A Gun-Crime Proposal (That Might Actually Help)
The murders in Newtown, Connecticut, will, without question, result in calls for greater "gun control." As William S. Burroughs pointed out: "After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it." I say "will, without question," because hell, they already have. In fact, there have already been a whole pile of proposals, and they all uniformly have one thing in common: they wouldn't have prevented the killings in Newtown.
Consider some of them:
-- Ban "assault weapons."
Beyond the fact that "assault weapon," in the Clinton-era assault weapon ban, was a hifalutin' way of saying "that looks scary!", the gun the shooter used wasn't an "assault weapon" under that expired law.
-- Ban large clips.
The shooter killed 26 people, and according to the most recent press reports, he shot each one multiple times -- as many as 11 times, in fact. He may have had 30-round magazines, but the fact is that he had to reload. Many times.
-- Make schools (theaters, ice cream parlors, college campuses) gun-free zones.
Of course, this one was already in effect. So it's pretty obvious that this one was useless.
In fact, it turns out that only one of the mass shootings since 1950 has been in an area in which guns could be carried -- the shootings in Tucson in which Gabby Giffords was wounded and six were killed.
The Aurora, Colorado shootings happened in the only theater within a 20-minute drive that actually banned handguns -- and one of the furthest local theaters from the shooter's apartment.
-- Don't sell guns to mental patients.
Of course, the problem here is that the shooter didn't buy the guns.
You could extend that to taking away the guns from anyone who is related to a mental patient, but that has a bunch of problems. First, it's pretty certainly unconstitutional over and above the Second Amendment issues.
Second: let's say someone goes to their family doctor and gets a prescription for Prozac, or Xanax, or Paxil, or some other antidepressant or anti-anxiety drug. Does the doctor then have to report the prescription to the police, who will come to search the house for guns?
The houses of all the patient's relatives?
-- Institute background checks on all gun sales.
Same point. And ditto for waiting periods -- the shooter's mother had owned these guns for years.
In fact, every one of these suggestions has a serious issue: none of them have ever demonstrated any positive results.
Draconian gun bans have been enacted in Great Britain and Australia in the last several years, and violent gun crimes have increased, not decreased.
On the other hand, following the Supreme Court's Heller decision striking down a gun ban, gun violence in Washington, D.C., has gone down -- while gun violence in Chicago, another place with draconian gun laws, has gone up.
What we do know: mass shootings in places where guns are widely available tend not to become "mass."
The Clackamas Mall shooter shot himself as soon as he was confronted by an armed person. Glenn Reynolds observed three more examples in his NY Post op-ed; the Gunwatch blog has a number of other examples.
If we really want to stop mass killings, the only thing we know is effective is having an armed populace.
An armed populace, of course, is exactly the purpose of the Second Amendment. At the beginning of the American Revolution, the British governor locked up the militia armory in Williamsburg, Virginia, leaving the townspeople unarmed. Jefferson and Madison were entirely aware of that. In fact, the whole Revolution was fought largely with the guns that soldiers could bring from home. This recognition was behind the Second Amendment, and later the first of the Militia Acts, which defined the militia as every male citizen between 18 and 45.
In fact, under current law (10 USC § 311 - Militia: composition and classes) the militia is defined to be
All able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are --
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.
I'm sure that feminists would object to the obvious sexism here; the militia clearly should be all able-bodied adults. Still, this is the law as it stands.
Honestly, the United States has been failing in its obligations to the Constitution. The Second Amendment calls for a "well-regulated" militia -- which in contemporary writings meant something like "well-equipped and well-trained" -- but the Militia Acts merely define who is a member of the militia.
The solution to the mass-shooting problem clearly lies in properly understanding of the Second Amendment and enabling legislation to fulfill its purpose.
I propose there should be a new law -- perhaps the Newtown, Connecticut Safety of School Children Act -- with the following terms:
(1) The definition of the "militia" is amended to include all able-bodied adults without consideration of gender.
(2) Within one year of enactment of the law, all members of the militia are required to:
a. Prove ownership of one long gun chambered for 5.56 or 7.62 NATO ammunition, and 500 rounds of ammunition.
b. Prove ownership of one handgun chambered for at least 9mmx19 Parabellum ammunition and 500 rounds of ammunition.
c. Pay a militia tax of $1000.
(Ahem: Note that under the Affordable Care Act decision by the Supreme Court, this kind of mandate-or-tax is completely constitutional.)
(3) Carrying of concealed weapons by persons who have successfully passed the National Concealed Carry test will be legal in all public places.
a. The National Concealed Carry test will be defined within a year of enactment of this statute by the Department of the Army, by considering all states' existing concealed carry laws.
(4) All states will require successful completion of the National Concealed Carry test in the following circumstances:
a. On issue of a driver's license, of any class including private passenger and motorcycle licenses.
b. As a condition for issue of teaching credentials.
(5) States which do not comply with section 4 will lose 50 percent of all highway funding for that year, in the case of violation of part 4a, or 50 percent of all Federal education funding for that year in the case of violation of part 4b.
The advantages are obvious: the increased demand for handguns will be a significant boost to the economy, and in particular, to the economies of states with gun manufacturers. Because the requirements of gun ownership and concealed carry will override city ordinances and state laws, places like the state of Illinois and in particular the city of Chicago, with their notoriously strong gun laws and high rates of gun violence, will have their restrictive laws eliminated. All evidence suggests this will result in a very quick decrease in the crime rate.
And the long-neglected Second Amendment will at last be enforced by appropriate legislation.
Most of all, in another attempt at a mass shooting, there will be no gun-free zones to target, and a very high likelihood that at least some adults will be armed in any public place.
After all, an armed populace is the one thing known to prevent or ameliorate mass shootings. The United States has a moral imperative to enact the Newtown Connecticut Safety of School Children Act.
For the children.