Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators across the nation performed admirably on the “March For Our Lives” (MFOL) protests on March 24th.
Inspired by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, an outpouring of kids and adults transformed into a sea of people awash in homemade signs, blaring music and anti-gun chants.
The hue and cry and the shouting of the demonstrators were demanding something must be done. It is important to remember, however, that what must be done represents a divided minority on exactly what it is they want done.
I am not sure there is much agreement or even meaningful discussion among the marchers and protestors about what is the ultimate goal and objective to curb the violence.
Chicago joined in the MFOL protests to highlight the national movement, as well as their own local problem. In the last six plus years, nearly 20,000 have been shot in the windy city; 5,000 dead. About twice as many Americans have been killed in Chicago in the last six years as died in 17 years of war in Afghanistan.
As a backdrop to a meaningful discussion of what must be done, let’s look at some basic facts, according to Gallop:
- 55% say laws on gun sales should be more strict
- A majority do not favor a ban on handguns
- 43% of Americans have a gun in their house or on their property.
The NRA lobby, as effective as they have been, are not the only obstacle to effective gun control. The demographics and opinions of so many gun owners here in this country are a big deterrent to achieving any curtailment of free choice in gun ownership.
It would appear there is not an overwhelming majority of Americans who favor much more to what I call the Tinkering Approach; raising age limits, increasing background checks or limiting sales to some extent, expanding gun laws in the somewhat naïve hope it will do anything meaningful to reduce what seems increasing violence. Tinkering is worth doing, but we’ve been doing this for some time and I’m not at all sure it has or will do much significantly to curb the violence.
Most people believed there would be some serious gun reform after the 2012 Sandy Hook School incident in Norwalk, Connecticut. There appeared to be major support, but nothing much happened.
A second approach would be to Amend/Repeal the entire Second Amendment, the so-called “Right to Bear Arms” article in the Constitution. This is an approach recently proposed by retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens—a significant voice from a Republican appointed by President Gerald Ford. Serving on the court, it should be noted, Stevens mostly voted with the liberal faction.
Based on the existing demographics, the approach would not appear possible; however, if some discussion on this action can be started and encouraged, over time it could have a chance to gain acceptance.
You could, obviously, not just throw the whole Second Amendment out. That would leave a vacuum that would be hard to fill quickly. You would need a waiting national law outlining what kind of guns could be available and supersede all state laws which would otherwise be a chaotic disaster.
For example, some form of law or change in the Second Amendment could limit the ownership to a rifle and/or a pistol that holds no more than five cartridges.
The penalties for violation would have to be very tough.
A third approach is to make all schools and public places safer, i.e. Safer Places approach. More attention and more energy are needed in this area.
Yes, it costs money, but it can be effective at least as a short-term solution. It will cut down on the effectiveness of the perpetrators. It may not do much to solve the fundamental problem, but it will certainly discourage would-be assassins from their violent action.
The fourth approach is a Legal Challenge to the Second Amendment and the way it has been implemented over the years. I’m surprised there has been no activity in this area to try and get the Supreme Court to interpret that amendment in modern times.
When the Constitution and the Second Amendment was drafted, the arms it offered citizens to bear were a single cartridge musket and a one-shot pistol.
Today, we’re awash in a plethora of mechanized guns with multiple cartridge capacity. The framers of the Constitution could not have envisioned this development.
We have tried to offer four approaches to try to stem gun violence:
- Safer Places
- Legal Challenge
Personally, I believe we have to take action on all four approaches. The first and third approaches may have the best chances of short-term results, while the second and fourth offer better chances for long-term success.