The New Yorker: Battleground America


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Using the recent Chardon High School shooting as a starting point, New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore looks at the history of gun rights in America. Before the late 20th Century, the widely accepted understanding of the Second Amendment was that it provided for the people’s right to form armed militias to provide for the common defense, not for the individual right to bear arms. In fact, The National Rifle Association did not, until the 1970s, consider that individual right to be part of its mission. The article quotes former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger as saying that the contemporary interpretation of the Second Amendment is:

“one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud,’ on the American public by special-interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

Lepore also reports on several other recent, harrowing and thoroughly heartbreaking tragedies in which relatively easy access to handguns has played a central role — including of course the recent shooting of Trayvon Martin.

I highly recommend you read this article for yourself, but the entirety of its arc is perhaps best summed up in this quote from David Keene, president of the N.R.A.:

“If you had asked, in 1968, will we have the right to do with guns in 2012 what we can do now, no one, on either side, would have believed you.”

Read the full article here.