There is only one overriding issue of political concern right now, encompassing much of what appears in postings on this blog. That is how to defeat Republicans on Nov. 8, about 23 weeks from now. The future of democracy in the United States is at stake. Really.
Letter I Emailed to NYTimes, PBPost, and SunSentinel
'Despite all the sound and fury, meaningful legislation to adequately control gun violence will not be passed until the Second Amendment is repealed. There is no need for it today because the Armed Forces and the National Guard no longer depend on members to bring their own weapons. Its final fourteen words, on which the gun lobby’s arguments are based, should not stand alone, despite a misguided SCOTUS saying that they could back in 2008. We all make mistakes, even Supreme Court Justices.'
From the New Republic magazine
Democrats Need to Start Talking About Repealing the Second Amendment
Walter Shapiro is a staff writer at The New Republic. He is also a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice and a lecturer in political science at Yale.
May 26, 2022
For four decades, the conservative Federalist Society has been playing the long game with both the judiciary and the Second Amendment. Now that it has led the way in populating the federal bench with hard-right legal ideologues, the Federalist Society is reaping the dividends of its long investment strategy. Next month, the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court is poised to overturn New York State’s strict limitations on carrying a concealed handgun. And an expansive decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen may eviscerate almost all forms of state regulation of guns.
In sharp contrast, gun control advocates for the last two decades have been playing the short game. From the Columbine high school massacre in 1999 to this week’s wrenching tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, liberals have been fixated on finding an incremental reform that could surmount a Senate Republican filibuster. The battle cry used to be, “Close the gun-show loophole.” Now, after Uvalde, the long-shot dream is finding 10 Republican senators who would join with the Democrats to pass a red flag law that would allow the legal confiscation of guns in extreme mental health situations.
Voters sense that these tepid reforms will only help at the margins to reduce the carnage from our out-of-control gun culture. A new YouGov poll found that 55 percent of Americans (including 33 percent of Republicans) believe that the only way to end the bloodshed in elementary schools is a “drastic change in the laws.” The key word here is “drastic,” which means gun control legislation far more ambitious than red flag laws and enhanced background checks.
This is the moment when liberals despair and start raging against the vast power of the NRA’s money. But following the money in classic Watergate fashion gets you nowhere, since the NRA is bankrupt and the organization’s depleted campaign contributions have become the equivalent of nickels found under seat cushions. The political power of the gun lobby is based on the passion of single-issue voters and not the clout that comes with $10 million in super PAC contributions.
Yes, polling is on the side of reforming our porous gun laws. A Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted after the Uvalde illings, found that 84 percent of Americans support universal background checks for gun purchases and 70 percent back red flag laws. But the problem with these numbers is that they don’t measure passion. It is hard to find more than a handful of voters who will make red flag laws their top priority in November.
With an estimated 400 million guns stored in closets, glove compartments, and night tables, even rigorous background checks for new purchase are not going to disarm America. Red flag laws, even if rigorously enforced, are not likely to find most would-be mass murderers. So the carnage would continue at horrifying levels even if the Senate filibuster had not become Mitch McConnell’s favorite weapon.
The hard truth is that the core problem is the Second Amendment itself. And America is going to reel from one mass murder to another unless the Second Amendment is repealed or the Supreme Court drastically reduces its scope. Fifteen years ago, I first proposed a long-term crusade to eliminate the Second Amendment. Of course, it seemingly wasn’t a practical idea since repeal requires a two-thirds vote of Congress and ratification by 38 states. But given the abysmal lack of progress with any gun-safety measures over those 15 years, thinking small has not proven very practical either.
It is time for gun control advocates to start talking about life without a Second Amendment. Maybe the long-term solution to the pandemic of gun violence might be confiscation of assault weapons or tight regulations on the sale of bullets. The idea is to paint a portrait of an America of the future with sane gun laws and no need for active-shooter drills in elementary schools. Unless voters can aspire to a different America, gun control will never be a compelling single-issue cause.
As a starting point, Democrats should drop the mealy-mouthed formulation, “Nobody supports the Second Amendment more than I do, but still....” Claiming fidelity to the Second Amendment has never convinced a single NRA supporter of a candidate’s sincerity, but it has stopped bold thinking about lasting solutions to America’s gun crisis. Since right-wingers have long been screaming that Democrats are after their guns, the political damage from talking realistically about the Second Amendment may be exaggerated. At minimum, outside cause groups advocating for rolling back the Second Amendment would make background checks and assault-weapons bans seem like politically safer middle-of-the-road options.
Liberals have been losing the rhetorical battle over guns for decades. It’s sobering to realize that in the early 1990s, according to the Gallup Poll, more than 40 percent of Americans supported banning handguns. In an October 2021 poll that asked the same question, that figure had dwindled to 19 percent. But the pendulum can also swing the other way. In the early 1990s, gay marriage was a quixotic dream. Not only is it now the law of the land, but gay marriage is accepted by 70 percent of Americans.
Maybe we may never get to the point when a Twenty-Eighth Amendment is ratified with this language: “The second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.” But talking about repeal will galvanize the sad, tired, and predictable debates over limited anti-gun legislation. After decades of legislative failure, it is time to dream about truly disarming America.
Can it be Done by Voting?
Whatever gun reform legislation is passed will have to surmount the Supreme Court’s current misinterpretation of the Second Amendment which says that ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’ Until that changes, all gun reform efforts will fail in the courtroom. Until the Supreme Court rules otherwise, or unless the Second Amendment is temporarily suspended, gun reform is not going to happen. The President might issue an executive order, as I have asked him to do by email, enabling gun reform to bypass this obstacle. Or the problem can be solved at the ballot box by the overwhelming defeat at State and Federal levels of all legislators who oppose gun reform, giving Democrats insurmountable and permanent (?) majorities.
A Last Word
|Senator Cruz Praying - How Sincere, I Wonder|
Remaining supporters of democracy in the United States have a choice. They can become activists to work to preserve it but doing so requires taking great risks. Or, they can just hang onto the rightward-swinging pendulum of history waiting for it to start swinging back. It always does. Ultimately, as Isaac Newton postulated, for every action, there is a reaction. That swing back might take many decades to occur, be violent if not bloody, as were many battles of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, both of which punctuated changes in the direction of the pendulum of history’s swing. Meanwhile, the necessity of dealing with immediate crises, like gun violence, our changing climate, nuclear proliferation, abortion rights, Russian expansionism, Chinese economic competition, etc. takes our eyes from the pendulum as it continues its rightward swing.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for effective legislation to reduce gun violence being passed. As this posting repeatedly states, the only real answer is repeal of the Second Amendment or at least a temporary suspension of it to pressure Congress into passing meaningful legislation to end gun violence.
My immediate advice is never to vote for a Republican on any level whatsoever. In State legislatures and in the Congress in Washington, with extremely rare exceptions, they oppose the kind of laws which might have prevented the massacres of children at Uvalde, Parkland, Sandy Hook and many more places. Republican hands are drenched with blood. Drops of it spread to yours when you vote for them.
Meanwhile, I am looking for an organization dedicated to the repeal of the Second Amendment that I can join. When I find one, I will let you know.
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And if You Didn't Get the Message ...
THOSE CALLED UPON TO PROTECT THEIR NATION OR THEIR STATE ARE NO LONGER EXPECTED TO BRING THEIR OWN WEAPONS, SO IT IS TIME TO
REPEAL THE SECOND AMENDMENT
THAT WAS ITS PURPOSE!
The exact text of the Second Amendment reads as follows: ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’
In 2008, the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote an opinion (D.C. vs. Heller) in which he said that this right could stand alone, not necessarily having anything to do with that ‘well regulated Militia’ described a few words earlier in the Amendment. Scalia’s gross misinterpretation of the law has caused thousands of deaths in the United States by encouraging the uncontrolled proliferation of weapons among civilians.
Equally culpable are Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito and Thomas, still on the Court, along with now-retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, all four of whom joined in Justice Scalia’s misguided opinion, forming the majority. The blood of the children killed in Newtown (2012), Parkland (2018) and Uvalde (2022), as well as that of many, many others is on their hands. When they watch the news on TV, they must feel like Lady Macbeth, tormented with guilt and unable to sleep.
There is no purpose for the Second Amendment any longer since the Armed forces and the National Guard now provide their own weapons. It must be repealed because of the violence its misinterpretation has caused. It is time to ‘infringe’ upon the right that the Second Amendment established for the sole purpose of assuring that armed men would be available to serve in Militias. It was never intended by the Founding Fathers to apply to the general public, beyond serving that limited purpose until Justice Scalia got his hands on it.
One cannot believe in its final fourteen words and ignore its first thirteen words, as Scalia did. The passage of meaningful remedies for gun violence demands the repeal of the Second Amendment. Until that happens though, its temporary suspension by Presidential order might speed the passage of necessary legislation.
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