I published the below post last May. I am republishing it because Tuesday, April 30 we had our third mass shooting in four days.
Saturday, a man killed one and injured three in a shooting in a San Diego, California, synagogue.
A day later, a gunman killed one and injured seven when he fired into a cookout in Baltimore, Maryland.
And Tuesday, a gunman injured two and injured four in in Charlotte, North Carolina.
I’ve written about gun violence and mass shootings before before, whether Trump connected, or not. But more and more, it all seems to be connected to President Trump. In the below post, I call for the repeal of the Second Amendment. I stand by that, the only difference being, I believe this more now than I did then.
I am going to politicize a tragedy.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has gotten more than $360,000 from the National Rifle Association over the years, making him the gun rights group’s biggest recipient of campaign cash. Friday, May 18, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, seventeen, exercising his Second Amendment rights, murdered ten of Sen. Cruz’s constituents and injured ten more.
I woke to news of the mass shooting, at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, following knee surgery Friday morning. My initial reaction: stand by for (1) thoughts, (2) prayers, and (3) blaming everything except actual firearms.
As an example of (3), in an astonishing bit of blame-shifting, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Santa Fe High School had too many doors: “There are not enough people to put a guard in every entrance or exit,” Mr. Patrick said, as quoted in The Independent, adding, “maybe we need to look at limiting the entrances and exits into our schools so that we can have law enforcement looking at the people who are coming.”
The National Rifle Association, following its usual MO, will be silent for a few days, then it will trot out its bought-and-paid-for politicians to downplay the impact of gun laws; to blame everything but guns (while Lt. Gov. Patrick blamed too many doors, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott blamed mental illness and slow background checks); and mobilize its base to do the dirty work of blaming gun control advocates.
“They don’t argue with people,” American historian and author Roxanne Dunbar-Oritz told Quartz following February’s Parkland shooting. No, the NRA sees a benefit only from “proselytizing to their base,” she said, “and it works like a charm.”
All of which will lead to: (4) the next mass shooting.
It’s the guns
The Atlantic reports that American high school-aged children are “82 times more likely to die from a gun homicide than 15- to 19-year-olds in the rest of the developed world.” Also, so far in 2018, more U.S. school children have been killed than in all the nation’s combat operations worldwide.
And that’s not counting all mass shootings, not just those in schools. The likelihood of dying by gunfire in America is not just higher than in other developed countries; it’s exponentially higher. Our rate of death by gun violence—3.85 deaths per 100,000 people in 2016—is eight times the rate in Canada and twenty-seven times the rate in Denmark. It is fifty-five times the rate in the United Kingdom.
Including Santa Fe, counting only mass shootings with ten more or fatalities, going back to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, 230 people have been killed in gun massacres, with 998 injured.That’s quite the butcher’s bill. And you can blame the usual scapegoats all you want: troubled teens, mental illness, toxic masculinity, “or possibly the crisis of meaning and identity in the secularizing modern world.” But there is only one, real culprit: guns. Not all of these mass shootings involve AR-15s or other military-style assault weapons (the Santa Fe shooter was armed with a shotgun and a revolver), but all of them involved firearms.
Repeal the Second Amendment
Which brings me to the point of this article: repeal the Second Amendment. Alongside the “more gun laws won’t solve anything” chorus we hear after every mass shooting, we get the “we need more gun control chorus.” I think the call for more gun control is well intended, but I don’t think it would by itself be effective.
Even though assault weapons bans in a handful of states have survived federal court challenges, meaningful gun control is severely limited by Supreme Court cases, chiefly District of Columbia v. Heller, which for the first time in American history held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own guns irrespective of service in a militia.
We also must consider the fanaticism of gun enthusiasts. They don’t care about your children or loved ones; they love their guns more. Consider this guy, for example. And for all their faux patriotism, gun lovers love their guns even more than their country. They routinely threaten armed insurrection whenever they perceive a threat to their gun rights.
Which is fine. The United States spends more on its military than the next seven countries combined. Have fun against that with your pea shooters, gun enthusiasts.
But though many Americans consider the Second Amendment a core element of American identity, really, what about is so great? The so-called “right to bear arms” is an invention of 19thcentury, Enlightenment deists. And why they invented it is even worse: to protect slavery.
Why would any liberty-loving American, especially Catholics, what to be associated with that?
Repeal the Second Amendment. And I can anticipate the objections.
“But Sean, they’ll totally ban all gun ownership.”
No, they won’t. It’s logistically impossible. Also, no other countries have a Second Amendment, but all of them allow gun ownership. It’s highly restricted, yes, but in none of them will you find an outright ban.
“But Sean, that means tyranny.”
Where? Ask a Brit if his or her freedom is restricted by gun control. Ask a Japanese person, whose country has some of the word’s tightest gun regulations. Ask anyone from Australia, which enacted strict gun control laws and a gun buyback in the 1990s, if they live under a tyranny or if their freedoms are curtailed. Be prepared for an answer you don’t like.
“But we won’t be able to defend ourselves.”
We’re doing a great job now? America is armed to the teeth, and just yesterday a seventeen-year-old shot twenty of his schoolmates, killing ten. See the list of recent mass shootings above. See the stats on the likelihood of dying from gun homicide in American vs. the rest of the world. Did you ever pause to consider that the solution may be fewer guns, not more?
“But this is just unpatriotic. You hate America.”
First, as I already wrote, it’s the gun enthusiasts who threaten armed violence, even insurrection, at any perceived risk to their gun rights. Second, the Constitution provides for changing it as needed. The Second Amendment, as the name implies, is itself a change to the Constitution. Not only is amending the Constitution perfectly American, there’s even precedent for repealing an amendment, when the Twenty First Amendment was ratified to repeal the Eighteenth (Prohibition).
“But what about hunters and people who shoot for competition? Collectors?”
Again, repealing the Second Amendment does not mean a complete ban on firearms. It means opening the way for reasonable restrictions that will save lives and that can’t be challenged in court. An amendment to repeal can be written to grant state legislatures the authority to regulate gun sales and ownership—similar language was written into the Twenty-First Amendment.
“Repealing the Second Amendment won’t solve anything.”
Ask anyone in any other country in the world with strict gun control laws how many mass shootings, in schools or otherwise, they have. Regular mass shootings are strictly an American phenomenon.
It’s long-past time to end the American blood bath. Repeal the Second Amendment.