On the 2nd Amendment

Let’s start from the beginning:

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.

If one is to look at the history of the Second Amendment, there’s plenty of arguments on either side for ways to interpret it. However, I think the most compelling argument is that it went through numerous revisions specifically designed to emphasize its militia/military aspects. Here’s what that says to me: The right to own a gun has limits. I do not believe, as our modern courts have been hinting at, that the Second Amendment gives a citizen free reign over gun purchases and ownership. The government has a right to put forth limits on gun ownership; states and the feds can outlaw guns in national and other parks, cities can ban their sale, and background checks can be as big of a pain in the ass as a group of representatives or voters wish to make them.

All that said, I do happen to favor a fairly unfettered right to gun ownership. There are clearly weapons which serve no purpose other than to terrorize, but for the vast majority of gun purchases, I have no issue. People are often safer if they own a gun or if they’re in an area with an average law-abiding, gun-toting member of the NRA (the awfulness of that organization aside). However, there are limits to this argument: specifically, to the United States and similar countries. We already have prolific gun ownership and a thriving black market for guns. To attempt to curb it at this point will most likely just end up in a greater disparity between law-abiders and criminals who have guns – the line being skewed in favor of the latter group. After all, that black market isn’t thriving because it’s too easy to obtain a gun legally. However, on the flip side of things, I don’t think my arguments work in much of Europe. They have low gun ownership rates, strong gun laws, and a significantly reduced black market, all with the result of fewer gun crimes and deaths. Gun control is a success on that side of the pond. End of story.

So, while I do happen to be fairly in line with current mainstream, and especially conservative, view on the pragmatic end of this matter, I part in my basis. I favor liberal gun ownership in the United States, but I don’t think the Second Amendment gets us there.

3 Responses

  1. I agree with the right to bear arms. A hand gun to protect life and property is reasonable. A rifle to hunt with is reasonable provided you only kill what you are going to eat or to kill pests or prevent over population of an species. An assault rifle or machine gun is designed to spit out as much death as possible in the shortest time and should not be on public sale.

  2. David, there is no such thing as an assault rifle. Firearms on their own have little impact of the lethality of the weapon in question, it’s more to do with the ammunition. Additionally, military weapons generally fire intermediate cartridges, far less powerful than what is typically used for hunting.

    The so called assault weapons ban would take aim at largely superficial cosmetic features such as bayonet mounts and collapsible stocks neither of which really have anything to do with anything. Another thing is that almost twice as many people are beaten to death than are killed by rifles each year, the streets are simply not awash in the blood of innocents. Literally only one in a million are killed with rifles.

    It’s a fine thing to have opinions, but it’s just simply ridiculous to think that there are these magical things called assault weapons out there that are somehow deadlier or more powerful than arms used for hunting, especially since the opposite is true.

    Michael, there is a fantastic black market for firearms in Europe, especially in the east and only a few days before sandy hook, a country with some of the strictest gun laws on the planet, Russia, had a mass shooting of their own. I suspect that the 4th amendment, rather than the 2nd, is the real issue, and we just have to accept that.

    The background check is a joke since states cannot be compelled to submit data, addressing that issue would be the only real effective thing on the table, with the assault weapons ban and high capacity magazine ban being the most useless.

    I do disagree regarding the purpose of the second amendment though.

  3. I forgot to mention Europe, the UK is the usual example so it’s the one I’ll use. Gun control can be effective, at controlling guns, but that is altogether a different thing than saving lives. Maine and the UK have comparable murder rates and we have hardly any gun laws where they have tons. Sure, people aren’t all that likely to be killed with a gun in the UK, but who cares what people are using to kill other people?

    Is the goal gun control, or is it violent crime control, because like I said, you are about as likely to be murdered there as you are here, the difference is your more likely to be stabbed in the UK and more likely to be shot here in Maine, the story is about the same with other countries in Europe.

    I just have to ask what the point of gun control is in cases where the controls do nothing to make people safer. The UK has always had a low homicide rate and we have always had a higher one, even 100 years ago when the UK had few gun laws to speak of. The only success their controls have really had is lowering gun deaths, which sounds great, until you discover that stabbing deaths and such have all risen.

    People who wish to kill will do so, the worst mass killing at a school in the US was back in the 20’s, when a guy decided to blow the building up, something that could be done today with an afternoon and $20 worth of supplies from home depot. This afternoon, data have come out indicating that the assault weapons/magazine ban of the 90’s had no discernible effect on crime and that the number of mass shootings actually went up during it’s 10 year tenure.

    So I ask, gun control, or crime control, which one is it that we are trying to do?

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