AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
You can always count on the folks at Vox to provide some quality clickbait, and writer German Lopez has done just that by calling for a Medicare for All or “Green New Deal” for gun control, and chiding Democrats running for president for being stale and tired in their gun control plans.
Gun control policies that don’t confront the core issue — that America simply has too many guns — are doomed to merely nibble around the edges. Everywhere in the world, people get into arguments. Every country has residents who are dangerous to themselves or others because of mental illness. Every country has bigots and extremists. But here, it’s uniquely easy for a person to obtain a gun, letting otherwise tense but nonlethal conflicts escalate into deadly violence.
To change the status quo, Democrats should go big. They need to focus on the abundance of guns in the US and develop a suite of policies that directly tackle that issue, from licensing to confiscation to more aggressive bans of certain kinds of firearms (including, perhaps, all semiautomatic weapons or at least some types of handguns).
I hesitate to call the latest from Lopez a “think piece”, because it’s got far more emotion than logic behind it. Maybe a “wishful thinking” piece is more appropriate instead. Lopez starts with the premise that we should make it exponentially harder for legal, law-abiding Americans to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights. In fact, according to Lopez, we should be passing laws that will prove so burdensome to the exercise of the right to keep and bear arms that many Americans simply give up.
While a background check is more often than not quick and hassle-free, gun licensing in, for example, Massachusetts is a weeks- or months-long process that requires submitting a photograph and fingerprints, passing a training course, and going through one or more interviews, all involving law enforcement. That adds significant barriers for even a would-be gun owner who has no ill intent or bad history.
“The end impact is you decrease gun ownership overall,” Cassandra Crifasi, a researcher (and gun owner) at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, previously told me, discussing Massachusetts’s laws. “Lots of folks think, ‘Well, it’s probably not worth going through all these hoops to buy firearms, so I’m not going to buy one.’ And then you have fewer firearms around, and less exposure.”
Got that? Add “significant barriers” for folks with “no ill intent or bad history”, in order to depress the number of gun owners. In my world, when the government works to thwart people from exercising their constitutional rights, that’s called tyranny.
But that’s just the beginning for Lopez. He wants to “go big” on gun control, up to and including trying to re-interpret the 2nd Amendment or repeal it entirely.
But in a country that already has so many firearms, something also needs to be done to take out a lot of guns more quickly.
That could require rethinking the Second Amendment, whether by appointing judges who interpret it differently in a reverse version of the NRA’s campaign to portray gun ownership as an individual right. It might even mean beginning an effort to repeal it — a project that could admittedly take decades but has gotten less serious consideration and support than packing the Supreme Court or even abolishing the Senate.
It could mean banning more types of guns — perhaps all semiautomatic weapons — and coupling that with an Australian-style mandatory buyback program, which the research supports. If the key difference between America and other countries is how many more guns the US has, then something has to be done to quickly reduce the number of firearms here.
Of course, Lopez doesn’t say exactly how those bans would work in practice. Currently there are about 30,000 Americans in federal prison for any kind of weapons offense (including explosives and arson). There are about 100,000,000 Americans who are legal gun owners. What happens when the vast majority of them are turned into criminals overnight? How does the justice system handle that?
We already have deep blue cities, counties, and states vowing not to work with ICE to enforce federal immigration law. It seems likely you’d see red cities, counties, and states vowing not to work with ATF or other federal agencies in enforcing these new federal gun control laws. Chances are most of the enforcement of Lopez’ new gun control laws would be confined to Democrat-controlled locales, and most of the arrests would end up being young men of color imprisoned for possessory, non-violent firearms offenses.
If you’re looking to eradicate individual rights and disproportionally put young minority men in federal prison, Lopez’s plan is right up your alley. If, on the other hand, you’re interested in actually reducing crime without putting a single new gun law on the books, I’ve got another idea that works, is cost-effective, and doesn’t come with a cost to our individual liberties.
Watch the latest from Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co: