Thursday, September 26, 2019

Gun Control - A Non-partisan Solution

The sheer number of recent mass shootings has created an environment where Congress might actually do something.  I fear Congress will just slap a band aid on a fundamentally flawed law and then continue fighting about it for the foreseeable future.  

We can make the problem go away with a Constitutional amendment that lets each State control deadly weapons within their state.  Gun possession is a uniquely local concern.  Everyone has a legitimate interest in whether angry, careless or mentally unstable people in the geographic area where they spend their life have access to firearms and ammunition.  Or whether their neighbor keeps a loaded handgun in his bedside table that could be accessible to a thief or a curious child.

On the other hand as a resident of California I have very little stake in whether people in Colorado walk around with a handgun strapped to their belt, or possess assault rifles.  Or if people in Wyoming drive around with loaded rifles in a rack in their pick up, or if people in Montana manufacture their own assault weapons.

Our 50 states are vastly different in geography, population density and culture.  The Federal Government should not be making gun laws applicable to every state, each state should be setting their own rules.

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads:

 "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."  

The second amendment was written when we were 13 sparsely populated colonies on the eastern seaboard still engaged in periodic conflict with other colonial powers and native populations on the northern, western and southern borders of the country.  It does not make sense today.  State Militias, citizens keeping weapons in their home so they could respond to danger to the community, effectively no longer exist.  Instead every state has a National Guard and multiple highly trained and armed law enforcement agencies, many with SWAT teams.   

A revised second amendment could read:

"Control of deadly weapons being a uniquely local concern, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed by the Federal Government. The right of the States to control deadly weapons shall not be limited by the commerce clause.  

Some will argue they still need their weapons to protect themselves from an over-reaching State government.  But the ability of the State to deprive citizens of their rights as citizens will be limited by the Federal Constitution and Federal courts.  

This should be an eminently politically feasible amendment based on current polls that show overwhelming support for gun control.  Instead of a Red State / Blue State battle to impose nationwide rules, each states voters could determine the status of firearms in their state, or could let each county or city within the state decide for themselves how they wanted to treat deadly weapons.  In 1918 when Congress sent the proposed 21st amendment out to the states to ban alcohol nationwide many experts predicted it would not get adopted by enough states for many years, in fact it happened in months.

The NRA and the gun lobby will not like this solution so will oppose it, but most Americans will recognize it as a fair minded solution.  

The sentence about the commerce clause is to limit the ability of those with an interest in selling lots of guns to use the courts to limit a State's right to  control deadly weapons.

The resolution of our national disagreement over the second amendment should not be driven by all or nothing partisans on the two opposing sides.  The sensible middle must take the lead. 

1 comment:

Algernon said...

It seems like you wish to repeal the Second Amendment. To empower a political entity (city, county, district, etc.) with the ability to ban possession of "deadly weapons" (?), including firearms, this would be necessary. The Second Amendment no longer concerns itself, if it ever did, with a militia; it is now construed to guarantee a right of the individual to possess some kind of a gun. The scope of this right, of course, is yet to be determined.

Your proposed wording, I would argue, must state that express action up front. See, e.g., how the 21st Amendment is worded. This explicit language is necessary to avoid the inevitable ambiguity which would result without it.

I don't understand your choice of language in the proposed second and third clauses of your first sentence. I think your intent is to expressly limit the Fed's power to curtail or interfere with gun control measures employed by the states. I think this needs to be stated explicitly, and not in the stated context of words lifted from the Second Amendment, purporting to guarantee precisely what you wish to curtail.

Your final reference to the commerce clause is puzzling. We both know the jurisprudential history of this clause borders on the incoherent. It's certainly beyond the scope of my little comment, here, to dig into this morass. But to suggest that such an attempt to exempt a significant facet of interstate commerce by such a brief allusion to the core of federal power within our system is problematic, to my mind.

I accept your basic federalism argument. But bottom line, your goal is to expressly deprive the individual of the federal right to have a gun. This must be expressed up front, and clearly. Only then can we hassle about the wording which accomplishes your quest to return gun control powers to the states, consistent with the myriad other federal powers (and limitations) which are in play.

By the way, your history is a little off, probably a typo. It was the 18th Amendment which banned alcohol, i.e., "prohibition." That was ratified in 1919. It was the 21st Amendment which repealed that Amendment, ratified in 1933.