A Twenty-Eight Amendment: Part II

A commenter on my post on Friday about the need for a twenty-eighth amendment criticized me for not proposing any language. Fair enough, here you go:

Congress shall have the power and responsibility to regulate and control the distribution, sale, and ownership of firearms and other weapons in all ways necessary to ensure the safety of the people; and, no individual right to own or possess a firearm is granted by the Constitution or its Amendments.

I’m sure someone could improve upon the wording.

Why an amendment? Why not just some laws? Because we need a radical rethinking of the societal contract around guns in our country. This chart from Mark Reid on Twitter tells you the essential facts:


There are nearly 300 million guns in our country, nearly one for ever person (not household, person). The guns used in Newtown were legally purchased (as is so often the case with these mass murders), and in an incredibly cruel twist, by the murderer’s mother who was reported to have been a “gun nut.”

The problem is that we have too many guns, and it is far, far too easy to get a gun with incredibly lethal power. That has to end. As long as there are 300 million weapons floating around, these tragedies will continue to happen. Even if we do pass new laws severely restricting the sale of semi-automatic and automatic weapons. Because the genie is out of the bottle.

What need to happen is a substantial reduction in the number of guns in our country, and that will only happen if we change the norms of our society. We need to make clear that people who own, seek to own, make, manufacture or sell semi-automatic and automatic weapons are social pariahs. Those of you who own these guns or contribute to the NRA are also responsible for what happened Friday — you’re the ones who have agitated to make these weapons as easy to get as a bag of popcorn. Shame on you.

I think the push for an amendment to our Constitution — the first in 40 years — would allow us to start to have that conversation. If all we do is fight for new legislation, we’ll end at the same place — an argument about the Second Amendment.

Let’s reframe the debate and resolve this issue in the clearest way we can. Let’s make it crystal clear that gun ownership is a privilege, not a right. And let us declare, forcefully, that the ownership of semi-automatic and automatic weapons is sociopathic; an aberrant behavior that shouldn’t and won’t be tolerated any longer. Then we can take any number of steps to get these weapons off the streets and out of our homes.


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