Back in 2019, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke made this provocative statement about gun control in a primary debate: “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47…!”
To those on the political right, this statement confirmed all that they had feared about those on the left. I will paraphrase their fears: “If Democrats get elected, they’re going to take our guns! And it won’t stop with assault rifles. It’s only the beginning!”
Realistically, is it even possible to remove even a small portion--assault weapons--of the 400 million guns which are owned by 42% of the population (statistica.com)? It would be helpful to know how any government could accomplish such a feat without starting a civil war, let alone figure out the logistics of such a move. To do so would cost billions of dollars.
It would be great if both extremes of the political spectrum would pause to think and do a little research before making such unrealistic and divisive statements. It would also help to tone down the emotional rhetoric that triggers fear. We need to heal our divisions rather than to rip them open.
Harkening back to the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, it was right wing reactionaries who seemed to want to take away our rights and freedoms by overthrowing the government and destroying the electoral process that was taking place at the time. It is right-wingers who also want to protect gun rights. There is a disconnect going on here that the political right needs to consider.
Taking away guns is a violation of the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. It is also a violation of the Fourth Amendment—freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. In addition, the Fifth Amendment protects us from loss of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.
“Removing” the Second Amendment would require several steps. Two-thirds of Congress would have to agree and three-quarters of the states would have to ratify such an amendment. If you think back to the 2020 election, it is clear that two-thirds of the Congress would not favor such a change. Nor would three-quarters of the states agree.
It’s a fact that during times when Democrats control the government, gun sales rise. Gun makers and merchants actually appreciate Democrats in control because gun sales swell due to ignorance of how our government actually works. The National Rifle Association is strongly subsidized by the gun manufacturers. The NRA also takes the heat and attention away from those manufacturers when mass shootings occur as they have recently. Stirring up emotions over gun controls actually creates more sales.
Biden’s order to the Department of Justice to create a template to send to state legislatures to “red flag” the mentally ill or unstable--to take away their guns--is not really controversial. The devil is in the wording whether it will be supported as a bi-partisan measure.
Gun rights advocates don’t need to fear that the government is going to take away their guns. They can ignore Beto O’Rourke’s emotional tirade. The Bill of Rights protects them.
But as Ben Goldacre stated, “you cannot reason people out of a position they did not reason themselves into.” This unfortunately, is the case regarding gun control—meaning controlling the misuse of guns, not taking them away. My arguments against being fearful that “’they’ will take away our guns” will likely fall on deaf ears of gun advocates.
Gun control advocates are going to get a law passed only if it applies to domestic violence issues. Senate Republicans will reject bills that broaden the issue of gun control.
Unfortunately, the nearly three-quarters of the U.S. population who want to see sensible gun laws passed to end mass shootings and gun violence are in for a long wait. The nation is too divided.
Gun manufacturers want to keep selling their guns no matter how much damage is being done. The only solution would be to make them liable for gun deaths. Such a Congressional bill might have a chance of passage only if the filibuster is either changed or removed. That option offers some hope.