You’d think that a guy who gets a paycheck for resolving completely enrapturedconflicts wouldn’t be calling for something that would lead to far more discord than we already have in our society, but I get the impression that Dr. Tom Hastings, who serves as the conflict resolution coordinator at Portland State University, isn’t thinking too hard about what would actually happen if the Second Amendment were ever repealed. He seems by the utopian notion that, if the right to keep and bear arms were to disappear from the Constitution, the 400-million (or so) firearms lawfully owned by American citizens would magically vanish, criminals would turn away from their life of crime, and twisted individuals intent on taking human life would find themselves thwarted at every turn.
Without the Second Amendment, wrote Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, states and towns would be free to pass their own gun laws that wouldn’t be overturned again and again by courts citing either the Second Amendment or other precedent reliant on the Second Amendment.
Well, not exactly. More than 40 states have their own protections for the right to keep and bear arms enshrined in their state constitutions, and repealing the Second Amendment at the federal level wouldn’t negate those provisions.
With approximately 400 million guns floating around US society and an armed MAGA-driven polarization met by an increasingly armed leftist radical wing, along with evermore virulent rhetoric and escalating numbers walking around open-carrying war weaponry in public, half of America believes that civil war is coming. Tossing out the Second Amendment would free legislatures and city councils to begin seriously ending such belligerent displays of combat weapons. Curbing gun sales in all the places that voted to do so would begin to dial down at least some of the terrible tension flaring up by the Oathkeepers and others who have called for civil war.
As Hastings acknowledges, there are already hundreds of millions of firearms in the hands of American gun owners. Does he honestly think that telling them they have no right to keep and bear arms is going to calm the turbulence in our society? Whether or not he realizes it, Hastings’ idea would make things much worse. I don’t know if it would lead to outright civil war, but I can guarantee it would lead to widespread civil disobedience and outright defiance.
In his conclusion, Hastings declares that “America prides itself on being a ‘can-do’ people”, and assures his readers that repeal is possible. I’d encourage him to try, if only to prove once and for all that the vast majority of Americans aren’t keen on giving up their fundamental right to armed self-defense. All he needs is to convince 2/3rds of Congress to vote for a repeal, as well as 75% of state legislatures.
Hastings could try for an Article V Convention, but that too would require 2/3rds of the states to call for a convention, and he’d still have to meet the threshold of 75% approval, either through state-level ratifying conventions or the approval of state legislatures.
Given that half the states in the Union have adopted permitless carry legislation in recent years, Hastings’ call to repeal the Second Amendment is going nowhere. Even the most ardent gun control groups have shied away from calling for a repeal of the Second Amendment, choosing instead to try to render it meaningless through court decisions and a never-ending onslaught of legislation aimed at obliterating the right inch-by-inch. The only thing that Hastings has going for him with his proposal is that its a more honest approach than the one taken by the gun control lobby… though it’s equally as oppressive and authoritarian as the incrementalist strategy of groups like Everytown and Giffords.