The Supreme Court is steering us toward dark days

·3 min read
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Jesus warned what happens when you pour new wine into old wineskins. But we won’t listen.

Not long after guns became the top killer of kids and teenagers, the Supreme Court decided to cement into law a cartoonish version of the Second Amendment which could cause more guns to flow more openly in more places in a nation saturated with guns. It’s during an era in which South Carolina has experienced more mass shootings than just four states this year and recently set a new high for annual homicides.

The Court’s ruling came on the heels of yet another massacre in an elementary school in Texas, a white supremacist shooting up a grocery store in a black neighborhood in New York, and so many other mass shootings it is getting hard to keep up with them all. Guns are being used to mow down young black men at alarming rates as well as older white men. It’s happening so frequently it’s hard to not become numb to the bloodshed even though our high gun violence rate is an outlier in the industrialized world.

According to the conservative justices, the effect of so many guns in so many places must not be the concern of a court majority uprooting a century-old New York gun control measure that will have ramifications before the Big Apple. They’ve conjured a contrived reading of the U.S. Constitution in which historical relevance trumps all other considerations. Never mind that they make no distinction between weapons that were in existence at the time the Second Amendment was written. Then, the biggest threat was a menacing foreign power we had just ousted from power. Now, it is disturbed young men with handguns and assault-style weapons committing massacres in movie theaters and well-armed white supremacists armed to the teeth in an anticipation of a war they are eager to fight.

It’s a particularly painful time for such a ruling given that Congress finally – finally! – is doing something that might put a dint in our alarmingly-high gun violence rate. The Senate passed a measure, advanced by a bipartisan group of senators, aimed at curbing gun violence that’s more modest than bold and about three decades too late. It includes funding for more security measures, more scrutiny of those younger than 21 buying certain types of guns and “red flag” laws to temporarily suspend the right of those with severe mental health problems to possess a gun. As modest as it is, it’s the first step forward on gun control in more than a generation, and after far too much bloodshed.

But because of what the Supreme Court just did, that Senate proposal feels toothless in a society drowning in guns even before it becomes law, if it becomes law.

The Court is using the logic derived during a period in which men “owned” other men while calling themselves freedom fighters and has decided to apply it to an era that is much more diverse and supposedly more equal.

“The wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined,” Jesus said in Mark 2:22.

If we don’t rethink soon, don’t fully grapple with the reality that a white minority has been granted outsized power in the courts, Congress and the executive branch because of an adherence to tradition even as this nation becomes more diverse, we will be headed for dark days. Jan. 6 was a warning. Supreme Court justices are unconcerned about what’s happening around them. The rest of us can’t afford to be that blind. The old wineskin – tradition trumping all – can’t hold forever.

Issac Bailey is a McClatchy Opinion writer based in Myrtle Beach.

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