Gunnies, Grabbers and Rewriting the Second Amendment
There is no rational discourse between the two sides of the Second Amendment debate. This is a pity but understandable when one considers that most of the people involved are driven totally by emotion. I have written a couple of columns about guns, gun culture, and the law:
But now that the Democrats have seized gun control as a campaign issue, it is inevitable that the gun laws will take center stage in political debates. The NRA, which has spent the last four decades and hundreds of millions of dollars on the offensive, has run out of territory to conquer. It must now go on defensive mode and that is a losing position in American politics.
Simply put, when the very real fear of losing one’s children to gun violence overtakes the imaginary fear of losing the ability to play Rambo in the woods, gun restrictions will pop up like dandelions in the spring. When gun nuts, like Joe the Plumber, say that “your dead kids do not trump my Constitutional rights,” something is clearly amiss. Besides being incredibly offensive, historically inaccurate, and completely tone deaf, this sentiment is also irrational. How can a dead person have any rights? Exhibit A is why Jefferson wrote “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit Happiness” in that order. Happiness may be a warm AR-15 to some people, but to dead children and their parents, it is a meaningless expression.
For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to label the two sides: gunnies and grabbers. Assault rifles / weapons are the poster child for the gun debate. Instead of dealing the facts of the matter, gunnies want to argue about the technical difference between semi and full automatics. It’s a trivial distinction at best. I loved my M-16 when I was in Vietnam. I never used it on full auto because it was too inaccurate. In fact the military has long since limited the rate of fire to three round bursts. I like firing my son’s AR 15 and AK-47. But the rate of fire for these rifles is simply unacceptable for either civilians or the police. Yes, I’m going to argue that the cops shouldn’t have these guns either. Anybody with a grudge can kill way too many people at once. Grabbers are afraid of these types of guns and they have the right to be. We don’t allow certain vehicles, dragsters or tanks, for example, on the highway with the rest of us. We confine them to certain areas. We should do the same for guns based on rate of fire.
Gunnies will immediately argue with me on this because of how they define rate of fire. I choose to leave it to experts to work out. The question is: does anybody besides the military need a gun that is capable of shooting more than 15 rounds per minute? Gunnies and the NRA want no limits on the Second Amendment. That’s absurd. Why should the Second Amendment be exempt? No part of the Constitution is limitless. And all parts are subject to updated interpretations. I advocate rewriting the Second Amendment in a way to give both gunnies and grabbers increased peace of mind.
Why should gunnies agree to a rewrite of the Second Amendment? Because of the inconsistent gun laws and enforcement from state to state and city to city. Gunnies worry, with some justification, about losing their guns. A rewrite could assure that every US citizen in good standing (no felonies, terrorist ties, or restraining orders) should be able to earn a concealed carry permit that is good everywhere in the US. Gunnies are great at touting their rights but extremely deficient at accepting responsibility. Registration and accountability for all weapons should be part of the deal. All of the other amendments come with restrictions and responsibilities. I can practice my religion, but I can’t sacrifice a goat in the hallway of my apartment building. I also can’t deny standard medical treatment for my children. I can write or say anything I want but only in the proper forum. I am also required to adhere to facts when referring to other people.
Grabbers should welcome a rewrite so they can address their fears. First off, any weapon capable of mass killing needs to be regulated better. When was the last time someone used a Thompson submachine gun to commit mass murder? You can’t remember because the license to own one costs more than the average criminal or nut job can afford. Wayne LaPierre, Ted Cruz, and the rest of “I’ll fight off the federal government till my last bullet” crowd can own all of the AR 15’s and AK-47’s they can pay for. But every such gun needs to registered, taxed heavily, and properly stored.
Demanding accountability of gun owners should not be controversial. We register cars and trucks and demand that owners know who’s using them and that the vehicles are insured and in proper mechanical condition. Those who profit off of the gun trade have sold the fear that somehow, someway, the government can confiscate everybody’s guns. This is ludicrous and on par with fearing alien abduction. I worked the 2000 census. I know how hard it is just to try and contact everyone in the country let alone try and take away their guns. It would take a military / police force ten times the size of what we have. And they would have to be willing to rob and kill their fellow citizens in total disregard for the Constitution. Most police and military would rebel if given such orders. There are a lot of things wrong with our country, but finding twenty or thirty million Americans who are willing to engage in such illegal, unconstitutional, and unethical behavior would mean we are already doomed as a nation.
I don’t believe it. We Americans have always squabbled and disagreed about fundamental issues. The American Revolution itself was literally and figuratively a divisive topic. The Constitution was born out of contentiousness over government, social contracts, and individual liberty. Slavery, suffrage, and sex have all been the subject of national debate and Constitutional Amendments. Just like we revisited the Prohibition Amendment, I think it’s time to revisit the Second as well. Both gunnies and grabbers have much to gain by actually listening to each other and enshrining a compromise position into our guiding document.
I realize that my idea is way too unrealistic to be implemented. Republicans would have to get off of their ideological tuchus and start filling empty judicial slots in order to have the oversight that would result from a do-over on gun rights and responsibilities. And that has as much chance of happening as Sara Palin forming a complete thought. So instead, Democrats will beat their political drums until they pass awful laws which will do nothing to stop the slaughter and everything to take guns away from responsible citizens. With 90% of America wanting change, bad gun laws are inevitable. Gunnies will have no one to blame but themselves.