By Nicholas M. Young, Ph D.
When you were elected in 2008, I immediately told a female friend that you would go down as the greatest President in the history of the United States. I based my prediction primarily on what I saw of you when we played basketball together during my graduate school, and your faculty days at The University of Chicago (The U of C), I came to know you as a bright, tough, and kind guy that was a tough defender on the basketball court. Outside the court, I saw you as concerned member of the Hyde Park and U of C communities that was a smooth and effective politician. Although watching you assume the highest office in the land is still a bit surreal for me, watching you win the 2008 election showed others what we in the Hyde Park and U of C communities already knew about you: You are the type of guy that had the ability and courage to rise up to, and succeed at, any challenge.
To be sure, while you continue to use these skills to lead the United States out of a horrible recession and toward greater social and economic prosperity, the events of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has provided you with a new challenge that the social and political skills that you sharpened during your Chicago days may not have prepared you for: Taking on the powerful U.S. gun lobby.
As I am sure you, and other Americans know, the gun lobby in this country bases it history, and basic existence on the presence of the Second Amendment–a Constitutional reality and relic that guarantees the right of every American to own a gun to protect her or himself and household.
However, I, for one, do not believe that the Second Amendment was conceived to allow a deranged, private, U.S. citizen to own a gun that has the ability to wipe out many innocent people. From what I know about this part of the Constitution, the founders of this great document did not anticipate an episode like the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre occurring, and. if they did, I suspect that they would have included a checks and balance provision in the Constitution to address this possibility. Two possible ways to prevent a Sandy Hook Elementary School—like massacre from ever occurring again is to ban the sale of assault weapons, and limit the sale of ammunition that gun purchasers need to power these weapons. For instance, those buying these weapons can be limited to a small number of bullets. They can even be asked to show what, who, when, and why they choose to use their guns. While all Americans have the right to own a gun, their right to own the ammunition used to power these weapons of mass destruction is not guaranteed by the Constitution
So, Mr. President, if I was you, I would contact the leader of the American Gun Lobby and tell him the following: “Your days of supporting the sale of assault weapons to our citizens is coming to an end. The Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has shown the country the limits and danger of the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. The Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has also shown the limits and danger of organizations like yours in causing harm to the American public.”
Sir, it is time for you to cash in the political chips that we gave you to lead us. It is time for us to not expect another massacre like the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy to ever again occur on our soil. I hope that you recognize that the time has come for you to be the leader that we envisioned when we elected you in 2008, and reelected you in 2012. I hope that you recognize that the time has come for you to find a way to impose a permanent ban on assault weapons.
Nicholas Maurice Young is a sociologist, writer, and independent researcher. He is a former Fellow with the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University. He holds a Ph. D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago. Nick is currently writing a book about the network connections of the Underground Railroad.