Gun Ownership Viewed from a Civil Rights Perspective – Film Review: “Assaulted: Civil Rights Under Fire”

As an American gun owner, and part time admin on the Guns Across America page on Facebook, I consider myself to be fairly well versed in 2nd Amendment discussions, and the issue of gun rights vs gun control. I had the pleasure of viewing the documentary film Assaulted: Civil Rights Under Fire, and realized there is historical information yet to be learned, as well as a perspective on the issue of guns which is rarely–if ever–seen, featured in this film. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the film surpassed all of my expectations. I found myself drawn in from the opening seconds, which featured a montage of shots from rural and small town America, accompanied by the song “God and Guns”. The song will be recognized by those who are fans of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd. This version is performed by the very talented Travis Meadows, and fits the film perfectly. The lyrics introduce the film’s message:

“Last night I heard this politician, talking ’bout a brand new mission. I liked his plan, but it came undone when he got around to God and guns. I don’t know what world he’s living in, but everybody ain’t your friend. You’re supposed to hate the life I live; killing themselves just to kill my kids. God and guns, keep us strong. That’s what this country was founded on. We might as well give up and run, if we let ’em take our God and Guns.”

Along with the song, the film gradually shifts from images of small town America to urban, inner city images, and the faces of their inhabitants. Then, at precisely the right moment, we see a page from the Holy Bible, along with Old Glory, the American flag, and an image of the Constitution, which is the featured “star” of this film. After all, what is a discussion about guns without the 2nd Amendment?

Next we hear the voice of Ice T, rapper, and star of NBC’s police drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, who narrates the film; a brilliant choice. As a writer, one of the things I particularly loved about the film was the unique perspective used to tell the story. Following the rural, small town America scenes, accompanied by the music, it launches right into the misconceptions of who “gun people” really are. There are a lot of stereotypical myths about exactly who those of us who bear arms really are, and those myths and stereotypes drive the behavior of those seeking to restrict gun rights.

A long list of credible sources from attorneys, to legal professors, to shooting experts and celebrities such as Ted Nugent, well known for his gun rights advocacy, are featured in the film. As noted by Gary Kleck, Ph.D., Professor of Criminology, FSU,

“The people who strongly support gun control often despise the characteristics of those they associate with gun ownership. They’ll view a typical gun owner as a politically extreme, right wing person; as a person who is indifferent to the suffering of gun violence, an ignorant backwoods hick. Because they dislike the stereotype associated with gun ownership, they feel no qualms about restricting gun ownership, very severely. They don’t think that group has any rights that they need to respect”.

This really, is the crux of the gun debate in America.

Professional Marksman Chris Cheng is another expert featured in the documentary. He explains the diversity which exists in the shooting community, by stating that at any shooting range you see all races including men and women, young and old, every type of person imaginable. The film even shows the Pink Pistols, a LGBTQ  firearm association, or “a gay gun group” as the spokesperson Thomas Boyer, of the San Francisco chapter of the group stated. The fact that guns are synonymous with America, is inescapable. Guns were a part of our roots, our history, and guns are a part of our culture now, in every aspect.

Unlike most films which broach the subject of guns and gun control, this film fulfills its purpose of igniting a meaningful gun control conversation, as opposed to adding to the existing rhetoric. One of the ways it manages to do so, is through the use of constitutional historians, lawyers, law enforcement, educators, anti-violence leaders, gun rights activists and gun owners who lent their voices to the film. The result is more than 30 interviews from advocates on both sides of the argument.This objective approach serves the film well and makes it suitable for viewing by a person on either side of the debate. The film takes a step back from the normal public discourse that is filled with emotional rhetoric, to offer unique perspectives on the Second Amendment’s significance in American society while taking a critical look at current gun laws and their effect on public safety and civil rights.

Usually when we think of “civil rights”, we think of them within the context of gender, race, religion or physical disability, and the discrimination that might occur within that framework. However, the film clearly shows the manner in which gun control efforts have sought to control various elements of American society through oppressive measures, restricting freedom, and therefore the civil rights of individuals and groups of individuals.

One of the most interesting portions of the film clearly establishes the meaning and history of the Second Amendment. The intent or purpose of our country’s founding fathers is explained as the assertion of the ultimate in human rights, and particularly within the context of those rights being infringed upon by a tyrannical government, seeking to oppress or impose itself upon the civil rights of its citizens. The roots of the intent are traced back to English Law, and the film traces the path forward into the American Bill of Rights, defined as one final way to protect individual liberty, beyond courts, laws, and tyranny.

As noted in the film, the Second Amendment consists of just 27 words: 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. Or, in the words of Ted Nugent: “They’re mine. You can’t have ‘em. And I’ve got some on me right now, and they’re loaded”.

This film clearly shows the intent of the framers and their view of rights and liberties, as they apply to bearing arms. The fact that certain rights exist simply by our being human, and that those rights existed prior to the founders’ writings, is definitively established. A preexisting right, just like the right to assemble, or the right to freedom of religion, is how the right to bear arms was viewed by the framers. These rights were not established by the government, but rather were fundamental and preexisting rights, which you have simply by being human. You, as an individual, have a right to own and carry a firearm. It is also a responsibility which you owe to the community. Liberty was such an important issue to the framers of the Constitution that it was seen as essential to establish the Bill of Rights, in order to protect this right and liberty, so that it was protected even against laws, courts, and government tyranny.

Historically our country has experienced uprisings against government tyranny, and by all indication, it will again. These uprisings are documented in the film in a very compelling manner, taking us through the Battle of Athens, the Deacons for Defense, the 60’s Civil Rights Movement, the roots of organized crime in Chicago, and other events. The conflicts and uprisings of the past have led us to where we are today, and to the perspective of this film. For example, currently, we see the indifference shown toward Chicago, where the prevalence of black on black urban and gang warfare, and gun violence has driven the city’s crime statistics upward drastically. Yet no one seems outraged by the violence and death occurring daily in Chicago, even though it has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. The roots of Chicago’s violence and organized crime are detailed in the film, along with the resulting first major federal gun control act, the National Firearms Act of 1934. That act did not outlaw certain weapons, but created a registration process and a tax schedule required before a citizen could possess those weapons. The only result of that legislation was to ensure that only certain individuals who were financially able to pay the tax and who were law abiding, would own such weapons. In 2012, the 506 homicides in Chicago exceeded US military casualties in Afghanistan. The point that  criminals never follow the procedure of registration and background checks, or submit to taxation, is sharply drawn.

The quality of this film is top notch. Every detail, from the writing, to the editing, to the cinematography, is excellent. It bears the appearance of a film with a much larger budget than what it required. It was produced by Dead Patriot films, and created by two-time Emmy winning producer and writer Kris Koenig (“400 Years of the Telescope,” the upcoming “Fight for Space”) and co-produced by Eric Katzenberg (“Secrets of Navy SEALS,” “American Guns”). Koenig is the writer and director of Assauted: Civil Rights Under Fire.

I found the film to provide an objective, comprehensive and complete history of guns, individual liberty, and government, in a compelling and riveting manner. This film should be in every home and every classroom, and the facts that are clearly and justly represented should be known by every American citizen. As a young person, we all tend to believe that the future is where our minds should focus, and yet, as we live longer and experience more, we find the value and necessity of lessons which are only learned from history, and the role they play in today’s existence as well as the assurance of liberty tomorrow. These lessons are priceless, and are well worth the time and few dollars invested to view this film.

View the trailer for Assaulted: Civil Rights Under Fire

Purchase the DVD of Assaulted: Civil Rights Under Fire
https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=LXGWQWMAS9L7N

Watch the film over the internet:

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EKS6VJW/ref=cm_sw_su_dp
Google Play – https://play.google.com/store/movies/details/Assaulted_Civil_Rights_Under_Fire?id=HrB0P_A-M3Y
iTunes –https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/assaulted-civil-rights-under/id688083531
Vudu – http://www.vudu.com/movies/#!content/468844/Assaulted-Civil-Rights-Under-Fire
Xbox – https://video.xbox.com/#Movie/2c1c7469-e3c5-46c9-915c-36222323f742
Playstation – http://us.playstation.com/ps3/movies/assaulted-civil-rights-under-fire-2013.html
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrB0P_A-M3Y

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