After the horrifying and tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, you would think lawmakers would be doing everything in their power to make schools safer. But, as evidenced by the House’s recently passed gun-reform package, Democrats are misdiagnosing the issue yet again.
There is, understandably, a sentiment among Americans that those in power must do something—anything—to prevent tragedies like Uvalde from occurring in the future. The House’s reform package is certainly an example of politicians “doing something.” But the legislation would blatantly violate Americans’ Second Amendment rights, and represents another dubious attempt to combat gun violence with stricter gun laws.
Democrats’ gun-control aspirations are wrong, first and foremost, because they violate Americans’ Second Amendment rights. An attempt to restrict our right to bear arms is an attempt to restrict our natural right to defend ourselves from government tyranny and against violence from others. The principles of self-defense underpinning the Second Amendment are not and can never be outdated.
History has taught us that George Mason was right when he asserted, “To disarm the people is the best and most effective way to enslave them.” Slaves were prohibited from owning firearms before the Civil War ended, and in the years following the war, states employed various unscrupulous tactics to bar black individuals from obtaining guns. German Jews were systemically disarmed in the 1930s before the Holocaust. And Armenians were stripped of their arms in the carrying out of the Armenian genocide.
The Second Amendment must be ardently defended, as we all have the right to defend ourselves against threats from the state and from others.
But, for the sake of conversation, let’s imagine for a moment, as many Democrats do, that the Second Amendment is out of date. Would the proposed reforms be a smart course of action then?
No, they wouldn’t. Because even if you set aside the constitutional argument for gun rights, the fact remains that gun control’s effectiveness is uncertain at best. Democrats would do well to start taking alternative proposals more seriously.
Despite the rhetoric dominating the gun-control debate, the evidence suggests gun-control measures do not effectively thwart gun violence. For example, take California and Illinois, which lead the United States in mass shootings despite their strict gun laws. And the Washington Post, when removing events like gang violence from mass-shooting data, found that 86 percent of mass public shootings between 2009 and 2016 occurred in gun-free zones like Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.
The bill that just passed the House would, among other things, ban the sale of guns with magazines that can hold more than 15 rounds. But shooters can just use multiple magazines. For example, in 2007, the Virginia Tech shooter had 17 magazines for his handguns, most of which held 10 rounds. In 1999, one of the Columbine shooters brought 13 magazines into the school, each of which carried 10 rounds. In those tragedies, 32 and 13 people died, respectively.
The bill would also raise the age that one can purchase a rifle or shotgun from 18 to 21. Why this would be a priority is unclear, as the median age of school shooters is just 16, and 70 percent of school shooters are under the age of 18.
Furthermore, the amount of attention placed on rifles like the AR-15 is curious. Rifles were involved in just 3 percent of firearm homicides in 2020, and according to Pew Research, handguns are by far the most common weapons used in mass shootings.
The measures in this bill not only violate Second Amendment rights, but are unlikely to curtail the tragedies its proponents aim to avert.
Would a ban on all guns “work” better than this current bill? No, gun bans do not work. While they might disarm law-abiding citizens, placing all of our liberties at greater risk, they can’t stop determined bad actors from obtaining the goods they desire. As with alcohol in the Prohibition era and marijuana to this day, restricting access to goods doesn’t eliminate the goods. It merely leads to the creation of black markets. Australia, often heralded as an example of a nation with ideal gun-control policies, has had to deal with an extensive black market for firearms. It has been reported that Australian citizens may have been at greater risk from gun crime in recent years than ever before.
Stricter gun control may not be an effective solution, but there are other actions that can be taken to better ensure the safety of our schools.
What happened in Uvalde rocked our nation to its core. Instead of attempting to infringe on the rights of citizens and push ineffective gun-control policy, politicians should be working together to devise measures that could actually save lives in the future.
Benjamin Ayanian is a contributor for Young Voices, a PR firm and talent agency for young, pro-liberty commentators. His writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Star Tribune, Yahoo News, and more. His Twitter is @BenjaminAyanian.