By Julie Dermansky/Corbis.
Last Thursday, I called for the repeal and replacement of the Second Amendment.
In response, on Saturday, a gunner called for my execution on Twitter.
Thank you, sir, for proving my point.
The bastardized reading of the Second Amendment has led too many gunners—whether from wishful thinking, ignorance, or just plain old craziness—to believe they have a constitutional right to everything they want (um, folks, you already can’t buy sub-machine guns). They think it’s reasonable to threaten bodily harm to those who disagree. Several wailed that the Founding Fathers intended for them to have high-capacity magazines and assault rifles, and that I was foolish not to understand that of course lawyers who lived 250 years ago—in the era of the musket ball—knew when they wrote the Constitution that we would develop MAC-10s and cop-killer bullets.
Then, of course, there was the endless cursing, more generic threats, and proclamations that I should be forcibly shipped to North Korea/Cuba/whatever country they were scared of this week.
Here is the reality: The gunners’ desired interpretation of the Second Amendment hangs by a single vote in the Supreme Court. This is the result of the issue I laid out last week—because it is a contorted, grammatically incorrect sentence, the amendment is open to being re-interpreted at any moment. In the worst case, it could be determined to apply only to militias. That kind of change isn’t going to be something that happens tomorrow, but as years pass and more bodies pile up, courts might begin to study the amendment’s opening words about militias a little more closely. As I wrote—and some gunners refused to read—that would limit gun rights too significantly.
The problem today is that gunners believe their extreme reading of the amendment is so unquestionable that they refuse to engage in any meaningful discussion of the dangers posed to the average citizen by reckless, irresponsible gun owners who believe that training and security are for wimps. I have no problem with responsible gun owners who own weapons for self-protection, hunting, or just sport. The ones who believe they have a constitutional right to 100-round magazines to fight off I don’t know what—a zombie apocalypse?—try to shut down dialogue with threats and other macho posing because of their flawed beliefs. They train to shoot, but too many of them don’t train for safety or understand the security that guns require.
Which is exactly why we need required liability insurance for gun owners. Someone wants to go online and proclaim his intent to shoot somebody? Great—don’t call the feds. Call State Farm and get his policy pulled. They want to flash a gun at Walmart or leave it lying out on a kitchen table unattended? Treat them like a drunk driver and cancel their insurance. These companies—free market, remember?—have a far better capacity for assessing risk than the government does. And, under this proposal, if the gunners can’t get insurance, they can’t get guns.
That could result in odd outcomes. For example, those survivalist groups that wall themselves off in Idaho, armed to the teeth? I doubt their insurance rates need to be all that high. These are people who consider training and safety to be at the forefront of gun ownership; you don’t hear often, if at all, about accidental shootings in those types of places. In truth, if more gun owners treated their weapons with the respect that these survivalist groups do, we’d all be a lot better off. So, as long as they aren’t committing crimes, let them have their guns at low rates.
As for the tough-guy preeners who blather on and on about the government coming to take their guns and who issue not-so-veiled threats about inflicting death on those who disagree with them? Under my proposal, the biggest problem for them wouldn’t be Obama. It would be Geico.