Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens called for the repeal of the Second Amendment in an opinion piece for the New York Times on March 27.
I have as of yet to see the fallout. I’m not sure if I have the desire to because I can already see the extreme responses that will be given over rational discussion.
Many Americans will surely call for Stevens’ head.
Calling for changes to the U.S. Constitution is always controversial in the U.S. For many Americans, the Constitution is a more infallible document than the Bible, especially when it comes to the Second Amendment. People consider it blasphemous to even consider changing it.
But, I agree with Stevens’ statement which shows the problem with the core of the Second Amendment:
Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment, which provides that “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.” Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century.
Today, the people stockpiling weapons and forming militias are not preparing to fight an invasion by a foreign enemy or a takeover by an undemocratic regime. Instead, they’re arming themselves with the intention of fighting a democratically elected government and other Americans who they fear may want to take “their stuff.”
If you’ve watched the National Geographic Channel program Doomsday Preppers, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
When Second Amendment advocates get their most vocal, it’s always because they’re afraid that democracy will result in change.
Just look at how gun sales spikedwhen Obama became president. That spike wasn’t driven by fear of a foreign invasion, it was driven by fear of other Americans, particularly Americans who weren’t white. They don’t like the change they are seeing and will resist it every step of the way.
Of course, even if the Second Amendment is repealed, it doesn’t mean you’re going to get rid of guns. Despite the lack of an equivalent of the Second Amendment, Canada and the Scandinavian countries still have among the highest rates of gun ownershipin the world (though still very small compared to the U.S.). They have strict rules and tight regulations on the guns available, but guns haven’t vanished.
But, here in the U.S., you’d have a demand for something to fill in that hole. Instead of repealing the Second Amendment, it may be better to revise it instead. Instead of the “right to bear arms,” which has a very wide spectrum of interpretation, maybe it should state Americans have the “right to self defense.”
I don’t think anyone could make a strong argument against enshrining the right to self defense. Compared to the “right to bear arms” it makes things easier to interpret, especially if you add “rational” before “self defense.”
What sort of gun would you “need” for self defense? Well, a revolver or shotgun would probably do the trick, unless you’re expecting to be attacked by a gang of ninjas in your house.
But who knows, maybe ninjas are a constant threat for some people?
Of course, there would still be a wide range of interpretations of “self defense,” but it’s not as wide open as “bear arms.” If you listen to Second Amendment advocates, they don’t use self-defense arguments when it comes to assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Instead, their argument is simply “it’s our right to own this.”
We all know how that “right” often works out.