“Did you hear? There was a school shooting yesterday in Florida.”
“On Valentine’s Day? That’s terrible!”
“Seventeen known dead. And it’s the eighteenth school shooting so far this year!”
“Sheesh… Well…thoughts and prayers. What’s for dinner?”
I once re-wrote the Constitution of the United States in an effort to address some of the glaring oversights. That’s a different essay but in the process of doing such a thing, one is inevitably confronted by the Second Amendment. It’s a tough one. Lots of controversy. Lots of emotion. I stared at it for quite some time. I did some research. I gave it much thought. In the end, I left it just as it is. I came to the conclusion that, intentional misinterpretations aside, the Second Amendment says what it means: “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.”
But here’s the thing: at the time the Constitution was being adopted, our idealistic, young(-ish) revolutionary founders had decided that the United States would NOT maintain a standing military. The thinking was that a standing military would serve as an albatross around the neck of the national economy and, once such an entity existed, some useless idiot would feel compelled to use it. (Quite prescient, those founders…) Instead, went the fantasy, in case of an invasion, the citizen militia would serve as the first line of defense while a more formal army was raised and trained.
We didn’t even get through Washington’s presidency before we began to realize the impracticality of such an arrangement. It took a few fits and starts but it wasn’t very long before we had a standing military, despite the original intention. Obviously, this negated the need for the Second Amendment but nobody bothered to do anything about it. The change in defense strategy had evolved over time and I imagine nobody saw a need. After all, it was pretty well understood that the Second Amendment was intended to protect Americans.
But the further we descend into this “Bizarro America” we’re stuck in today, the more things get turned on their ears. It was after that shit-stain in Las Vegas murdered 58 people and injured 851 by firing into a crowd of over 22,000 people at a concert that I had an…unexpected realization: the Second Amendment has been bastardized from a tool intended to protect Americans, into a weapon that prevents Americans from protecting themselves. It is a logical response that when a given provision of the Constitution turns out to be doing more harm than good, as is the case with the Second Amendment today, that provision should be repealed. Yes, I think we should repeal the Second Amendment.
Now, I want to be clear, here. I’m not advocating mass gun confiscations.
“You just want to take my guns away!”
No, I don’t. Read it again: ‘I’m not advocating mass gun confiscations.’ Mostly, I don’t care that people have guns. I know that most people use them for target practice and competitions and other such non-lethal events. I know that criminal shootings are carried out by less that one percent of gun owners. I KNOW that 99% of gun owners are a-okay!
But I DO want to know who has guns and I can’t because of the Second Amendment. I want to know how many guns a person has and what kind. I can’t…because of the Second Amendment. I want to know that people keeping such dangerous toys know how to use them by requiring classes, licenses, and insurance. I can’t because of the Second Amendment. I’d like to see serious, in-depth background checks done with every gun purchase, new or used, public or private. I can’t because of the Second Amendment. I’d like to see the ATF office that traces guns used in crimes be able to use computers to do their job rather than taking months and sometimes years to identify the owner of a given weapon. I can’t…because of the Second Amendment. I’d like to restrict mentally ill people and people on the terrorist watch list from acquiring guns but I can’t…because of the Second Amendment.
I’d like to see America take those steps in an effort to protect Americans. But…the Second Amendment. There are many non-intrusive, common-sense things Americans might do to protect themselves without having to don body armor before checking the mail. But the fucking Second Amendment won’t allow them. So you see? The Second Amendment is preventing Americans from protecting themselves and no longer preserving their right to do so.
I’ll say it again. I know that 99% of gun owners are responsible people. But the few always ruin it for the many, right? If, every time Americans try to take specific action against specific atrocities the Second Amendment is trotted out and used as a shield to protect the insanity, the Second Amendment is going to have to go.
And I’ll tell you this: the gun rights crowd is going to have to give a little on this because if they insist on making this an absolute, all-or-none battle, I suspect the vast majority of Americans are going to side with “none, then…”