Would the Founders want our kids to die in school shootings like Santa Fe? I doubt it.

tags: guns, gun control, Founding Fathers, school shootings

Jill Lawrence is commentary editor of USA TODAY and author of The Art of the Political Deal: How Congress Beat the Odds and Broke Through Gridlock. Follow her on Twitter: @JillDLawrence

Amid all we know about the Founding Fathers, two things stand out in the wake of yet another mass shooting that underscores the desperate need for action and the depth of our paralysis.

The first is that nearly a third of the 39 delegates who signed the Constitution endured the tragedy of losing children. By one count, 24 sons and daughters born to a dozen signers died before adulthood. The second is that these and the other Founders were among the greatest change-makers in history. They were America’s first #Resist movement, and they fought an actual war to create a future unbound from the past.

Does anyone think they would expect us to live by a 230-year-old document? Would they stand by, reciting the centuries-old Second Amendment, if their own children were endangered — in school, at malls, in movie theaters, on city streets — by easy access to guns? Or would they start us on the road to universal background checks, mandatory waiting periods and other steps most Americans say they want? 

Wherever these men are now, I envision them wringing their hands and muttering, “Even Antonin Scalia …” No less an originalist than the late Supreme Court justice wrote in the definitive Heller opinion that individuals have a right to own guns, but that governments have a right to reasonably regulate them. 

The Founders could not anticipate the scale of social unrest, mental illness and religious extremism in a nation of nearly 328 million. They could not foresee how mass and social media would magnify those realities and in too many cases inspire gun violence. They did not know we would develop unimaginably devastating weapons of war and sell them to civilians. They didn’t realize that the Second Amendment would lead to decades of political warfare. ...

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