Over my last several shots, I've been giving you different looks at the protest on 1/19/2013 in support of 'Gun Appreciation Day' outside the Massachusetts State House. See here, here, here and here for the rest of the series. This will be my last shot from here for now.
Much of this debate over guns can be traced back to a grammatically difficult line of text written nearly 225 years ago. It reads like this:
Amendment II: 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.
With that line in the American Bill of Rights, Congress and the various states of the United States affirmed a basic right to own firearms in the United States. It was not particularly specific as to the type of firearm, presumably in part because at that time there were not a particularly large number of options - a handgun, musket, or rifle, none of which could fire more than three shots in any given minute. However, the basic right was affirmed.
Today, that amendment is probably the second most well known, after its predecessor, the First Amendment, which guarantees the free practice of religion and the freedom of expression in speech, assembly, petition and press. Here in this shot, we see the combination of the two, as protesters peacefully assemble to protest what they see as the reduction of a Constitutional right to own weapons.
The signs here are of particular interest to me. The one on the right is simply a printed copy of the 2nd Amendment itself. There are two major controversies over the Second Amendment. The first has to do with its inviolability; the phrase 'shall not be infringed' has been taken to mean by some that not only can Congress not ban weapons, it also cannot limit them in any way. That part is basically already settled law; for example, as far as I know, it is illegal for any American to possess an ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile), or an operational tank. Congress has at times also banned certain types of firearm, most notably 'assault rifles' which were banned in 1994, though that ban was subsequently lifted. The other controversial statement in the amendment is that concerning a 'well regulated militia'. The amendment was written at a time when the United States had no standing army, and defense - in frontier wars against Native Americans, primarily, but also potentially against bordering empires such as Britain, France or Spain - was left in the hands of citizen militias. Now, of course, the United States has among the largest, and certainly the most heavily armed and equipped, military in the world.
The other sign - the one on the left - fits well with what I was saying about Thomas Jefferson on Saturday. In the previous Jefferson quote, a real quote was mistranslated and applied to an issue it was not at first about: gun laws. This one, however, seems entirely relevant to the issue: a statement implying that the Second Amendment exists so that no one could have the power to disarm a citizen without a fight. The biggest problem with this quote? Thomas Jefferson never said it. It is not correctly attributed to anyone that I know of, but it certainly was not Jefferson; in fact, it is difficult to find any real sentiment on the part of Jefferson toward gun rights at all. But this again shows Jefferson's central place in American anti-government mythology (odd, in many ways, for a country that arguably has the most invasive and least permissive government of most industrialized democracies).
Okay, enough lecture for now. Tomorrow, more State Capitols! But I appreciate the interest these have gotten here - I was expecting to post them and receive very few comments, so it's been interesting to see the debate unfold here and see some outside perspective on this odd American problem.
See the rest of my set from the Gun Rally on Flickr, here.
Critiques | Translate
holmertz (26906) 2013-02-11 10:17
This crowd holding their signs outside State House makes quite an impression on me. Not that I share their views – of course not :-) – but the heads and signs in front of the golden dome from a low POV is a stunning view, a bit like from a movie. Such crowds could be seen anywhere in Europe too, but they wouldn't be demanding the right to carry assault rifles. IIt's a good photo, but to be really honest I think your notes in this series have been more interesting than the actual pictures - no offence intended.
JFS (32107) 2013-02-11 10:36
Special and interesting shot with amendments included:) I like very much the presence of the people in the first line.
macjake (39227) 2013-02-11 15:32
I'll again try to keep my thoughts from getting me banned!
This quote on the left....do the people who make the signs and the people who hold the signs up, and the people who believe strongly in "pro gun" actually KNOW that Jefferson didn't say those words?
perhaps they DO know, so by placing Jefferson beside it it makes the quote that much more powerful so they do it anyways?
or is it just plain stupidity and ignorance?
sigh...you know how i feel about this.
again, excellent note, excellent commentary, excellent subject to debate.
PS - you pointed out very smartly how Jefferson wrote that famous quote SO many years ago in a time and place when there were only 3 basic options for "arms"....could you IMAGINE the chaos if America had to re-write the Bill of Rights to meet/fit todays standards?
jcpix (3261) 2013-02-11 18:12
This point of view has such a movie type quality about it, almost that sense of an uprising. What strikes me the most about this however, are the colors. The gold dome, orange facade and the blue sky is a tremendous combination. Well managed exposure has kept the highlight on the dome from getting blown out, keeping the necessary detail in tact. More wonderful and informative notes, this has been a compelling series you've put together. Thanks for sharing these images and current events.
kasianowak (2235) 2013-02-12 2:23
Nice final touch to this series! Very good shot too - I like the contrast between the golden dome and the crowd of people with their slogans.
Have a nice day
delpeoples (44904) 2013-02-12 5:16
Hi dear Andrew
Wow, of all the series this is my favourite, probably because it combines the 2 important elements for a great photo: great reportage and a superb background. I love those clouds and the wonderful golden dome of the state house. The protestors, with their signs - and most significantly - with their backs to us, together with the tight framing, work so well together. Excellent shot, congratulations.
Thanks for sharing, have a lovely day
Miguel82 (7757) 2013-02-12 7:48
Another interesting document about that manif
Like your pov showing us the boards
Good exposition and fine colors
Nicou (97637) 2013-02-13 1:35
Très belle vue de cette manifestation superbe avec la belle coupole dorée en fond quelle image et ces personnes et leur pancarte splendide.
bravo et amitié
SnapRJW (18712) 2013-02-13 4:16
Hello Andrew - A super shot to end a very good series. I think I have learned more about the gun lobby from your notes than I ever would have from the usual media sources and I want to thank you for all the effort you have put into this topic. I really appreciate it. This is a very finely composed reportage shot; the protesters look quite small against the State House and what it represents. Let's hope that the U S population can find a reasonable response and see the need for change in the gun laws as President Obama attempts to push forward reform. Warm regards Rosemary
Hansaphotos (5419) 2013-02-13 10:29
Another excellent shot of this event. Thanks a lot for sharing this picture and the great and informative text to accompany. A very effective composition containing several interesting elements. For the first I will point out your low camera position, pointing upwards. It is also highly effective that we still are able to see the signs, and also the fact that the protesters have the back to you works extremely well. When you also manage to include a great piece of architecture to complete the scene, it`s just wonderful.
In my opinion the picture also conveys another message, namely that you and I both are lucky to live in democracies where we have the freedom of speech. When it comes to the subject itself, I already have expressed my thoughts. Excellent capture;)
Have a great evening.
Best regards, Erling
- Copyright: Andrew Lipsett (ACL1978) (5773)
- Genre: People
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2013-01-19
- Categories: Event
- Camera: Nikon D3100, AF-S NIKKOR 35 mm 1:1.8G
- Exposure: f/13.0, 1/200 seconds
- More Photo Info: view
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Theme(s): US State Houses - East, Historical, My Favorites [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2013-02-11 6:15