The Noonan Compromise: Less Death


Leonard Zwelling

In her Wall Street Journal column called Declarations, Peggy Noonan, the former Reagan speechwriter, has promoted a host of great ideas. Her latest is one of her best:

She was commenting on the carnage in Florida and all the things that have gone wrong in our culture that allows for school shootings to go on unabated and legislatively unanswered.

She hones in on two seemingly insoluble problems that face America. The first is abortion rights. There is no answer to the two charged points of view, one that opposes legal abortion at any time (abortion is murder), and the other that it is woman’s right to choose when and if she wants to terminate a pregnancy (it’s a civil rights issue about a woman’s body).

The second is the obvious one of excessive gun violence and particularly the issue of frequent school shootings by white, male young people using legally obtained automatic weapons.

Noonan proposes a legislative compromise that would lead to more people being alive.

First, end legal abortions over the fetal age of 20 weeks. The usual caveats of exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother can be included, but it is getting a bit dicey once “quickening” begins to say that the fetus is not alive.

Second, ban assault rifles, period.

That’s right. Exchange the guns for a bit of the right to life agenda.

As Ms. Noonan points out, “In both cases the lives of children would be saved.”

This is not a crazy idea to anyone with an open mind on either the abortion issue or the gun issue. Or both.

I am staunchly pro-choice, but do understand the reluctance many have to the idea of abortion. I am not sure what my choice would have been had I been faced with it in my life. It’s easy to suppose, but much harder to really face the idea of terminating a potential life.

I am also the owner of a concealed weapons permit, although I own no guns. They are too scary to have about the house for me. Once I learned how to use one, I decided I didn’t want the potential to do so. That was my choice. But I never shot an automatic weapon of any kind. I never wanted to. What for? Hunting? I don’t think so. Self-defense? Only if ISIS was heading into Bellaire.

The Noonan compromise is one that the vast middle of the political spectrum should be able to get behind. What if Paul Ryan proposed it? What if someone did?

Leonard Zwelling