Very surprised by this thoughtful argument from the Times new conservative pundit Bret Stephens. A contrarian is right twice a day, and while he may be quite wrong on climate change, he is absolutely advancing an argument we need to have on guns.
In fact, the more closely one looks at what passes for “common sense” gun laws, the more feckless they appear. Americans who claim to be outraged by gun crimes should want to do something more than tinker at the margins of a legal regime that most of the developed world rightly considers nuts. They should want to change it fundamentally and permanently.
As I’ve argued before, background checks and assault weapons bans not only would fail to stop any mass shootings, but they would fail to dent the majority of the 46,000 or so gun deaths we’ve endured in just the last four years. Most of which are the result of a single suicide or homicides by handguns. Even the tragedy in Vegas is not linked to assault weapons per se, but a semi automatic weapon converted into an assault weapon. Banning the conversion kit, as even some Republicans are now considering, would have saved the 58 lives lost early this week, but done little to save the other 46,000 or so who have died in gun violence since the the start 2016. Nearly every killer, including this one, would have passed a background check.
So the reality is, these weak tea efforts are still going to be filibustered by the NRA and it’s cronies in Congress and would do little to solve the problem if they passed.
A real movement for gun safety as strong as the NRA would finally concede that this is a culture war we are fighting. And we believe American culture is no place for unfettered access to firearms. We believe our culture has evolved to consider racial equality, LGBT equality, and abortion rights. Why should the right to a gun not evolve into a far more reasonable process subject to regular regulation like any other commercial products from automobiles to health insurance?
As Stephens argues, the right has already redefined the 2nd amendment beyond anything the framers would’ve considered rational, and they will likely enshrine that radical reframing as President Trump continues to fill Supreme Court vacancies.
Repealing the Amendment may seem like political Mission Impossible today, but in the era of same-sex marriage it’s worth recalling that most great causes begin as improbable ones. Gun ownership should never be outlawed, just as it isn’t outlawed in Britain or Australia. But it doesn’t need a blanket Constitutional protection, either. The 46,445 murder victims killed by gunfire in the United States between 2012 and 2016 didn’t need to perish so that gun enthusiasts can go on fantasizing that “Red Dawn” is the fate that soon awaits us.
Donald Trump will likely get one more Supreme Court nomination, or two or three, before he leaves office, guaranteeing a pro-gun court for another generation. Expansive interpretations of the right to bear arms will be the law of the land — until the “right” itself ceases to be
Repealing the 2nd Amendment does not ban all guns, it simply subjects guns to the same rules and regulations other products can be subjected to under federal, state, and local law. In my book, owning a firearm should be as hard as getting a pilots license. It says a lot about our country that health care is a privilege and gun ownership is a right, and not the other way around.