March for Our Lives, the gun-control group founded after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., has issued what it has termed a “peace plan.” A better description might be, “A Comprehensive Plan to Abolish the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.” At its core, the program seeks to transmute gun ownership from a liberty that can be asserted against the government into a privilege that Americans can enjoy only with the permission of the state. Or, to put it another way, the program aims to repeal the Second Amendment without going through all that unpleasant “written-amendment” stuff.
That’s not hyperbole. By its own admission, March for Our Lives wants to “reexamine the District of Columbia v. Heller interpretation of the Second Amendment,” which, in practice, would mean asking the U.S. Supreme Court to revise the Second Amendment’s obvious meaning so that “the right of the people” does not mean “the right of the people” anymore. Worse still, the group is demanding that “the next generation of federal judges” must act not as impartial arbiters of the law, but as “champions of gun violence prevention.”
Which they’d pretty much have to if the group’s other ideas are to have a chance of surviving the judicial review they would inevitably provoke. Were the “peace plan” to be adopted in toto by Congress, Americans seeking to obtain firearms would be obliged to go through a “multi-step approval process” that would be “overseen by a law enforcement agency.” They would be required to register their guns—and themselves—with the federal government. They would be forbidden from purchasing standard-capacity magazines, barred from owning the most-popular rifle in America and subjected to both waiting periods and limitations on the number of firearms they could legally buy in a month. They would be on the receiving end of hefty purchase taxes and licensing fees that, in practice, would have the primary effect of making it more difficult for poorer people to own firearms. And they would be subjected to a massive and unprecedented confiscation drive, the unabashed aim of which would be to “reduce the estimated 265–393 million firearms in circulation by at least 30 percent.”
Given the rank extremism of these ideas, it should perhaps come as no surprise that, at the heart of the agenda, there is also an open call for the federal government to go after the NRA and, one presumes, to shut it up.
In essence, March for Our Lives’ “peace plan” is the full-scale, non-euphemized version of the agenda that the institutional Democratic party is, by baby steps, coming gradually to adopt. The aims are uncannily alike: First, to clear away the Second Amendment as an obstacle within the courts; second, to remove the NRA as a means by which America’s pro-gun majority can channel its political voice; third, to remove the most popular guns in the United States from the market—and, if possible, from their owner’s homes; and, finally, to introduce so many legislative roadblocks between the individual and the opportunity to bear arms that, at least in the “blue” states, that individual would give up trying.
Until recently, “common-sense regulation” was the language of the hour. Now we are being told that, in fact, there is no right to bear arms—and that, insofar as such a “privilege” will be tolerated in America, it will be on limited, costly, intrusive and narrow terms. This transformation has been dramatic. Almost overnight, the insistence that “nobody is coming for your guns” has been replaced with the admission that actually they are—and they want the “in common-use” ones, too. This year alone, “all we want is background checks” has been thrown out in favor of a byzantine system in which prospective gun owners would have to obtain a federal license, satisfy a police officer and place themselves onto a national database.
Within the space of a few months, we have gone from hearing warnings about the importance of U.S. Supreme Court precedent to the explicit request that future judges behave like activists. If you want to know where Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren are going to end up on this question of guns, look no further than March for Our Lives.
Let nobody say we weren’t warned. The playbook has been published for all to see. What we do with it is up to us.