Yesterday on Fox News Sunday, Republican strategist Karl Rove said "the only way to guarantee that we will dramatically reduce acts of violence involving guns is to basically remove guns from society." He added that "until somebody gets enough 'oomph' to repeal the Second Amendment, that's not going to happen," so "I don't think it's an answer."
Depending on how you define "oomph," Rove's comments could be read as a statement of regret, similar to those regularly heard from gun controllers such as President Obama, Martin O'Malley, and Hillary Clinton, that Americans lack the political will to do what's necessary to reduce gun violence. That seems to be the way that Second Amendment supporter Dan Gifford, who yesterday sent a mass email describing Rove as a "new employee" of billionaire gun control backer George Soros, understood what Rove said. Gifford is not alone in concluding that Rove thinks repealing the Second Amendment would be good idea if it were politically feasible.
A more charitable interpretation is that Rove was saying it's a fantasy to suppose that violence can be reduced by making firearms harder to get, given the reality that hundreds of millions are already in circulation. Mass confiscation of guns would indeed run afoul of the Second Amendment, and that is not the only problem with that approach. Criminals are highly motivated to obtain the tools of their trade, and they are unlikely to comply with a policy aimed at "remov[ing] guns from society." The people who do comply will be law-abiding folks who posed no threat to begin with, who will then be at a disadvantage relative to thugs with guns. Repealing the Second Amendment therefore would hardly be tantamount to achieving the goal of a gun-free society.
Here is the relevant exchange between Rove and Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, so you can judge for yourself what Rove meant:
Wallace: Karl, whether you agree with the president on gun control or not, you certainly have to agree with him that we see these cases of mass violence way too often and we see them more often in the United States than in other advanced countries. And I mean, you know, you are in a position to say, what do we do about it whether it's government, whether it's community, whether it's family, how do we stop the violence?
Rove: Well, I wish I had an easy answer for that. I don't think there's any easy answer. We saw an act of evil, racist, bigoted evil. And to me, the amazing thing about this is it was met with grief and love.
And think about how far we've come. 1963, the whole weight of the government throughout the South was to impede finding and holding and bringing to justice the men who perpetrated the bombing and here we saw an entire state, an entire community, an entire nation come together grieving as one, united in the belief that this was an evil act.
So, we have come a long way. Now, maybe there's some magic law that will keep us from having more of these. I mean, basically, the only way to guarantee that we would dramatically reduce acts of violence involving guns is to basically remove guns from society, and until somebody gets enough oomph to repeal the Second Amendment, that's not going to happen. I don't think it's an answer.
I think there were so many warning since here. A friend who knew of what was in Dylann Roof's heart, parents who didn't pay attention, a community that had given up on him, and a loner who had fallen into the clutches of racist organizations and had come to believe in their ideology and put things up on the Internet that we didn't give any credence to whatsoever.
And so, there were a lot of warning signs here and I wish that some of those people had spoken up and said, here's somebody who is in trouble and a danger to himself and others.
Start your day with Reason. Get a daily brief of the most important stories and trends every weekday morning when you subscribe to Reason Roundup.