Certain things are known as the third rail in American politics. The train runs on two tracks, the third rail provides the massive amount of electricity that powers the train. If you touch the third rail, you die a horrible death by electrocution. If you touch a third rail in American politics, like the scope of the comma sprinkled Second Amendment, which reads: A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed, you risk causing violence.
A riot, Martin Luther King Jr. observed, is the despairing voice of those who have no other voice to express their anger and desperation. Such was the swarming of the Capitol building on January 6, at the moment Trump’s electoral loss was about to become official. The rioters, and Trumpie himself, had no other voice at that moment but violence. Imagine if the gun absolutists had their way, and the insane fuckers who stormed the People’s House in support of an unhinged, endlessly repeated lie had been legally allowed to carry, under a federal right to carry law, as much military-grade fire power as they claim the Constitution allows. A bloodbath hardly imaginable in the most over-the-top Hollywood terrorist shoot ’em up, an actual violent revolution with shootings, hangings, perhaps even beheadings. Having superior fire power in a fight turned violent literally means you get to call the shots.
Can’t touch guns, reactionary genius Antonin Scalia said the Second Amendment confers an enumerated right to arm yourself with any sort of gun you want, as long as you are of legal age. Guns are a third rail of American politics and an unimaginably gigantic mountain of money has been spent to make sure this false, violent, ugly controversy rages hot as the fires of hell in an impassioned televangelist’s sermon.
On one side of the raging debate are gun manufacturers and people who own literally hundreds of millions of firearms. There are more legally owned guns in the USA than there are citizens. On the other side are people who believe gun ownership should be carefully regulated to cut down on America’s ever worsening mass killing sprees by enraged, murderous idiots the media insists on calling “gunmen”. Imagine who wins the gun debate in a state like Michigan where protesters can lawfully bring their guns right into the hall where it’s being debated.
So, an eighteen year old asshole with a perfectly legal gun can drive miles to his selected target and spray bullets into people he hates, in this case Black people who he fervently believes are trying to replace the white race, whatever the fuck the white race is supposed to be. People who look like this self-righteous young mass murderer, I suppose. Nothing Congress can do about it, the Second Amendment, we are told, could not be more sacrosanct if Jesus Himself had written it with His own hand.
On the other hand, we had a moment of rare bipartisanship in the Senate earlier this month. A draft of an incendiary Alito opinion, citing thirteenth and seventeenth century theologians and jurists to support his majority opinion that since many religious Christians believe abortion at any stage is murder (probably as many as believe Trump had his landslide victory stolen from him) the super-precedent of Roe v. Wade, conferring a constitutional right to bodily autonomy on pregnant women, must be overturned. If any draft opinion was written to provoke outrage, it was Alito’s. It is the seemingly polite, quietly seething ones you have to watch out for, they’re the most dangerously provocatively enemies.
After the leak, most likely by a right wing activist trying to ensure there’d be no backing down from Alito’s extreme view about the Supreme Court’s right to take away “unenumerated rights” not originally specified in 1789, there were protests outside the homes of several justices in the majority. They were peaceful protests, angry people with signs. Outside of Kavanaugh’s house neighbors served the protesters wine and cheese, we are told (and, in fairness to those neighbors, would you want to live next door to that pugnacious, self-righteous, reactionary piece of shit?).
The Senate immediately leaped into action with a law to protect Supreme Court justices from this outrage. They can’t make a carve out to the filibuster to protect the right to vote, can’t curb police violence against unarmed, disproportionately “nonwhite” citizens, can’t stop fighting about citizens’ right to health care, or a living federal minimum wage, but they leap, quickly and unanimously, to protect the most privileged nine judges in the United States of America from peaceful protesters exercising a fundamental right enumerated in the very first amendment of the Bill of Rights. Here’s Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal with the story:
Here’s Jamelle Bouie writing in the New York Times with a more nuanced treatment of the same story: