Repeal the 2nd AmendmentBy Kyle Campbell | 07/13/2016 12:28pm
This was all preventable. We need to acknowledge that. If two officers have blood on their hands, ours are tinged a light red. If Micah Johnson deserved to explode, a piece of shrapnel was intended for every one of us. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. Lorne Ahrens. Michael Smith. Michael Krol. Patrick Zamarripa. Brent Thompson. Two citizens and five cops – shot dead.
Community policing programs, de-escalation training, and mandatory body cameras – all good ideas in their own right – have been proposed as potential solutions to two of these seven deaths. As always, though, Americans across the political spectrum are refusing to even discuss the solution that would have prevented all of them - a solution that works in the rest of the developed world. We don’t have to imagine a country in which police officers could hold racist views and not slaughter civilians, or one in which a citizen could desire to murder officers and not succeed. We broke away from that country 240 years ago.
Citizens of the United Kingdom recently voted to devalue their currency. They voted to relinquish opportunities to travel and work throughout their continent, and to significantly damage the financial industry of their largest city. That vote, commonly known as “Brexit,” was rooted largely in racism and xenophobia; reports of racist actions by white Britons flooded social media following the results. However, American police have killed more civilians so far in 2016 than British police have killed in the 21st century. If Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were British, they would likely still be alive, as would the five slain Dallas police officers, for the same reason – almost all British citizens, including most British police officers, are prohibited from gun ownership.
Micah Xavier Johnson was a U.S. Army veteran. He had never committed a crime. He would have passed any background check. He was likely not on the terror watch list. Yet five officers are dead because of him. The proposals pushed by congressional Democrats to keep guns out of the hands of criminals are important, like community policing and body cameras are important, but on the colossal scale of gun violence in the United States, they are Band-Aids on literal bullet wounds. If we are going to solve this problem – if we believe that black lives matter or that all lives matter or that any lives matter more than firearms do – we have to make the most difficult political decision of our time. We have to repeal the 2nd Amendment and implement a mandatory buyback program for all privately owned firearms in the United States.
Much like advocating for single-payer healthcare, this stance has long been off-limits even for liberal politicians. But without Bernie Sanders’ advocacy for single-payer, Hillary Clinton likely would not have added a public option to her healthcare plan. Politics requires negotiation, and unfortunately even matters of life and death cannot be solved immediately, but if we want to prevent the needless carnage that defines this country abroad, this is where we must begin. Throughout the gun debate, Democrats have been showing up to the bargaining table with the lowest possible asking price and wondering why Republicans won’t meet it. The left will never achieve its goals by starting in the center. Political careers were sacrificed for abolition, for Civil Rights and for opposition to the Vietnam War; nothing good comes without sacrifice. If we continue to exclusively push for targeted policies while ignoring the larger issue of gun ownership in general, we are tacitly endorsing bloodshed.
I know that the Founding Fathers supported a right to bear arms; I am not ashamed to have a different opinion on property rights than slaveholders. I know that for many Americans guns are a way of life, but I also know that for many more Americans guns are a way of death. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. Lorne Ahrens. Michael Smith. Michael Krol. Patrick Zamarripa. Brent Thompson. Over 33,000 more in the last year alone. We know how to prevent this, and every day we don’t find the courage to act is a day too late for far too many.
Kyle Campbell is a senior majoring in political science. He is the Opinions Editor of The Crimson White.