I heard a really ridiculous analogical defense of the 2nd by a ‘guns rights’ advocate that necessitated a response. He said that he didn’t hear anyone advocating that we ban flying after 9/11 because it is not the modus operandi of a crime that matters but the motive behind it.
In a sense he is right. As a matter of fact, George Bush got on T.V and encouraged everyone to fly after the twin towers fell because flying was still safe. However, it wasn’t our right to fly that was taken away, but something of much more consequence.
After 9/11, breaches to the constitution were commonplace. I boarded planes many times under ridiculously absurd pseudonyms; I think Mickey Mouse was my favorite. “Here you are, Mr. Mouse.” laughed the woman selling me my ticket as she handed it to me with about 30 minutes to spare before my flight boarded. Those days are now long ago and far away. Today, aside from showing up at least two hours prior to boarding and waiting in absurdly long lines, we endure hazardous body scanners that, while courts have found them not to violate the 4th amendment, undoubtedly since they don’t want to interfere with the lucrative security contracts that former Homeland Security officials will profit from, civil rights groups, and even a GOP lawmaker, disagree.
Of course the post-9/11 abridgements didn’t stop there.
We all remember the FISA scandal. Yet since that time the security state has only grown more trenchant, especially under Obama, when it comes to upending our 8th amendment rights. Everyday our phone calls are listened to and recorded, our texts and emails read and stored and we are filmed under NSA, DHS, FBI, CIA and countless other government surveillance programs, and all in the name of security. Even medical professionals have been asked to spy on us by our government. Increasingly, we are even incorporating drones into domestic policing. Added to the cost of our regular military budget, we pay about $1 trillion dollars a year for the privilege of being subjected to espionage. And meanwhile, if state secrets are revealed, the government reprisal against their former intelligencer is relentless.
This brings me to my last point.
We have a right to both a speedy and fair trial as well as protection from cruel and unusual punishment—read torture—under the 6th and 8th amendments, respectively. Nevertheless, since the PATRIOT (2001) and Homeland Security (2002) Acts anointed the security state supreme, we routinely hold people in detention both arbitrarily and indefinitely. Moreover, since the 2006 Military Commissions Act and the more recent NDAA, we also torture them, and do so legally. Nor does such state criminality apply solely to so-called “terrorists”. It also applies to American citizens—not that there should be a merited distinction.
I feel like these points are so often cited that they have become banal and platitudinous, which is all the more frightening given that there is so little sustained public outrage against abuse of state power. But when I hear people touting the second amendment with such vivacity, or more often with such vitriolic fear of governmental encroachment into our private lives, I fail to understand why they don’t see that the state has already purloined the bulk of our rights and why they don’t show as much oppositional vehemence to these abuses?
I think it is safe to say that we when a major bank that has laundered money for terrorist organizations and drug cartels can get a free pass from the government yet we incarcerate 2.5 million citizens a year, mostly for non-violently using the drugs sold by these cartels, we already crossed the line in the sand that frets 2nd amendment exponents long ago.