03/31/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Don't Shoot Mexicans

In fact, don't shoot anybody. If you're a Huffington Post reader, you probably find this to be sensible advice. Even if you're not, you hopefully agree that avoiding the use of lethal force is something to be generally happy about.

Having gotten the obvious out of the way, let's get to the point of the headlines. US guns are being used to allow some very bad Mexicans to shoot a lot of their countrymen - some bad but mostly good. This isn't just a tragedy for Mexico: it's also a national security for the US, one that we are causing.

As you've probably heard, we declared war on "drugs" a few decades ago. Since then, things haven't gone terrible well. A lot of otherwise productive citizens rot in prison and prices stay high enough to make the proceeds well worth killing over. There would be a drug trade under any circumstance, but our approach to the "war" certainly makes things worse. That is why it is so encouraging that US Attorney General Eric Holder is ending the ridiculous policy of having the DEA raid licensed cannabis clubs in California. A little de-escalation is exactly what we need. (We could also use the tax proceeds of legal cannabis sales.)

More insidious is the whole issue of the second amendment. I am not a Constitutional scholar by any means but it's not a complicated text: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The NRA, of course, chooses to interpret this to mean that everyone should be allowed to pack howitzers, which are admittedly effective when hunting deer; most reasonable people, however, seem able to grasp the idea that the founders did not mean, "anything goes."

I am not suggesting that we overturn the second amendment, but I have three suggestions that would be simple, sensible and save lives. One, the number of licensed gun dealers must be enormously constrained, and their conduct closely monitored. Suffice it to say that it is far too easy to get a gun at the moment. Two, we should put a lot more constraints on what kind of guns people are allowed to own. Let's do away with civilian owned handguns altogether and insist that they all new guns be heavy, long and bright orange. You would still be able to hunt with it, defend your home and participate in a well regulated militia, but you won't feel very macho carrying it. Three, let's use tax policy to make the cost of owning more than two firearms prohibitive. The other militia members can arm themselves.

If we were to do all of this, the Second Amendment would be just fine and America would be safer. We would be less likely to shoot one another; we would constrain the pipeline of illegal guns flowing south across our border to Mexico; Mexican criminals would have a tougher time arming themselves; and we won't have to deal with a failed state on our southern border.

Note: Thanks to Brian Williams of NBC News for using the opportunity to raise the issue on The Daily Show this week.