Missives on Guns, Policy, and Politics in America eBook Preview
One author’s attempt to combine all his writing on gun policy/politics in America in way that he hopes will help others understand this pressing issue and arm them with knowledge to debate and discuss it along with a clear understanding of what needs to be done.
Originally published on LinkedIn Pulse December 5, 2015
The following is a preview of the brand new short-but-powerful eBook Needless Deaths, Inexcusable Responses: Missives on Guns, Policy, and Politics in America, available on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and in ePub format!
From Columbine to Sandy Hook to San Bernardino, mass shootings are an epidemic unique to America among developed/Western nations in their frequency. But the level of “normal” gun violence in America is also far higher than virtually any other developed/Western nation as well. In this short yet useful and data-driven exploration of the intersection between guns, policy, and politics in America, historian and policy/political expert Brian Frydenborg presents a series of discussions from a range of his work (including one article never before published) arranged by different themes to bring his readers up to speed on the crucial public policy and political issue of guns in America.
Going over the history, American exceptionalism, numbers, mentalities, and, building on all of these, possible solutions regarding the problems with guns in America, Frydenborg takes his readers on a journey beginning with a historical, contextual understanding of the Second Amendment as America’s Founding generation would have understood and lived it, going back over a millennium into a sacred, constant tradition of English history dating back to the withdrawal of the Roman Empire, but lasting up to and through the American Revolution. Next, a brief yet sound data-driven analysis is presented explaining why America is so exceptional when it comes to gun violence. Then, an exploration of data on how gun violence is carried out in America, by whom and to whom and where, helps establish that the problems surrounding gun violence are hardly insurmountable. Next up, he discusses the absurdity of the mentality of Americans when it comes to gun violence, comparing the policy responses to gun violence and terrorism and noting that terrorism kills far fewer Americans each year, even taking into account 9/11 and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also embarks upon a surprising but eye-opening comparison between African-Americans and Palestinians. Finally, taking all of this into account, Frydenborg makes a clear and compelling case about the policy directions America needs to take as far as reducing gun violence.
Anyone seeking to understand the tragedy of gun violence in America would do well to consider Brian Frydenborg’s thoughtful, data driven, and conveniently thematically organized pieces on this urgent policy and political topic, especially as people consider who they will support in the presidential and other political races of 2016. The lives—or deaths—of thousands depend on the policy choices these leaders will make.
Table of Contents
PART I: HISTORY.. 4
Chapter 1: The Irrelevant Second Amendment 5
PART II: AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM.. 11
Chapter 2: Why is the US so Good at Gun Violence?. 12
PART III: NUMBERS. 17
Chapter 3: Gun Violence in the U.S.: The Numbers Behind the Madness. 18
Chapter 4: American Guns: Not Just Killing Americans (See Mexico) 26
PART IV: MENTALITIES. 30
Chapter 5: How Not to Stop Terrorism & Gun Violence: Lessons from the Republicans 31
Chapter 6: Arms and the Man (Underwater): The Myth of Mass Gun Confiscation in Post-Katrina New Orleans. 44
Chapter 7: A Ferguson Intifada: Why African-Americans are America’s Palestinians 49
PART V: SOLUTIONS. 59
Chapter 8: These Maps Debunk Everything the NRA Has Told Us About Guns. 61
Chapter 9: Development: The Fix for Terrorism & Violent Crime. 68
About the Author 78
Dedicated to all who have been touched by domestic gun violence in America, may their suffering not be in vain, and to my friends and family, without whom I would not be alive. And to my readers, without whom this and all my articles are just fancy diary entries.
“I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves.”
—Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: A Memoir, 2010
“We say keep your change, we’ll keep our God, our guns, our Constitution.”
—Sarah Palin, speech at CPAC, February 11th, 2012
“Heroism breaks its heart, and idealism its back, on the intransigence of the credulous and the mediocre, manipulated by the cynical and the corrupt.”
—Christopher Hitchens, “What I Don’t See at the Revolution,” Vanity Fair, March 31st, 2011
As Cicero wrote in his Orator over 2,000 years ago, “Not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever” (120). Therefore, we shall begin with history. From history, we will progress to data, then to mindsets, and, finally, we will see where all that points us in terms of solutions. Seemingly simple enough, and yet, on such a contentious issue, we shall go into some detail just so that the reader can more easily refute those who are part of the problem and not the solution, those who cling to fantasies and falsehoods in the face of much better, far more productive alternatives. After all, this debate, among many in modern American politics, has become clouded in manufactured ideology and irrationality. Yet such things are the mortal enemy of policy, with which the collection of essays/articles here is primarily concerned. Tame the politics and mythology, and policy may yet win the day.
PART I: HISTORY
This was the first piece I had ever formally written about the issue of guns in America. As a lover of and student of history, naturally, I felt a good place to begin was going back in history, to the origins and context of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Unless one properly understand what the Second Amendment is (and what it is not), any discussion becomes something of a farce. Perhaps, then, is not surprising that most discussions on guns in America are just that: farces, as illustrated by how few Americans actually know and understand what is illustrated in this section. Most conservative Republicans—including, unfortunately, too many Supreme Court Justices, believe that the Second Amendment enshrines a right to bear arms for every individual and that this right is not subject to any government regulation. Such an interpretation flies in the face of the substantial weight of history and the Amendment’s context, as will be demonstrated in the following chapter.
Chapter 1: The Irrelevant Second Amendment
The individual right to keep and bear arms as part of the state militia is guaranteed by the Second Amendment. What does that have to do with today’s citizenry? Nothing.
Vikings vs. English Saxon fyrd- The History Channel/Vikings
Updated November 30th, 2015, to include a discussion of Lord Blackstone’s Commentaries
Perhaps the most depressing thing about the gun-control debate in the United States, apart from the continuous stream of deaths that still have yet to merit not even a modestly serious policy response, is that for as many times as the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—part of what is termed the Bill of Rights—is invoked, nearly as many times there is a total lack of historical context of that very amendment presented alongside. Into this vacuum all sorts of creative reasoning has flooded, to such a degree that the highest law courts and judges of the land, too, have fallen to such erroneous thinking that ignores the history and tradition from which the Second Amendment emerged.
J. G. A. Pocock correctly notes that “[i]t is notorious that American culture is haunted by myths, many of which arise out of the attempt to escape history and then regenerate it,” and the Second Amendment is a textbook example of this phenomenon. The roots of this amendment go back to Saxon culture in the era of the Roman Empire. When Rome decided to withdraw from its provinces in the British Isles early in the fifth-century to consolidate its withering power in the rest of the West, the Saxons, Angles, (from which England got its name) and other Germanic tribes eventually filled the power vacuum the Romans left. The most visible presence of Roman governmental authority had been the army, the professional, standing Roman legions that had been stationed in Britain. Security after their withdrawal became nonexistent, but the Saxons, after a bloody conquest, imported a tradition of theirs from mainland Europe with them: that of the fyrd, as the U.S. Army’s official history explains. In this system, all adult males had to engage in military training, and, in times of war, would be expected to fight. This tradition continued throughout English history. The English freemen, like the Saxons before him, were given the right to bear arms as part of a contract in which their responsibility was to train in their local militia and defend the realm when necessary. This part is important: there is no tradition in English history of the local peasants having an institutionalized right to keep and bear arms without the responsibility of being part of an organized militia which would act to defend the land when needed; the right to bear arms does not exist without the militia, and the militia does not exist without the peasants being trained for and participating in a militia… (CHAPTER CONTINUED IN FULL VERSION)
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