Following up on my prior post in which I laid our a wild proposal to ban all civilian gun ownership, let me address some other arguments that gun advocates tend to make.
I can already hear the objection that any restrictions on the civilian ownership of guns would be in violation of the Second Amendment. As a strong proponent of the First Amendment, I take this seriously. I just happen to think that gun advocates’ interpretation of the Second Amendment is completely wrong. Let’s quote the full text of the amendment, seeing as it’s pretty short:
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.
Okay, let me say, this is a terribly written sentence. But what’s worse is that gun advocates only repeat the second half. That is, almost by definition, unconstitutional. It’s only in the context of a well-regulated militia, organized to defend the United States, that we can even begin to understand the right to bear arms.
A second argument that I don’t buy from gun advocates is that we should apply the concept mutually assured destruction (MAD) to our shared public life. You often hear this expressed as, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” While you might think they’re talking about police, they’re not. They want every single person armed, in every setting, so that we all are prepared to shoot one another should someone step out of line. Maybe you’re prepared to accept that universal fear would work somehow in some settings. But I can promise you that it will fail when it comes to mass shootings. The MAD concept was borrowed from the Cold War. The idea was that nuclear-armed states would never attack one another because each one was sure it would be destroyed in the resulting conflict. The whole system counted on nation states – specifically, civilian and military leaders – not being suicidal. But all too often, mass shootings end with the shooter dead – either in a self-inflicted suicide or from suicide by cop. These people often don’t want to live, so the whole approach falls apart.
Oh, and by the way, if more guns made us safer, then the US should be the safest country in the world seeing as we have the highest per capita rate of gun ownership in the world.
Wrapping up, let me recommend that you take the time to read two articles – one from Vox and the other from Five Thirty Eight – that have good analyses of the research on gun ownership, gun violence, and gun control. You might be surprised to find that the Five Thirty Eight piece is skeptical of many gun control proposals.
Finally, I can tell you this: prayers aren’t going to help. Taking action will.
Not necessarily vigilante action, but let’s end with a desperate, nervous laugh…