Thousands of young people across the country protested the proliferation of guns in America this past weekend. Kudos to all those that feel strongly about this issue and want to use legitimate means to make changes. Surely there are too many guns in our country, but to think that there will be a radical reduction in the number is misguided enthusiasm.
Young people need to manage their expectations and march for changes that have a realistic possibility of implementation. The greatest impediment to decreasing guns in America is none other than the US Constitution, which clearly indicates that owning guns is a right of every citizen. The second most important impediment is the National Rifle Association, which defends the right to bear arms with extensive lobbying of Congress and cash to our political leaders. Because of this, protesters against guns need to be very focused on what is really doable at this moment in history.
Existing, former and new millennials are becoming an increasingly larger part of the population of the US. There were 75.4 million people ages 18-34 in 2015, or 20% of the total population. This represents a gigantic bloc especially considering that the number millennials is growing every year, and the ones that are ageing out of the group are of a like mind with the base group.
Today it’s unrealistic that lobbying against guns by young people could make a significant impact politically. Keep in mind that some young people are ambivalent politically (as is half the overall population in the country) and not every youngster is against owning guns, especially in the heartland.
What can be done now is limited, but would still be a huge improvement in efforts to protect children from mass murderers like the ones that have plagued children in recent months and years.
Automatic and semiautomatic weapons could be banned even though it would be a great challenge and strongly opposed by the gun lobby. These weapons are meant to be used to kill other human beings. They are not sporting weapons by any definition.
Bump stocks could be banned. They enable a weapon to fire bullets faster, much like an automatic rifle. Murderers have used this device to increase their kill rate.
Large magazines could be prohibited. As with bump stocks this device enables killers to shower more deadly ammunition at a crowd of people.
More intense background checks would hopefully decrease the ability of impaired people and felons to buy guns legally.
Increasing the age of buyers from 18 to 21 would put guns into the hands of more mature people.
The blowback on these simple, yet effective, proposals will be monumental. The N.R.A. will fight tooth and nail to stop any new laws that impede the ownership of guns. Just months ago it would have been an impossibility for any of these proposals to be successful. With the current level of enthusiasm, changes that will increase the safety of young people could become a reality. It would be a mistake to bite off too much because legislators will need the support of moderate gun owners to legislate new laws for the items mentioned above.
Perhaps in a future generation there will be a meaningful reduction in the number of guns in America. For the time being all those of us who want fewer guns in our society will have to be satisfied for some smaller gains. It would be a mistake to not take advantage of the strong sentiment for some common sense legislation that will make our children more secure.