Make My Day – Repeal the 2nd Amendment


What’s wrong with Americans? 30,000 people in America are killed by guns each year. Why would any thoughtful legislator or citizen looking at these numbers buy the argument that background checks impose an undue burden on an individual wishing to exercise his 2nd Amendment right to bear arms? It’s preposterous.

If I had my way I would repeal the 2nd Amendment and put in place rules and regulations based on a European model that provides for reasonable gun ownership rights but also provides limits that help protect the rest of us. Not realistic? What is it about the 2nd Amendment guarantees that are so inviolable in the 21st century? Owning a gun so you can shoot the intruder that invades your home is a fantasy perpetrated by gun manufacturers and a bunch of fringe militants. You’re more likely to shoot the paperboy, your neighbor, or your own children than quick draw to drop the intruder. And, the idea that your AR-15 is going to protect you from over-reaching government agents trying to deprive you of your rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is based on an 18th century fear of government whose time is two centuries past its due date. If George Orwell’s world does come to pass the government will take that AR-15 and put it where the sun don’t shine. Get over it.

Am I angry? You bet I am; but I’m developing a cautious optimism because I’m part of a group in Seattle that is working for reasonable controls on gun ownership in Washington State. No, we don’t advocate repealing the 2nd Amendment. The 2nd Amendment is here to stay, but the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility is a group of civic leaders, members of the Seattle City Council, state legislators, the District Attorney, concerned citizens, non-profits, and business leaders who have credibility and clout. The campaign is underwritten by Nick Hanauer, one of the original investors in Amazon and the founder of aQuantive which he reportedly sold to Microsoft for $6 billion. The campaign in Washington has deep pockets.

What is different about this group and its campaign to establish reasonable controls is that it has a long horizon. There is no expectation that there will be low hanging fruit and early successes. We are looking for dialogue and a new way to talk about gun ownership. It will not be a frontal assault or demonize the NRA, although it is clear that the NRA lobbying effort has many legislators cowed. I don’t understand it; according to a US News and World Report survey 89% of all Americans and 75% of all NRA members support universal background checks for gun sales. Doesn’t the NRA listen to its membership? Or do the gun manufacturers and their money have a louder voice?

Newtown Victims

The Newtown/Sandy Hook Elementary School murders have kept gun control in the headlines. The NRA is on the defensive but has taken an offensive stance (in both senses of the word). Wayne LaPierre of the NRA believes the answer to gun violence is more guns. Does anyone really believe that more guns will protect us and our kids?

What might prove interesting over time is whether the NRA has the resources to fight this battle in every state as well as at the Federal level. It has deep pockets and a well oiled network of support, but whether they can fight the battle on all fronts at the same time is questionable. If concerned citizen groups like Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility match or outspend the NRA perhaps it will drain the NRA coffers as the fight drags on. The Washington legislature failed to pass the gun legislation prepared for the 2013 session, but the battle at the state level has just begun. We’ll be back next year with more and better bills and more horsepower.

Thomas Frank has a good article called Blood Sport in the current (March) issue of Harper’s. He takes aim at the feckless LaPierre but also levels his guns at Quentin Tarantino and Hollywood’s culture of violence. I thought the article was convincing but, in the interest of full disclosure, I can’t stand the smug, self-important, violence-besotted Tarantino or his movies.


Tarantino is not to blame for Newtown, but his disconnected, thoughtless, gratuitous violence reminds me of Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and Dick Cheney, the draft dodging trio whose theories about pre-emptive war resulted in the deaths of 4428 US servicemen and women. Tarantino and the Neo-con warlords love the toys of war but never have to get their hands dirty playing with them. They’re like fantasy footballers – unfortunately 4488 US servicemen died and 32,021 were wounded testing their theory.

Think about this: the Iraq war stats are over a 10 year period but nearly the same combined total (30,000) die from guns in the US every single year. Yoko Ono recently tweeted this astounding fact: since John Lennon’s murder in 1980 more than one million (1,057,000) Americans have lost their lives to guns. Compare that to 418,500 US servicemen killed in World War II. What’s wrong with us? Why can’t we control this carnage? Why can’t we think rationally about it?

Americans are good people. We’re better than our record of 30,000 gun deaths a year. We have reasonable restrictions on the other constitutional freedoms of speech, free exercise of religion, peaceable assembly, press, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Let’s pull together to enact a reasonable set of laws governing the purchase and ownership of guns in America. I’m on-board. I hope my friends will join me in the fight. And it will be a fight – unfortunately.

PS: The title of this blog is Surviving Seattle and the gun control issue is truly about survival. We can save lives and improve our prospects of survival by enacting reasonable, thoughtful legislation. Even though we are still in Saigon we haven’t forgotten our responsibilities at home.


  1. Well put. Others will make counter argument such as I would not buy and drive a big Cadillac or SUV – except that its the other drivers on the road I have to worry about. Always the equalizer argument wins in their minds. Except for when say that same person gets into the car after too many drinks or prescription drugs – same could be said for the irresponsible registered or unregistered gun owner leaving the weapon in an unsecured location from kids. Gun owners believe they are too smart to make that mistake. The real issue is elected representation of the people but for a small wealthy minority of corporate NRA lobbyists.

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