Lewis: Is it time to repeal the Second Amendment?
I have had it. Another week, another mass shooting. Actually, that’s wrong; it’s actually another day … another mass shooting, or two, or even three. In the first 88 days of the year, there have been 131 mass shootings. We are up to almost two per day. Mass shootings have more than doubled since 2014 and gun deaths are, for the first time in history, now the leading cause of death among young people in the U.S.
The very first column I wrote for the Vail Daily discussed mass shootings. The summary: This is a problem unique to the U.S., it is worth solving, we can stop mass shootings by passing sensible laws that do not significantly impact gun rights, and most Americans support sensible gun legislation.
Since that column, the federal government did produce one piece of legislation called the “Safer Communities Act.” While heralded by politicians as “landmark” legislation, I predict it will precisely do nothing toward reducing mass shootings. There are no provisions to ban military-type assault weapons, require training for gun ownership, background checks, or age restrictions. It is just hot air.
Colorado representatives are proposing sensible bills that would have an impact. HB23-1230 bans certain assault weapons, HB23-1219 institutes a three-day waiting period for gun purchases, and SB23-169 raises the firearm purchasing age from 18 to 21. These are real steps toward reducing the incidence of mass shootings, but predictably, they are already being challenged by those who believe these laws violate their Second Amendment rights.
Tennessee, the location of this week’s school shootings where three 9-year-olds died, is actually working to loosen gun laws, recently legalizing “permit-less carry” across the state. Yes, you got that right. With no training or permit you can legally carry an AR-15 pretty much anywhere. They have, however, taken a tough stance on what they do consider a crisis — drag shows — passing the first state ban on public shows. You can see where their priorities lie. At last count, drag shows have killed exactly zero people.
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Given what you hear on the news, many consider Mexico dangerous, but the fact is that Mexico has a significantly lower gun death rate (17/100,00) than Wyoming (26/100,000), and even Tennessee (21/100,000). Fourteen states actually have a higher gun death rate than Mexico and Colorado comes close with 16/100,000. Maybe we need to start issuing travel advisories for states. Across the U.S., the data is clear. States with weak gun laws have significantly higher gun death rates. The differences are significant; you are five to eight times more likely to be killed with a gun in states with weak gun laws.
While I believe that the Second Amendment is not infringed by reasonable gun laws, if the Supreme Court wants to take an absolutist view, there is always the option of rewriting the amendment to allow for reasonable governance. It is a step we shouldn’t need to take, but gun violence has spiraled out of control and our leaders must take real steps to address it.
We also have to get past the rhetoric (I call it BS) that reasonable gun laws are somehow the first step toward banning all guns. We regulate virtually everything from driver’s licenses to voting without any implication that the next step is a ban on driving or voting.
The majority of Americans are fed up and more than willing to embrace small inconveniences — like waiting three days to get a gun — if it means that our children don’t have to fear for their lives just going to school. In fact, the majority of gun owners, like myself, support more gun safety laws.
We have a serious and escalating problem. We have hard evidence from both inside the U.S. and around the world on how to solve it. And the majority of Americans support most of these steps. Maybe the real question we must answer is: If all of these are true, why aren’t we taking action?
Mark Lewis, a Colorado native, had a long career in technology, including serving as the CEO of several tech companies. He retired from technology and is now writing thriller novels. Mark and his wife, Lisa, and their two Australian Shepherds — Kismet and Cowboy, reside in Edwards.