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‘Second Amendment People’ and the Republic

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Late actor and former National Rifle Association President Charlton Heston held a rifle aloft at a 2002 get-out-the-vote rally. AP Photo/Jim Cole

“All civil charms and priestly spells…., these like a dream dissolve, and man rebounds whole aeons back in nature.” — Herman Melville, 1863

In the year following the 2012 horror at Sandy Hook, I gave an NPR interview and wrote seven columns — in Huffington Post, The Atlantic, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Each of these explores a different but related cause or symptom of our very American gun disease.

As the untamed 19th century frontier succumbed to the consolidating power of railroads over real estate and commerce, individuals kept their guns and imagined themselves free. Today, as the “Wild West” of the Internet succumbs to serving the profits of conglomerate owners of technology and speech platforms, individuals keep their laptops and cellphones – and their guns. This “American Way” of teetering between immense concentrations of power, including the gun lobby, and violent fantasies of personal liberty is undermining our freedoms and making some us rethink First and Second Amendment jurisprudence:

What The Gun Debate Means for Free Speech | The Brian Lehrer Show | WNYC

“Gun control comes first. But we’re not going to get there until we also talk about violent culture.” — Jim Sleeper http://wny.cc/VkQVAm

TV Violence Can Make You… Violent! New York Daily News, 1994. Don’t try to convince me that rising violence in public life isn’t accelerated by the degradation of public discourse in “fictional’ TV movies and videogames as much as is by “reality TV.” This column was one of my early warnings.

Third Thoughts About the 2011 Tuscon Massacre Deranged loners are more tuned in to a society’s subliminal hatreds and fears than most of us admit. So, yes, there was a connection between the rampage and the condition of public discourse.


What’s Still Missing From the Gun Control Debate, Jim Sleeper, HuffPost, Feb 7, 2013
February 7, 2013

*Why a good guy with a gun isn’t the only answer to a bad guy with one. The Washington Monthly, June 30, 2016

Guns Require a New Politics, Jim Sleeper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Feb 6, 2013

To Stop Gun Violence, Regulate Corporate Speech and Advertising, Jim Sleeper and Daniel H. J. Greenwood, The Atlantic, Jan 24, 2013 (also on History News Network and AlterNet)

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Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

My Open Letter to a Marine Who Warned Sen. Diane Feinstein About His Guns and Freedom. Jim Sleeper, Jan 7, 2013 (Read what he wrote to her, and what I wrote to him, and note that much of my response to him was also reprinted in Leatherneckthe magazine of U.S. Marine Corps veterans.)


What We Should Tell the Gun Lobby and Media Producers and Editors. Jim Sleeper, HuffPost, Dec 22,, 2012  (Let’s give them a taste of this:)


Segregationists once seemed as ‘normal’ as gun nuts seem now. Jim Sleeper, HuffPost, Dec. 18, 2012 (and in Italian, in Reset)

 

The Coming Civil War over Guns and TV Mayhem Jim Sleeper, HuffPost, Dec 15, 2012. Also in the New Haven Independent.

How Hollow Speech Enables Hostile Speech, and What to Do About It. Jim Sleeper, Los Angeles Review of Books, Oct 25, 2018