It is time to talk about repealing the Second Amendment.
Too many gun safety advocates take precisely the wrong approach by tiptoeing around the Second Amendment, meekly reassuring that they only seek very limited reforms. This cautious approach defines the margins of public debate, and therefore the range of possibilities, far too narrowly. Rather, the very existence of a loud argument about the larger issue of repeal will make those incremental proposals seem more moderate, and therefore ultimately more achievable.
We need to counterbalance gun extremists with forceful, strong positions at the other end of the political spectrum. A campaign to repeal the Second Amendment is our best option.
Using what initially seem like radical positions to make other proposals appear more moderate is a well-established communications tactic to reframe public policy debates. This practice of attempting to expand or move the range of what are considered mainstream policy positions has come to be known as “shifting the Overton window.” …
There is evidence that a bold repeal campaign could be useful and effective. A recent academic study found that use of “Radical tactics by one flank led the more moderate faction to appear less radical…This perception led participants to identify more with and, in turn, express greater support for the more moderate faction.”
To be clear, a ‘Repeal the Second Amendment’ campaign would not be to argue that nobody should have guns, but that not everyone should be able to have assault weapons on demand. It would not mean competitive shooters and hunters and people in need of personal protection should not have guns, but it could mean that the principal obstacle to any reasonable laws would be removed.
We might not get repeal for decades, if ever, but the effort itself would broaden the range of possibility, and there would be victories along the way. Regardless of its success or failure, such a campaign could help add new energy to efforts to reduce gun violence, empower more moderate elements of the movement, and, over time, make room for compromise on much better terms. Fewer police will be outgunned, and some people considering gun violence against themselves or others will be stymied or delayed until they get the help they need. The debate itself is the first step to saving countless lives.
So let’s get started. Say it out loud: “Repeal the Second Amendment.” Say it again. Say it everywhere.