In response to the advocacy of the Parkland shooting victims, a dispiritingly large number of GOP elites have repudiated the call for gun control by ridiculing or otherwise insulting the victims. These deplorable actions towards children really solidified something for me: People who are truly and zealously “pro-gun” scare the hell out of me.

Let me clarify something here really quick: I’m not anti-gun. I intend to purchase a firearm for home defense once I’ve undergone enough training to feel comfortable with the burden of ownership. And I want to emphasize that word—burdenbecause it ought to be one.

Guns were never designed to be play-things. They are designed to end lives. Plain and simple. People may kill people, but firearms were developed with the explicit aim of facilitating that drive. They are not toys or something to be taken lightly. Which is why many “pro-gun” people scare me—because they often do take them lightly.

In practice, being “pro-gun” usually means advocating for the liberalization of equipment and weaponry that will make ending lives easier—often with no strings attached and for frivolous reasons. A shotgun or handgun suffices for home defense. Most serious hunters will use a bolt-action rifle. People buy AR-15’s and the accompanying accouterments to feel like a bad-ass.

The first right invoked in the framing of this nation was that to life. That unquestionably trumps any perceived “right” to portentous power-trips.

I don’t want pro-gun politicians. I want pro-second amendment politicians. As interpreted in D.C. v. Heller, the right does not supersede laws “imposing…qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” Indeed, the late Justice Scalia expressed alarm at the idea of “those weapons useful in warfare” being given carte blanche protection.  

Those who truly support the second amendment would support reasonable regulations to ensure that the right is practiced responsibly. And, indeed, surveys find that most Americans (including Republicans) are in favor of such regulations.

I’ve written before that virtually all proposed regulatory actions won’t impact the frequency of mass shootings. That remains true. However, they can reduce the lethality of events. Supporting the second-amendment should not be at odds with that.  

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Peter Licari
Peter is a PhD student in American Politics and Political Methodology at the University of Florida studying political behavior, elections, and polling. He identifies as an ideological moderate and a center-left Republican. While he departs from the party line on a handful of salient issues (Gay Marriage, Climate Change, and Abortion), he tends to identify strongly with many of the party's core values including equality of opportunity, empowering individual liberty, the importance of state and local governance, and the power of a fair market. He firmly believes in the necessity of limited government intervention on those issues enumerated by the constitution and by legal precedent but is leery at expansion beyond that sphere. He also blogs at and doodles web-comics at What little spare time remains is dedicated to long-distance running, reading, playing video games with his ever-patient fiancee, Stephanie, and to oddly productive one-sided conversations with his cat, Asia.