Gun Control and the True Historic Purpose of the Second Amendment

Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment

by Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz

City Lights (2018)

Book Review

According to Dunbar-Ortiz, the main function of the Second Amendment, is to enshrine the voluntary militias used by white settlers to dispossess Native Americans of their land and compulsory slave patrols to hunt down and capture runaway slaves.

She disagrees with gun control advocates on many fronts:

First she disagrees that the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms” relates only to their use in a “well-regulated militia.” She maintains that it clearly refers to an individual right, like the other guarantees in the Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment is modeled on various state constitutions (which were already in effect) that guarantee gun possession as an individual right. Moreover the right to form state militias is already covered in Article 1 of the Constitution.

Second citing other countries like Switzerland and Canada (which rarely experience gun violence) with few or no gun control laws, she disagrees that more gun control laws will reduce gun violence in the US.

Third she disputes Democratic Party claims that blames opposition to gun control on NRA lobbying. Noting that American gun culture precedes the NRA by more than a century, she argues the organization spends far less on lobbying than Big Oil or Big Pharma.

Dunbar-Ortiz contends that US gun culture is deeply rooted in the racist, white nationalist, God-ordained nature of the virulent capitalism sanctified by the US Constitution. She reminds us of the real issue that triggered the Revolutionary War: namely the British ban on illegal settlement on unceded Indian land west of the Appalachians. George Washington and our other founding fathers derived most of their wealth from illegal surveying and speculation in Native land.

Thus when the US finally won independence in 1791, a massive escalation of “savage war” was unleashed against the indigenous nations that had civilized North America. “Savage war,” aka “irregular warfare,” refers to deliberate violence directed against women, children and the elderly, along with the infrastructure that supports their survival. Although the US government gives lip service to the Geneva Convention, which prohibits acts of war against civilians, their wars have always mercilessly targeted civilians. Prime examples are the 1846 Mexican-American War, the war against Cuba (1898-1900) and the Philippines (1898-1948) and numerous undeclared wars of the 20th century (the Korean War, Vietnam War, Central American War (1981-89), Afghan War, Iraq War, Libya War, Syria War, etc)

The most surprising part of the book is the introduction, in which Dunbar-Ortiz describes becoming a gun owner and joining the NRA when an activist group she belonged to was spied on and stalked by police and intelligence operatives.

HR 2990: Historic Bill to Abolish the Federal Reserve

In 2011, to address the failed US recovery, former Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan) introduced HR2990, the National Emergency Employment Defense Act. The bill proposed to abolish the Federal Reserve system and end the ability of private banks to create money out of thin air.* If the bill had passed, it could have instantly ended all federal deficits and debt, while simultaneously providing trillions of dollars for vital infrastructure and restoring funding to states and local authorities for education, hospitals, clinics, housing, police, libraries and other programs cut after the 2008 economic crash.

The late Stephen Zarlenga, founder of the American Monetary Institute and co-author of the bill, always found it ironic that in 2008-2099 the US Treasury “printed” between $3-15 trillion of new money (aka quantitative easing) – as HR2990 proposes. However instead of spending this government-created money into the economy as HR2990 specifies, they handed it over to private banks. They in turn used it to pay obscene CEO salaries and to inflate their stock prices by buying back shares.

Among other provisions, of HR2990 would

  • Dismantle the Federal Reserve and transfer its powers to a new Monetary Authority operating under US Treasury oversight.
  • Replace all Federal Reserve notes with United States Money.
  • Instruct the Secretary of the Treasury to create United States Money to address any and all deficits resulting from a discrepancy between tax receipts and funds appropriated for government services.
  • Subject to criminal and civil penalties any person [ie banks] who creates or originates United States Money by lending against deposits through “fractional reserve banking.”
  • Prohibit borrowing by the Secretary or by any federal agency or department, independent establishment of the executive branch, or any other instrumentality of the United States (other than a national bank, federal savings association, or federal credit union) from any source other than the Secretary.
  • Require the Secretary to begin to pay off all outstanding US debt payment in full in United States Money.
  • Prescribe requirements for the entry of United States Money into circulation.
  • Require the Monetary Authority to instruct the Secretary to disperse monetary grants to states for public infrastructure, education, health care and rehabilitation, pensions, and paying for unfunded federal mandates.
  • Direct the Secretary to make recommendations to Congress for payment of a tax-free Citizens Dividend to all U.S. citizens residing in the United States in order to provide liquidity to the banking system at the commencement of this Act, before governmental infrastructure expenditures have had a chance to work into circulation.
  • Prescribe requirements for federal funding of education programs, coverage of any deficits in Social Security Trust Fund account, a universal health care plan, resolution of aspects of the mortgage crisis, and a program of interest-free lending of United States Money to state and local governmental entities.

As Kucinich points out in the preamble to his bill, Article 1 Section 8 of the US Constitution places the power to create money in Congress. In 1913, Congress made the foolhardy decision to delegate this bower to the Federal Reserve system and private banks. Predictably the latter operate the US monetary system (and money creation) in such a way as to their profits – and not for the benefit of the American people. The result has been increasing economic instability, skyrocketing income inequality and growing power of private banks, such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan – to the extent they virtually control our so-called democratic system of government.

More information on the American Monetary Institute at their website:

Link to HR2990: HR2990

In the video below, Kucinich** speaks about HR2990 on the floor of Congress in 2013.

*Contrary to popular belief, the government doesn’t create the dollars in circulation in the US. The vast majority is created by private banks out of thin air when they initiate loans. See How Banks Invent Money Out of Thin Air

**Like Bernie Sanders, Kucinich was more of an anti-coproratist than a Democrat. He opposed military intervention in Iraq, Libya, Syria and the Patriot Act. As a presidential candidate in 2004 and 2008 he called for single payer health care, free education (including pre-school and university), instant run-off voting, a moratorium on GMO crops, withdrawal from the WTO and NAFTA, ending the death penalty and the War on Drugs and lowering the voting age to 16. He collaborated with libertarian Republican Ron Paul on a number of bills and currently serves on the Ron Paul Institute advisory board. He lost his seat in 2013 after the Ohio state legislature re-districted his Congressional District out of existence.

The FBI Infiltration of the Black Panther Party


Directed by Mario van Peebles (1995)

Film Review

Panther is a highly engrossing docudrama about the formation of the Black Panther Party in Oakland California in 1966. It differs from most other documentaries on the Panthers in its emphasis on efforts by the Oakland police and the FBI to infiltrate and smash the group almost from their inception.

Panther traces the initial decision to form the Panthers to brutal beatings neighborhood residents received from the police when they held a candlelight protest demanding a stoplight at a dangerous intersection.

Under the leadership of Huey Newton, they formed Panther Patrols to intercede and stop the Oakland police from randomly beating and shooting black men on the street. It wasn’t necessary to use the rifles they carried – which were legal until Governor Ronald Reagan change the law in 1968. It was enough to show white racist cops that their knew their rights under the Constitution and California law and were prepared to shoot if necessary. The film’s re-enactments of Newton’s verbal confrontations with redneck Oakland police are priceless.

Under Newton, the Oakland Panthers exercised very strict discipline. Alcohol, drugs, womanizing and illegal weapons were strictly forbidden at meetings and protests. As men, women and children flocked to join the Panthers, they organized classes in literacy, Black history, revolutionary theory and firearms training – in addition to their famous children’s breakfasts and other food distribution programs.

The film’s dramatic tension revolves principally around the FBI’s escalating efforts to crush the organization as dozens of chapters sprang up and membership swelled into the thousands.

The film ends in 1970 following Huey Newton’s acquittal on trumped up charges of shooting Oakland cop John Frey. Panther portrays this as occurring simultaneously with an FBI decision to collaborate with the Mob to flood America’s inner cities with massive amounts of heroin.

The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy

People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy

Robert McChesney and John Nichols (2016)

Film Review

An extremely inspiring public presentation in which McChesney and Nichols talk about their latest book (of the same name)

McChesney begins with research indicating that 50% of current jobs will be eliminated by robots and artificial intelligence in the next 10-20 years. He also talks about the inherent inability of a scarcity/profit based economic system to address this crisis.

For me, the most interesting part of his presentation was a discussion of Franklin D Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights.* According to McChesney, both Germany and Japan incorporated this Second Bill of Rights into their constitutions after World War II. This, in his view, explains why both countries have become economic powerhouses.

Both men talk about the crucial need to form a post-capitalist society and economic system. Nichols talks more about the large global movements which have formed to build this new system. He, like McChesney, has been surprised by the popular candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. The book predicts the appearance of proto-fascist and democratic socialist candidates in response to growing popular resistance movements. However neither expected it to happen so quickly.

The best part of Nichols’ talk is his discussion of the massive Luddite and Chartist movements in Britain (and the populist and progressive movements in the US) that would ultimately lead to universal suffrage, honest elections and the rise of the trade union movement.

Nichols stresses that none of these reforms resulted from the heroic efforts of a political savior – they all resulted from the dedicated and persistent mass organizing of ordinary people.


*Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights included the basic right of all Americans to

• Employment (right to work)
• Food, clothing and leisure, via enough income to support them
• Farmers’ rights to a fair income
• Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies
• Housing
• Medical care
• Social security
• Education


The NSA is the Tip of the Iceberg


Guest post by Steven Miller and Satish Musunuru

(Part 5 of a five-part post on the corporatization of Internet surveillance.)

The capitalist class deliberately distorts the class nature of the state. This is a scientific question, not an ideological one. Government is the administration of public money and resources in the name of society. The state is different. It is made up of the police, the courts and jails, the army, et al, and of course, the NSA. The capitalist class loves to present the state as a body that somehow stands above society, neutral to class interests, reigning with wisdom. One thing we have learned from Occupy, however, is that the police always seem to defend the corporations. They are hardly neutral. For both government and the state, law is simply the will of the ruling class, written down.

The purpose of the state is to defend the relations of production that are organized and imposed by the ruling class. Thus the state is a function of the relations of production, not the other way around. However, once established, it plays a formative role in organizing the relations of production for the class that rules the state.

In capitalism’s Industrial Era, J Edgar Hoover’s FBI collected dossiers on every politician, movement and individual that might pose a threat to state control. Today digital technology leads inexorably to the Surveillance State, actually only a small part of the entire state apparatus.

The US state has many manifestations: the military industrial complex, the media industrial complex that organizes the world’s most sophisticated propaganda war 24/7, the prison industrial complex, the corporate state, the surveillance state, the Migra, the militarized police we all saw at Occupies, open violations of the Constitution, the Department of Homeland Security, private prisons, secret ops, drones, extraordinary rendition, torture at every level, and so much more. Then of course we have the army, equipped with the world’s largest military budget, armed with some serious hardware, including the world’s largest supply of nuclear weapons. Corporations are inseparable from this. As they merge with the state, corporations today are rapidly developing police powers.

Social movements can sometimes reform the government, but state power does not permit you to reform the state. The idea that somehow the state will sit by passively while workers organize socialism is simply a fantasy. The state is programmed to intervene whenever the relations of production are threatened. Here and there, in relatively small-scale cases – Mondragon workers, for example, Kerala in India, Cuba, Nicaragua at one phase, etc – the nuisance is such that the state chooses not to intervene – but these are few and far between. The job of the state is to identify threats to capitalist control and move on them.

In the US today, the NSA works at one level; at another level, Homeland Security outsources police functions to corporations through contracts for profit. It’s budget for doing this has averaged over $30 billion a year since 2001. During Occupy, across the country, DHS has established “fusion centers”, often in corporations or banks, where police gathered surveillance and advised corporate leaders. Domain Centers (Oakland is the second, after New York City) are required for every port in the country.

The state’s response to the NSA scandal has been to go on a marketing campaign: “Resistance is Futile! We’ve got things coming at you that you can’t even imagine, way beyond Darth Vader!” This is a point worth considering. How can the American people possibly fight this?

The most basic step is to understand that things don’t have to be this way. Code can be changed and architectures can be re-designed. This is really an aspect of the tremendous battle of ideas that is breaking out in society. Every living system on Earth is in decline, except corporations. Corporations can be abolished by popular will if people are on the same accord, just as private property in slavery was abolished 150 years ago. These are historic times.

The American people have a long revolutionary history, but little recent experience with the process. Thus we don’t recognize the critical importance of these essential first steps of the battle that are appearing today. The future world will either be all corporate or all public. We can decide.

Here is how one of America’s great revolutionaries – John Adams, an outstanding exponent of capitalism – explained the process:

The American Revolution was not a common event. Its effects and consequences have already been awful over a great part of the globe. And when and where are they to cease?

But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced (emphasis added). The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations….

The people of America had been educated in an habitual affection for England, as their mother country; and while they thought her a kind and tender parent, (erroneously enough, however, for she never was such a mother,) no affection could be more sincere. But when they found her a cruel bedlam, willing like Lady Macbeth, to “dash their brains out,” it is no wonder if their filial affections ceased, and were changed into indignation and horror.

This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.”   (13)

Background and Notes

13)  John Adams to H. Niles, February 13, 1818

photo credit: paul.klintworth via photopin cc

Reposted from Daily Censored

Steven Miller has taught science for 25 years in Oakland’s Flatland high schools. He has been actively engaged in public school reform since the early 1990s. When the state seized control of Oakland public schools in 2003, they immediately implemented policies of corporatization and privatization that are advocated by the Broad Institute. Since that time Steve has written extensively against the privatization of public education, water and other public resources. You can email him at


Satish Musunuru draws upon his training as an engineer and his experience as a professional in Silicon Valley to understand the relationship between technology and corporate capitalism and how it has brought us to the ecological and societal crisis we find ourselves in. You can email him at