Saturday, May 25, 2013
The Second Amendment was enacted in the wake of our long, bloody revolution with the then-corrupt, tyrannical British monarchy. We had a tiny standing military and limited means to support one. The necessity of an armed militia to provide for the common defense was critical to the new United States of America.
A gun owner wears a holstered, unloaded pistol at a Second Amendment rally in Sacramento, Calif., in 2010. The ambiguous wording of the amendment has sowed confusion regarding firearm regulation, readers say.
2010 File Photo/The Associated Press
Today, we have a professional military, augmented by the National Guard, the Reserves, the Coast Guard and professional police. The requirement for the citizen-soldier no longer exists.
Rather, the vague wording of the Second Amendment and scattershot rulings of the Supreme Court on the issue have created a climate of confusion regarding firearm regulation in America. It is time to repeal the amendment and replace it with 21st-century regulation.
Many people recoil at the idea of tinkering with the Bill of Rights, but several points.
• James Madison felt that the Bill of Rights was unnecessary and redundant to the implied rights embedded within the Constitution itself.
• The Framers, in their wisdom, realized that they did not have all the answers and that the world is constantly changing, so they left us with Article V, which has led America to amend the original document 27 times.
The recent mass murders in Newtown, on the heels of other, similar events in recent years, followed by the murders of firefighters in upstate New York, should give us pause once again, to reflect on the future direction of America.
The National Rifle Association would have us add more armed guards in schools. Should we also arm every firefighter? Where does it stop? We must re-evaluate the core value that has led us here.
Section 1. The Second Amendment is hereby repealed.
Section 2. Congress shall enact legislation regulating the sale and ownership of firearms.
We must have the debate.
The debate rages on about the true intent of the Second Amendment, with those with ardent feelings both for and against individuals owning guns justifying polar opposite positions with words from the amendment. This sentence, thanks to its wording and curious punctuation, is as ambiguous today -- especially on the critical aspect of individuals' rights -- as it was when it was drafted in the age of muskets.
This ambiguity is the very thing that suits those who make killings, both financial and literal, from our gun laws, but for the rest of us it's a deadly menace. The Second Amendment is badly in need of repeal and replacement.
The Constitution is not a sacred text -- it was made and amended by men. The Framers did not get everything right, but they left us with tools to fix things.
The process of such an overhaul should be overseen by a truly representative group of citizens to produce a common-sense framework and replace the Second Amendment with something that is fair to the greatest number of people, by balancing the need for safe communities with the wishes of those responsible citizens for whom gun ownership is a part of their heritage and culture.
The purely commercial ramifications of repeal and replacement should not be considered in the negotiations.
Unlike bulletproof doors, arts benefit schoolchildren
In his commentary on suitable responses to gun slaughter ("Too many guns? No," Dec. 23), David Trahan fields the notion that we might suspend the arts budget for those new schools that do not acquire bulletproof doors.
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