Has the right to bear arms outlived its usefulness? I find that the second amendment, an American born constitutional right, in the 21st century has by far become outdated. In the NPR debate “Has The Right To Bear Arms Outlived Its Usefulness,” Alan M. Dershowitz and Sanford Levinson argue for the motion while their opponents David B. Kopel and Eugene Volokh argue against the motion. Both make valid points in such arguments as the second amendment in the 21st century is anti-federal and that the U.S. no longer has militias meaning that the amendment in question in today’s world has become outdated.
Another argument was that every human has the right to self-defense, which the second amendment is, in today’s modern society, used to represent. However, the right to bear arms is, in my opinion, not essential to one’s personal safety or the growth and prosperity of this nation.
It is the right of every man, woman, and child on this earth to self-defense and it is true that guns are a good means of self-defense. However, the problem with this statement is that only four countries in the world recognize the right to bear arms as a constitutional right (Mexico, Guatemala, Haiti, and the U.S.), yet almost every country in the world recognizes self-defense as a natural-born human right. Therefore, the argument becomes: if only four countries in the world allow their citizens to carry firearms, then why are none of them falling apart and heading to a dystopian future? Moreover, why, in the 21st century, is America, the world’s leading power house, succumbing to mass shootings by people who had no business owning a gun in the first place? Furthermore, why is Mexico quickly becoming infested with vicious and cruel Cartels and being led under a corrupt government? The answer very well could be that guns are too easy to access in both of these countries and that gun control is arguably too lenient and relaxed.
In the state of Texas, there is no waiting period for purchasing a firearm nor is there a state registration for firearms. Background checks for guns only check to ensure that the buyer has no past criminal activity. However, there is no check for mental illness meaning that someone with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia or psychosis, can easily buy a gun and carry it on their person. Therefore, Martha Stewart, who is a convicted felon, will never be able to own a gun, but anyone with mental and emotional instability are more than welcomed to buy and own any type of firearm they like in the great state of Texas. Obviously, anyone with a mental illness should not own firearms and in Texas as well as many other states, it is far too easy for an individual of this nature to carry and conceal a deadly weapon of this caliber.
An argument against this would be “But they have the right as an American born citizen under the second amendment to bear arms.” However, let’s keep in mind that when the second amendment was written, the country in the 1790s was a very different place with no police force and haphazard militias as their only line of defense. Why does in this day and age with a well-regulated police force and military, the second amendment refer to well-armed and regulated militias. No, the second amendment should not be abolished, but it should be re-written and altered to fit today’s society and standards.
In the debate, David Kopel illustrates that the Second Amendment is “Vitally necessary to a free state.” But it isn’t. David also states that owning a gun is vital to self-defense, but that is also not true. America would most likely be completely fine if the Second Amendment was never instituted and firearms never massed produced. I would also like to point out that guns are most certainly not the only the only means of self-defense. Pepper spray as I understand it to be, is a very effective short-range defense tactic. Knowing basic martial art skills is also a very effective form of self-defense. So why is the argument always “We need guns because guns are great for self-defense.”? Out of all the great tools humanity has come up with for self-defense, when a pro-gun individual gets into an argument, they will most likely always say that guns are good for self-defense. I’m starting to wonder if guns are only good at self-defense because they insight so much fear and power at the same time, depending on which side of the barrel a person may stand.
Fear is the most powerful form of control. That is what guns do. They incite fear in the target and power in the holder. However, while I firmly believe this to be true, this argument can be turned around completely. In the right hands a gun can save many lives. But it seems as of late that they never are. Another problem I have with David Kopel’s argument is that no where in the Second Amendment does it say anything about “self-defense.” There are no militias anymore and also the second line of the amendment seems to read too vague. In a more modern world, like the one we live in today, the Second Amendment most definitely should be re-written to exclude the non-existent militia and include the right to use for self-defense and if these two suggestions were applied to the Second Amendment then that would mean that the original form had most definitely outlived its’ usefulness.
Alan Dershowitz suggests that during the civil rights movements the Ku Klux Klan was in fact an armed militia and that, had the Second Amendment been interpreted the way it is today, being that guns help to prevent a tyrannical government, the Ku Klux Klan could have used their guns as a way to stop the government from oppressing their civil right to a segregated community. Dershowitz then states that his opponents would like for the civil rights activists to also be armed in the name of self-defense (which was against Martin Luther King Jr’s moral code), which Dershowitz claims would insight a second civil war. Here in lies the conclusion that so many against the ownership of guns draw up; far too often these weapons designed for self-defense end up in the hands of someone with a malicious intent.
It is a well-known fact that Dr. King would not use violence, and instead opted for peaceful protests and an attitude of only peace can equal peace, however his enemies, primarily the Ku Klux Klan felt the exact opposite, that violence would have a greater effect. Dr. King, a civil rights and anti-war activists was assassinated, killed from a sniper’s bullet by James Earl Ray, who, although a racist, was not a member of the Ku Klux Klan. So maybe, just maybe, had the Second Amendment been updated to better suit the country during that time period, Dr. King might not have been assassinated. However, it wasn’t and the KKK were after all for all intents and purposes, a well-regulated militia, and to make sure their free state was secure or in other words completely segregated.
In their mind, the Second Amendment completely protected them using their firearms to ensure that they achieved their goals of keeping America segregated. The opponents of the motions time after time go back to the argument that guns are a great means of self-defense. However, that was not the case for Dr. King. He was shot and killed by a sniper, and those types of guns (military grade) have no business being in the hands of an ordinary citizen. Even if Dr. King was not a pacifist and did have a gun on his person, he could not defend himself in this situation because he had no idea he was in any danger. Guns do make for great self-defense, there is no denying it. They are also great for breaking into a home, stealing a car, hijacking an airplane, holding a person hostage, street violence, public theft, keeping prisoners locked up inside an internment camp, mass murder, and the list goes on and on. Yes, there is a lot an individual can do with a gun that they should not be able to do.
It is really quite surprising that given all the atrocities individuals have brought on with the use of a gun, that gun control still continues to be so incredibly lenient. And the reason why gun control is so lenient is because of the Second Amendment. It is so vague and non-specific that it allows anyone, no matter what their agenda may be, to own a gun. Many say that if America were to change the Second Amendment then the country will shortly after fall apart into a dystopian land, however that is just not true. Australia had a major automatic gun sweep not too long ago and they are doing just fine, Japan doesn’t even have a military anymore and they are far more ahead than America in everything from education to transportation. If America were to do the same and have a firmer control over what type of guns are issued and who can and cannot buy them, then the country would really be a better and safer place to live in? While I stand behind this argument, one could easily rebuttal “If he law did change and there were a tighter control over guns,why would any of the criminals follow it?”
This is a major monkey wrench in the argument for tighter gun control, and true it is indeed. If there was a gun sweep and all military grade weapons were taken from citizens, then anyone who would choose to keep their weapons would now become a felon. Those individuals who did turn over their guns would now be at a major disadvantage compared to anyone already extremely violent such as gang members who would never turn in their guns no matter how much the law changed. And with this fear in mind, gun control stays lenient, military grade weapons are produced, bought and sold, and the world slowly becomes a more dangerous place. There aren’t many methods of protecting oneself from a gun other than also having a gun so it becomes the everyday citizens responsibility to stay armed and vigilant.
To conclude, I would like to reiterate that the only way to change gun control is to change the Second Amendment. Change it, not abolish it. This particular amendment has far become outdated and too vague in the 21st century. The right to bear arms is not essential to one’s safety and it is not essential to the growth and prosperity of America. With that being said, I firmly believe that the right to bear arms has, by far, outlived its’ usefulness.
Opinion By Emily Browen
“The Constitutional Right to Bear Arms Has Outlived Its Usefulness.” YouTube. YouTube. Web. 7 Dec. 2014.
“The Bill of Rights: A Transcription.” National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives and Records Administration. Web. 7 Dec. 2014.