Warren Burger, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Supreme Court, 1969-1986, said and wrote:
“The gun lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the work fraud, on the American people by special interest groups that I have seen in my lifetime. The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies—the militia—would be maintained for the defense of the state. The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires.
Former Chief Justice Warren Burger made his position clear in 1991 In an interview with Public Broadcasting and later in the same year in what we now call an Op-Ed article for the associated press.
It is long past time that we re-started this conversation.
The text of the Second Amendment reads; “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.” Firearms are for the use of a militia.
Control of a militia is spelled out in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. Congress is “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions.” This is what a Militia is supposed to do.
Who tells the militia what to do and who controls it? Section 8 of Article 1 answers those questions: Congress is to “provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the Militia and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by congress.” Militias, and hence firearms, are completely under Governmental control.
How did we go from this, perfectly clear, outline of ownership and control of firearms to an 18 year old legally purchasing a military grade firearm and slaughtering 19 small children, two adults and inflicting life-changing wounds on 17 others? As Chief Justice Burger indicates, we have been the victims of one of the greatest pieces of fraud on the American public. It isn’t just stealing money or goods; it is stealing lives.
The gun lobby went from being gun safety advocates to gun sales advocates and along the way have given rise to a great slaughter of Americans, many of them, children, in defense of a myth. There are many groups advocating myths in this county, but this particular one was reframed as a fundamental “right” and the cause was taken up by right-wing politicians in pursuit of votes.
This pursuit of election and power resulted in 45,222 firearms deaths in 2020, the last year for which statistics are available of which 24,292 were suicides and 19,384 were homicides. As gun laws loosen around the country, deaths go up. These aren’t peaceful deaths. Bones are shattered, heads are blown apart, brains splattered and chunks of flesh are ripped from often very young bodies.
The gun culture advocates stand before us defending the ownership of military grade weapons before the children have been buried. Their words and hands drip with the blood of the innocent and yet they continue to advocate for this great fraud; this great myth of the right to ownership of weapons of death. The gun lobby and their allies in congress and state legislatures took 40 years to get control of this issue and we need to reverse the trend, even if it takes another 40 years.