The 10 killed by a semi-automatic weapon at the King Soopers store in Boulder is another incident in a string of mass killings in Colorado. The list of significant massacres by gun violence goes all the way back to the state-sponsored killings at Sand Creek (1864) and Ludlow (1914). Then followed Columbine (1999), Aurora (2012), now Boulder and many more with smaller numbers between these dates.
Efforts to stem the use of guns in America have had mixed results over the years. The work has become more difficult as many in the United States have militarized their personal arsenals with assault weapons.
Just last year, over 40 million weapons were purchased and added to gun ownership in the country. The purposes for the purchases such as fear, personal and family defense or even evil intent does not account for the intense focus on acquiring so many weapons.
The main defense against initiatives to restrict the use of guns in the country revolves around the Second Amendment to the Constitution. The 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.”
Perhaps the reason for the purchase of guns, especially the military types, is hidden in plain sight. Perhaps it is the words of the Second Amendment that is encouraging the tremendous rise in the accumulation of arms.
When Pancho Villa and others like him came out of the wilderness to create the Mexican Revolution, they came with a lot of baggage. Their reputations before becoming insurgents and heroes were that of bandits and usurpers of law and order.
One of the major sources of energy for the civil rights movements in America was the redirection of, at times, criminal gang activity to fight for social and political justice. That contribution to the work of militant communities is still to be measured.
A curious thing is happening in the extremist White activist realm. Whereas the minority groups converted their activities to the acquisition of political rights denied them, the agenda of White extremists is to fight to keep the power and privilege that they fear they are losing.
For this purpose, they are flocking to organizations such as the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, American Front, Aryan Republican Army, Combat 18, Hammer Skins, the Ku Klux Klan and the Order among others. Many have also organized and trained in militias and seek to legitimize these activities by referring to the words of the Second Amendment.
The Second Amendment does imply the right of citizens to bear arms as part of a vigilant posture against a government that may no longer represents the will of the people. In this case however, the goal is to take up arms to stop democracy from reducing the political influence of a majority that is gradually losing that status.
Ironically, the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol was a dress rehearsal generally without guns as their use would have diminished their Second Amendment argument as was the case with the 19th Century Southern rebellion. The result is that politicians are talking past each other as those interested in reducing gun violence, are being opposed by those interested in arming themselves to protect the political status quo.
These interests cannot coincide to achieve gun control relief for the country. Instead, the prevention of gun violence in the streets of America is being held hostage by an interest in guns for another purpose.