While there’s no easy answer, here’s some reasonable thoughts on the matter from the Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky.
I’ll summarize his points here:
2nd Amendment is here to stay. So here’s the way to leverage it and put it to good use.
1. 2nd Amendment enshrines the existence of “well-regulated militia necessary to the security of a free state”. Many gun owners fancy themselves to be protectors of freedom, so let’s enable them to become part of the state’s well-regulated militia, just like 2nd Amendment decrees.
2. Membership is such militia group would require registration, training and certain responsibilities. For instance, militia members could be required to register their guns and keep them in locked safes in the house; they could be required to undergo certain testing; or they could be required to keep certain types of guns on the shooting ranges (the only place where those guns can be legitimately used)
3. Hunting rifles would be explicitly excluded from such regulations, so that huntsmen and especially NRA would not be able to play that card.
4. In return, the Federal government would leave those decisions to the states, plus could subsidize the purchase of steel safes as a deal sweetener. That would spare us the fight in Congress that would probably end in gun-control advocates’ defeat. But throwing the issue to the states enables them to solve the problem as they see fit. CT and NY would probably have very strict regulation of such a militia, while AZ and TX would have very lax one. If the shooting happens, the reins to deal with it, as well as the responsibility for it will be in the hands of local citizens and local government.
5. The Feds could also have some mechanisms to encourage compliance – such as financial penalties in a form of cutting 10% of law-enforcement government funds. With freedom comes responsibility and to sell personal responsibility to the gun crowd whose strongest argument has always been “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” should not be very hard.
Of course, all of the above should be combined with closing gun show loopholes, where background checks are not necessary to buy a gun and require mental health testing prior to gun purchase. These solutions, while imperfect, can offer a blue print to go forward. I thought about it and argued with some gun supporters on Facebook over the weekend. There’s just no way that we can ban all guns, no matter how many more people die – because of the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. Assault weapons (or automatic weapons) are already banned and the guns used in many recent shooting were legal and licensed. This makes the entire issue impossible to solve with yet another stroke of a pen. The mother of the shooter was a gun enthusiast with guns in the house for her own protection and in the end she couldn’t protect herself – not from the tyrannical government but from her family member. So obviously, owning a gun is not a guarantee of your safety. Many gun owners with children think “this would never happen in my family, my children know how to handle a gun” – a sentiment I ran into plenty during my Facebook discussions over the weekend. We will always have parents with this kind of mindset and no amount of regulations will change it. But we cannot write laws that will protect people from themselves; we can only install incentives for them to become more responsible.
I’m sure there are holes in these arguments, as this is the issue I don’t usually touch, but I’m genuinely trying to find a solution here without demanding a change in the Constitution.