This is where I tell you that the current interpretation of the Second Amendment—the one held onto by Carson, and Donald Trump, and practically the entire Republican Party—is a hoax. Outside of the GOP, this is widely understood. But what we fail to comprehend, as we bury more of our dead in the name of freedom, is that it is a triple-decker hoax: A lie wrapped in a fabrication, lacquered over with a falsehood. That we chose to wrap it around our necks as a symbol of our own liberty is our own fault and shame.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution says this: “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.” For most of U.S. history, that was understood to mean that the freedom guaranteed by the Second Amendment was precisely what it said: the right of the people of each state to maintain a well-regulated militia.

Slate on the gun hoax.

Up until about the 1940s, the Second Amendment was taken to mean exactly what it stated, i.e. that it was about maintenance of a formal, state-based militia, and had nothing whatsoever to do with a blanket “right” to firearms.

So what happened? Far-right ultra-nationalist lobby groups, basically, who spent most of the latter half of the 20th century trying to get Americans to buy their alternate reality view of the wording. It was Antonin Scalia–because of course it was–who put the final nail in the coffin of 217 years of tradition by writing, in District of Columbia et al. v. Heller, that: “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia”.

So, yanno. The next time someone wants to bleat to you about “activist judges”, y’all might wanna drag that one out.