NYT Columnist: Let's Repeal the Second Amendment

Posted: Feb 17, 2018 4:30 PM
NYT Columnist: Let's Repeal the Second Amendment

Back in October, after the Las Vegas Shooting, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens argued that the Second Amendment should be repealed. Since Wednesday's shooting in South Florida, Stephens' OpEd has re-circulated across social media, which eventually led to another OpEd pushing for repealing the Second Amendment.

The Original Push to Repeal the Second Amendment

In Stephens' October piece, he mentioned that gun control advocates frequently lose the debate on gun laws because they get their facts wrong:

...why do liberals keep losing the gun control debate?

Maybe it’s because they argue their case badly and — let’s face it — in bad faith. Democratic politicians routinely profess their fidelity to the Second Amendment — or rather, “a nuanced reading” of it — with all the conviction of Barack Obama’s support for traditional marriage, circa 2008. People recognize lip service for what it is.

Then there are the endless liberal errors of fact. There is no “gun-show loophole” per se; it’s a private-sale loophole, in other words the right to sell your own stuff. The civilian AR-15 is not a true “assault rifle,” and banning such rifles would have little effect on the overall murder rate, since most homicides are committed with handguns. It’s not true that 40 percent of gun owners buy without a background check; the real number is closer to one-fifth.

The National Rifle Association does not have Republican “balls in a money clip,” as Jimmy Kimmel put it the other night. The N.R.A. has donated a paltry $3,533,294 to all current members of Congress since 1998, according to The Washington Post, equivalent to about three months of Kimmel’s salary. The N.R.A. doesn’t need to buy influence: It’s powerful because it’s popular.

At least he recognized his side has their so-called "facts" wrong. 

But in the same piece, Stephens said pro-gun advocates should want to do everything in their power to make sure gun-related crimes are put to a halt. 

Americans who claim to be outraged by gun crimes should want to do something more than tinker at the margins of a legal regime that most of the developed world rightly considers nuts. They should want to change it fundamentally and permanently.

There is only one way to do this: Repeal the Second Amendment.

NRATV's Cam Edwards pointed out one piece of information that gun control advocates are quick to forget: they can't just repeal the Second Amendment without a Constitutional Convention or two-thirds of Congress agreeing that the amendment should be repealed. And even then, they would still need more than half of the states to agree to repeal the Second Amendment.

Given those statistics, what makes anti-gunners think elected officials in those 44 states would agree to let go of our right to keep and bear arms? Or that the GOP stronghold would willingly roll over on gun rights?

Repealing the Amendment may seem like political Mission Impossible today, but in the era of same-sex marriage it’s worth recalling that most great causes begin as improbable ones. Gun ownership should never be outlawed, just as it isn’t outlawed in Britain or Australia. But it doesn’t need a blanket Constitutional protection, either. The 46,445 murder victims killed by gunfire in the United States between 2012 and 2016 didn’t need to perish so that gun enthusiasts can go on fantasizing that “Red Dawn” is the fate that soon awaits us.

Here's a thought: if we were to repeal the Second Amendment as it currently stands, only the rich and powerful would have access to firearms. That's exactly what our Founding Fathers feared. They feared a government that would become too tyrannical and powerful that the rights of the people would be trampled on. Their way of ensuring Americans' freedom was by making sure every citizen had the right to fight back against a government that was out of control. And they did that with the use of firearms.

I wonder what Madison would have to say about that today, when more than twice as many Americans perished last year at the hands of their fellows as died in battle during the entire Revolutionary War. My guess: Take the guns—or at least the presumptive right to them—away. The true foundation of American exceptionalism should be our capacity for moral and constitutional renewal, not our instinct for self-destruction.

None of us truly know what any of Founding Fathers would think of what our world and society are like today. We can take educated guesses but, the fact of the matter is, we will never know. The one thing we DO know is the fears they had. 

The Latest Push for Repealing the Second Amendment

Wednesday's shooting in Florida gave Stephens even more ammo to push the idea that the Second Amendment should be completely repealed. In his Friday OpEd, he made quite a few claims that are downright...sad.

Had Wednesday’s massacre of 17 people at a Florida high school been different in one respect — that is, had alleged perpetrator Nikolas Cruz shouted “Allahu akbar” during the course of his rampage — conservatives would be demanding another round of get-tough measures.

Tougher immigration laws. Tougher domestic surveillance. A rollback of Miranda rights for the accused. Possibly even a Muslim registry. Constitutional protections and American ideals, goes the argument, must sometimes yield to urgent public safety concerns.

There are a lot of assumptions here. Let's break them down.

1. If someone committed a terrorist act, like what happened in San Bernardino, in the name of religious extremism, we'd call it what it is. We would say that if he or she shouted "Allahu Akbar" before shooting up a school, that it was extreme Islamic terrorism. Why? Because that's exactly what it would be. What's wrong with calling it what it is?

2. If the person who committed said acts were here illegally or they somehow lied to come to this country legally, we would call for tougher immigration laws. Why? Because it would prevent future terrorists from coming to our country.

3. Trying to equate Nikolas Cruz to other mass shooters, like the San Bernardino shooter, is asinine.

First of all, Cruz was an American-born citizen. Calling for stricter immigration laws wouldn't have stopped him from committing carrying out his attack in Florida.

Second, Cruz didn't shoot up Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the name of a religion. Calling for any kind of "Muslim registry" (which is absurd, by the way) wouldn't have stopped him from carrying out his attack.

Third, Cruz suffered from mental illness, which seemed to be the biggest factor in what occurred. Again, what kind of law would have stopped him? He passed a background check because there was nothing in his past that signaled to authorities that he would commit mass murder. 

Equating Cruz to Islamic terrorists is so far-fetched that it's not even funny.

The most ironic aspect of Stephens' second OpEd is that he acknowledges the need and desire for firearms:

We need to repeal the Second Amendment because most gun-control legislation is ineffective when most Americans have a guaranteed constitutional right to purchase deadly weaponry in nearly unlimited quantities.

There’s a good case to be made for owning a handgun for self-defense, or a rifle for hunting. There is no remotely sane case for being allowed to purchase, as Paddock did, 33 firearms in the space of a year. But that change can’t happen without a constitutional fix. Anything less does little more than treat the symptoms of the disease.

If there's a good case to be made for owning a handgun for self-defense and a rifle for hunting, then why would you advocate for repealing the Second Amendment? Most gun owners have firearms for those two very reasons. 

And, to make things even more confusing, Stephens admits that goods guys with guns can make a difference:

It’s true that a gun in the right hands at the right time and place can save lives, as the former National Rifle Association instructor Stephen Willeford proved when he shot Kelley as the latter emerged from the church. No sensible society should want to keep arms out of hands like his.

But that’s an argument for greater discrimination in terms of who should get to own a gun, not less.

The fact that Stephens admits that "discrimination" would occur is a bit worrisome. If a person in a position of power doesn't agree with your politics, he or she can deem you unfit to be a gun owner. If a person in a position of power wants to retaliate against you, he or she can deem you unfit to be a gun owner. 

Knowing that gun ownership discrimination would occur is exactly what our Founding Fathers warned us about. They warned us about a government that becomes too strong, too powerful. This is a stepping stone in toward tyranny.