I had the opportunity recently to watch the Shawshank Redemption. Some of you may remember the film starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. Freeman plays long-time prisoner Ellis “Red” Redding who befriends fellow inmate Andy Dufresne played by Robbins.
There is a scene where Redding and Dufresne are discussing one of their comrades, Brooks Hatlen played by James Whitmore. Hatlen had spent five decades in prison and upon his release he found the outside world so overwhelming he committed suicide. Freeman’s character describes Hatlen as having become “institutionalized” meaning he’d spent so much time in prison that the prison routine was preferable to the uncertainties of living in freedom. So much so that the pressures of freedom drove him to suicide.
My friend, San Diego gun-rights attorney John Dillon, has used this term to describe California gun owners. Have California gun owners become so used to having our Second Amendment rights aggressively infringed or completely ignored that we find it easier to accept the oppression than to seriously resist the latest gun-control laws? Has living with our rights oppressed become more convenient than fighting for the rights enjoyed by most Americans? Have California gun owners become institutionalized?
There’s roughly 31 million people over the age of 18 living in California and, depending on the estimate, just under 10 million of them own guns. Yet with that number of gun owning voters, California has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. Most of the worst gun-control ideas originate in California. Given that, it’s reasonable to ask have we become institutionalized?
We have everything from limits on standard capacity magazines, red flag laws, background checks to purchase ammunition, and safe storage ordinances to exorbitant taxes on firearms and ammunition purchases and much more. All this with barely a peep from gun owners. These laws are all being challenged in court by various gun rights organizations. These challenges will eventually be successful, but they will do so with minimal support from California gun owners. Have we become institutionalized?
Last year the US Supreme Court ruled the Second Amendment protects the right of citizens to carry loaded firearms in public for self-defense. The state of California reacted with SB2 (formerly SB918) which essentially states that California will issue licenses to carry concealed where legally allowed, but that most public areas will be declared “sensitive areas” and will therefore be prohibited places to carry. Most gun owners are unaware of SB2 as are many students in my state mandated CCW classes. Should SB2 become law, concealed carry will effectively end in California. Have we become institutionalized?
Should it become law, SB2 will be immediately challenged in court and will eventually be ruled unconstitutional. The problem is that for the years it takes for SB2 to be overturned, it will be in place in California causing needless death and injury to many citizens at the hands of violent individuals, those citizens having been stripped of the means to defend themselves.
The dangers of having citizens that have become institutionalized is not just limited to Second Amendment issues. In California, shoplifting has essentially become decriminalized, and parents are rapidly losing the ability to control, or even be informed of, what is happening to their children in the public schools. Californians are victims of ever-increasing taxation (a milage tax on each mile you drive in your private vehicle), restrictions on what we can buy (bans on gas powered lawn mowers, dryers, and eventually cars). COVID vaccine mandates are still in place in state universities even though most people understand the vaccines are unnecessary and are arguably dangerous to young people. Californians accept all this and much more without protest. Have we become institutionalized?
Gun owners in particular and Californians in general cannot afford to become institutionalized, there is simply too much at stake. Without the Second Amendment the rest of the Constitution is meaningless. We still have the power through our electoral system, to determine what kind of country we want and while that ability was greatly threatened during the 2020 and 2022 elections, the forces that seek the destruction of our country have not yet won.
In California, gun owners need to get involved. We need to support the various 2A organizations such as San Diego County Gun Owners, Gun Owners of California, Firearms Policy Coalition, and the NRA. Find an organization you agree with and support them with your time and or your money. Educate yourself and spread the word to gun owners as well as to those who don’t own guns. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation regarding guns and gun owners have a responsibility to correct that misinformation whenever they can.
Finally, none of this can be successful without the right people elected to office. California politics is currently dominated by the wrong people. These people consistently enact laws that harm Californians and the only way to change that is to vote them out of office and vote good people in.
No matter your political beliefs you need to get involved. The Republican party in California is completely broken and useless, filled with swamp Republicans. The Democratic party has been hijacked by far-left extremists whose policies are very destructive to Californians. The only way to change this is for people to become actively involved and elect leaders who want the best for California. Californians cannot afford to become institutionalized, there is simply too much at stake.
©2023 Joseph T Drammissi
This article and more of Joe’s work covering the Second Amendment and other topics can be found on Substack at https://getagrip.substack.com