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Wednesday, April 24, 2013
It is a mistake to advocate for gun control through attempts to convince gun supporters that some of the various proposals for gun control are so limited that they are reasonable restrictions. The National Rifle Association and many individual gun-rights supporters have long had a first-step or slippery-slope attitude. There is no gun control proposal, however limited, that they will ever regard as reasonable.
Limited gun control is said by pollsters to be a slight majority position in terms of absolute numbers of Americans. But limited gun control, much less truly effective gun control, is now and will continue to be for some time a minority position in the context of our representative democracy.
From my perspective, our representative democracy overrepresents the interests of all social conservatives, including gun supporters. Those interests are overrepresented in a U.S. Senate that was constitutionally constructed to protect minority (state) interests by providing the same two-senator representation to each state, from the state with the lowest population through the state with the highest population.
The Senate has compounded this minority over-representation through an internal procedural rule — the filibuster — that institutionalizes a tyranny of the minority, allowing 41 senators to kill any proposed legislation.
On the other hand, both the U.S. House and state legislatures are based on the ideal of “one person, one vote,” and a majority of those legislatures are pro-gun. To the extent that these legislatures do honestly represent the will of the American people, this is where the issue of guns should be decided.
Truly effective gun control would be federal legislation that prohibited the manufacture and possession of all automatic and semi-automatic guns, as well as all short guns. Such legislation would undoubtedly be struck down as unconstitutional based on the Heller and McDonald decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. Thus, gun control of this nature would require repeal of the Second Amendment.
Repeal of the Second Amendment is not going to happen anytime soon and, frankly, probably never will happen. But my point to gun control advocates is: If you’re going to beat your heads against a wall in the federal and state legislatures trying in vain to get some very limited gun control law passed, why not devote your efforts to change that would really make a difference?
All you’re doing now is fighting retreating skirmishes. Setting brush fires. And you’re getting crushed.
The same demographic changes in America that enabled the election and re-election of President Obama suggest that gun control could become a majority view quicker than some think.
Let’s make something truly effective happen sooner rather than later.
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