A few hours after yesterday’s shooting hit the news, the comedian Rob Delaney penned this tweet:
— rob Delaney (@robdelaney) August 26, 2015
For ease of viewing, here is that Jefferson quotation in full (it’s adapted from a July 12, 1816, letter to Samuel Kercheval):
I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.
We should be absolutely clear about what Delaney is arguing here: He is a) agreeing with Jefferson that “laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind,” b) contending that “progress” suggests that the individual right to keep and bear arms is now counterproductive, and c) concluding that it is time therefore to make a “change in law and constitution” — in other words, to repeal the Second Amendment. This, it is true, is not a mainstream position on the American Left — at least, it is not one that is argued openly. But it is a reasonably popular one on social media, it has strong support within the more leftward-leaning parts of the political commentariat, it is often implied by the casual manner in which progressives such as President Obama refer to “Australia” and other heavily regulated nations, and it enjoys indirect approval from around one quarter of the American public. When the likes of Rob Delaney and Bill Maher and Keith Ellison say that we need to get rid of the Second Amendment, they are not speaking in a vacuum but reflecting the views of a small but vocal portion of the American population. And they mean it.
That being so, here’s the million-dollar question: What the hell are they waiting for? Go on, chaps. Bloody well do it.