Repeal and Replace

Saturday, February 24th, 2018

Published 4 weeks ago -

When the 18th Amendment to the American Constitution, prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages, became law, what happened?

A colossal epidemic of violence, corruption and crime.  At least 10 thousand people died, most by gunshot, some by drinking concoctions with amusing names; bathtub gin and moonshine, but scary results, like cardiac arrest and blindness. There’s no record of children among the casualties of Prohibition. Even so, after 13 miserable years, the 18th Amendment finally seemed a terrible idea, and Prohibition was repealed. We can assume the Senators and Congressional representatives managed to find other jobs, even though 1933, the year of repeal, was the absolute nadir of the Great Depression. There were just 48 states then, and 36 of them voted against Prohibition. Despite the risks of not being reelected, our officials took the chance. Prohibition wasn’t missed by anyone but the moonshiners.

When the Second Amendment to the Constitution was written, the population of the United States was a bit less than 4 million. There was no standing army, so granting Americans the right to bear arms seemed a splendid idea. Threatened by wild animals or the remains of Mad King George’s regiments, all able-bodied men could pick up their muskets and frighten the invaders away. Though muskets need to be reloaded after each shot, somehow the militia men managed. Those musketeers formed our well-regulated militia and were exactly what the writers of the Constitution had in mind when they ratified it.  We weren’t invaded.  But do we still need that militia? We have an Army, a Navy, an Air Corps, a Marine Corps, a Coast Guard; alarm systems and cameras in trees; cell phones in every hand, and most effective of all, a nuclear arsenal. Would the militia be missed?

The NRA could take all those millions they give to candidates; $39,961,694 just for a measly 10 Republicans in the 2016 election; rename themselves as the National Redevelopment Association and keep their revered acronym.  If they didn’t care about the roads, bridges, crumbling schools or food and shelter for the destitute, they could pick something else to champion, just by changing the R to an I, for improvement.  And the fate of the Republicans who couldn’t survive the repeal of the 2nd Amendment?  The economy has improved since 1933, and other jobs wouldn’t be so hard to find.

What would America look like if we became gun-free? Just more like the rest of the world. Our football fields wouldn’t be obvious sites for candlelight vigils and would be used only for fun and games. We wouldn’t have gun shows; just real shows with actors, dancers and music. Concert halls, movie houses and churches might fill up again, once people lost their fear of crowds.

Of course, there might be a few trivial sacrifices. Venison would be harder to find on a menu, but most of the venison in the United States comes from New Zealand, where it can be sold to private customers. Since the deer shot by amateur or even professional hunters isn’t graded for safety, it can be extremely dangerous to chop it up and freeze it at home.  The same regulations apply to most game, even rabbits. That may explain why you don’t see bunnies packaged in American supermarkets. For Lapin à la Cocotte, the backyard isn’t trustworthy and for deer, neither are the backwoods.

Teenagers would revert to worrying about grades, college tuition costs and prom dates.

First responders could spend more time rescuing fire, hurricane, tornado and flood victims. Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives wouldn’t waste hours trying to find synonyms for thoughts and prayers. It’s never too late for thoughts, but prayers need to come before tragedies. Lowering the flag doesn’t do much good either.  These are just gestures and eventually become mere reflexes, changing nothing.

The President of the United States shouldn’t expect the mentally ill to line up and tell special authorities they’re crazed by hatred and therefore unable to buy guns. A President of the United States would make gun laws an urgent priority after a massacre caused by those feeble laws. He wouldn’t just “totally oppose mass murder” as he “totally opposed domestic violence”, but he’d take steps to create a gun-free country. If guns and ammunition couldn’t be bought, sold or used anywhere, these horrors would cease to exist. That imagined president wouldn’t be concerned about support for ending such frequent tragedies. He or she might actually attract enough voters for a landslide victory. Although Americans fear their guns will be taken away, the ratio might become 2 to 1 about choosing their guns over their children. By now that could be a realistic possibility Maybe thoughts and prayers could be used to find that president.  So far, our elections have not, and the flag flies at half-mast.

A journalist and playwright, Elaine’s books of American cultural history were published by Little, Brown, Putnam and Capra; her plays by Samuel French, Smith & Kraus and Art Age. Musical plays are An American Cantata; The Would-be Diva; Isadora! and COLE and WILL: Together Again! Non-musical dramas are The Chameleon; Two Margarets; The Trial of Mata Hari and The Nominee. The “I” Word; Gun Show Follies and Secrets of the Showroom are short comedies. She has written for many national magazines; The New York Times and the LA Times. Current articles appear monthly in the aptly-named online journal The Satirist.

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