Those who live in America are familiar with the phrase “2nd Amendment” and the feelings attached to it. Sometimes they are feelings of endorsement, while other times they are feelings of rage because of the ill consequences associated with this law.
The debate on gun control and gun rights became hotter after the Parkland, Fla. school shooting that claimed the lives of 11 people. So, all fingers are pointing to the Second Amendment and this law has become a popular topic in conversations regarding gun rights and gun control.
At this point, it will be necessary to look at what the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution says;
“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.”
What Exactly Do the Wordings of the Second Amendment Mean?
While this sounds simple, it isn’t that simple beneath the surface. The words and meaning of this bill have been a subject of discussion and debate by scholars, lawyers, and even courts.
Even historians are having their argument on what the phrase “well-regulated militia” actually meant back in 1989.
While some persons think that the framers intended to “protect the militias in the different states”, others assert that the framers (second amendment) include the protection of people’s guns – since these militias will need their guns if they are summoned to fight.
Clarification on the Meaning of the 2nd Amendment
The Heller decision in 2008 brought some level of clarity and even settlement to the debate on what this law means. According to the 5-4 decision, “the Second Amendment implies that for lawful purposes, individuals are entitled to own guns.”
The application of the above standard by Heller was to revoke a barn on handguns held privately – the enactment was accomplished in the District of Columbia.
Well, those who support private firearm ownership, especially the AR-15 rifles, also refer to the same basic reasoning in Heller’s decision. Unfortunately, it happened that these types of rifles were the ones used by the culprits who carried out the Parkland mass shootings and similar crimes.
In 1994, Congress attempted to ban “assault-type” weapons, but this did not fully materialize because of some political factors. Up to this moment, all efforts to put a check on the sale of assault type weapons have yielded no meaningful result.
Why Not Attempt to Amend the 2nd Amendment?
In the opinion of many, the major solution to the Second Amendment battle is to try amending the Second Amendment. The recent mass shootings and massacre keep raising the big question, “why can’t the United States do more to combat mass murderers wielding guns?” Of course, the United States can do more to fight gun violence – the number one solution is to amend the Second Amendment.
Advocates of gun control tend to always bemoan the 2nd Amendment and its existence. They will always point to the late 18th century – the time when loading a rifle with just one bullet will take almost a minute – things were different back then when it comes to using guns.
Also, these advocates will always point out that the Second Amendment spells out the importance of a “well-regulated militia”, which implies that gun ownership/use right is secondary to the need for the defense of all (collective self-defense). They hope that the Supreme Court will look into overruling both the Heller and MacDonald rulings; these two rulings in 2008 and 2010 lifted city bans on ownership of handguns by individuals and established a law that enables individuals to legally keep and bear arms.
The major problems identified with the rulings or approach are; first, action on gun violence will require a change in the Supreme Court’s composition, and secondly, it did not address the legitimate rights or wish of responsible and law-abiding citizens.
So, while the advocates of gun control fear that the rulings will only escalate gun violence, their opponents fear that their right to own and use firearms would be denied if the constitutional protection that those rulings provided is taken away. Gun control advocates suggest that elected representatives can at least pass stringent legislation that would address gun ownership and use, or even place a ban completely. They argued that nations such as Britain and Australia do not have such protection; as a result, after the mass shootings in these nations, they have successfully banned private ownership of a gun for self-defense.
Well, none of these two groups are to blame – gun control advocates and gun ownership advocates. Each group appears to be right in the presentation of its opinions.
A Revised Second Amendment Could Help
Perhaps a revised 2nd Amendment could help clarify the relationship between private rights and public safety. It may help provide unmistakable details, safeguards and guidelines for individuals with no history of mental instability or legal trouble to continue possessing guns of their own, and at the same time increasingly empower the government to guarantee the nation that only those who are not likely to misuse firearms would have them.
Working out those details, safeguards, and guidelines would require negotiations. However, adopting a general approach could also work. Such a general approach would include rights for safe gun users, heavy regulations, or complete prohibitions for those who would likely misuse firearms if allowed to own them.
Well, some may say that the approach described above may have a very low chance of succeeding – but then, what approach has a higher chance of succeeding? Let’s not forget that since the 1960s when crimes involving handgun increased dramatically, all that the nation has been doing is an endless argument over gun regulation – where have all the arguments led us to in terms of a meaningful solution? Indeed, the need to have and adopt a result-oriented approach to the Second Amendment battle cannot be overemphasized.
With all the noise and pressures, gun owners have refused to give in. Of course, people who use their guns as they should won’t agree to trade their security or shooting hobby for anything – not even the theory of gun control as a way of combating gun violence. This fact won’t change – the earlier we accept it the better. Consequently, the government and those concerned can find a common ground that would protect the rights of responsible citizens to bear firearms and at the same time combat gun violence substantially.