By Winston Smith
It is yet another week and there is yet again another mass shooting. On April 22, 2018, a man entered a Nashville Waffle House and killed 4 people. It has been less than a month since John wrote his article regarding gun violence and expressed the same frustrations that we had then and have again now. How is it that this act continues to repeat itself on almost a monthly basis? There has been so much recent momentum behind groups working towards changes to our gun laws. However, none of this will happen overnight and we may have to face the grim reality that these acts may not be rare occurrences.
Much like John wrote, what can we do? There has to be some way to mitigate this gun violence and bring about positive change in which more shootings are prevented. I’m sure that all of us have heard a cacophony of individuals strongly conveying their preferred method of gun control or lack thereof. What does appear to be unique in this circumstance is that retired Associate Justice John Paul Stevens penned an Op-Ed in the New York Times supporting a repeal of the second amendment.
Stevens says that the end goal of this current momentum should not be for only piecemeal reform, “[t]hey should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.” Many would consider this an extreme position, the repeal of a constitutional right seems to be the “nuclear option” when addressing issues that arise out of an amendment. However, it is also difficult to find an amendment that would be comparable in terms of disastrous consequences that may result from its misuse. Stevens concludes writing:
That simple but dramatic action would move Saturday’s marchers closer to their objective than any other possible reform. It would eliminate the only legal rule that protects sellers of firearms in the United States — unlike every other market in the world. It would make our schoolchildren safer than they have been since 2008 and honor the memories of the many, indeed far too many, victims of recent gun violence.
However, is this the correct policy proposal to address the pervasive issue of gun violence? The answer, which is seemingly provided in Stevens own piece, is no. As I detailed in my previous article regarding guns, our current attitude regarding gun ownership and sale is incredibly recent. Stevens acknowledges this point, in fact, he uses this historical point to provide evidence for his own argument. However, the conclusion seems to assume that a repeal of Heller‘s finding is impossible. Of course, a retired Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court would have infinitely more knowledge about the chances of success of legal proceedings before the Supreme Court. I would have more faith, though, that what currently is will not be what will be forever.
The position to repeal the Second Amendment does more harm than good to the movement that would like to see this done. The National Rifle Association and other conservative groups have perpetrated the idea that all those who are for gun control are actually out to get your guns. I cannot begin to recount the hundreds of times that I heard or read that President Obama was just around the corner with a large rare-earth magnet to rip your .357 out of your hands. This connotation continues to be applied to all gun control advocates and has been melded into the minds of those against gun control. In the creation of articles such as this one, Stevens confirms these individuals worst nightmares regarding gun control advocates. This makes it even more difficult for there to be a productive conversation and compromising around this issue if there is such a distrust and complete divide in thought.
So while it is nice that Stevens is bolstered by the civic engagement that has come out of the previous round of mass shootings, proposals such as these prevent productive action to actually address these issues.
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