Posts Tagged ‘Second Amendment to the United States Constitution’

The Omaha courthouse lynching - story below.

Will Brown, hanged, shot and burned. The Omaha courthouse lynching – story below.*

I respect the fact that many Americans defend the Second Amendment right to “bear arms” with great sincerity.

However, it is an indisputable fact that throughout the history of the United States, and until very recently, it has been a very mixed blessing, as it has also resulted in mobs of roaming racists taking the law into their own hands.

As Americans debate their gun laws, they would do well to also consider this important historical perspective. An armed citizenry – the “militia’ of the founding fathers – could well be considered a mixed blessing. Especially if you happen to be black.

I would urge you to read this article: http://www.examiner.com/article/armed-and-dangerous-right-wing-vigilantism-american-history

Wellthisiswhatithink says: Whatever gun laws are or are not put in place, the American people surely need to face their history unflinchingly, to understand this dynamic, and guard against it. The law-abiding, responsible gun-owning citizen is not the issue here. It is what guns can do in the hands of the wrong people, or where they are prevalent in the wrong situation.

*Although not specifically about guns – although they played their role – this infamous incident was part of the wave of racial and labor violence that swept the U.S. during the “Red Summer” of 1919 and is very relevant to an understanding of mob violence and vigilantism.

As in the nation at large, it was a turning point in the history of Omaha’s black community.

Following a national pattern, the local daily newspaper carried lurid, sensational accounts of attacks by African American males on white women, without similar coverage of assaults on African American women, by either black or white males.

After one particularly provocative story in September of 1919, Will Brown, an African American man, was arrested and held in the Douglas County Courthouse.  Largely due to the newspaper story, a mob gathered.  Omaha Mayor Edward P. Smith was nearly lynched himself when he unsuccessfully attempted to disperse the crowd.  Then the mob broke into the recently constructed building, tearing off Brown’s clothing as he was being dragged out.

He was hanged on a nearby lamppost and then his body was riddled with bullets.

Finally the body was burned.

Members of the mob tied what remained of his charred body to an automobile, and dragged it around the streets of downtown Omaha.  Pieces of the rope used to lynch Brown were sold as souvenirs for 10 cents apiece.

Henry Fonda

Popular American actor Henry Fonda, who witnessed the lynching.

Although some of the leaders of the lynching were placed on trial, most received suspended sentences, or were convicted of minor offenses such as destruction of public property.

Some of the causes of the “Courthouse Lynching of 1919” were linked to Omaha city politics.

The mayor, who was a recently-elected reformer, was at odds with the machine-controlled police department, whose members were conspicuously absent during the height of the riot.

One of the thousands of witnesses to the lynching was a young man named Henry Fonda, who later remembered, “It was the most horrendous sight I’d ever seen.

My hands were wet and there were tears in my eyes.  All I could think of was that young black man dangling at the end of a rope.”

(From blackpast.org)

74% of all pyschiatric illness occurs before the age of 24, and 50% before the age of 14, and between 20-25% of people will suffer depression requiring treatment at some point in their life. How come a quarter of the population isn't out blasting away at anything that moves?

74% of all pyschiatric illness occurs before the age of 24, and 50% before the age of 14, and between 20-25% of people will suffer depression requiring treatment at some point in their life. How come a quarter of the population isn’t out blasting away at anything that moves?

In America, (in particular, but in chardonnay-sipping middle-class households everywhere), it has become very faddish to spout the nonsense “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. And to tortuously link that to a reassuring argument that if only we could keep guns out of the hands of the homicidally insane or depressed, then all would magically be well and our children can skip down the street in the sunshine, free from fear.

I’m sorry to be so blunt, but I call “Bullshit”.

The fact is, 99.99 (recurring) % of mentally ill people (including many, many people you know personally) never pick up a gun and kill anyone. If a gun is available nearby they are very likely to pick it up and kill themselves, sometimes on a tragic whim, but that’s not what is being debated here.

Indeed, mentally ill people are much more likely to be the victims of gun violence than the perpetrators.

Discuss. Please. Before this meme becomes generally accepted, and a soothing (but mythological) salve for our communal consciences.

The fact that murderers are often found to have committed their crimes while the balance of their mind was disturbed is irrelevant. The vast – vast – majority of homicides enacted using guns (or any other weapon) are enacted by people the courts subsequently judge to be perfectly sane. Or imperfectly sane, but not quite insane, either.

In the opinion of this writer, the availability of guns is, of course, the primary cause of gun violence.

No guns, no gun violence.

Fewer guns, fewer violent gun episodes.

Lots and lots of guns, married to a gung-ho macho culture where people are de-sensitised almost from birth to violence, and gun violence specifically, and where police and armed forces frequently use guns in a manner that at best is careless, and at worst is culpable homicide, and you have you entirely predictable result: lots and lots of gun violence.

If you’re going to do something about tackling gun control, in America or anywhere else, do it nationally, do it with wide popular support, do it married to a massive public education campaign, and know that you will probably have to do it consistently for decades before you see any measurable result.

Anything else is just playing with the memories of the dead, and the understanding of the living, in the most monstrous and despicable manner.

If you agree with me that mental illness is more serious than a convenient excuse to cover up the need for action, and/or if you agree that the mentally ill are being unreasonably pilloried in this debate, I urge you to share this blog, either by re-blogging it, or mention it and link to it on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Stumble Upon etc. Thank you.