The Gun Control Debate Is Pointless Until Liberals Admit They Want To Repeal The Second Amendment

The Gun Control Debate Is Pointless Until Liberals Admit They Want To Repeal The Second Amendment

Liberals are using the Las Vegas atrocity to encourage federal gun control, but their real problem is with the Second Amendment.
Jonathan S. Tobin

It didn’t take long. Long before all the facts about the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas were known or even all the missing were accounted for, liberals were riding their familiar gun control hobby horses. Within hours of the atrocity, articles were being posted online from the usual suspects, like Frank Bruni and Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times and Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, trotting out familiar themes. They want laws requiring more background checks, age limits on purchases, preventing people with a record of mental illness or domestic violence from being sold weapons, so-called “smart gun” measures that can trace guns and ammunition more easily, and even suggested banning handguns.

As is the case with most of the mass shootings that have shocked Americans in recent decades, none of these measures would have prevented the slaughter in Las Vegas. Initial reports say that shooter Stephen Paddock passed background checks when he purchased weapons. That makes sense since the police have initially said he didn’t have a record of prior offenses.

Even if every one of the left’s favorite pet ideas about guns were enacted, the only likely outcome would be to make it far more difficult for law-abiding citizens to legally purchase guns. And in those places, like Chicago and New York City, where draconian gun laws are already on the books, that is exactly what has happened, as the process to obtain and legally use a gun is so onerous that most ordinary citizens don’t even try. Needless to say, these measures do nothing to prevent gun violence by those who obtain weapons illegally.

Yet what’s interesting about the inevitable recycling of this debate is that liberals aren’t speaking up for the one measure that might actually change the country in a manner they’d like: repealing the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

What Happens If We Repeal the Second Amendment

Nothing could possibly stop all gun crimes. But if we were living in a country where it was illegal for private citizens to possess most weapons, there’s little doubt that firearms would become a scarce commodity. Forget background checks, mental health restrictions, smart guns, and every other measure designed to make those who wish to legally purchase firearms difficult. Just make it a crime to sell or own them. Use existing registration laws to round up the guns that are already legally owned. Restrict legal possession to law enforcement agencies.

If that’s too harsh for you, just copy Australia and require anyone who owns a gun to obtain a federal license and demand that they have a “genuine reason” for wanting one, thus giving bureaucrats, the police and judges the right to deny a gun to those who whose story doesn’t pass muster according to some subjective standard.

That would create a black market for firearms that would supply criminals with all the guns they’d need. But it would also mean that guns would become scarce and expensive. Since there are already hundreds of millions of firearms in circulation in the United States, it might take some time for the Feds to make a dent in the number of guns out there. But along with a massive buyback program, if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were given the vast resources that liberals tell us should never be expended on rounding up illegal immigrants, I don’t doubt that the supply of guns would dry up. The end of legal firearms wouldn’t necessarily prevent another Las Vegas or Sandy Hook or Aurora, Colorado, but a country in which arms were no longer plentiful might be one with fewer such incidents.

Why Won’t Gun Control Advocates State The Truth?

If pressed for honesty, most liberals would admit that’s exactly the kind of country they would like to live in. Why then don’t they call for changes in the laws to make the U.S. more like Australia, where studies say mass shootings and homicides have been reduced?

The answer is obvious. The overwhelming majority of Americans support the right to bear arms guaranteed by the constitution. Even when they were using tragic incidents to demand more gun control, liberal politicians like former President Obama would keep telling us that they believed in the Second Amendment and didn’t want to take away guns from honest citizens. Yet every time they made such statements or began new efforts to pass more gun laws, gun purchases soared since many Americans believed they were lying about not wanting to let them keep their guns.

Their skepticism is rooted in the knowledge that all of the so-called “common sense” laws for which liberals advocate are designed to hinder legal firearms purchases, not criminal gun violence or mass shootings. That is why members of the National Rifle Association, a group that is routinely demonized by the left, thinks even an anodyne measure like more background checks at gun shows is just the thin edge of the wedge of a Second Amendment repeal.

So this time, instead of rehearsing the same tired arguments about ideas that wouldn’t change anything, perhaps the left can tell us what they really want and let the country have an honest debate.

Gun Advocates Must Acknowledge The Price Of Liberty

The choice is clear.

If we are to remain a nation where the right to bear arms is constitutionally protected, we’re going to have to live with the possibility, maybe even the probability, that legally-obtained weapons will sometimes be used for a bad purpose by insane or evil people. If we want to be a country where gun violence is reduced drastically, then we will also have to be one where ownership of legal weapons is restricted to a privileged few rather than a right all citizens enjoy.

Those who support the Second Amendment must be honest about the price of the liberty they cherish. But those who wish to deprive us of that right must also be honest about what they want. The Second Amendment exists because the Founders believed giving the monopoly on firearms to the state was a prescription for tyranny. Is that a risk most of us wish to run?

Many Americans do wish to relegate the Second Amendment to the trash heap of history. Perhaps many would like to trade some of their liberty for fewer worries about gun violence. But if liberals want to talk about gun control, rather than more disingenuous nonsense about background checks, that’s the argument they should be forced to make.

Anything short of that is a waste of our time. Until the left directly addresses their desire to change the Constitution and end gun rights altogether, their rhetoric about gun violence should be ignored.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of and a contributing writer for National Review. Follow him on Twitter.

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