While proposals like banning bump stocks or tightening up guidelines for gun sales to mental health sufferers might be part of the post-Parkland shooting media landscape, there’s a far more direct argument being made by The Federalist‘s John Davidson, a veteran reporter who tends to think through issues to their logical conclusion. Despite the uncomfortable or horrifying ends that those thought processes might lead to.

This will be upsetting, I’m warning you.

Davidson uses a thought experiment done by author David Foster Wallace in Atlantic magazine in 2007 that had to do with 9/11, and the policies put in place in the wake of the terrifying and horrifying event in 2001. Foster asked the question:

What price are we willing to pay for freedom?

An overused word, because there is not much freedom left. But a word that is a cornerstone of any democratic state, and a loadstone for everyone who needs to believe and live at least some freedom in their lives, freedom that is not constrained by the ever expanding laws and regulations that govern every last little detail of one’s life nowadays in America, never mind places like Europe, or say Canada.

Basically Foster asked if we would be willing to accept a certain amount of deaths as a result of terrorism in exchange for less NSA surveillance, less TSA frisks and metal detectors at airports, less DHS bureaucrats with their rules, less spying on Americans; less wars abroad, and so on. Would we?

In other words, are those freedoms worth some of us dying for?

Most of us would likely say no. Wouldn’t we? Ever since progressive ideas – starting with Woodrow Wilson – have become the accepted goals of a modern and post-modern society, keeping us safe has become far more important than keeping us free.

Now, here’s the leap into the abyss that Davidson takes:

Would we be willing to consider the deaths of innocent young girls and boys with their lives ahead of them and their parent’s love nourishing and guiding them into the future, would we consider their deaths a price we would pay to keep the 2nd amendment in the constitution? Because that’s what it would take, following Davidson’s line of thought.

I have a 7 year old son. I ponder every syllable of the 2nd amendment and it’s nuanced construction that still provokes such debate over 200 years later. I am not a gun owner but I know full well that statistics show that gun-owning towns in Texas – for example – are some of the safest places to live in America. But when put in the terms Davidson puts it, I can’t say yes. My reptilian cortex (preservation of self or family) and my limbic cortex (emotional bonds) outweigh my neo-cortex’s reasoning. Of course, a gun owner would say that’s precisely why she or he upholds the 2nd.

Because – as Davidson points out, bravely following the logic of his argument – that’s what it’s going to take to make a difference. America adopting European style regulations and restrictions on gun ownership. Anything else is just dicking around the margins and is only a way to deflect the anger and pain and show some sort of action is being taken. If you’re serious about your belief that government is actually capable of eliminating these types of shootings – a debatable if noble belief – then wo/man up and say you want to repeal the 2nd amendment.

So, you repeal the 2nd amendment with it’s 27 words and it’s dependent clause that sets up and meshes with the main clause in such powerful and complex ways. Then what?

Yes, it would be harder for a Nikolaus Cruz to buy guns. People would weep in memory of their lost, loved and beautiful children, saying silently to their departed souls: we did something. It could prevent future shootings, but perhaps only to an unknown extent, more-so if combined with efficient and coordinated law enforcement and education policy.

But lone mass shooters are a poorly understood if much-studied phenomenon. We have to realize that it is an evil (or a sociopathic if you wish) that may not have that much to do with the 2nd amendment. We may have to do more. We may have to both accept this deranged behavior and try to contain it before it happens, and sometimes fail at that. That means an even more invasive state. Are you bipolar? Then you go on an FBI potential-shooters list! Things like that.

And of course, having banned the 2nd amendment – a process that will likely be slow and conflictive and may even push some states to threaten secession – you will face the problem of disarming tens of millions of law abiding citizens. Or grandfathering their right while denying others their repealed 2nd amendment rights. How will the courts – especially SCOTUS – deal with that? And if citizens don’t give up their guns?

And aside from the horror of school shootings, what about more mundane everyday shootings? Will a crime wave rise up and reverse decades of falling crime rates as a direct or even indirect result of the repeal of the 2nd amendment? Hard to tell at this point, but it’s certainly a possibility. Which would mean trading lower school shootings for more violent crime everywhere else.

So. Will the 2nd exist in 50 years? And if it’s gone by then, what will the constitution look like? What other parts will be repealed or modified beyond recognition? What will America look like?

These are some of the questions that the price of freedom demands we ask. Kudos to John Davidson for obliging us to ask them, at such a difficult moment.