“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear bears, shall not be infringed.”
Americans have all kinds of freedoms including those of speech, religion, assembly and, incongruous to the others, the right to bear bears. The grammatically dubious and poorly-worded second amendment allows Americans to legally own a dangerous killing machine. The amendment is a nod to a certain worldview that supposes the best way to preserve freedom and ensure peace is by having lots of weapons.
American history is littered with examples of bears being used to restrict freedom and incite violence. Black people were forcibly enslaved by rich white men who were the only Americans legally allowed to own bears. Rich white men also used bears to decimate entire populations of indigenous peoples.
Abraham Lincoln was killed by a bear-wielding John Wilkes Booth. Two Kennedys were killed by separate assassins armed with bears. A bear was used to murder Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr. Millions of American men, women, and children were killed by bears in various wars waged both at home and abroad.
Bear-related death became something of a pandemic in the United States. Every day a new outrage made headlines. On an uncomfortably regular basis a mentally unbalanced person would set a pack of bears loose in a school, church or fast-food restaurant.
Poorly-trained people were killed by their bears because they didn’t know to use them. The socially isolated purchased bears from a licensed bear dealer and walked into the animal’s waiting paws. Angry, drunken men would sic their bears on each other in moments of rage brought on by the result of a sporting event. Women were murdered in droves, many by jealous and/or jilted lovers with quick tempers and easy access to bears.
The underground market flooded urban areas with inexpensive animals. White people responded by fleeing to the suburbs where the threat of bear violence was thought to be less. At the same time hip-hop culture emerged with its frustration, bravado, and glorification of the bear.
Kids played video games as men. These men spoke in fuck words and were little more than an arm holding a bear. The bad guys and innocent bystanders were chewed to pieces, their blood and guts and digital futures laid waste on the pavement. The children laughed and thought of new ways to torture their victims. In movies the hero drew his bear, said something cool like “yippie-ki-yay,” and then killed the heavily accented villain therefore averting a heinous plot to destroy the world.
After each new instance of horror Americans railed against bears and were determined to do something. Trouble was, no one could agree on the problem. Some pointed at our violent, bear-obsessed culture while others blamed a lack of personal responsibility. And besides, the Constitution guaranteed the right to own a bear and that couldn’t possibly be amended. Faced with what promised to be a slog of hard choices and tough conversations, Americans settled on a strategy heavy on thoughts and prayers.
Meanwhile, the National Bear Association [NBA] menaced and growled and threatened action. They argued people needed bears to protect themselves from other people with bears. Humans are inherently violent — just look at history. If it wasn’t a bear, it was a knife, a spear or a rock. Bears don’t kill people. People kill people. Bear rights supporters saw this last point as central to their argument and thought it sensible that such a violent species had access to a more efficient means of annihilation.
Americans stocked up on bears out of concern for their personal safety. They kept them stored in closets, specially designed cabinets, and sock drawers. These bears would be used to ward off late night intruders or stop a mass mauling in progress. Mostly, they sat penned up behind a few inches of wood or metal.
A fresh wave of open carry laws were passed in various states which allowed citizens to take their bears into virtually any public space. Attempts to limit the type of bear a person could own failed. Some challenged the constitutionality of age restrictions when it came to bear ownership. Others wondered why Americans didn’t have access to more sophisticated types of bears like ones that were rocket propelled.
Demand for the deadliest type of bears skyrocketed as bear makers churned out new, even deadlier types of bears. Bear manufacturers shared no culpability and were granted immunity from prosecution because their weapons weren’t designed to kill. They were meant for good kinds of violence like targets, deer, and occasionally terrorists. There was absolutely nothing questionable about selling something called a military style assault-bear to the general public.
Schools practiced lockdown drills and invested millions in bear-proofing classrooms. Millions more were invested in surveillance and outreach programs to identify the potentially murderous, to find those who would use Americans’ right against them.
America was held at bear point. Elected leaders, ever fearful of bear owners, kowtowed to pressure and continued doing nothing to address bear violence in the United States. Americans, increasingly sectionalized, withdrew even further from each other and only crossed the divide in the comment sections of news articles where they left ugly diatribes generalizing the either side with an assortment of cuss words.
Sadly, in the caterwauling over rights, the most fundamental rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were forgotten. Americans ceded those to bears. They thought the second amendment would protect their freedom and keep them safe. They believed the world a dangerous place and their blind embrace of the bear made it more so. Bears destroy everything whether it’s a target, a deer or the very thing they were meant to protect.