Repeal The Second Amendment.

[To our conservative readers (and we do have quite a few believe it or not), bear with us on the introduction because we’re going to make you mad at first, but then we’re going to make it all better. And then after that, you’ll be free to take any left over anger out on Bret Stephens’ New York Times Op-Ed. So this will be an emotional rollercoaster for you]

Regular readers know that we make no secret of our ideological bent and/or our partisan leanings.

Regular readers also know (or should know), that our liberal editorial slant stems not from a deep-seated hatred for conservatism. In fact, there are any number of issues on which we are inclined to side with conservatives.


Rather, we take issue with stupidity. And frankly, it seems like conservatives get stupider by the year. They have developed an uncanny knack for making what should be a defensible platform completely indefensible. Conservatives have a remarkable (and truly disheartening from the perspective of Republicans who are still some semblance of sane) propensity to pick the absolute worst arguments available to defend their agenda.

You do not, for instance, need to insist that the creationism myth is true in order to preserve America’s historical relationship with Christianity. Creationism is a demonstrable falsehood. It simply isn’t true. It doesn’t make any f*&%ing sense. There is no bearded Zeus in the sky, there was in fact a man named Jesus but he was not in fact a wizard, and the Bible is a collection of fairy tales. That’s just all there is to it. Sorry.

But here’s the thing: that doesn’t mean there’s not merit in religion. That doesn’t mean religion can’t play an important part in people’s lives. That doesn’t mean that we should remove “one nation under God” from the pledge of allegiance. And it doesn’t mean that America shouldn’t identify as a Christian nation. All it means is that you can’t make public policy based on fairy tales and that you can’t force feed children lies about how the earth was created in schools. Look at it this way. I think Michael Jordan might be an immortal and could very well be the NBA league MVP at 75 years old. But science says that’s impossible. So if I get myself elected to public office, I’m not going to try and base my public policy decisions on my deeply-held belief that there is an immortal called Michael Jordan whose physical abilities do not deteriorate with age because I realize that no matter how much I believe it, it is not in fact true. There’s a reason why there’s a separation of church and state, and yet conservatives have a demonstrable tendency to want to blur that line. And please, don’t accuse me of constructing a straw man there unless you want our next post to take the form of a long list of instances where conservatives are mixing religion with policy.

So that’s just one example of how conservatives have taken something completely defensible and made it virtually indefensible by resorting to the stupidest argument imaginable.

Now then, allow us to redeem ourselves with our conservative readership: we are not big gun control advocates. And again, it comes back to common sense. Obviously, it makes some measure of sense to ban assault rifles. There’s really not a good argument for why private citizens need assault rifles for home protection. Unless your home is under siege from an armed militia, it’s hard to imagine why anyone needs an assault rifle. The Op-Ed you’ll read below argues from the opposite side. That is, “here’s why assault rifles aren’t the problem.” But the better question is this: if gun ownership in America is justified by [X, Y, Z], is there a plausible argument for how [X, Y, Z] are not satisfied by firearms that aren’t assault rifles? The answer is: “no.”

That said – and this is just the harsh reality – if someone wants to commit mass murder, there’s not a lot you can do about it. Sure, you can limit their capacity by restricting access to certain kinds of firearms, but that’s an endless regression. You could also limit people’s capacity to commit mass murder by banning semi automatic handguns and only allowing revolvers. Similarly, you could ban sharp knives and force would-be stabbers to use butter knives. And on, and on, and on.

That’s not to say that the NRA’s political influence doesn’t need to be reined in. And again, it’s not to say that there aren’t things we can and perhaps should do from a common sense perspective to at least cut down on the odds that someone can kill dozens of people in a relatively short time span. But – and again this is sad, but it’s true – Stephen Paddock could have walked into that crowd with one handgun and some spare clips and probably killed nearly as many people before anyone could have subdued him.

Further, if what you’re aiming at is home protection, there is no substitute for a gun. Does that mean your household is more likely to be the scene of a gun accident? Well, of course – there’s a gun in there. People trot out statistics about that as though we need statistics to understand it. If there is ham in my refrigerator, the chances that I will die from choking on a piece of ham are far greater than if there wasn’t any ham in the house.

But here’s the thing. If someone breaks into your house armed with a gun, there is only one effective deterrent: another gun. Does that mean Americans should have 15 assault rifles in a gun cabinet? Well again, probably not. Unless you’re expecting al-Shabaab to show up in the middle of the night.

But ultimately, mass killings are a mental health issue. That goes for all mass killings irrespective of circumstances and irrespective of what religion they are carried out in the name of. The Op-Ed you’ll read below has some counterarguments which, while valid, do nothing to change the indisputable fact that if you go out and you murder 58 people, there is something wrong with you. Whether or not it’s “preventable” seems to be more a function of society not having the right tools or not having progressed enough to recognize the signs. History is replete with examples of problems that were completely unrecognizable to people at one time, but which would be easy to spot by future generations.

So that’s our long-winded introduction to the following Op-Ed published today in The New York Times. It’s by Bret Stephens, with whom you’re probably familiar. From where we’re sitting, he seems to summarily dismiss a lot of good arguments on the way to backing up a decidedly controversial suggestion (repealing the Second Amendment) with an appeal to what he imagines the Forefathers would do. Draw your own conclusions.

Repeal the Second Amendment

By  for The New York Times

I have never understood the conservative fetish for the Second Amendment.

From a law-and-order standpoint, more guns means more murder. “States with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides,” noted one exhaustive 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health.

From a personal-safety standpoint, more guns means less safety. The F.B.I. counted a total of 268 “justifiable homicides” by private citizens involving firearms in 2015; that is, felons killed in the course of committing a felony. Yet that same year, there were 489 “unintentional firearms deaths” in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Between 77 and 141 of those killed were children.

From a national-security standpoint, the Amendment’s suggestion that a “well-regulated militia” is “necessary to the security of a free State,” is quaint. The Minutemen that will deter Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un are based in missile silos in Minot, N.D., not farmhouses in Lexington, Mass.

From a personal liberty standpoint, the idea that an armed citizenry is the ultimate check on the ambitions and encroachments of government power is curious. The Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s, the New York draft riots of 1863, the coal miners’ rebellion of 1921, the Brink’s robbery of 1981 – does any serious conservative think of these as great moments in Second Amendment activism?

And now we have the relatively new and now ubiquitous “active shooter” phenomenon, something that remains extremely rare in the rest of the world. Conservatives often say that the right response to these horrors is to do more on the mental-health front. Yet by all accounts Stephen Paddock would not have raised an eyebrow with a mental-health professional before he murdered 58 people in Las Vegas last week.

What might have raised a red flag? I’m not the first pundit to point out that if a “Mohammad Paddock” had purchased dozens of firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition and then checked himself into a suite at the Mandalay Bay with direct views to a nearby music festival, somebody at the local F.B.I. field office would have noticed.

Given all of this, why do liberals keep losing the gun control debate?

Maybe it’s because they argue their case badly and – let’s face it – in bad faith. Democratic politicians routinely profess their fidelity to the Second Amendment – or rather, “a nuanced reading” of it – with all the conviction of Barack Obama’s support for traditional marriage, circa 2008. People recognize lip service for what it is.

Then there are the endless liberal errors of fact. There is no “gun-show loophole” per se; it’s a private-sale loophole, in other words the right to sell your own stuff. The civilian AR-15 is not a true “assault rifle,” and banning such rifles would have little effect on the overall murder rate, since most homicides are committed with handguns. It’s not true that 40 percent of gun owners buy without a background check; the real number is closer to one-fifth.

The National Rifle Association does not have Republican “balls in a money clip,” as Jimmy Kimmel put it the other night. The N.R.A. has donated a paltry $3,533,294 to all current members of Congress since 1998, according to The Washington Post, equivalent to about three months of Kimmel’s salary. The N.R.A. doesn’t need to buy influence: It’s powerful because it’s popular.

Nor will it do to follow the “Australian model” of a gun buyback program, which has shown poor results in the United States and makes little sense in a country awash with hundreds of millions of weapons. Keeping guns out of the hands of mentally ill people is a sensible goal, but due process is still owed to the potentially insane. Background checks for private gun sales are another fine idea, though its effects on homicides will be negligible: guns recovered by police are rarely in the hands of their legal owners, a 2016 study found.

In fact, the more closely one looks at what passes for “common sense” gun laws, the more feckless they appear. Americans who claim to be outraged by gun crimes should want to do something more than tinker at the margins of a legal regime that most of the developed world rightly considers nuts. They should want to change it fundamentally and permanently.

There is only one way to do this: Repeal the Second Amendment.

Repealing the Amendment may seem like political Mission Impossible today, but in the era of same-sex marriage it’s worth recalling that most great causes begin as improbable ones. 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. The 46,445 murder victims killed by gunfire in the United States between 2012 and 2016 didn’t need to perish so that gun enthusiasts can go on fantasizing that “Red Dawn” is the fate that soon awaits us.

Donald Trump will likely get one more Supreme Court nomination, or two or three, before he leaves office, guaranteeing a pro-gun court for another generation. Expansive interpretations of the right to bear arms will be the law of the land – until the “right” itself ceases to be.

Some conservatives will insist that the Second Amendment is fundamental to the structure of American liberty. They will cite James Madison, who noted in the Federalist Papers that in Europe “the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” America was supposed to be different, and better.

I wonder what Madison would have to say about that today, when more than twice as many Americans perished last year at the hands of their fellows as died in battle during the entire Revolutionary War. My guess: Take the guns–or at least the presumptive right to them–away. The true foundation of American exceptionalism should be our capacity for moral and constitutional renewal, not our instinct for self-destruction.


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13 thoughts on “Repeal The Second Amendment.

  1. The use of guns in “home protection” is shown by the statistics to be if not a complete fantasy, nowhere near prevalent enough to warrant the higher rates of suicides, accidental deaths, mass murders, escalations in police encounters and severity of gang violence. The game theoretic escalation that occurs even in home robbery scenarios is just as likely to increase the probability of a fatality than act as a deterrent. Lets be honest, modern semiautomatic firearms (just like nuclear weapons, rocket launchers and VX nerve gas for example) are not appropriate devices for civilian ownership, and countries that have taken the plunge and banned everything but bolt action hunting rifles and non pump action shotguns have seen dramatic drops in gun violence. I think your so called middle ground on this issue is refuted by the data and really isnt a middle ground at all. (I also think we should remove one nation under god from the pledge of allegiance but that”s a different argument)

    1. good comment and good points, all.

      only thing we would say is that again, there is no getting around the fact that if someone breaks into your home armed with a gun, you are at a demonstrable disadvantage if you do not own a gun.

      obviously that is an argument that is simplistic. but in part because of its simplicity, it is virtually unassailable.

      1. Let me attempt to assail it: If that person knows that the probability that you have a firearm is basically zero they aren’t going to feel existentially threatened if they encounter you and are therefore more likely to steal your stuff than try and kill you. I would rather live in a country where I have to let someone with a gun steal my stuff than take a roll of the die on the chance of winning a shootout.

        1. I should wonder, what your thoughts would be if the theft turned into a sexual assault of your family members? It is impossible to determine the extent to which a criminal willing to break into your home with a firearm will restrain themselves when given complete power over you and your family.

  2. It’s pretty simple, a bolt action hunting rifle such as a remington 800 series is all you need to serve the purpose of increasing the cost of a totalitarian takeover. The mythology that armed Americans could repel a military coup is farcical but that doesn’t mean that a citizenry with useful hunting rifles doesn’t impose a cost barrier on any would be dictator. They have to be willing to get into a fighting guerilla war. If they do… they ultimately will win but not every dictator can get their supporters to stomach it. Remember that while a dictator has a lot of power, he has to keep a certain group of followers happy including the military.

    From a home defense standpoint a shotgun of semi auto pistol is a good tool as they can be setup to fire rounds that are lethal yet do not go through wall after wall while retaining killing power.

    From the hunting side. Single, dual, pump and lever actuated weapons are perfectly suitable. After all hunting is about aiming a careful shot. Not mowing down a horde.

    So where does that leave weapons like the AK47, AR15 and their like? They are recreational. They exist in the civilian sector for our amusement and as such should have corresponding safety measures taken in the laws. It won’t keep them off the black market and there are already millions out there so they won’t disappear but the least we can do is treat them like driving a semi truck.

  3. I’m of the opinion that we’re not taking advantage enough of the “well-regulated militia” phrasing of the 2nd A. Fine, gun ownership is an “individual right,” but consistent with the founders written intent gun owning citizens are part of nation’s “militia.” One way to implement this could be to expand each State’s National Guard. Create a new reserve category for all gun owning citizens residing in the state. Compel all gun owners/militia members to be Militia-licensed and for those licenses to be valid contingent upon attending and passing regular training and mental and physical health evaluations. They would also be subject to supporting the National Guard & armed services in such circumstances as the State or Congress would require.

    In this scheme, everybody can own as many guns as they like, but the guns and ammo must be kept at a National Guard Armory. If you need a firearm for personal defense, you can check one gun out and a regulated amount of ammo. Needless to say certain classes of weapons, e.g., “assault rifles.” would not be released for home defense purposes; moreover, as long as you have the gun checked out, you have to present it to the Armory for inspection on a regular basis (lest you fail to report it stolen). If you use your ammunition and need more, you check out another small quantity, contingent upon approval from the Armory.

    I also like the idea of compelling all gun owners to carry personal firearm liability insurance. If you’re caught with a firearm without insurance or without a valid militia license it’s a Federal offense with appropriately harsh penalties.

    FWIW: I suggest all of this as a concealed handgun license carrier and a gun owner.

    1. That is NOT what the 2nd amendment it sometimes. The Founders placed a comma between “well regulated militia..” “the right of the people to keep and bear arms..” The two are separate.

      The framers of the Bill of Rights were very likely, pound for pound, the best educated and most intelligent group that’s ever occupied this ground..So explain to me why they didn’t say..”.Only civilians constituting a States well regulated militia shall have the right to bear arms…”?

      You know why they didn’t say it..because they didn’t intend it.

      So lets cut to the bottom line..thru heisenberg’s fuzzy emotionalism and constant backtracking.

      1. The Framers did NOT say anyone has a right to bear automatic weapons or machine guns..grandfathered in or not..Those weapons didn’t exist in the 18th what? Neither did don’t get those mounted with canon or machine guns either. If you need that kind of protection you’re in a hell of a lot more trouble than you know.

      2. The essence of the Amendment is self defense..based on the universal Natural Rights principle of a right to life and the Constitutional one of self determination…

      3. Have our gutless Congress pass legislation that allows for handguns and bolt action weapons for self defense..and not allow for either rapid semi-automatic fire or single depression machine gun like fire. Can’t protect you house without a semi or machine gun…tough shit.

      We need to face the fact that even if we p[ass that kind of Legislation..and we should, if for no other reason than to make a statement of what our ethic is…all those horrible, mass killing things can easily come across a border (ours) without any problem. Brought in by groups who dislike us as much as any home grown psychopath..all they have to do is put them into the right hands.

  4. H that was a great introduction. I agree we have a lot of ham in our refrigerator. In fact, ham has been stuffed into it since its existence and far more than it is practical to record or that can be effectively removed. Like it or not, that makes in impossible to rule out getting choked on once in a while. We can imagine a perfect world where we can logically and precisely regulate away complex problems, but the fact is we have an absolutely horrible record in do so.

    You can make supposed “logical” arguments all day long for gun regulation and not. Unfortunately, as “logical” as they might seem to be – they won’t stand up against similar model attempts at regulating human pathological behavior or even standup at or near the highest priorities of threats to the people of our society. However, there are models that definitively show that ineffective tinkering has made our problems with firearms violence worse (i.e. the pronounced increase in firearms sales every time there is a firearms related tragedy and the uninformed hand wringing and the political self-interest leveraging that always follows.

    Far more people are killed each year by people driving under the influence of mental physical capacity altering drugs (i.e. alcohol and other drugs – legal and illegal) and or predictable lethal related health issues (tobacco) than are killed by firearms. Yet, those substances have been highly regulated with billions of dollars spent every year on their totally and demonstrably ineffective policing. We are great at ineffective regulation. It seems we have some bacteriophage horizontal genetic transfer such that all Americans think that we can legislate and or litigate all our problems away.

    Attempting to remove and or control firearms of any specific type – or in total would only accomplish (review the increase sales of assault weapons each time the threats of bans were imposed or temporarily imposed) what the “War on Drugs” has accomplished – an undeniably vast an hugely profitable (and therefore influential) black market on banned substances. There is no rational argument that can say that such a huge gun black market – would not absolutely follow an appeal of the “Second Amendment” – in part or whole. And, this doesn’t even consider the existing firearms black market that already exists in the US. Its not like there isn’t an existent an effective firearms market to benefit from legal prohibition of some types or all firearms.

    What I generously described as a “logical” argument regarding firearms regulation and restriction in the US – falls completely apart when compared to remarkably similar “bans”, restrictions, and prohibitions in the US. The failure of what should be “logical,” is the incomplete consideration in that logic of the fact that we humans are not completely logical creatures. The illogical part of the firearms regulation argument rests in our inability to demonstrate that we can effectively regulate other forms of bad and illogical behavior – from mild quirks or harmless aberrations to those completely self-destructive, or socio-destructive pathologies. We have an existing and horrible record since Regan of dealing with the mental health issues of our citizens.

    I’m sure some portion of the illogical argument thinks its better to do “something” than “nothing.” Of course their reasoning doesn’t recognize that the more than 10,000 ineffective firearms laws of municipal, state and federal governments are already the “do-something” part of their argument. We live in a society that wants and thinks that their government can provide them a risk free existence. Ironically, its that thinking that is the greatest risk to them. While no one can deny that we can do better at a nation at controlling senseless violence, we should closely and first examine and controlling the causes of that violence rather than confusing the causes with inanimate enablers.

    While I have never been a member of the NRA, based on past experience – no matter if the NRA makes some reasonable firearms regulations concessions, Congress will still not be able agree, much less write them into a law that in its final draft – the NRA will accept. The cycle will be completed once again. More money will be made.

  5. Bravo, DMD! I have a question for James above. Would you feel the same about letting an armed intruder have his way if he were a rapist and/or child molester and your wife and kids were in the house? How would you know if he was just there to steal some stuff? One for you Heisenberg. Back in your drinking days, if Prohibition had passed, would you have gave it up because it was illegal? Didn’t think so. No matter how hard you try, you can’t legislate morality by banning the tools people use to be immoral. Never has worked, never will.

    1. So are you suggesting that having laws is useless and we should legalize/deregulate everything as long as it doesn’t directly injure another person? Crack, meth and heroine are all illegal and yet people continue to indulge, so by the gun lobby’s logic we should just legalize them all.

      Note: I’m for legalization and regulation of all drugs, however I do find the dissonance from the gun lobby on this issue strange as the overlap of those who believe in legalization of hard drugs and no gun control because of the “you can’t legislate away crime” argument is quite low.

    2. The problem is that the actual incidence rate of the event you are alluding to is vanishingly small, versus all the obvious and statistically verifiable harm. Lets put it this way, the rates of rape and child abuse in Australia, the UK and the US are broadly comparable yet the rates of gun crime are not I am at the end of the day an empiricist on this subject. If the evidence suggested that my ownership of a gun would reduce the probability of my child being raped, and the increase in probability of my child accidentally killing themselves were tolerable I would accept that and support a pro gun stance, the data however does not support your conclusion. The world is a muddy set of statistical tradeoffs, the stats where they pertain to the gun debate however seem to reliably point in one direction. Ideology seems to be the only counterargument and I am not a supporter of ideological conclusions where they oppose empirical conclusions.

  6. Let’s prohibit NRA contributions to any political campaign. Perhaps there may also be other entities that should be prohibited from ‘buying’ candidates! Wouldn’t hurt to have democrats and republican candidates from having access to millions of dollars to finance those long years of constant campaigning! Lowering the amount of money it takes to run for office would encourage the other 75% of the humans who are not rich white men to throw their hat into the ring. As it is now, only the super rich can afford to run for president or ones that are willing to sell out! That’s how you drain the swamp! Not to mention you would have candidates well below 70 years old!

    I also think there should be minimum requirements (above the moron and imbecile intelligent levels!), include a transparent physical health exam and a thorough mental health analysis! Maybe a candidate that has a history of literally thousands of lawsuits should be avoided. Do we currently even do a background check on candidates or do just assume they are not hiding an unsavory history?

    I recall trump bragging about “always carrying a gun”. nice. Oh, and then he said he “sometimes carries a gun”. And then he actually said he “sometimes carries a gun a lot”. Some interesting short pieces follow, focused on his opinion on guns. from 2012, 2015, 2016, and only 3 days ago 2017
    Nov 2012: Trump says he owns a couple of guns. “H&K .45 and a .38 Smith & Wesson.” The Donald is a true Second Amendment enthusiast.
    Oct 2015, CNBC Presidential Debate; New York gun permit. “I do carry on occasion. Sometimes a lot. I like to be unpredictable.”
    Sept 2016: His campaign website says he would “enforce the laws on the books” and wants to appoint Supreme Court justices who will uphold the Second Amendment. He also wants to create a “national right to carry” law that would make such permits valid in all 50 states. He says he would get rid of “gun-free zones” and would emphasize enforcement of existing gun laws.
    Oct. 2017: Donald Trump has repeatedly declared he loves the Second Amendment. And since becoming president, he has begun rolling back Obama-era restrictions on gun ownership. The ways Trump is trying to make it easier for Americans to access guns: What he has done and said so far. All you need to know about Trump’s stances on gun ownership.

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