While our gun rights are under constant assault these days, some are trying to convince gun owners to side with those who would curtail or rights. It’s unlikely to work in the grand scheme of things, but the efforts to do so are almost as amusing as they are infuriating.
Take this well-meaning, but misguided, op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Written by Christopher K. Mellon, it touches on the reality felt by many gun owners, but still ultimately boils down to nothing for Second Amendment supporters.
There are many other popular gun-control regulations. So the question is not whether to have gun control, rather the question is “What is the mix of laws and regulations that can best protect legitimate gun rights while reducing tragic violence?”
The lack of progress is partly due to the fact that we have two very different communities in America, rural and urban, with utterly distinct experiences and perspectives regarding firearms. In rural America weapons are routinely used for hunting and sports such as trap or skeet. It is a part of the culture and tradition. Additionally, people living in isolated areas often cannot count on assistance from neighbors or a rapid police response if threatened, so many feel the need to be able to defend their families and property if necessary. For many urban communities by contrast, guns are more likely to be associated with drugs and crime rather than heading into the woods with Dad on the opening day of deer season. Consequently, members of each community have radically different contexts and experiences with firearms.
I don’t disagree with this at all. These perceptions exist, as do the experiences. At this point, it looks like Mellon has a grasp of the facts.
(Hint: Don’t get used to it.)
But the greatest barrier to reducing the shockingly high number of gun fatalities in America is the false fear that any change to existing gun regulations is another step down a slippery slope leading to repeal of the Second Amendment. The National Rifle Association is right to point out growing public support for repeal of the Second Amendment, but there are two crucial points we all need to recognize.
First, repeal of the Second Amendment, or passage of any constitutional amendment for that matter, is virtually impossible. Even if the White House and both Houses of Congress were in liberal hands, they would still have to muster a two-thirds majority in House and Senate and then have the amendment ratified by three-quarters of the 50 state legislatures.
It’s unlikely, but not impossible. Impossible implies there are no scenarios where the Second Amendment can be repealed. However, there is a mechanism for changing the Constitution, and that includes proposing amendments that repeal other amendments. That’s only happened once in our history; when an amendment repealed prohibition.
But to say it can’t happen is ridiculous.
What is accurate is to say it’s unlikely to happen. Mellon points out later that it takes just 13 state legislatures to hold out to keep the Second Amendment in place, and it’s extremely unlikely that fewer than that would turn their backs on our right to keep and bear arms. In fact, it’s so unlikely that Mellon might be forgiven for describing it as impossible.
However, this is where Mellon gets into the problem with compromises on guns. His “win-win” compromise gives us, the gun owners and gun rights advocates, nothing.
My proposal is for the Democratic leadership of the House and Senate to make a deal with the Trump administration and the Republican leadership. In exchange for specific, pragmatic measures to reduce gun deaths and mass shootings – such as eliminating loopholes in background checks — the Democratic leaders would pledge in writing to actively oppose any effort to repeal the Second Amendment.
Additionally, with the passage of new gun legislation they would introduce and vote for a Concurrent Resolution of Congress reaffirming congressional support for the Second Amendment. If necessary, they might even apply sunset provisions to any new laws to provide a chance to evaluate the efficacy and impact of new gun laws and reassure gun owners that any new measures enacted by Congress are not an irrevocable step toward compromising our inherent constitutional right to own firearms.
So, as a compromise for gun control measures–measures which are far from pragmatic and wouldn’t accomplish much of anything–Mellon wants us to accept a promise from people we already don’t trust to protect the Second Amendment.
Mellon doesn’t grasp what gun rights advocates have been seeing for the last century. Time and time again, we’re exhorted to compromise. We’re begged to give up a little of our liberty in the name of safety, a safety that never actually comes. So they come again and ask for more. They claim compromise when they’re still getting something, but we’re still losing. Again, safety never comes.
Time and time again, this has played out, and we’re still told we should compromise.
Now we get Mr. Mellon, here, telling us that we should accept this promise, a promise from people who we already believe to be liars, that they won’t try to take away the Second Amendment. This is especially disingenuous because Mellon has already claimed it’s impossible to repeal it anyway. Either he’s lying there, or he knows this “compromise” will cost congressional Democrats nothing…thus making it like every other compromise on guns in American history.
When gun rights advocates say not one more inch, we mean it. We’re sick of people begging for compromise when it’s nothing of the sort. Gun control activists never offer to give up a damn thing in return. They demanded bump stocks be banned while opposing national reciprocity, never seeing that could be a place for actual compromise. Nope. They just demanded more and more, like they always do.
Now we have Mr. Mellon, who apparently has served politicians of both parties (though there’s no mention in what capacity he’s served them), telling us yet another way we should compromise. Only his suggestion, like all the others, is full of us giving up something and getting nothing in return.
And people wonder why we refuse to compromise.