Gun Ownership Is a Hobby, Not a Right

Sure, some people can use guns safely. Some people can also smoke crack safely, drink and drive safely and handle explosives safely. We don’t let them because too many other people can’t.

In the wake of every horrific school shooting comes the predictable call for gun control. Just as predictably comes the crazy counter-argument: If only the teachers had been armed, the shooting could have been prevented. Shootout at the OK Elementary School.

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The simple fact is that guns are not compatible with 21st century civilized life. We should get rid of them. If we can’t get rid of them today, we should at least start the process of getting rid of them for the future. The world needs a future without guns.

No one should have guns. Not criminals, not responsible citizens, not the police. Guns should be safely locked away for use in a serious emergency and issued to police officers on a limited basis only when necessary. Even most police don’t need guns.

What about criminals? They have guns. Don’t we need guns to fight them with? Sure, maybe for a while. But after a hundred years with no guns, the supply will dry up even for criminals. We should be planning for the future, not arming for the present.

What about the Constitution? Gun rights are enshrined in the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. Well, I have news for Constitutional fundamentalists: The US Constitution has been changed 27 times. It can be changed again.

Lest we forget, the Second Amendment was itself a change to the Constitution. That’s why we call it an “amendment.” It wasn’t there at first.

In fact, the Second Amendment only prevents the federal government from infringing “the right to keep and bear Arms.” States could have all the gun control they want if it weren’t for the later 14th Amendment that extends rights under the federal Constitution to apply to state actions as well.

Even this thin reed of gun rights has only existed since 2010. In the 2010 McDonald v. Chicago case, the activist US Supreme Court reversed 142 years of precedent to extend the meaning of the 14th Amendment to prohibit states from prohibiting guns.

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It did so by a 5-4 margin. In other words, the nationwide Constitutional protection for gun ownership only came into existence in 2010 (not 1791) and even then by one single vote. So much for the everlasting, inalienable right to own a gun.

No, the fact that there are so many guns in America has nothing to do with the Constitution. It has much more to do with lobbying by gun manufacturers and gun owners. The power of the gun lobby is insane. So is the rhetoric of gun owners, with all this talk about prying things out of cold, dead hands.

I understand that not every gun owner is insane. Many people own guns to protect themselves. That’s not insane. It’s just misguided. Your gun is statistically more likely to be used to hurt people you love than to protect them.

Millions of other responsible adults simply like to play with guns, and are able to do so safely. People like to collect them, hunt animals with them, or just go shoot them for the fun of it. If that’s sanity, so be it. We all have our hobbies.

But not all hobbies are created equal. Some hobbies are inherently dangerous, to ourselves and to others. Sure, some people can use guns safely. Some people can also smoke crack safely, drink and drive safely and handle explosives safely. We don’t let them because too many other people can’t.

Sometimes we have to accept that what’s safe fun for us may be just too dangerous for others, and that we have to make sacrifices for the common good. Any parent with children of different ages understands this. The 6-year-old can’t have a toy with small parts because the 3-year-old might try to eat one and choke to death.

Gun ownership is a great hobby. It was fun while it lasted. But easy access to guns is incompatible with daily life in 21st century society. There are no bandits on the prairie. There are no wolves at the door. It’s time to get rid of guns. If that means a 28th change to the Constitution, so be it. It’s worth it.