Guns N’ Roses Bassist Duff McKagan Discusses the Need for Stricter Gun Control Laws + More Willingness to Amend the Constitution

  • Axl Rosenberg

Guns N’ Roses have come a long way since 1989, when their song “One in a Million” became the center of controversy as a result of its use of racist and homophobic slurs. The lyrics do that song never really felt like they were meant to be interpreted as earnest statements of opinion (Slash is half-black, Axl Rose’s favorite musicians of all time are Elton John and Freddie Mercury and he used to hang out with the Pet Shop Boys), but regardless, there’s no denying that they’ve grown up a lot in terms of progressive values. There’s been Rose’s recent Twitter tirades against Trump’s appointment of Jeff Sessions and demanding an apology to Mike Pence from the cast of Hamilton… and now bassist Duff McKagan has launched a new column for Noisey, the inaugural edition of which is all about our current political situation — specifically, the need for stricter gun control laws, and a greater willingness to amend the Constitution.

McKagan first comments on the ludicrous claim the NRA and many others on the right make with regards to the call for stricter gun control laws — namely, that said laws would amount to the government coming into gun owners’ homes and taking their weapons away altogether:

“…to my fellow Americans who somehow think one politician or another is going to single-handedly take away the 2nd Amendment: that just isn’t going to happen. Don’t believe the loud-yellers. Don’t believe the NRA emails you get. It’s pure hooey. If you are a gun owner in this country and you actually think somebody is gonna come to your house and take your gun away…uh….maybe you shouldn’t be a gun owner (just my two cents). Educate yourselves on the Amendments and the Constitution to which they were added. An actual repeal of an Amendment would have to pass thru two-thirds of both Legislative bodies, and then have be ratified by two-thirds of the 50 states. It’ll never be repealed simply because there is NO WAY 38 states will vote against guns.”

McKagan then goes on to note that the Founding Fathers always intended for the Constitution to be a living document that could be changed as necessary:

“The huge words behind [Thomas] Jefferson’s massive statue at his memorial say-

“‘…but laws and institution must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind as that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered, and manners and opinions change. With the change in circumstances, institutions must also advance to keep with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat that fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.’
Tho. Jefferson

“Hmmm… ‘new discoveries are made, new truths discovered, and manners and opinions change…’”

McKagan continues:

“Thomas Jefferson, the author of The Declaration Of Independence, and a guy in the room for those first bunch of amendments, assumed and hoped future generations would change and modify the Amendments and even the Constitution as newer and better thoughts and technology crept into view. It seems by just watching the news for the past few years, that we’d better adhere exactly to those words written in 1770s (Captain Cook had just discovered Hawaii, and, oh yea, slavery was legally enshrined in the Constitution, and a slave counted as three-fifths of a human being when calculating how many representatives a slave state got in congress, and women couldn’t vote…my point is….is that was a long time ago!) or all hell will break loose. Everyone forgot the author’s hopes for future American generation’s to change and tweak it. That’s fuckin’ weird to me. All of these experts and politicians yammering on about what our forefathers wanted for this great nation, forget to include that our great forefathers were hoping we’d be smarter than them, and basically, do better than them!”

McKagan’s assessment is dead-on. As great as our Constitution is, it’s not difficult to imagine a future in which our unwillingness to make changes to it as needed is seen as America’s downfall. McKagan once again quotes Thomas Jefferson:

“[The European] monarchs instead of wisely yielding to the gradual change of circumstances, of favoring progressive accommodation to progressive improvement, have clung to old abuses, entrenched themselves behind steady habits… Let us provide in our constitution for its revision at stated periods… Each generation is as independent as the one preceding, as that was of all which had gone before. It has then, like them, a right to choose for itself the form of government it believes most promotive of its own happiness; consequently, to accommodate to the circumstances in which it finds itself that received from its predecessors; and it is for the peace and good of mankind that a solemn opportunity of doing this every nineteen or twenty years should be provided by the constitution, so that it may be handed on with periodical repairs from generation to generation to the end of time, if anything human can so long endure.”

McKagan is a wise man.

Read his entire column here.

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