Harvard professor Jill Lepore’s latest article in The New Yorker is one of the most convoluted, revisionist, anti-gun “historical” pieces I’ve ever read. A mixture of emotional appeals to gun control and equally emotional attacks on guns, combined with an agenda-driven, twisted history of the Second Amendment, her article is literally as difficult to read as one of Joe Biden’s speeches is to follow.
But at least Biden is funny.
In pure academic, deconstructionist style, Lepore flails about in her article “Battleground America,” reframing the Founders’ views on guns and the emergence of the Second Amendment, while opining on gun ownership by men, gun ownership by women, the Chardon High School shooting in Ohio, a history of the approaches various states have taken toward gun laws, the approach our judicial branch has taken toward the same for two centuries, the evils of the NRA, the death of Trayvon Martin, the differences between handguns and rifles, and the amazingly vast, albeit heretofore unknown, public support for closing the gun show loophole, among other things. She even talks about her first-ever trip to a gun range, which took place while she was writing the article.
If you wonder how one article can contain so many divergent points and still make sense, you’ve already overthought things. It’s not supposed to make sense: rather, it’s supposed to paint gun owners and defenders of the Second Amendment as people who would rather risk the lives of school children than face the Founders’ true intent for guns in this country.
As I’m sure you’ve guessed, Lepore doesn’t believe the Founders believed in an individual right for gun ownership, the litany of court cases saying otherwise notwithstanding. Instead, she actually seems to believe that locking guns up in a central location, where townspeople can flee to them in time of need as did the Minutemen, is the avenue our Founders intended for us to take.
To prove her point, she tries to use quotes from James Madison, the very founding father who boasted of “the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation.” Note: He didn’t say that Americans had weapons stockpiled in central locations. Nor did he say that Americans had caches of weapons in their town halls which mayors could pass out in emergencies. Rather, Madison said that “Americans,” i.e., the people themselves, were armed.
Throughout the article, Lepore comes across as someone who is as unfamiliar with guns as George Patton was with pacifism. Thus, in one place she describes a firearm as “a cannon you can carry” and in another she describes a gun as “a machine made to fire a missile that can bore through flesh.” These descriptions are likely employed as much with mal-intent as they are out of ignorance.
One of the central points of Lepore’s circuitous article is that we don’t really have constitutionally, Bill of Rights-protected gun rights in this country. Instead, what we have are the rights we invented during the 20th century via our obsession with guns and gun rights. (If this seems repetitive, be glad you’re not reading “Battlefield America.”)
Anyway, the long and short of it is that men own more guns than women, and white men own more guns than black men, according to Lepore. And although there are approximately “three hundred million privately owned firearms in the United States — a hundred and six million handguns, a hundred and five million rifles, and eighty-three million shotguns — gun ownership is not that widespread,” according to Lepore.
The bottom line: To read this gibberish is to understand perfectly how Harvard produced a president like Barack Obama.
AWR Hawkins is a conservative columnist who has written extensively on political issues for HumanEvents.com, Pajamas Media, Townhall.com, and Andrew Breitbart’s BigPeace.com, BigHollywood.com, BigGovernment.com, and BigJournalism.com. He holds a Ph.D. in U.S. military history from Texas Tech University, and was a visiting fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in the summer of 2010. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.