Repealing the Second Amendment Would Make Us ‘Better Than This’


Yet again we are shocked. We hear the staccato bursts of semi-automatic fire echoing off the walls of a supposed place of safety. We register not only the terror but the bewilderment on the faces of tiny survivors as they are marched, hands on the shoulders of kids in front of them, from the grounds of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Last week’s Newtown, Conn. massacre reminds us that America is emphatically not, as President Obama and the rest of us would wish it to be, “better than this.”

Indeed, we are the only First World nation that has routinized a failed response to gun violence — weak, craven, ineffectual. It’s not that other parts of the world are immune from “rampage violence.” It’s just that when it does happen those other countries tend to take action , while the U.S. dithers, continuing to far outstrip the rest of the developed world in rates of mass murder .

In keeping with a tradition of both public and private grieving, we light our candles and gather to weep with others on street corners and in houses of worship. We cry tears into the sink as we rinse out our coffee mugs, or transfer clothes from washer to dryer. We write editorials, such as this one, bemoaning the “gun culture,” inadequate laws and controls, and our society’s failure to help, or at least protect us from, those suffering dangerous forms of mental illness.

Then, for those of us who did not lose our own children, we return inexorably to the habits of daily living. With absolutely nothing accomplished.

We are in denial about our duty to stop gun violence. We’re awed by what we perceive to be the power of the National Rifle Association, and the political clout of those members of congress whose loyalty has been purchased by the NRA.

So we wait. We wait for the next slaughter, knowing it will surely come. Nothing has changed, nothing will change. Not unless we resolve to become, in the president’s aspirational words, “better than this.”

How do we accomplish that? Through repeal of the Second Amendment, and the enactment of a new constitutional amendment.

The Second Amendment — elevated to a state of holiness, its problematic comma debated for decades and “resolved,” for the moment, by the Supreme Court — is a relic. It made sense when it was written. It does not make sense now.

What would a new “right to bear arms” amendment look like? If I were writing it, it would contain provisions for:

• Registration of all firearms;

• Licensing of all gun owners, predicated on completion of a background check and a passing score in a reputable gun-safety course;

• Safe and secure storage and transport of all firearms;

• Criminal and civil penalties for owners whose guns have fallen negligently into the hands of violent felons, minors, the mentally ill;

• Ban on all assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, except for those possessed by the military and law enforcement;

• Ban on so-called “armor-piercing” handgun bullets;

• The elimination of the infamous gun-show loophole in the Brady bill.

Seven years ago I included a chapter in my book, Breaking Rank, entitled, “Getting a Grip on Guns.” I wrote then that Senator Barry Goldwater had argued some 35 years earlier against gun control because “it would take 50 years to get rid of [them].”

I’m not advocating getting rid of guns. I’m talking about controlling them. Robustly, effectively. Imagine how far down the road, how much safer — how much more free — our country would be if we had committed to sensible gun control measures when Goldwater made that statement.

We enacted alcohol prohibition through a constitutional amendment (the Eighteenth). Thirteen years later we struck it down with a constitutional amendment (the Twenty-first). If legal sanctions can allow grownups to enjoy a cocktail, why can we not enact a constitutional protection that will drastically reduce the number of killings of innocent citizens, including the most innocent of all, our children?


Norm Stamper is a 34-year veteran police officer who retired as Seattle’s chief of police in 2000. He is currently a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (, a 10,000-member organization representing cops, judges, prosecutors, FBI/DEA agents, prison wardens and others who now want to legalize and regulate all drugs after witnessing horrors and injustices fighting on the front lines of the “war on drugs.” In addition to serving as Seattle’s top cop, Norm led San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson’s Crime Control Commission. He is the author ofBreaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing.


2 thoughts on “Repealing the Second Amendment Would Make Us ‘Better Than This’

  1. Gun Control Now USA

    This Blog Supports Gun Control & Registration In The USA. The American Constitution Is A Secular Document . The Rights & Responsibilities Installed In The Constitution Are Secular & Adaptable To American Society As Needed. That is Why Women Vote, The Voting Age Is 18, And Slavery Was Outlawed By The Thirtheenth Amendment. It Is Now Time To Abolish The Second Amendment. Comments Are Moderated Accordingly.

    1. An Assault rifle is a weapon that should be prohibited under a Comprehensive American Gun Control Law. It has no place in the civilian environment. #GunControlNowUSA

      An assault rifle is a selective fire (selective between fully automatic, semi-automatic, and burst fire) rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. It should be distinguished from the US legal term assault weapons.[1] Assault rifles are the standard service rifles in most modern armies. Assault rifles are categorized in terms of using an intermediate cartridge power that is between light machine guns firing full power cartridges, which are intended more for sustained automatic fire in a light support role, and submachine guns, which fire a lower powered pistol cartridge rather than a rifle cartridge. Fully automatic fire refers to an ability for a rifle to fire continuously until the magazine is empty and no rounds remain; “burst-capable” fire refers to an ability of a rifle to fire a small yet fixed multiple number of rounds with but one press of the trigger; in contrast, semi-automatic refers to an ability to fire but one round per press of a trigger. The presence of selective fire modes on assault rifles permits more efficient use of rounds to be fired for specific needs, versus having but a single mode of operation, such as fully automatic, thereby conserving ammunition while maximizing on-target accuracy and effectiveness.

      Examples of assault rifles include the StG 44, AK-47,[2] M16 rifle, QBZ-95, INSAS, Heckler & Koch G36, and Enfield SA80.

      The assault rifle became the standard military rifle in the post-World War II era. The Soviet Union was the first nation in the post-war era to adopt an assault rifle, the AK-47, and other nations followed later. Combat experience during the World Wars had shown that most infantry combat took place at 200–300 meters (220–330 yards) distance and that the winner of any given firefight would most likely be the one with the highest rate of fire. The rifle cartridges of the day were therefore unnecessarily powerful, producing recoil and report in exchange for marginal benefit. The lower power of the intermediate cartridge meant that each soldier could fire more bullets faster and/or with less recoil and its lighter weight allowed more ammunition to be carried.

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