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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Mail Bag

Voice of the Pride: Out with the old 2nd, in with the new 28th

Editor’s Note: This mail bag post is in response to Monday’s Voice of the Pride topic about gun control.

Proponents of gun control are greatly limited in their ability to affect meaningful change by the second amendment itself. Its wording is both ambiguous and contentious, but as long as it stands, little headway can be made in curtailing the ownership of firearms and associated gun violence. There is little recourse, but to repeal the second amendment and replace it with a something that explicitly reclassifies the ownership of guns as a privilege, that can be tightly regulated by the government.

While extreme in measure, presidency for this can be found within the constitution itself; one simply has to turn to the 18th and 21st Amendments. The 18th Amendment prohibited the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages, going into effect in 1920. Thirteen years later, much to the chagrin of bootleggers everywhere, the 21st Amendment repealed prohibition. This exemplifies the beauty of the Constitution as a mutable document that can be altered to fit social and technological dynamics. The founders were aware of need to be able to adapt the law to fit the needs of the people and provided a mechanism to do so.

We are now a fundamentally different country from when the right to bear arms was first enshrined in the Constitution, and the threat of gun violence in society warrants the addition of a 28th Amendment. In the deliberately arcane wording of most government documents, I propose the following:

Section 1: In promoting the minimization of violence, being towards the common good of the people, Congress hereby repeals the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution and prohibits the private ownership of any unregistered firearm. This law further restricts the types of firearms that are eligible for registration as defined in section 2. Ownership of a registered firearm is limited to U.S. citizens who possess a valid license, as issued by the Federal Government and defined in section 3. As defined by law, a firearm is any weapon or device that launches a projectile or projectiles by chemical, electrical or other physical means. The private ownership of firearms capable of ejecting more than one projectile per trigger-mechanism is prohibited. The private ownership of any firearm with a barrel length of less than 16 inches is explicitly prohibited.

Section 2: All firearms must possess a unique identification number. Registration of a firearm entails entering the UIN into a national database established and maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Section 3: Firearm ownership licensure entails undergoing a criminal background check, firearm use proficiency test and evaluation of mental state. Pending clearance, a license can be obtained free of charge and is valid for a period of five years, subject to renewal.

Rightfully, it is incredibly difficult to amend the Constitution, and there is little chance of such a contentious bill ever seeing the light of day. Never the less, I fear that unless we free the government to properly protect its people, gun violence will continue unabated.

— Marc Anderson, postdoctoral research associate, Department of Biology and Biochemistry

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