That's how it goes in gun-saturated America, where roughly 30,000 die of gunshots each year -- 11,000 by murder, some by accident and the rest by suicide. No other modern nation suffers more than a minuscule fraction of this gun slaughter.
A small minority of Americans -- mostly Republicans -- have a profound craving to carry guns. Their desire is so intense that they form one of the country's strongest lobbies. Some psychologists contend that many men in this group don't feel virile unless they have deadly weapons.
This right-to-bear-arms contingent is mobilizing all-out resistance to President Obama's call for gun safety measures. The struggle hinges on the Second Amendment, which says: "A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."
History researcher Thom Hartmann says the Second Amendment actually was written to support southern militias called "slave patrols" -- armed units that guarded against the horrifying danger of deadly slave rebellions. He wrote:
"In Georgia, for example, a generation before the American Revolution, laws were passed in 1755 and 1757 that required all plantation owners or their male white employees to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of all slaves ... and even required armed militia members to keep a keen eye out for slaves who may be planning uprisings."
Hartmann added: "Well-regulated militias kept the slaves in chains."
A University of California Law Review report said Georgia Militia members were commanded to search "all Negro Houses for offensive Weapons and Ammunition" -- and to give 20 lashes to any slave found outside plantation grounds.
During the period when James Madison, George Mason and others were drafting the Bill of Rights, their discussions at Virginia conventions made it clear that the Second Amendment served Deep South militias. Madison's first draft of the amendment cited "the security of a free country," but was changed to "free state" for their benefit.More than two centuries later, the Second Amendment now is cited in support of wide-open pistol-carrying. We hope President Obama, national mayor groups and other safety advocates find a workable solution that will reduce America's terrible gun death toll.