little lesson which might help.
    The 2nd Amendment was created for three basic purposes:
    1) to support little things like community watches and slave patrols.
    2) to defend our Nation from foreign invaders in the form of a well-regulated State Militia system
    3) to defend our citizenry from a tyrannical government.

    ‘Bizarrely’, all three of those purposes demanded the citizenry be armed with weaponry designed to harm our fellow man. If you look at the first militia regulations, they outlined how those muskets had to be of a large caliber (for killing things like bears and men) instead of smaller ones (which killed fowl and vermin).

    It didn’t mention things like cannon because it would be another 15 years before some guy in Europe (Napoleon I) who would make the cannon ‘Queen of the Battlefield’. Our American Revolution had been decided with brave men with muskets.

    Rapid-fire guns wouldn’t be available for another 50 years.

    Machineguns wouldn’t be invented for another 70 years.

    The AR-15 and its clones are nothing more than a firearm readily available across the globe.

    Now, if you really wanted to get serious, there are some combat shotguns which fire slugs which will blow straight through concrete walls ~ or body armor. Those are truly terrifying … but they are JUST shotguns.

    See – that is the problem. ALL guns are dangerous in the hands of someone willing to use them to kill others … and the only way to make them ‘safe’ is to remove them from everyone’s hands … which I get a sneaking suspicion is your end goal all along.

    That would be an abrogation of the 2nd Amendment.
    As for myself, I think think gun ownership is the right of all non-felons/ex-cons. I don’t care about their sexual orientation, or religion and the vast majority of gun owners I talk to don’t care either. Stop pretending you know what is on our minds when you so clearly don’t.

  12. First things first. DO NOT vote for any candidate who receives support of any kind from the NRA or any candidate with a high NRA score..
    Next best step, do not vote for anyone who receives support from any special interest.
    They (politicians) won’t contain themselves by passing laws against donations from corporate and special interests but we can stop it at the grass roots.
    Vote only for those who will not accept corporate donations.

  13. Decades ago the NRA was a coalition of actual good guys with guns. They promoted common sense gun regulations. A new regime took over in the 70’s and since then they have turned into an organization whose present spokespeople have resorted to screaming vile rhetoric, victim ideology and increasingly alarmist rants. Last year at CPAC, the VP wanted gun owners to pick up their arms against all those who want common sense gun laws. Was he promoting shooting unarmed people just because? He is a loon.

    I just read an article covering a fivethirtyeight survey. 10% of those polled – including Republicans, Democrats, Independents, etc. said they wanted to ban all guns. ONLY 10%!!

    For decades the Republicans have used the scare tactic that Democrats, Liberals, and maybe even zombies awaiting their apocalypse are after everyone’s guns just to get votes and repay their donors by getting more guns sold. That is outrageous! It is just like they have used power over a woman’s body to scream pro-life. It is only about votes – absolutely not one thing about life. Not one of their policies are about pro-life. Their one and only God is money and power. They do not care about children being murdered or about a woman just power over that woman’s body and keeping donor money flowing. A gun’s sole purpose for being is to kill. Idiots keep bringing up about cars. Cars were not specifically made to kill. You have to take a test to get a learner’s permit. You have to have so many hours of instruction and behind the wheel experience. You have to take another test and actually show someone you can drive. You have to pay for insurance to drive that car.

    An eighteen year old can walk into a store purchase a gun and ammunition and maybe even add to his stockpile and then go out and murder 17 people. Or an older man with lots of money can stockpile over 40 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition and kill 58 people and injure over 800 people. This is our country because gun manufacturers need to keep selling guns to make money. When they had a black bogeyman money poured in after every mass shooting. At least twice a week a child picks up a gun and shoots themselves or someone else. This is absolutely crazy. We absolutely know that it is not true that every person who legally buys a gun is a good guy.

    The worst part is that today’s NRA won’t even admit guns are a part of the problem. They blame everything on someone else. Maybe that is where Trump learned to blame everyone else for everything. They need to let actual good guys with guns pull up their big girl panties and sit down at the table and come up with something other than more guns, we need more guns.

    Ronald Reagan shut down mental facilities. Republicans policies do not involve safety nets. Their only issues involve putting more money in their pockets. Reagan did it to save money. What happened was we had to hire more police to deal with people with mental issues. Now so many cities and towns are overrun with tent cities. Many of these people have mental issues and refuse help. I know this because our oldest son is a policeman and right now his assignment is to get homeless people off the streets and get them help. They refuse. It is going to turn into a massive health issue with these people and it is going to affect everyone of us some day. Bottom line Reagan’s brilliant idea costs even more money for the taxpayer.

    My retirement check has not changed one penny. So much for this great tax cut for the middle class although I admit I belong in the lower middle class. People won’t realize the harm that this tax cut has done to them until down the road. They might start waking up next year after they do their 2018 taxes. Our infrastructure is failing. How are we going to keep the lights on, the water drinkable, our roads good enough to get you to work?

    On top of everything our country is flooded with guns and for whatever reason angry white guys. What is up with that? Why are conservatives so angry. Trump tapped into that and has surrounded himself with men who abuse women, who give angry rants when they get behind a microphone, or, like himself tweet idiotic things especially if a woman makes him mad. This putrid slime is flowing from the top.

    There are going to be more shootings, more angry people, more murdered children. And the rest of us are left to listen to the empty words of “thoughts and prayers”. I cannot believe God would trust any of them with the key to his kingdom when they show such disregard for this planet and the humans that inhabit it. To me it is a slap in the face to God because you cannot appreciate his blessings you have received here, why would you deserve anything more from God.

    PS: I am so sorry for the loss of your father. I don’t think a hug could ever be long enough to ease the pain. I have lost both my parents and even though I was in my 60’s you still feel like you have been orphaned.

  14. after serving 20 years in the military and seeing what guns can do… and knowing as you said – in order to insure a well-regulated militia – that gun nuts are in denial and I personaly think are cowards. I can think of not instance living in this country where I felt I needed a gun. And to allow mental people to have them is insane. Do not get sidetracked by issues of mental illness nor age, nor good guys with guns, etc. the facts are there are too many guns esp. assault weapons. There are no reason for them – that argument of must having a gun to protect against a government is asinine – you gonna fight an armed brigade of Marines? I don’t think so…

  15. This is good. So on target. They treat the constitution the same way they treat the bible. Cherry picking. Freedom of religion has never meant that to some people, they mean freedom of their religion and the right to force it on everyone else. I doubt they think that muslims get to use the 2nd Amendment, that is only for white christian dudes. Once again you have my heartfelt thanks for all you do. Peace and Love,

  16. you called it !!!!! and they have mostly comfortable lives so the power structure works for them…if love one another doesn’t work for them they close you down hard and tight…common good is socialism to them and seeing suffering..or hearing anyone NOT from their perspective….provokes the shame and blame re-victimization diversion so they never confront the real issue at hand…like ak 47s

  17. Thank you. Thank you from my soul. You have strung all of my disconnected, troubling pieces of thought into a logical, constructive voice.

  18. Why John, can you and I, and others like us, see all this and understand, yet evangelicals can not? And how do we help the next generation that are being brainwashed to not understand, and to hate us for seeing the truth?

  19. Thank you for a well written piece. The message has to be repeated over and over to bring about change. The NRA is hysterical at the moment – losing supporters, sponsors, $$, unchallenged power over government.

    I also think a lot of the love of guns in the South has historical racial roots – fear of slave uprising that has now manifested itself as a black uprising. I’ve often thought this but have never really seen anyone address it in the media.

  20. While I agee with much of your blog, it seems that you have thrown every member of the NEA under the bus.
    I hope there are many members of the NRA that are not far- right radicals.
    The two you named are very offensive, but maybe there are some with more open minds. I certainly hope so.

  21. Bravo John! Truly well stated. I admire the way you help me and, hopefully, some of the gun lovers to consider another angle to look at this tragic mess regarding firearms in the U.S.

  22. Of course when our country was founded these writing the Constitution and using the term “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” never imagined abortions and those whose who saying that it is not person. They also didn’t imagine that there would be a group of professional politicians who have been in office for 40 or more years. They didn’t imagine that the federal government would keep increasing their power were it was specifically stated in the Constitution that those not mentioned would be under the power of the states, ie Education. They also,didn’t imagine that states would not follow the federal laws and totally disregard the Constitution ie California and illegal immigrants. I can’t imagine that they thought that people would come to the US to have their children so that they would be US citizens, ie pregnancy tours for the rich Chinese.

  23. Have been waiting for this courageous assessment. Thank you, John. There is definitely a gun fetish in this country, as stated by Eugene Robinson in another brave commentary.
    Growing up in a rural area where there were guns in our father’s home, then as a health care professional (RN/Family NP), happily living without them for 40+ years in small city/small town environments, it is so plain to me that there is an addiction to guns in our nation. If we only had resources allocated to study this, it would be obvious to all of us, just as the opioid crisis is an undeniable fact. It’s so unfortunate that we are blind to these issues until it becomes too late.

  24. A blind shot in the dark. One that vilifies everyone that doesn’t agree with you. You haven’t tried to understand the issues, and more importantly the people you speak against. Instead, you make generalizations and take every fringe thought and paint everyone with broad strokes . Next time you should really take the time to put some original thoughts together for your blog, instead of taking your talking points directly from MSNBC.

  25. Anti-gunners, this isn’t about making schools safer. If it were, you would have a broader agenda than just trying to ban AR15s. You would actually want to discuss all ways to improve safety rather than just target rifles. Think about how we approach drunk driving. Do we target alcohol or cars when trying to reduce deaths. No, we focus our efforts on the person drinking. How about we focus our efforts on the killer when it comes to school shootings. Why pick on AR15s? Handguns have been used in many more mass shootings than rifles have been used so why not be upset with those. Most handguns are semi-automatic just like an AR15. Actually when it comes to murder by rifle, rifle killings are actually below hammer and clubs. No, when it comes to school shootings, anti-gunners don’t really care about the kids. The anti-gunners just want to ban guns and they are starting with the AR15s just because they look “scary”. When I see the anti-gunners willing to discuss the entire set of options to improve student safety without getting hung up on the choice of weapon, then I’ll take you seriously

  26. And some of them are quote fast and loose with the right to vote – they don’t seem to be bothered much about rules and regulations restricting access to that constitutional right.

  27. Pingback: Gun Lover, This Isn’t About the Constitution — John Pavlovitz: Stuff That Needs To Be Said | Impromptu Promptlings

  28. I agree wholeheartedly, I have tried to have decent discussions with gun rights advocates, trying to present some ideas that would still let them have their guns, I’m not for a total ban on all gubs, but they are having none of it. It’s a pattern that as I as questions, or counter their argument, they start calling me clueless, anti-american, stupid, and a lot of other derogatory names that I will not repeat here. I am never disrespectful, I never use political terms to describe a person I do not know. It makes me sad that this is what our country has become, this is the behavior that our leaders in government have learned to tolerate and condone because we have a president who,on a daily basis, takes to social media and degrade anyone who opposes him. The hate speeches given by the NRA leaders at CPAC should have been addressed, and labeled as hate-speech against citizens who are exercising their First Amendment Rights. Read the transcript if you can stomach it, and think about how this organization has the ear of the president and what that means to America.
    Thank you for saying the things that need to be said, but I fear that the people who need to hear it won’t.

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