Gun control is still a hard sell in a lot of legislatures, including Congress. While the House is tripping all over itself to pass gun control, the Senate has held matters firmly in check, thus maintaining the status quo.
This has been a good thing for gun owners, to be sure.
Plus, we also know that gun control efforts, even the proposed assault weapon ban, will likely be mitigated by the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller, that not only held that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right but also that bans against common firearms–in that case, handguns but could easily apply to the most popular rifle in the United States–were unconstitutional.
However, many anti-gun advocates vehemently disagree with Heller. That’s fine. That’s their right, after all. Plus, it’s not like their disagreement actually changes Heller to any significant degree.
Which is probably why The Nation‘s Elie Mystal thinks we should repeal and replace the Second Amendment.
That leads to only one logical conclusion: Repeal the Second Amendment and start over from presumption that you do not need a gun unless you are going off to war or going off to train for war.
You know who agrees that the Second Amendment should be repealed? The late Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Writing in 2018 about the Heller decision, Stevens said this:
Overturning [Heller] via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the N.R.A.’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option.
Stevens recognized that repealing the Second Amendment is actually easier than the alternative, which is fighting for small-bore legal changes against the combined strength of archconservative judges. Republican judges and justices have now put so many bad Second Amendment precedents on the books that it will take generations to decouple their bad theories from the relatively benign text of the amendment, if it can ever be done at all.
In fact, the current crop of conservative judges, the ones Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell have been flooding the courts with at a record pace, do not think Heller goes far enough. Republicans might tweet thoughts and prayers, but what they do is nominate archconservatives whose judicial opinions are the stuff of NRA wishes and fantasies. The truth of the problem with gun control legislation is that there are too many Republican judges out there with the will and authority to neuter effective regulation at every turn.
The existence of Republicans judges is just a stark reality we have to be willing to face: Repealing the Second Amendment is the only way to disarm these conservative judges and justices. Otherwise, we’ll have to wrest gun reform from their cold dead hands.
It’s almost cute.
It’s cute that she thinks that destroying the Second Amendment and replacing it with something else that will make gun control easier is somehow going to happen. Mystal acknowledges that repealing the Second Amendment is a tough sell, but she argues that gun control is already a tough sell.
However, she ignores that there are degrees of “tough sell.”
For example, a lot of people are fine with universal background checks and red flag laws but will stand shoulder to shoulder with the “cold dead hands” crowd. There are people who support an assault weapon ban or handgun ban that will stand there as well.
So, not only would the anti-gun movement actually lose support, they’d be losing it at a time when they need significantly more of it. After all, changing the Constitution requires more than just a simple majority in both chambers of Congress and the president’s signature. It needs overwhelming support at all levels of government and in the electorate.
It’s not an easy task to change the Constitution, and that’s by design.
Further, Mystal claims that just because the Second Amendment is gone, it won’t take the ability to own a gun away from Americans. She points out that there’s no right to drive, but millions of cars are on the roads in America.
She’s right. Driving is a privilege and not a right and no one is trying to take away people’s cars.
However, even with the Second Amendment, people like Mystal are trying to take away our guns. We’re supposed to just take her word for it that all of that will somehow stop when the AR-15s are gone? Even if that would be acceptable to me–and it isn’t–there’s no reason to believe that’s where it would end.
No one trying to ban cars doesn’t mean jack when there are already people trying to take away guns. The lack of challenge in one area doesn’t suggest the challenge already in existence in another would disappear overnight.
If there’s an upside to this, it’s that Mystal is delusional if she thinks her column is anymore more than a thought piece. If it is, then so be it. I disagree with every word of it and even some of the punctuation, but that’s fine. It’s a free country and people are free to publish think pieces that didn’t require much thinking.
Yet if it’s a legitimate call to action, then Mystal is going to be sorely disappointed.