With just 27 words in 1791, Americaâ€™s Second Amendment paved a blood-drenched trail for legal access to modern-day weapons used in videogame-like fashion to gun down fellow citizens, military style. Now, after all the mass carnage of 222 years of â€œFreedom to Bear Armsâ€ â€“ with a murder-count so high that only God can accurately tally it â€“ thereâ€™s a sudden political epiphany for urgent â€œgun controlâ€ to ostensibly curb the curse of innocent slayings.
Given, however, an estimated 300 million legal guns, compounded by ever-rising volumes of illegal guns that already saturate society uncontrollably, the notion of â€œgun controlâ€ equates somewhat to â€œclosing the barn door after the horse is gone.â€
All of the adverse consequences and uncivilized behavior associated with this so-called â€œfreedomâ€ beg the question: What was the original function and intent of arming citizens that made the constitutional framers appear so wise in the first place?
Conventional logic suggests that early Americans obviously needed guns to hunt and protect themselves in the wilds. Also, in a newly formed republic, arms were presumed necessary to defend the preciousness of Americaâ€™s democracy from possible tyranny.
Although such reasoning seems practical and plausible, there is an unpopular but overriding truth about â€œbearing armsâ€ thatâ€™s deeply affixed to defending another of Americaâ€™s preciousness: institutionalized slavery.
Bluntly put, the Second Amendment traces to a historical period when bullets and Bibles were necessary to forcibly control and psychologically manipulate huge swaths of enslaved populations that eventually exceeded four million, which the same Constitution openly repudiates the humanity thereof as further proof.
Contrary to â€œdefending freedom,â€ the looming threats of uprisings due to â€œdenying freedomâ€ to Africans and Native Americans posed Americaâ€™s greatest domestic security concern at that time.
Simply put, without guns and a well-armed white society, the scale of chattel slavery would have been plainly improbable. And, given the magnitude and duration of slaveryâ€™s unchecked brutality, the governmentâ€™s accompanying decision to â€œbear armsâ€ could itself be easily characterized as more of an â€œact of tyrannyâ€ than an â€œact of freedom.â€
In further tracing the source of gun violence, there are other true but controversial historical factors that predate the Constitution. Foremost, guns were massively exported to Africa (upwards to 150,000 annually in the 1700s) as Europeans arrived over the centuries as traders, explorers, and missionaries, as they Frankensteined into colonizers and enslavers who helped forge the incongruent cornerstones of todayâ€™s â€œdemocraticâ€ world.
Guns were thus integral products of the slave-based Triangular Trade involving Africa, Europe and the Americas which morphed into the most violent yet lucrative and sophisticated system of commerce theretofore. Some enslaved Africans arrived in America as highly skilled blacksmiths and smelters who were forced to help make the very guns and ships that perpetuated this cyclical inhumane trade for enslaved laborers.
By design, this system involved a contrived process whereby Africans would kill Africans with guns, while world audiences of apathetic Europeans watched as their nations simultaneously benefited economically as a natural by-product.
Understanding the racial dichotomies of this long and hostile history, it is not by happenstance that slavery ended in 1865 and the National Rifle Association (NRA) was founded six years later, in 1871. Certainly, however, the NRA and the vast majority of gun owners do not shoot up moviegoers or kill schoolchildren or stockpile ammunition to fend off blacks in a future race war.
Yet, it is not inaccurate to conclude that the curse and apathy and elongated shadow from centuries of gun violence against and amongst black people exist unbroken today.
With or without a black president, African Americans should have consequently self-declared our expendability as an urgent and distinct national crisis long ago and then uncompromisingly demand that this purported â€œgovernment of the peopleâ€ provide and apply distinct resources of remedy.
In other words, President Barack Obamaâ€™s â€œgun controlâ€ measures (background checks, mental healthcare, assault weapons ban, reduced magazines, etc.) prompted by the Newtown tragedy are great general steps.
However, they fail dismally to recognize and fail substantively to redress the longstanding circumstances that cause gun violence to be the â€œLeading Cause of Death Among Black Teens.â€ To think otherwise is delusional.
Despite all the prestigious educational and political institutions that are now integrated, Americaâ€™s curse of racial gun violence continues unabated.
Decades ago, however, Dr. Carter G. Woodson cautioned us against contributing to our own â€œundoingâ€ and â€œworthlessnessâ€ through Western institutions. In this case, African Americans are apparently being institutionally fashioned to be unfit to undo this curse that is paradoxically being camouflaged as freedom.
*Pictured above is Ezrah Aharone, an adjunct associate professor at Delaware State University and the author of two acclaimed political books, Sovereign Evolution: Manifest Destiny from Civil Rights to Sovereign Rights and Pawned Sovereignty: Sharpened Black Perspectives on Americanization, Africa, War and Reparations. He may be reached at EzrahSpeaks.com