In a Buffalo, New York grocery store, an 18-year-old male shooter killed 10 and injured 3 others, most of whom were African Americans. While people were still burying the dead in Buffalo, an 18-year-old male shooter at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas killed 19 young students and two teachers.
I love life, and I love the people of my country far far far more than I value the freedom to bear arms. The relatively unregulated freedom to bear arms is literally “freedoming” our people to death!
Some people on the political right claim that guns make us feel safer, but if this were true, the United States would be the safest country in the world.
The United States ranks number 1 out of 230 countries with the highest rate of firearms at 120.50 per every 100 residents. The Falkland Islands comes in a distant second with 62.1 firearms per every 100 residents.
Shame on the United States Congress and state legislatures for failing to pass comprehensive gun safety measures. At this point in time, however, I believe that no mere “reforms” will really solve the problems of gun violence in the United States. I call, therefore, for the repeal of the Second Amendment now!
There! I spoke the unspeakable, the ultimate taboo in U.S. political discourse.
As the horse once served as a primary means of transportation in earlier times, it now grazes and prances peacefully on rich pastures. Possibly during former moments in our history, we may have had reason to enact and enforce the Second Amendment of our great Constitution, but those bygone days have long since passed. Now we must put the Second Amendment out to pasture.
I believe that even our brilliant and well-meaning, but flawed founders, did not want unlimited and unrestricted rights of firearm ownership. They could never have imagined the enormous leaps and heights to which the Second Amendment now menaces not only the very lives of our people, but more poignantly, how it imposes an existential threat to our nation.
Even if our early leaders had advocated for unrestricted gun ownership, these are the same men who owned and marketed enslaved Africans, committed genocide against and expelled native peoples, withheld enfranchisement from women, engaged in and killed one another in duels, and so on.
Since those early times, legislation, judicial actions, and constitutional amendments have at least attempted to redress those past tragedies. Though we can never bring back the estimated 30,000 victims of gun violence each year, by gutting the Second Amendment we can give our residents a greater chance at life.
Comparing and Contrasting
Before 1996, Australia had relatively high rates of murder, but a tragic incident at Port Arthur, Tasmania, was the proverbial straw that broke the poor camel’s back. A man opened fire on a group of tourists killing 35 and wounding another 23. The massacre was the worst mass murder in Australia’s history.
Taking decisive action, newly elected conservative Prime Minister, John Howard, negotiated a bipartisan deal between the national, state, and local governments in enacting comprehensive gun safety measures.
These measures included a massive buyback of more than 600,000 semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, and laws prohibiting private firearms sales, mandatory registration by owners of all weapons, and the requirement that all potential buyers of guns at the time of purchase give a “genuine reason” other than general or overarching self-defense with documentation of necessity.
By 1996, polls showed overwhelming public support of approximately 90% for the new measures. And though firearms-related injuries and deaths have not totally come to an end, homicides by firearms fell by 59% between 1995 and 2006 with no corresponding increase in non-firearm-related homicides, and a 65% reduction in gun-related suicides.
In addition, there have been significant drops in robberies involving firearms, and contrary to fears by some, no increase in the overall number of home invasions. In the decade preceding the Port Arthur massacre, Australia recorded 11 mass shootings. No mass shootings have occurred in the 20+ years since the measures went into effect as of 2016.
The new measures taken to advance gun safety in Australia were possible because that country had no equivalent of a Second Amendment.
“I won’t visit the United States”
I occasionally travel abroad visiting people around the world. Increasingly during my journeys, people express to me that they admire the remarkable achievements and wonders of the United States, but because of the perennial gun violence, they vow not to step foot on this land.
These same people believe they have more freedoms in their countries with severe firearms restrictions than we could ever have under our Second Amendment. And because of their well-founded hesitations to visit our country, they will never experience our gleaming cities, our fertile plains, our lush grasslands, our majestic mountains and national parks, and yes, our seemingly endless supply of shops.
In the end, the realities of gun violence in the U.S. hurts everyone everywhere except for gun manufactures and legislative lobbyists, and, of course, our international enemies who desire to witness us defeated from within.
Rather than working to reduce the supply of firearms on our streets and in our homes, gun sales and ownership steadily increase. What will it take for us to cease fighting recklessness with irrationality? How many more of our precious people of all ages will have their lives cut short under the banner of “freedom to bear arms”?
What will it take for us to reverse the unholy alliance between corporate America and powerful pressure groups controlling politicians in the service of firearms manufacturers?
When is enough, enough?!
Dr. Warren Blumenfeld is a writer, LGBTQ historian and educator, he is the author of “The What, The So What, and The Now What of Social Justice Education” and co-editor of “Readings for Diversity and Social Justice.”