America’s gun obsession is rooted in slavery

America’s gun obsession is rooted in slavery

Bodies are piling up all over the second amendment as two of America’s pandemics converge. The “ plague of gun violence ” and the inability to mount an effective response , even in the wake of multiple mass shootings , is, unfortunately, rooted in the other pandemic gripping the United States: anti-Blackness and the sense that African Americans are a dangerous threat that can only be neutralized or stopped by a well-armed white citizenry. For too long, the second amendment has been portrayed with a founding fathers aura swaddled in the stars and stripes. But “a well-regulated militia” wasn’t, as the story goes, about how valiant and effective the militias were in repelling the British. George Washington was disgusted with their lack of fighting ability and the way the men would just cut and run from battling against a professional army. Nor was the militia reliable as a force to uphold the law. In Shays’ Rebellion, bands of armed white men, who were in the state’s militia, attacked the Massachusetts government because of foreclosures and debt seizures, demonstrating, again, how unreliable the militia were. Boston merchants had to hire mercenaries to put down the rebellion. On the other hand, where the militia had been steadfast was in controlling the enslaved Black population. Access to guns for white people was essential for this function. In 1788, at the constitutional ratification convention in Virginia, a major source of contention was that the draft constitution had placed the training and arming of […]

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