INDIANAPOLIS – This may seem like incredibly poor form, but I want to thank Omar Mateen for helping to further expose the broken politics of Washington, as a renewed and overdue debate over our civil rights took place this week.  If only the deaths of 49 innocents at an Orlando night club had not had to occur for this illuminating discussion to unfold.  
    
If having followed the news this week you do not recognize the above description, it is because a great many citizens and our elected leaders in Washington – in the Obama administration and the U.S. Senate, particularly – have failed to comprehend the true nature of the debate in which they are engaged. And, having failed to comprehend it, they have engaged in a bonfire of inanities which has spread across the news media, cable talkshow gabblers, and so-called “social” media (which once again proves itself to be downright anti-social when controversies arise).  
    
The question is not whether we want to prevent the next terrorist attack or mass shooting. Nor is it a question of whether the event in Orlando that Mateen perpetrated was a terrorist attack or a mass shooting. The obvious, inarguable (one would hope) answers to these questions is “of course, we do” and “of course, it was.” The real question, as President Obama has put it, is what kind of country do we want to be?  
    
In Orlando’s wake and with Pavlovian predictability, Washington partisans went to their ideological corners, trotted out staid and mostly useless talking points, and preened for the cameras and their constituencies. As one watched the debate, it wasn’t even really about how to stop the next such atrocity, as the solutions on offer weren’t really solutions at all. The result:  Legislative and political gridlock manifested in a series of defeated amendments to the Justice Department appropriations bill, a roused commentariat, and further polarization of the American public when we should be united on advancing both our liberty and security.  
    
First, President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch purposefully downplayed the Islamist nature of the Orlando attack. Ms. Lynch even went so far as to attempt the literally Orwellian move of redacting any references to Islam, or ISIS, or ISIL from the released transcripts of Mateen’s 911 call to authorities “justifying” his killing spree. This is the first inanity in the political drama that unfolded.  
    
Perhaps it should be every public servant’s aim to write a little bit of history; however, this was naked political censorship, an intellectually dishonest attempt to re-write history by an Obama political appointee. And, to change the narrative from one of Islamic terrorism (that would reveal blemishes on the FBI’s efficacy and Obama’s counter-terrorism policies) to one of bias against the LGBT community and the scourge of guns on American streets. It is here that Senate Democrats and their ideological fellow-travelers in the media picked up the hoped-for new narrative.
    
Let’s dispense with the LGBT angle forthwith: We in Indiana have had our fill of unjustified bias against the LGBT community from some ideological quarters, but blood has yet to be shed. No thinking person would contend that Mr. Mateen’s premeditated murder of 49 straight people at your neighborhood Applebee’s would be morally sanctioned, or any less grotesque, based upon the sexual orientation of his victims. The Orlando dead and their grieving friends and families are dishonored by any such argument.
    
So, now to the issue of gun control, which is where we encounter more political inanities. At the center of this week’s debate, we have two fundamental civil rights ensconced in the U.S. Constitution: The 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms, and the 5th Amendment right not to be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.  
    
While Democrats and the left argue that the 2nd Amendment is predicated upon “a well-regulated militia,” the long legislative history of individual states and, most especially, federal jurisprudence have determined that not to be the case. Sorry. Howling against this jurisprudence, as conservatives do in the example of Roe v. Wade in the abortion debate, does no good except to inflame controversy and drive a wedge between people of good faith that would want to see workable and effective regulation put into place.  
    
Neither the 2nd Amendment nor the 5th Amendment right to due process have yet to be subject to arbitrary abridgment nor retroactive reinstatement, yet that is precisely what Senate Democrats proposed this week. Under an amendment offered by Sen. Diane Feinstein of California, anyone under suspicion of terrorist sympathies or on the federal government’s “no-fly” list would be unable to exercise their 2nd Amendment right. Oh, they could, but they would have to petition the federal government to get back that right which the federal government has taken away from them on a presupposition of guilt.  
    
See how that works? Exactly. It doesn’t in a free society. It would be unacceptable if applied to, say, the 1st Amendment, and it is here that Republicans attempted to inject a little 5th Amendment due process by having the executive branch make a probable cause argument to the judicial branch before depriving an American citizen of their 2nd Amendment right.  Sen. John Cornyn of Texas suggested just such an amendment during this week’s debate. Democrats objected on practicality grounds, the principles at stake be damned.  
    
The fate of both amendments?  
    
They were defeated along mostly partisan lines, with just one or two Republicans crossing over to vote for the Feinstein amendment and a couple of Democrats crossing over to support the Cornyn amendment, including Indiana’s own Joe Donnelly (who is one of the most reasonable men you’ll ever meet in one of the most unreasonable cities you’ll ever visit).  Even sensible proposals for more funding for background checks and expanded background checks for online firearms sales were defeated.
    
As a direct benefit of the debate, Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut got his 15 hours of fame during his Cruz-like filibuster and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid got to thunder about Republicans being “bought and paid for” by the NRA. (In the matter of purchase by political interests, Mr. Reid knows that of which he speaks and his hollow protest illuminates more about his personal modus operandi than anything else.  Good riddance, sir.)
    
The net result of this week’s gun control debate is more gridlock and disillusionment by the American public, as well as a loss of focus on a metastasizing threat of homegrown Islamist terrorism. The folks in Washington entrusted to make sensible laws and keep them safe just aren’t up to the job; in other words, the status quo ante that in part gave rise to the current Trump/Sanders grassroots rebellion.  
    
Here’s one suggestion to get past partisan gridlock on gun control: A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state (one where citizens do not have their rights abridged and then reinstated), all able-bodied men and women (of any sexual orientation) should be required to perform two years of military service in exchange for room, board, vocational training, and the opportunity to learn about the “weapons of war” that are the supposed crux of the current controversy.  At least then they would know that of which they tweet, expanded background checks should be easy to pass for those honorably discharged, and the next Omar Mateen who walks into a nightclub with murder and mayhem on their mind will find it a much harder target than he or she supposes.  
    
That or begin the arduous, but correct, process of repealing or revising the 2nd Amendment.  We have ample precedent for passing new amendments to the U.S. Constitution which enshrines all of our rights and those of our posterity (just ask former Indiana Sen. Birch Bayh, author of the 25th and 26th amendments. He’s still around and can brief you on the particulars.)

Now, that would be a serious debate worthy of the kind of country our Founders envisioned.

Carter is HPI’s national correspondent.