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Misreading the Right to Bear Arms

Confronting gun ownership is an argument about violence -- not about autonomy and freedom.

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Human autonomy and freedom, then, are no longer tied to the thing of the right to bear arms. But totalitarianism remains a threat to human freedom, and that threat is bolstered by partisan and materialistic arguments over gun ownership and laws.

Wide-scale acts of violence often involve guns, but the erosion of human freedom and autonomy in the U.S. essentially never involves guns.

Monitoring and even restricting gun ownership in the U.S. could likely curb our violent culture, and recognizing the other things at the nexus of our freedom and our servitude could likely secure our freedom in ways clinging to our guns never will.

In 2012, confronting gun ownership is an argument about violence, not autonomy and freedom.

In 2012, economic inequity and the pooling of resources in the hands of the few and the control of corporations are the things that threaten the freedom that gun ownership protected when the Second Amendment was drafted.

The democratic principles of the Second Amendment have been replaced by market principles whereby gun ownership trumps human freedom. Owning the thing becomes that which we cling to while genuine erosions of our freedoms occur whether or not Americans own guns.

As long as Americans cling to a gun fetish without acknowledging the connection between guns and our culture of violence, as long as Americans cling to guns and fail to acknowledge the power of corporate greed to erode individual freedom, enduring principles behind the Second Amendment will be squandered for the material thing.

Paul L. Thomas is an associate professor of education at Furman University.

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