Last week I received an email from our friends at Americans Against Gun Violence (AAGV) asking me to spread the word about their annual High School Essay Contest which gives out $15,000 in prize money for the nest essays written by high school students about why the 2nd Amendment should be changed.

The AAGV is asking high schoolers to write 500 words or fewer about this statement by Chief Justice Warren Burger: “If I were writing the Bill of Rights now, there wouldn’t be any such thing as the Second Amendment…. This has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud – I repeat the word ‘fraud’ – on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.

As in past years, the best 12 essays will be given cash prizes and the deadline for sending in essays is April 16th. The problem this year is that there has been a noticeable drop-off in responses, even though news about the contest was sent to more than one thousand educators across the country, along with a flyer advertising the program which you can download here.

I really like the idea that AAGV is trying to engage high school students in this effort because it’s when kids are in high school that they most often get turned on by guns. So why not get high school students thinking not just about guns but what we need to do to reduce the violence caused by guns?

The problem, according to AAGV, is that many high school educators are intimidated by introducing anything in their classrooms which smacks of a negative attitude about guns. It’s not just that Gun-nut Nation is watching out to keep doubts about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ outside of school, it’s that the whole issue of what is and isn’t taught in schools has become a political football thanks to the culture war being conducted by the GOP.

But I happen to think there’s another reason why raising the issue of gun violence in the classroom seems to be slowly fading away. And it has to do with the fact that many of the groups and individuals who are concerned about gun violence are just as, or even more concerned with protecting everyone’s Constitutional ‘rights.’

Back in 1989 our friend Sandy Levinson wrote an essay about the 2nd Amendment which appeared in the Yale Law Review. You can download the article right here, and if you haven’t read it, you should. What Professor Levinson basically argued is that if liberals want to defend those parts of the Bill of Rights that protect free speech and the free exercise of religion, they should be defending the free ownership of guns as well. After all, the Bill of Rights is a package deal, and you can’t slice or dice Constitutional rights to support only one point of view.

Levinson’s argument has become a standard narrative in the gun-control crowd.  In fact, the AAGV is the only gun-control organization which doesn’t explicitly proclaim itself to be supporting the 2nd Amendment even though these same organizations want gun ownership to be more tightly regulated and controlled.

The problem today is that the GOP has decided to wage an all-out assault on liberal Constitutional precepts and ideals, so what we thought were settled issues like gender and abortion have now come under fierce attack. After all, what else is the GOP going to complain about? The fact that nobody’s unemployed?

Last week the Governor of Washington signed legislation which bans hi-capacity magazines, as well as ‘ghost’ guns.  Laws requiring safe storage of guns were passed last year in Oregon and Colorado. But other states, like Texas and Kansas, have recently passed pro-gun laws.

When one of our two national, political parties believes that getting shot by a gun is a Constitutional privilege and not a problem for public health, the chances of any tampering with the 2nd Amendment are slim to none.

Of course, when Galileo was locked away in the tower he didn’t turn around and declare that the Earth revolved around the Sun.