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Time to repeal second amendment?

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
updated 8:59 PM EDT, Fri April 12, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • CNN Opinion podcast features "Big Three" issues, three commentators
  • Dean Obeidallah: Get rid of the label "gun control" laws; they are really "human safety" laws
  • Margaret Hoover defended Margaret Thatcher from views that she favored the rich
  • John Avlon: It's almost impossible to talk about race in America without being attacked

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog The Dean's Report and co-host of a new CNN podcast "The Big Three" that looks at the top three stories of the week. Follow him on Twitter @deanofcomedy.

(CNN) -- "I don't consider criminal background checks to be gun control."

Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey made this profound statement earlier this week while announcing a bipartisan Senate agreement to expand background checks to almost all gun purchasers.

Toomey is absolutely correct. Background checks are not about gun control, they're about human safety. Having checks will make it more difficult for criminals and the insane to obtain guns.

Yet, despite polls showing that over 90% of Americans support universal background checks, it took a "breakthrough" deal to get this proposal simply to a vote by the U.S. Senate. What's worse, there's no guarantee this legislation will pass the Republican-controlled House.

Congress' exasperating struggle to enact a law supported by most Americans is topic No. 1 of this week's episode of the CNN podcast, "The Big Three," co-hosted by CNN Opinion contributors Margaret Hoover, John Avlon and myself. Each week we look at three big issues from the week.

The second big issue is the death of Great Britain's former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Is the fawning over her justified or did her failings outweigh her accomplishments?

And third, is the new song by country singer Brad Paisley and rapper LL Cool J, titled, "The Accidental Racist," racially insensitive, or in today's hypersensitive climate is it simply impossible to discuss race without causing an outcry?

To listen to this episode of "The Big Three," click on the Soundcloud audio player on this page. Or you can find us on iTunes.

Here's a brief summary of this week's episode:

1. Gun safety laws

John Avlon discussed the cowardice of the Republican senators who threatened a filibuster to prevent a vote on the proposed universal background check law, a point he also raised in his most recent column. Margaret Hoover -- a reasonable voice on the right (almost an oxymoron) -- agreed that Republican senators like Ted Cruz could cause the entire GOP to appear as extremists if they prevented a vote on this proposal via filibuster. I made the case that we need to stop calling these measures "gun control" laws and instead label them as "human safety" laws because the focus is on saving lives, not grabbing guns.

I also raised the point: Is the second amendment out of date? It was enacted when we had 13 states, a population of 4 million and muskets. Should we consider revising or repealing the second amendment to bring it up to date with today's world so that owning guns is a privilege rather than a right?

2. Death of Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Hoover, a big Thatcher fan, shared the thrill of meeting the former prime minister years ago. I refused to speak ill of the recently deceased Thatcher. So instead, I read excerpts from a recent op-ed penned by British comedian Russell Brand (we all know comedians tend to write the best opinion pieces). Brand was highly critical of Thatcher's reign. John and Margaret both defended Thatcher from Brand's allegations that she was an uncaring person who favored the wealthy at the expense of the working class.

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3. 'The Accidental Racist'

Paisley and LL Cool J recorded a song in the hopes of easing racial tension and fostering more understanding. Instead, their song was met by almost universal criticism. Some said the lyrics are culturally insensitive, others said it's just bad. All three of us agreed that some of the lyrics were ridiculous, such as LL Cool J's line: "If you don't judge my gold chains/I'll forget the iron chains." Was LL really saying that if a White man doesn't judge his choice of flashy jewelry, then Black Americans should forget slavery? But the bigger point we discussed is that it's almost impossible to talk about race in America without being attacked by people on both the far left and far right. I also tell a joke about "White people" that I had performed last month on a TV show that generated an avalanche of angry tweets and e-mails. Just shows, we've gone a long way to go.

We hope you will give a listen to this episode of "The Big Three" -- and let us know what you think about the issues we discussed.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

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