i n t r o d u c t i o n




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 conversation.

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?

Katherine McNamara

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. Johnson.



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