Friday, May 2, 2014
SEATTLE — I don’t believe the Second Amendment was ever intended to support the kind of gun craziness we contend with today, but since it’s always used to ward off any common-sense gun reforms, maybe we ought to just fix the Constitution and be done with it.
Yes, I know the odds against that are immense, but maybe we could start by nibbling away at the idea that the Constitution is infallible or that the founders had the answers to everything. They were smart men but neither perfect nor prescient.
One of the ways they showed how smart they were, was that they made a document that could be updated when it needed to be, and today it needs to be on this issue.
We’ve had another of those disturbing clusters of shootings in Seattle the past week, and gun violence continues to injure and kill across the country in public, and frequently private, ways. Most gun deaths are suicides.
But some Americans embrace their guns even more tightly even as the headlines call out for sanity. You know what I’m talking about.
Last week. Georgia’s governor signed into law a “guns everywhere bill” allowing residents of the state to carry guns anywhere in public, schools, churches, bars. You just never know when you’ll need to shoot someone.
We are already plagued by stand-your-ground laws and now this.
The law was deemed necessary partly because some cities and towns ban guns in most public places, which might seem reasonable if you want to cut down on gun violence, but Georgia’s leaders believed the answer was more people with more guns. I don’t even think it’s politics anymore. It’s a religion all its own.
Did you see the story earlier this week about a gun seller being threatened by gun lovers for trying to market a safer handgun? Belinda Padilla is CEO of the U.S. division of German firearms maker Armatix. Her company is marketing a biometric handgun that won’t fire unless it is held by its owner, who has to be wearing a wristwatch that communicates with the gun.
The company wants to sell guns, not ban them, but gun lovers worry elected officials would say, gosh, maybe if every gun was safe like this, there’d be fewer criminals shooting people with stolen guns. Thinking like that might lead to laws making it illegal to sell any other kind of gun, thereby depriving Americans of their accustomed freedom to more easily thwart law enforcement.
I don’t know why gun-rights folks are so worried about certain guns being outlawed, because as things stand it’s easy enough to find the firearm you want.
Seattle Times reporter Mike Carter wrote last week about a gun shop in Skagit County that might have been the worst in the United States when it comes to tracking gun sales. It was flagged for that in 2005, but the federal government took eight more years to take away the shop’s license.
Inspectors from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives discovered that 2,396 guns Kesselring Gun Shop had in stock at one point, were lost, stolen or otherwise unaccounted for.
The business also sold guns to people who couldn’t pass a background check and didn’t alert officials about missing guns.
Why did it take so long to act?
Well, there is this from the story: “The agency is tasked with regulating the gun industry, but members of Congress — under relentless pressure from the powerful gun lobby — have made it almost impossible for the ATF to do so, cutting funding and imposing regulatory restrictions.”
Regulation seems reasonable, but it can’t fight against the gun-lobby tide and win. We need to address gun violence at the root by taking away the appearance of mythic sanction the Second Amendment gives.
The founders struggled to get things right, but they knew what we’ve forgotten, that perfection wasn’t possible. They ditched our first Constitution, the Articles of Confederation and started over, then they ensured that the new document would be open to change in the form of amendments.
We ought to respect and honor the document, but realize it is not the last word, that democracy is a living, growing thing that the living must tend. And we must be on guard against people who abuse our reverence for the Constitution for their own political reasons.
We should repeal the Second Amendment.
Jerry Large can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org