March For Our Lives wants sweeping gun control, and a lot of other things too. On Wednesday, the group released its Peace Plan for a Safer America with the ambitious goal of reducing gun deaths and injuries by 50 percent in 10 years.
"You see these shootings on TV every day and very little happening around it. It's painful to watch," David Hogg, a survivor of the 2018 Parkland shooting and co-founder of March For Our Lives, told the Washington Post. "I think that this plan is something that we can truly—as a country and as Americans united against violence and fighting for peace—can get behind."
The plan Hogg expects the country to get behind includes radical changes to America's gun laws, the federal government, and the U.S. Constitution itself. It would start by creating a national gun licensing system.
"It should at least be as difficult to buy and transfer a firearm as it is to buy and transfer an automobile," reads the plan before going on to describe a licensing system that would be far more onerous than anything that currently exists for owning a car.
A person looking to get a firearm license would have to go through an in-person interview, provide personal references, and complete "rigorous" gun safety training. Law enforcement bodies would oversee this process, and applicants would have to re-complete it annually in order to maintain a license.
Once an applicant secures one of these federal gun licenses, they will have to pay unspecified licensing fees that would pay for the costs of this national licensing system and also pay for the general costs of gun violence.
Higher fees would be charged for bulk purchases of ammunition and firearms, which seems somewhat redundant given that people would be limited to one gun purchase a month. Online sales would be banned and a 10-day waiting period for gun sales would be imposed.
The types of firearms one could purchase would also be restricted. Both "assault weapons" and "high-capacity magazines" (two terms which go undefined in the March For Our Lives plan) would be banned. Products that fit those descriptions that are currently in private hands would be subject to confiscation through a mandatory gun buyback program.
In addition to these direct limitations on gun ownership, the Peace plan would also beef up the federal bureaucracy's ability to go after gun owners. A new National Director of Gun Violence Prevention position would be created. This director would report directly to the president and coordinate a multi-agency response to halving gun deaths and injuries over 10 years.
The March For Our Lives proposal also calls on state and local authorities to go beyond federal efforts and pass their own, stricter gun laws.
Civil libertarians might be concerned that creating an onerous national licensing system, banning common weapons already in circulation, and then directing the federal government to enforce all these new laws might make criminals out of millions of responsible gun owners.
To assuage these fears, the March For Our Lives plan also includes a few planks intended to deal with the "intersectional dimensions of gun violence." The group's new gun violence czar would work with local police departments "to better train officers in implicit bias, conflict resolution, and crisis intervention."
Incredibly, their plan seems to assume that the more gun laws we have, the less policing we'll need.
"The more successful we are with stronger gun policies, the fewer firearms enter the illegal market, and the lower the footprint of the criminal justice system in people's lives," reads the March For Our Lives plan. Perhaps we could also reduce the number of narcotics officers by more zealously prosecuting the drug war?
By suggesting we can have strict gun control and enhanced civil liberties protections, March For Our Lives ignores the history of New York City's 'stop-and-frisk' program that was intended, in part, to get more guns off the streets, but ended up providing police with a legal justification for routinely harassing and humiliating the city's black and brown residents.
A few constitutional sticklers might point out that most of what the March For Our Lives folks want to do would be open to constitutional challenges. Others might say it's politically unrealistic.
Not to worry! March For Our Lives has a plan for that, too.
On the political side of things, the group calls for crushing the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA, their plan says, should have its tax-exempt status investigated by the IRS, and its campaign donations investigated by the Federal Election Commission.
The landmark D.C. v Heller Supreme Court decision, which confirmed that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to gun ownership, would be "reexamined" by the Department of Justice, and more federal judges skeptical of gun rights would be appointed.
This Peace proposal also calls for having a national conversation about reforming the Supreme Court in order to prevent "partisan political influence and interference"—i.e. decisions protecting gun rights.
March For Our Lives' single-minded focus on reducing the number of guns in America ignores the fact that violent crime rates have fallen to record low levels across much of the country even as the number of guns and gun owners has increased dramatically.
The specific policy interventions its calls for, from assault weapons bans to expanded background checks, would do little to deter violence. Their plan is also hopelessly contradictory by promising both criminal justice reform and a sweeping array of new violations for which Americans can be arrested and imprisoned.