“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.”
I’m joining the “repeal and replace” movement. No, not that one. I mean the one that gives Wayne LaPierre night sweats and prompted the NRA to replace its hoary old male social warrior with a svelt young, but equally tone-deaf, female one.
I’m talking about the movement to repeal the Second Amendment, something that I’ve half-heartedly advocated myself a time or two over the years, and I think I’m finally ready to make the commitment to whole-heartedness.
I’ve just finished reading Dennis Henigan’s book “Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People (And Other Myths About Guns and Gun Control)” and have come to the conclusion that, while gun ownership certainly should be a privilege enjoyed by most Americans, it’s time to boot it from its place in the U.S. Constitution. Henigan’s book is a thoroughly-researched and well-written, 200-page argument that utterly destroys every argument ever made against gun control.
For an even shorter version of essentially the same thing, there’s Bret Stephens’ 2016 column in the New York Times which can be distilled down to two sentences: “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.”
People who hunt, people who enjoy target practice, people who probably do need a concealed handgun for their own protection should have no problem passing background checks and gun safety training to obtain whatever firearm they need or want. But gun ownership absolutely should be restricted to people who have proven they can safely handle guns and give no indication of criminal intent.
There is a temptation at this point to list all of the things far less harmful than guns that do require training and licensing, but I’m not going there and here’s why: It’s a false equivalency. There is nothing else in the world like guns. As I have said before, guns are the only thing – the only thing – sold to the population at large that are designed and manufactured solely for the purpose of killing people.
Every advancement in firearm design, from the flintlock to the Bushmaster ACR, was prompted by the need to put more firepower downrange than the enemy, to inflict more casualties and either drive the enemy from the field or destroy him completely.
The Winchester Model 94 .30-30 that I own and (I hope) will bring down a deer next season was originally designed for horse-mounted infantry and cavalry. It is an improvement on the breech-loading, single-shot carbine that allowed John Buford’s Union troops to hold off Confederate troops in the early stages of the Battle of Gettysburg. A similar weapon, the Martini-Henry, allowed 150 British soldiers to defeat 4,000 Zulu warriors 13 years later at Rorke’s Drift, Zululand. Repeating Henrys and Winchesters were used to kill a lot of Native Americans in the late 1800s and, once the natives got their hands on them, to annihilate George Custer’s cavalry column.
That firearms have been adopted and adapted to putting meat on the table and to making tiny marks on pieces of paper hundreds of feet away is reason enough to not outlaw their ownership altogether. I can personally attest to the joy of turning clay discs to powder with a shotgun (I did it flawlessly the first two times, then couldn’t hit the sky with either barrel.) While there is scant evidence that firearms are effectively used in home defense (they are far more apt to accidentally kill children and are the method of choice for American suicides) law-abiding citizens should be able to learn how to use handguns and then keep them for personal protection.
That doesn’t mean gun ownership needs constitutional protection. It doesn’t. We the People should, rather, have the right to decide, through the offices of proper authorities, which of our neighbors should own weapons and which should not. We the People have the right to eat in a restaurant without having to keep an eye on the fellow with a Glock strapped prominently to his leg. We the People have the right to send our children to school and to go to church and to shop and watch movies without fear of becoming someone’s personal shooting gallery.
It’s time to come into the 21st century and understand that personal weapons owned by American civilians are no defense against foreign invaders (B-movies notwithstanding) or a “tyrannical” government. The Second Amendment was obsolete by 1814 and it is a deadly anachronism now.
So, I’m going all in on this one. I’m siding with the Repeal and Replace Movement not because I think we can aim high and get something else but because it needs to be repealed.