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Let's Fix the 2nd Amendment
The Uvalde Tragedy Didn't Have to Happen
Today, I’m going to break with my pattern. Generally, I think of myself playing the long game, working to end poverty, reverse climate change and improve public health. With that view in mind, I rarely comment on the news. The Uvalde tragedy demands a different approach on this Memorial Day.
Seventeen. We the people have changed the constitution of the United States 17 times since the 13 original states first ratified it with the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments included. It is time to make another change. Let’s fix the 2nd Amendment.
The massacre of 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, didn’t have to happen. Events like this do not occur routinely in wealthy democracies—except in the United States.
The freedoms we treasure, speech, assembly, religion, right to a speedy trial, habeas corpus and many others, have been widely replicated around the world. One analysis ranks the United States 15th, tied with Germany and Japan (imagine telling your great grandparents that in 1945) and behind Estonia, Scandinavia, Australia and the United Kingdom.
Those countries have not, however, copied the 2nd Amendment.
Why is that? Let me put this as clearly as possible. To copy the 2nd Amendment would be absolutely f*cking stupid.
The idea that the right to own a gun is somehow comparable to the right to worship as you choose or not, or the right to express your opinion on political matters, is absurd.
We must grant Federal, state and local governments authority to regulate firearm production, ownership, and use.
The choice of police in Uvalde to wait outside while a murderer slowly massacred children should be the final nail in the coffin of the fiction that the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. The reality is the best way is to keep bad guys from getting guns in the first place.
The ease with which the 18-year-old Uvalde perpetrator (yes, I know his name, no, I won’t repeat it) legally acquired assault weapons and massive amounts of ammunition prove that we need fundamental changes to gun rights in this country. Yes, we should raise the age for gun ownership, yes, we should ban assault weapons, and yes, we should require background checks for every single gun purchase, but let’s admit the truth: that is not enough.
Beto O’Rourke got it right when he said, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”
We can’t get at the fundamental issue without once and for all confronting the failure of the founders to articulate the Government’s rights to regulate gun ownership. The framers appear to have intended significant limitations to gun ownership. Still, courts and Congress have unbelievably settled the ambiguity in favor of the rights of gun owners rather than their victims.
Here’s the entire 2nd Amendment, its intent invisible:
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.
Much smarter people than I have been arguing about the meaning of this sentence since the founders wrote it almost 250 years ago.
One straightforward option is to delete it. There is no amendment protecting Americans’ right to own and drive cars, yet virtually all adults outside of New York City own and drive cars.
Another option is to rewrite it to make sense, as in, “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall be well regulated.”
Responsible gun owners behave in ways that would not be infringed by automotive-style regulation of gun ownership and use.
The people who are most likely to be upset by the idea of altering the 2nd Amendment are those who are already poised to begin plotting the overthrow of America’s rightfully elected national leadership.
Every right you hold dear, including the 2nd Amendment, is threatened by a right-wing, Christian-branded pseudo-theocracy built on the premise that we can’t trust elections and its corollary, that he (I chose that pronoun thoughtfully) who has the most guns rules.
Eliminating or changing the 2nd Amendment would not eliminate gun ownership. It would merely allow us to regulate gun ownership and use with public health and safety given priority over the private property rights of the owner.
It’s time to fix the 2nd Amendment. Twenty-one more deaths demand honor and respect. There is no greater respect we can show them.