As mass shootings have increased, and the death toll keeps mounting, children across America have become increasingly afraid of attending school.
Is the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in jeopardy? Thousands and thousands of young people, in city after city, have been demonstrating, marching and demanding legislative action to stop gun violence in America. These young people will soon become voters and elected representatives. If nothing happens, or only token change, designed to placate their positions, their movement will grow more powerful.
From NRA money in support of NRA legislation, to token legislative action, young people are clearly calling “BS.” From Women’s Suffrage to the Civil Rights Movement, demonstrations work. Is the last school shooting the proverbial tipping point for the Second Amendment?
When the Second Amendment was written, the following was true: Women couldn’t vote until the U.S. Constitution was changed. Slavery was legal until the U.S. Constitution was changed. A U.S. president could be re-elected numerous times until the U.S. Constitution was changed. The U.S. Constitution has been changed 27 times since it was adopted. Don’t be complacent and cling to the hope that the Second Amendment is bullet proof.
In the current political environment, cooperation and bipartisanship have been hard to find. The congressional mind set regarding guns does not align with the mood of the country. The majority of Americans support gun control measures, according to a recent Fox News poll taken in March of this year.
The following Fox News polling numbers demonstrate how out-of-step Congress is with the people they represent: The polls shows that 91 percent of Americans favor comprehensive background checks, 72 percent of Americans favor raising the age to buy a gun to 21 years of age and 60 percent favor a ban on assault rifles.
A recent NPR poll concluded that 8 out of 10 Americans favor a ban on assault rifles, large-capacity magazines and bump stocks. The research supported numbers were collected from “likely voters.” With these adult numbers in mind, how do you think the young demonstrators will vote?
It appears that NRA has over-played their hand. From creating legislation that blocks lawsuits against gun sellers and manufacturers to blocking the Centers for Disease Control from researching gun violence, the NRA has used a carrot (money) and a stick (voter retaliation) strategy to intimidate elected official into supporting legislation that increases gun sales, including the increased sales of AR-15 assault rifles. When 16-year-old schoolchildren started calling the positions of the NRA “BS,” many legislators have been placed in a very vulnerable position.
The NRA, and a lot of members of Congress, are keeping their collective heads down, hoping that the Parkland, Fla., school shooting will pass. Like the mass shooting at Sandy Hook, where 14 6- and 7-year-old kids were murdered with an assault rifle. Like Columbine, where 15 high school students were killed with an assault rifle. Like the Pulse Night Club, where 49 young adults were shot to death with an assault rifle. Like the Sutherland Springs church shooting, where 27 children and adults were killed with an assault rifle. Like the Las Vegas concert, where 59 people were murdered with an assault rifle. Like the Aurora movie theater shooting, where 12 young people were shot to death with an assault rifle, etc., etc. All of these mass shootings were facilitated by the shooter using an assault rifle with large-capacity magazines.
If a meaningful comprise could be reached, where assault rifles and large-capacity magazines were banned, and comprehensive background checks were initiated, it could change the negative momentum against the Second Amendment.
As a gun owner, with 35 years of law enforcement experience, and a Purple Heart recipient, I support the Second Amendment. But I fully support meaningful change, based on compromise, in our gun laws to reduce gun violence in America, and with the hope that our Second Amendment will survive.
Robert C. Wadman, Ph.D., is professor emeritus in the Criminal Justice Department at Weber State University, Ogden.