Donald Trump tweeted last night that he had released his position papers on the Second Amendment:
I’ve just released my position papers on The Second Amendment. https://t.co/ssFXVGWTIP
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 18, 2015
The position paper, PROTECTING OUR SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS WILL MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN: Donald J. Trump on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms tells us:
The Second Amendment to our Constitution is clear. The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed upon. Period.
The problem is, that is not what the Second Amendment says at all and Trump proves again and again he did not actually read the Second Amendment before he wrote his position papers on it.
There, the rest of us can plainly read:
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.
Trump forgot about the “well regulated militia” being the reason for bearing arms. And forgetting about the militia means Trump misunderstands what those arms are for. He goes on to claim:
The Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right that belongs to all law-abiding Americans. The Constitution doesn’t create that right – it ensures that the government can’t take it away. Our Founding Fathers knew, and our Supreme Court has upheld, that the Second Amendment’s purpose is to guarantee our right to defend ourselves and our families. This is about self-defense, plain and simple.
Plain and simple…no, not really plain and simple at all.
What is a militia Trump has ignored, you ask? Rather than going to a modern dictionary to see why they needed guns (in case the Second Amendment isn’t clear enough on that), let’s open up Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language (London, 1768):
MILITIA. F. [Latin] The trainbands; the standing force of a nation
TRAINBANDS. F. The militia; the part of a community trained to martial exercise.
So the militia is the standing force of the nation. And in the absence of the Continental Army during the Revolution, the militia was precisely that, sometimes standing up to the British, sometimes melting away, taking their guns with them.
It is important to note here that the Founding Fathers were suspicious of standing armies, so after the Revolution, we had a “well regulated militia” instead. This militia had its backsides handed to them by a Native American force at the Battle of the Wabash in 1791.
The United States Constitution, of course, was drafted in 1787 during the primacy of the militia, and ratified in 1788, both events occuring before President George Washington decided we needed an actual, professional army in 1792. So strictly speaking, the Second Amendment speaks to an era that had ceased to exist by 1792 with the establishment of Mad Anthony Wayne’s “Legion of the United States” (not renamed the United States Army until 1796).
It is a shame the Founding Fathers did not bother to change the Second Amendment to reflect the new reality, that Americans no longer needed to be armed like an army because they no longer were an army. Today, of course, we not only have a standing, active-duty army, but we have the Army Reserve and a new sort of militia, the National Guard.
Needless to say, unlike 1776, we no longer have to carry our own weapons to National Guard training. The Army provides the weapons these days. Technically speaking, the Second Amendment describes a reality that no longer prevails.
The problem Trump has here is that he sees guns as a means of defending our homes against intruders, and that is not how guns are written into the United States Constitution. Communities in the 18th century would muster the able-bodied men with their weapons on the village green and drill like soldiers.
And they had to: they were the closet thing to Samuel Johnson’s standing army. But armies were never intended to control our own people, but to ward off outside enemies.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, wants to use guns to control crime. Bernie Sanders wants fewer prisons, and to eliminate private prisons. Donald Trump wants to throw more people into prison. And he makes a careful distinction between white folks with guns, who are okay in his book, and “other” people with guns, or “drug dealers and gang members” as he calls them.
We need to get serious about prosecuting violent criminals. The Obama administration’s record on that is abysmal. Violent crime in cities like Baltimore, Chicago and many others is out of control. Drug dealers and gang members are given a slap on the wrist and turned loose on the street. This needs to stop.
Then there are the “okay” people:
Why does that matter to law-abiding gun owners? Because they’re the ones who anti-gun politicians and the media blame when criminals misuse guns.
Like the Oath Keepers aiming guns at federal officers? That sort of non-violent? Or offering to “protect” Kim Davis from re-arrest? Or trying to intimidate a judge at his home by gathering outside, armed? Or entering into government offices, armed, to intimidate lawmakers? Those were all actions carried out by white people with guns.
Yet Trump believes no white man with a gun can be wrong, proposes:
[E]mpower law-abiding gun owners to defend themselves. Law enforcement is great, they do a tremendous job, but they can’t be everywhere all of the time. Our personal protection is ultimately up to us. That’s why I’m a gun owner, that’s why I have a concealed carry permit, and that’s why tens of millions of Americans have concealed carry permits as well. It’s just common sense. To make America great again, we’re going to go after criminals and put the law back on the side of the law-abiding.
Common sense tells Trump to turn a bunch of untrained yokels with guns, who as often as not shoot themselves or each other by accident, or are shot by their wives or children by accident because they leave their loaded weapons lying around, loose on criminals. Donald Trump thinks this is the answer to crime.
Trump complains in his papers that “law-abiding gun owners…get blamed by anti-gun politicians, gun control groups and the media for the acts of deranged madmen,” but has no problem assigning group guilt to blacks or Mexicans or Muslims for the actions of a violent few.
It’s just that in Trump’s white supremacist world, white folks with guns can do no wrong. And Trump doesn’t want to confuse people with terms like “assault weapon” or “high capacity magazine”: he says “Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice.”
The old adage Keeping up with the Joneses just assumed a terrifying new dimension.
Trump neither read nor understood the Second Amendment, but uses it as just an excuse for “law-abiding” (read: white) folks to lock and load while we clear everyone else off the streets, and oh, by the way, that concealed carry permit should be valid in your neighborhood too, even if your community says no, because, you know, it’s a “right.”
Never mind the Second Amendment’s failure to mention “concealed carry,” because why would a militia conceal its weapons?
We need to thank Donald J. Trump for releasing his position papers on the Second Amendment. They are very…illuminating, to say the least. We now have a fuller understanding of Trump’s “us vs. them” world and how he intends to “manage” it. White folks with guns are just protecting themselves and maintaining law and order. Other folks…well, there are always those prisons Republicans love so much.
Let’s see – Übermensch on the streets with guns. Untermenschen in the prisons. That’s Donald Trump’s America.
Does that sound at all familiar to you? It should. Welcome to Germany, 1933.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.