Letter of Termination to the Second Amendment
by Erin Niemela
Dear Second Amendment,
I write this letter with compassion and empathy, because what I’m about to say may hurt your feelings. We’ve had a good run — I remember shooting beer cans off my neighbor’s porch like it was yesterday. I remember the bad times, too — weapons procured in your name have caused untold tragedies. We’ve had a long, turbulent history, so there’s no reason to delay the inevitable. Second Amendment, you’re fired. Your services are no longer necessary. You’re just too old to do the job you were originally meant to do. Antique, ancient, out-of-date, passé, out-moded, a relic, old.
Aging isn’t really the issue here. Age normally comes with distinction, wisdom, guidance and worldly understanding, all of which should be eternally appreciated by youth worldwide. The issue is that you and your comrades at the National Rifle Association tried to pass off a “good guy with a gun” speech as the result of such wisdom. With all due respect, the only people gesticulating in fervor to a speech like that are my son and his “Yo Gabba Gabba!”-loving, 5-year-old friends.
What my sweet son and his friends aren’t yet capable of understanding is that guns are so 18th century. Your equally-oblivious sidekick, N.R.A. Vice President Wayne LaPierre, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the “anti-Second Amendment industry” was trying to destroy our constitutional right to bear arms, and predicted that Americans would “defend the freedom” in response. As you are well aware (and next time you see LaPierre you should remind him), the last time the American populace defended freedom with guns was 1775, and I don’t hear any Red Coats knocking.
While your buddies at the N.R.A. were spouting rhetorical quips romanticizing your legacy on national television, my friends and I were busy planning the next general strike. The future of “defending the freedom” is nonviolence.
Anyone who has read a newspaper in the last century is already marginally aware that no gun is necessary in defending freedom against the tyranny of a government. If you need to catch up, the Global Nonviolent Action Database provides information on 101 nonviolent campaigns waged in the last 60 years around the globe, and they’ve only just begun their tedious, data-backed research. The Arab Spring made the list, as well as over 50 campaigns from the American Civil Rights Movement. Ecuador’s “Glorious May Revolution” of 1944, Nepal’s “Jana Andolan” people’s movement of 1990, and Poland’s anti-Communist “Solidarność” campaign of 1988 are all in there too, and more are coming.
It’s not just the fact that nonviolent popular uprisings occur or have occurred in vast numbers that make guns irrelevant in fighting tyranny, it’s that nonviolent mass resistance is more methodologically efficient than armed uprisings. Erica Chenoweth, Assistant Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, and Associate Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo recently published ground-breaking research in 2011 on the successes of nonviolence versus violence in political uprisings: Why Civil Resistance Works: Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict. I won’t ask you to read the modest 280-page book, but here’s a highlight: “Between 1900 and 2006, nonviolent resistance campaigns were nearly twice as likely to achieve full or partial success as their violent counterparts.” Twice as likely! I believe an appropriate saying for this circumstance would be, Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? I could spend a couple thousand dollars on that last remaining Bushmaster AR-15 and wave it in the air screaming, “Freedom!” But, to be brutally honest, my generation derives more genuine freedom and power from our Twitter accounts.
Governments should be afraid of their people, not because we have the Constitutional right to bear arms, but because we may harness the immeasurable power of nonviolent mass resistance. Slobodan Milošević, former President of Serbia, can attest to the power of nonviolent mass resistance – a student-led movement ousted him in 2000. Hosni Mubarak, former President of Egypt, saw the end of his tyrannical reign in 2011 after 18 days of mass nonviolent action. The “People Power Revolution” of the Philippines in 1986 ended the 20-year dictatorship of then-President Ferdinand Marcos, and it only took Filipinos four revolutionary days to nonviolently overthrow former Philippine President Joseph Estrada in 2001. The idea that we need guns to protect our freedom is nonsense. Nonviolence has replaced your ancient, irrelevant textual ideology with your sexier sibling: the First Amendment.
So, on behalf of this current, more enlightened generation, I’d like to bid you farewell, dear Second Amendment. Our Founding Fathers crafted a spectacular Constitution, but you were written without any knowledge of the profound capacities of 21st century youth. We are alert, cunning, technologically inclined and resolute, living in an abundance of Sharpies and servers, and we’re not afraid to speak the truth against tyranny. The fact of the matter is that the only thing stopping bad guys with guns is good guys with solidarity, and we’ve got a lot of that, too.
The New American Revolutionaries
Erin Niemela is a graduate student in the Conflict Resolution program at Portland State University, a PeaceVoice syndicated journalist, and a Contributing Author for New Clear Vision.