It seems like we’ve been pissing into the wind about guns and gun violence for my entire life… OKAY since I’ve politically conscious and aware, which is since about 1972. Still that’s a lot of piss. This terrific VOX article makes that point and covers the history of gun violence and gun reform legislation. And if that were all, that would be great, but it also compares the gun reform movement to that of abortion rights and marriage equality.
This last point is one that I object to. There are fundamental differences between each of the causes that makes the way we pursue our end goals different. But more on that in a bit. First let’s review the history of gun reform and the research.
Let’s build ourselves a rough, dirty, and incomplete timeline based on the information in the article:
- 1939: In the US vs Miller SCOTUS ruled that the second amendment provided a group right to bear arms,, not an individual right.
- 1959: In a Gallop poll 60% of Americans agreed that only authorized personnel access to handguns banning ownership by civilians.
- 1970’s: The NRA had a change in leadership and a change in direction. They began agitating against any restrictions on gun ownership as a hedge against confiscation of guns. They began popularizing the position not only among the general public, but also among politicians and legal scholars.
- 1980: Support for banning private handgun ownership had dropped to 38%.
- 1982: The Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution (chaired by Orrin Hatch (R – Kompromat)) issued a report called The Right to Keep and Bear Arms claiming that the Repubes on the committee had pulled incontrovertible proof from each other’s aware that the Founding Fathers had intended for the right to bear arms to be an individual right to own the most lethal weapons available and that no amount of destruction caused by those weapons should be grounds for limiting ownership, availability, or use by any individual as long as they were white.
- 1990’s: 58 of the 87 relevant law review articles supported the individual right interpretation of the amendment. The preponderance of articles did not argue for the collective right.
- 2008: In Dean v. Heller the Supremes decided that the stench of Hatch’s ass was pretty sweet and for the first time in our over 200 year history condemned 30 to 40,000 people had to die every fucking year, the families of 30 to 40,000 people had to grieve their gun dead every fucking year, and the nation had to be traumatized by 30 to 40,000 gun deaths every fucking year. Fuck you NRA!
- 2018: Support for banning the private ownership of handguns had dropped to 28%.
That’s the brief and sad fucking history of how we became the United Fucking States of Fucking Stupid. And the bitter fucking bile-flavored icing on the fucking cake is that handguns account for the majority of gun-related violence. Not only had the NRA convinced us of a total lie — talk about gaslight nation! — but they got us chasing an assault weapons ban that when it doesn’t significantly reduce gun-related violence and deaths, they can say, See we told ya so! And we’ll have been so mind-numbed and gaslight that we’ll fucking fall for it.
As Igor Volsky points out in the article, incremental change worked in the marriage equality and forced-birth movements. In addition to all the reasons that minority influence works, people in both movements kept their eyes on the prize!
Igor Volsky is right to point out the folks in the gun reform movement don’t have no prize to keep their eyes on! Sure they want a ban on assault weapons and stricter background checks, but achieving those goals won’t significantly reduce gun-related deaths and violence.
And this is where there should be a distinction made with the marriage equality and forced-birth movements. They are both political movements, but the gun-reform and choice movements are public health movements. Ultimately the goal of both should be to use public health methodologies and principles on addressing both of these issues.
The gun-reform movement’s demand should not be pass gun-reform any gun-reform legislation NOW! It should be to pass legislation that supports the public health approach to reducing gun-related violence and deaths.
This slight shift in rhetoric provides a research-based cover for legislative action and helps ensures that the legislation will be effective. It helps remove the politics from the argument.
If there is to be a political goal for the gun-reform movement, it should be a return to interpreting the Second Amendment as a collective right.
The good news is that there already exists a research-based set of gun laws that we can work towards as reviewed in the article: rigorous gun licensing just like we have for cars and driving. Insurance for gun owners and users. Reducing the number of guns in the country, which means some kind of buy back program if we’re going to reduce the number of guns quickly.
But don’t take my word for most of this, read the article!
Democrats have been discussing the same ideas on guns for 25 years. It’s time to change that.
There should be a Medicare-for-all or Green New Deal for ending gun violence.
The first Democratic debates crystallized how far Democrats have moved to the left on all sorts of issues over the past few years. Candidates for the presidency advocated for single-payer health care, a Green New Deal, free college, 70 percent taxes on the ultrawealthy, decriminalizing crossing the border without papers, and upholding “reproductive justice.”
But there’s one issue, even as it’s gotten more attention, where major Democratic politicians haven’t moved much: guns. When it came up in the debates, candidates raised the same ideas they’ve had for decades: universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, and generally keeping guns away from dangerous people. Only Cory Booker, who brought up his gun licensing plan, and Eric Swalwell, who pointed to his assault weapons confiscation program, broke new ground on the issue — receiving little support from others on stage (although some candidates have backed licensing elsewhere).
If you want to make a serious dent in gun violence in the US, this should worry you. Just imagine a world where Democrats get everything leading candidates typically say they want on guns. Congress passes and President Elizabeth Warren signs a comprehensive bill that includes universal background checks, bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and a red-flag law that lets law enforcement take away guns from dangerous people.
Continue reading at VOX: Democrats have been discussing the same ideas on guns for 25 years. It’s time to change that.