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.
Second Amendment, Constitution of the United States
Americans and our guns may be inseparable. In thirty
states it is legal to carry a concealed handgun with a permit. All sorts
of people carry. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, for instance, where
Archipelago is based, it is lawful to carry a permitted concealed
weapon into a community recreation center. Although citizens of Virginia
often oppose the regulation locally, particularly in urban areas, only the
state legislature, not town or city councils, can make it unlawful.
Across this country, our civic debate about guns is
generally formed as the right to carry versus gun control. But in
those terms, the National Rifle Association controls the territory. It has
the money, the membership, a huge database, and very effective lobbyists
to get what it wants. The Virginia gun law, for example, which forbids
local regulation, was pushed by the N.R.A. The
N.R.A. is the Commonwealth’s most generous corporate
political donor, and gives only to the Republican Party. The Republican
Party, as it happens, holds the majority in both the Senate and House of
Delegates. Nationally, pressing its agenda among both parties, the
N.R.A. rules the U.S. Congress
(where some prominent Democrats are also members), and any number of state
legislatures. It has very good friends of the highest rank in the White
House and the Justice Department.
In any room, the man with the gun dominates the
Over the next year, Archipelago will ask a number
of writers of various backgrounds to contribute to this edgy conversation.
Our premise is, in this nation, we live with guns. They aren’t going to go
away. How did this happen? Can their use be moderated: should it be? For
the sake of peace among ourselves, what are we willing to give up?
For further reading; to be continued:
Second Amendment Annotations
The Brady Center for Gun Control
In this Series:
The Fight for Kansas: The Letters of Cecilia and John
Sherman - Mary Sherman-Willis
“Why They Shot Us,” - Marilyn A.