Nation unlikely to change course on guns – The Virginian-Pilot

Second Amendment


Since the horrific murders at Sandy Hook Elementary a decade ago, America has seen hundreds more mass shootings, a sharp rise in gun deaths generally, and an alarming turn toward gun-glorifying political extremism.

I am in agreement with the position stated by The Virginian-Pilot & Daily Press Editorial Board in the Nov. 29 editorial, “The future we choose.” However, the solution presented may never be obtainable in today’s climate and culture.

The editorial board stated, “If we want to stop gun violence, we have to will it.” After highlighting the recent shootings at a Chesapeake Walmart and the University of Virginia, the board writes, “Know this, we don’t have to live this way. It is a choice we make every day.”

In closing, the board says, “This is the United States of America and we will be the country that the people, using their power and influence at the ballot box, want it to be.”

Although a given truth, does the editorial board really think we can turn the tide of gun violence at a time when violent political rhetoric and gun violence in America is rising? Yes, substantive change can come with cultural change, but as vocal as the general public is, it is silent at the ballot box.

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Look at the last election to see how many voters actually went to the polls to vote and the breakdown of the red and blue states. The twisted and murderous fantasies of using guns are emphasized daily in our movies and video games. American civilians now own more than one-third of the guns in the world and this is the largest national market for firearms.

Gun violence affects far more people than victims and perpetrators. We talk about guns but little happens. Just like the outcry over the Vietnam War. Once the movement dissipated and the glue that held it together gone, it became neither popular nor politically viable.

Unfortunately, the same happens with gun control until we are faced with another mass shooting. And as bad as America’s gun-violence problem is, it could be about to get worse. In the recently decided Bruen case, the conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court seized an opportunity not to adjust precedent incrementally, but destroy it completely. Justice Clarence Thomas reasoned that since there was no historical proof of a gun law linked to 1791 or 1868, the years when the Second and 14th amendments, respectively, were ratified, then any modern law restricting firearms is liable to be ruled unconstitutional. There was no distinction made between the killing effects of an AR-15 rifle today versus an 18th century musket.

In another decision out of Texas, a judge struck down the prohibition of gun ownership by domestic abusers. His reasoning derives from the regrettable truth that spousal abuse was not a criminal offense in the 1700s.

Other likely Bruen-induced outcomes include lawsuits to end background checks because no nationwide computerized database of criminal records existed when America was founded.

The plague of gun violence in America today is the result of particular interpretations of the Second Amendment, not common sense. As disturbing as these cases may be, they are a dream come true for the National Rifle Association and extremists who place the rights of gun owners above all other rights of individuals, especially when it comes to public safety.

America is certainly “One Nation Under Guns.” While we are assessing the pain and immeasurable loss of life from recent mass shootings, why can’t we effectively enact gun legislation in Virginia and the nation? The ballot box is the answer of course, but are we not chasing an “impossible dream”? How many more mass murders do we have to face before the electorate comes to its senses and does more?

Regrettably, I do not feel it will be in my lifetime.

Tazewell Hubard is a former assistant city attorney, commonwealth’s attorney and substitute judge for the city of Norfolk.



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