Joe the Plumber, who is not a licensed plumber, and whose name is actually Samuel Wurzelbacher, wrote an open letter for Barbwire, Matt Barber‘s new hate-filled website. As you may recall, Joe the Plumber leaped into the public spotlight during the 2008 presidential election, and was branded a middle class hero by the right wing. He runs his very own website, and he was super good friends with grifter and half-governor Sarah Palin. Mr. Plumber also loves the Constitution…well, the right wing version, ‘Merikuh, and of course, guns. In fact, he loves guns so much that he wrote this in his Barbwire letter:
I am sorry you lost your child. I myself have a son and daughter and the one thing I never want to go through, is what you are going through now. But:
As harsh as this sounds – your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.
Take as much time as you need to try and process that. Now, buckle up, because I am not going mince words.
This is what they believe, the gun extremists. Dead kids don’t “trump” their Constitutional rights. Nothing does. No amount of pain, no amount of bloodshed, no amount of anguish. All that matters is what they believe: the Second Amendment protects their right to own whatever they want, however many they want, and no fucking dead children are going to get in the way of that. Except they’re wrong about the Second Amendment, and about the framers’ intent.
Joe Nocera, writing in Monday’s New York Times, uses details and excerpts from Michael Waldman’s book, “The Second Amendment: A Biography,” to point out the history behind one of the most misconstrued parts of the Constitution. What we learn in Nocera’s piece, and from Waldman’s book is:
Thus the unsurprising discovery: Virtually every reference to “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” — the second part of the Second Amendment — was in reference to military defense. Waldman notes the House debate over the Second Amendment in the summer of 1789: “Twelve congressmen joined the debate. None mentioned a private right to bear arms for self-defense, hunting or for any purpose other than joining the militia.”
Military defense. Not Chipotle defense, not FEMA camp defense, not unarmed teenager carrying an iced tea and a pack of Skittles defense. Military. So when, exactly, did gun extremists hijack the Second Amendment? From Nocera’s article:
But then, in 1977, there was a coup at the National Rifle Association, which was taken over by Second Amendment fundamentalists. Over the course of the next 30 years, they set out to do nothing less than change the meaning of the Second Amendment, so that its final phrase — “shall not be infringed” — referred to an individual right to keep and bear arms, rather than a collective right for the common defense.
Remember, in 1903, Congress signed into law the Militia Act, which federalized the National Guard. It made the Militia Act of 1792 obsolete by putting state militia groups under one umbrella-the National Guard, and the common defense was entrusted to them. Which means the original intent of the Second Amendment is no longer applicable.
Well, what’s a gun extremist and political opportunist like Joe the Plumber to do? If we have the National Guard, and we no longer need state militia groups, what the hell does the Second Amendment mean? The NRA took care of that, thank you very much, by trumpeting “shall not be infringed” at the top of their lungs. Have you noticed gun extremists never mention the “well-regulated” part?
Nocera goes on to share what Waldman, and many others, believe is the event in our time that really changed everything:
The critical modern event, however, was the Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller decision, which tossed aside two centuries of settled law, and ruled that a gun-control law in Washington, D.C., was unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. The author of the majority opinion was Antonin Scalia, who fancies himself the leading ‘originalist’ on the court — meaning he believes, as Waldman puts it, ‘that the only legitimate way to interpret the Constitution is to ask what the framers and their generation intended in 1789.’
The NRA co-opted the Second Amendment to pacify their gun extremist members. The Supreme Court ruled a gun-control law was unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. And now, we have groups like Open Carry Texas meandering into restaurants, armed to the gills. All of which feeds the NRA and their primary source of revenue: gun manufacturers.
So, here’s my open paragraph to Joe the Plumber. You are a hateful sociopath, who, like your former BFF, Grifter Palin, cannot stand being out of the public eye for very long. Yes, a sociopath. Sociopaths pretend to have empathy, but at their core, they don’t give a rat’s ass about anyone other than themselves. Your letter to those grieving families was something one would find in the journal of a serial killer. ‘Gosh, I’m sorry your kid’s dead, but that doesn’t trump my right to kill, maim, harm, terrorize, and threaten.’ Because, Joe the Plumber, that’s all gun extremists want to do. You’re not a rational gun owner, who hunts to feed his family, or target shoots for sport, or has one gun for self-defense. You and your ilk are of the David Barton school of thought: there should be no limits on the Second Amendment.
Guess what, you evil, heartless bastard? Dead children do trump the Constitution, especially when you and the NRA and the rest of the gun extremists have twisted the framers’ original intent. Richard Martinez is absolutely right when he says too many have died. And you are absolutely wrong when you say that doesn’t matter.