Q: Isn’t the Second Amendment and all that militia stuff just outmoded in the 21st century?
A: In my view, that is really the most honest line of argument from the gun-control lobby. But that isn’t an argument for ignoring the Second Amendment — the law doesn’t stop being the law because of the private subjective judgment of political activists. It is an argument for repealing the Second Amendment. We have a process for amending the Constitution, and the Second Amendment could be repealed if enough Americans believed that to be the wise thing to do. I wouldn’t support that myself, but it is the proper course of action for those who want to eliminate the Second Amendment protections of Americans’ right to keep and bear arms.
Q: Isn’t there anything else that we could do short of a likely doomed effort to pass a constitutional amendment?
A: Yes, I’m glad you asked. There are many things we could do.
Both gun-control advocates and the National Rifle Association support stronger enforcement of “straw buyer” laws, meaning laws against buying a firearm on behalf of someone who is legally prohibited from purchasing one himself. But we don’t enforce these laws in most instances. Local prosecutors don’t want such cases, because they involve a lot of sympathetic defendants — mostly the girlfriends, grandmothers, and nephews of gang members and other career criminals — and federal prosecutors won’t touch them because they’re deemed a waste of time unless they are part of a bigger, sexier organized-crime investigation. As I first reported years ago and have been shouting about ever since, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois (meaning Chicago) declined to prosecute these cases as a matter of publicly stated policy.
Our police and prosecutors also decline in many cases to arrest people and prosecute them for violations such as illegal possession of a firearm. A very large share of our murders (more than 80 percent in New York City, according to the New York Times) are committed by people with prior arrest records, often by people with prior criminal convictions, and in a considerable number of cases by people with prior arrests on weapons charges. We keep letting them walk until they kill somebody.