As is generally well-known, the concept of individual liberty is at the heart of the American democratic system and is enshrined not only in collective body-politic subsequent to the Revolution, but is also codified in the Constitution.
What is also generally well-known is that the US is in the midst of an ongoing gun-violence epidemic. In 2017, guns killed close to 40,000 people in the US – the highest figure in 50 years. How is it that such dreadful figures are allowed to occur?
The Second Amendment of the Constitution reads:
“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.”
While the interpretation of those 27 words have been open to seeming perennial debate ever since being penned in 1791, what is not up for debate is the consistently high number of gun related deaths every year in the US.
What many in the ranks of the GOP and the NRA fail to recognize is that the Second Amendment was penned at a time when the smell of gun-powder from the Revolutionary War was still fresh in the nostrils. The specter of the return of the Redcoats was then still very real, as was evident just a few years later in the War of 1812 – 1814.
However, that was then. This is now. While there are some challengers on the horizon, the US is the world’s only true superpower. The only country that would be militarily capable of defeating the US would be, the US.
For those Second Amendment literalists who argue that mass gun ownership guarantees Americans from “tyranny” form their own government, then they truly need to stop and think as to exactly what they are suggesting. The US has the most sophisticated military in the world – stealth weaponry, special forces, nuclear weaponry and such like. The very idea that being able to readily obtain a semi-automatic weapon, without any training of any sort (“well-regulated” militia anybody?) would be sufficient to fight off a US government with nefarious intent, strains credibility to the max.
The reality is that no other modern, industrialized, Western country has anything remotely similar to the number of gun deaths that the US has year on year. In the same way that the idea of every country in the world being at liberty to have nuclear weapons would somehow make the world safer (it really wouldn’t), so then it is equally dubious to suggest that every American having the right to have a gun makes us all safer (it really doesn’t).
Common sense gun is required – plain and simple. Something as basic and straight-forward as closing loopholes in background checks prior to gun purchases / ownership is in no way a dilution of the Second Amendment – it actually reinforces it for the better. If anything, it is highly the Founding Fathers would have favored that as it would ensure that the American people were afforded more protection, not less. Plus the Founding Fathers could have had no idea as to the destructive power of things like AR-15s and bunp-stocks…
Other Western countries, notably the UK and Australia, have effectively implemented gun reforms following firearms related tragedies and the number of gun deaths per year has fallen dramatically. If it can be implemented there, then a version of that can be done in the US. The answer to gun violence can no longer just be “more of the same.” What is needed is the political will to put this out-of-control problem firmly back under control.
It is therefore more than beyond time for the NRA to have its vested, profit-orientated special interests removed from American politics once and for all. One Sandy Hook, or Pulse, or Las Vegas and so on and so on, should have been enough. The literalist interpretation of the Second Amendment is a travesty and represents a very real, ongoing risk to every-day Americans in their homes, schools, places of work, entertainment and worship.
With every new mass shooting, the NRA and large swathes of the GOP should hang their heads in shame. The American people deserve much better than to nervously await the news of the next shooting outrage.
Common sense gun reform is just that – common sense.