The gun debate in America rages on, with the NRA’s spokesman giving a speech today, just one week after the massacre at Sandy Hook, a tone-deaf speech even by their standards. While he was speaking, a gunman in Pennsylvania shot three others and then (we believe) himself. So what can be done to deliver gun control?
Some people think a reinterpretation of the commas in the Second Amendment can save America. To remind you:
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.
Current rulings make the first part about a militia and its purpose merely “prefatory”, i.e. irrelevant context, with the part starting “the right” being “operative”. Others think the commas are a well-armed red herring, and considering the framers’ intentions might be more productive.
Neither is unlikely to help any time soon. Neither the current Supreme Court, nor any Supreme Court imaginable in the next decade, is likely to accept any kind of more radical ban on guns with the Second Amendment still unchallenged.
It’s time for America’s progressives to make a real push on a different front: abolishing the Second Amendment altogether. As Walter Shapiro says, it’d take just 15 words: “The second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.”
It’d be absurd to suggest that’d be easy, or even realistic any time soon. Even to get a 28th Amendment proposed takes either two thirds of the Senate and the House or two thirds of state legislatures. That’s hard. Then 38 states need to ratify it. That’s even harder.
The polling trend has been heading in the wrong direction, although there’s been a bit of a shift after the most recent outrage. But (as Shapiro again observes) opinions have changed radically on issues like equal marriage, and the fact that it might take 15 or 20 years doesn’t mean the job shouldn’t be begun. It means ignoring Alex Massie’s unusually siren argument that it’s hard to do so it shouldn’t be done in case someone takes away rights you care about. It would get round the concerns about democracy in the otherwise sensible Lexington blogpost.
Those equal marriage wins took some serious strategic thinking to deliver in four states this November, too: can the same techniques be applied here? After all, frustrating and unequal as the reservation of marriage for heterosexual couples is, it’s not in the same league as being shot in your classroom.
(pic from Code Pink)