In the roiling national debate over guns, some people are playing offense, some are playing defense.
Those on offense want to grab guns or ban guns, citing what happened in Australia and Great Britain after mass shootings. Guns were confiscated and owners were compensated.
It’s a nice dream for gun haters, but that cannot happen in the United States as long as we have a Second Amendment that the U.S. Supreme Court interprets as guaranteeing an individual’s right to own firearms. Waving Australian and British gun law is as productive as waving Greek law concerning sheep shearing. It doesn’t apply.
As a licensed-to-carry gun owner, I believe guns should be accessible to Americans who pass minimal standards to own one, and that does not include all Americans. The Second Amendment, like the First, is subject to certain restrictions, but those should be clearly defined. You don’t abrogate rights on a whim.
A strong play on offense would be to target (no pun intended) the Second Amendment. If that’s repealed, gun rights would evaporate like a puddle on a sidewalk in August.
But the process of amending the Constitution is challenging, so the anti-gun crowd howls for ineffective bans. But when wolves bay at the moon, it doesn’t change the moon.
In advance of the student-led March on Washington scheduled for March 24, I want to help the dialogue by proposing six points of gun control that play defense, enjoy majority support, and barely affect the typical gun owner. What they have in common is keeping guns out of the wrong hands:
- Universal background checks. This means a National Instant Criminal Background Check for every buyer of every firearm. Last July, Pew Research Center found that 85 percent of Americans — 88 percent of Democrats and 79 percent of Republicans — favored making background checks mandatory for private gun sales and sales at gun shows. Those are Mom and Apple Pie numbers. An earlier poll by Frank Luntz found that a 74 percent majority of past and present NRA members favored expanded background checks.
- Ban the bump stock used in Las Vegas. The bump stock turns a semiautomatic weapon into an automatic weapon, which already is banned. In a poll last year, a majority of registered voters wanted the device banned — 79 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of Republicans.
- Deny guns to patients diagnosed mentally ill. A HuffPost/YouGov poll in 2014 showed that 54 percent to 23 percent of Americans wanted states to confiscate guns owned by people diagnosed with mental illness. There should be a review process to restore their rights after they recover.
- Deny guns to suspected terrorists. Those on a watch list, who currently can buy guns, must be stopped. A method to restore rights must be included.
- Age 21 to buy any gun. Under federal law, you must be 21 to buy a handgun. Raise to 21 the age to buy a rifle. It is lethal, too.
- One gun purchase a month. That will slow the multiple straw purchaser illegally buying for someone not eligible to own.
If we couldn’t get Congress to play defense with us after Sandy Hook in December 2012, can we now?
Now, the enraged high school students in Florida and elsewhere — tomorrow’s voters — who promise to organize and punish any politician taking NRA money have a winning strategy.
They are playing offense.