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An amendment that needs amending

newtown memorial
REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
If someone can walk into an elementary school and kill 20 children, I do not think we could be any further away from security and protection.

On the eve of the 221st birthday of the Second Amendment, we experienced the most unthinkable, monstrous, diabolical act our nation has seen. All at the hands of firearms – four 9mm handguns, one made by Glock and another by Sig Sauer, and an AR-15-type rifle – that were legally purchased and registered in the nation’s fifth toughest state on gun control.

If the founders of our nation had known that in 220 years we would be taking assault weapons to barbarically shoot up malls, theaters, temples and elementary schools, they certainly would have reconsidered. Perhaps we should do the same.

The Second Amendment was adopted in 1791. Our country has seen multiple makeovers since then, including our morals (abolishment of slavery in 1865, women’s suffrage in 1919) and our technology (first fully automatic machine gun invented in 1884).

"Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of nineteen years,” said Thomas Jefferson on his intent to rewrite the constitution every 19 years to ensure the living are not ruled by the dead. “If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force, and not of right.” Instead, James Madison proposed amendments to keep tradition and values, but do away with those that no longer are relevant in a changing world.

Three reasons for Second Amendment

There were three reasons for the Second Amendment a mere 221 years ago. The first was an insurance policy against our government. As stated by Jefferson, “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” The next reason was for national security. Our army was not equipped to defend against foreign attacks and the people should have the right to defend themselves if our armies are defeated in the battlefield. The final reason was for security and protection.

If someone can walk into an elementary school and kill 20 children, I do not think we could be any further away from security and protection. Our Army is now equipped to protect us, and we have never had the need to protect ourselves from tyranny in government. But, I guess, things can change over a couple of centuries.

Whether you are a gun activist, gun-control advocate, or neutral, the fact is clear that without guns, 20 children and six adults who dedicated their lives to educating children would be alive today. You can blame a lack of treatment for mental illness for this tragedy, but the fact remains: Without guns 20 children would be alive today.

It is important to hear the other side of any argument. I put together a list of the most common claims as to why we need these weapons.

  • To protect ourselves and our family.

This is the top defense, and it is a good one. There are impressive numbers that support the claim that guns protect us from violence. However, studies on self-defense are consistently inconsistent.

More consistent are the statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which state that there were 31,347 firearm deaths in 2009, including 11,493 homicides. Not to mention the 200,000 annual injuries requiring hospitalization and trauma care.

With an average number of gun-related deaths of 30,000 per year, we are wiping out a city the size of Cincinnati every decade.

  • More guns will equal less violence.

The argument that more equals less is as illogical as it sounds. In fact, we have unknowingly tried this approach. We already have many more guns than any other nation – similarly, many more gun-related deaths.

In America, 89 out of every 100 people own a firearm. That is significantly higher than the next closest nation (Honduras at 54.5 of every 100). And it directly contributes to the fourth highest number of firearm homicides in the world — only behind Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia. Meanwhile, we are responsible for 80 percent of all gun-related deaths among the 23 richest nations.                            

Yes, there has been an increase in gun sales and a drop in firearm murders. We did improve, slightly. The decrease is from 15,087 to 12,296 firearm murders over a 4-year period. We still have eight times more murders by gun than any other nation of similar money and political structure.

So we are still the most violent civilized Western Nation, just not as violent.

  • States with fewer restrictions have less crime.

Let’s look deeper into this argument. The states with the highest restrictions have had historically higher crime rates. District Of Columbia, Illinois, New Jersey and Maryland have the highest restrictions. And Alaska, Wyoming, Vermont and Montana have the fewest.

Since these states have lower crime, the gun laws are less strict. The low crime is not because of the law. The law is because of the low crime. We are reversing the cause-effect data. By comparison, this would be like arguing there are much fewer DEA agents in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana, which leads to less drug trafficking. But in Arizona, New Mexico and California we have many more drug problems because we have so many DEA agents.

  • Guns don’t kill; people kill people

Another true statement. But why do we have to make it so easy?

If we place stricter regulations on gun ownership, then they will not end up in the wrong hands. Look at Japan and its strict gun laws. In obtaining a gun (people only can own a shotgun or air rifle) you must attend an all-day class, pass a written exam and shooting-range class, submit a mental and drug test with the police, and pass a rigorous background check. The follow-up procedures include the police checking your weapon once a year, retaking the class and exam every three years and notifying the police of the location of your gun and ammo, which must be stored and locked in separate cases.

Strict indeed, but compared to our 12,000 firearm deaths in 2008, Japan saw 11 (Not 11,000. Just 11 – one less than was killed in Aurora last summer). In that same year, Americans lost 587 lives to accidental discharge alone.

On the same day as the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, there was an eerily similar story in China. The difference is the man attempted to use a knife instead of a gun. He injured 22 children and one adult, but there were no fatalities.

How about Australia? After a mass shooting in 1996, Australiz changed laws and saw a 59 percent decrease in firearm homicides and 65 percent decline in suicides. Most notably, there has not been a mass shooting since (The U.S. has had 31 school shootings in this period).

In 2012, 16 mass shootings killed 83 people. Without guns, they would be alive.

Now, I will give you 83 reasons why we do not need guns. Each name on this list represents a parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, relative and friend to so many others.

Maybe we will re-evaluate our political beliefs once a loved one of our own appears on one of these lists.

Ana Marquez-Green, 6 (Connecticut)
Grace McDonnell, 6 (Connecticut)
Jesse Lewis, 6 (Connecticut)
Dawn Hockstrung, 47 (Connecticut)
Mary Sherlach, 56 (Connecticut)
Nancy Lanza, 52 (Connecticut)
Victoria Soto, 27 (Connecticut)
Anne Marie Murphy, 52 (Connecticut)
Charlotte Bacon, 6 (Connecticut)
Daniel Barden, 7 (Connecticut)
Rachel Davino, 29 (Connecticut)
Olivia Engel, 6 (Connecticut)
Josephine Gay, 7 (Connecticut)
Dylan Hockley, 6 (Connecticut)
Madeline Hsu, 6 (Connecticut)
Catherine Hub bard, 6 (Connecticut)
Chase Kowalski, 7 (Connecticut)
James Mattioli, 6 (Connecticut)
Emilie Parker, 6 (Connecticut)
Jack Pinto, 6 (Connecticut)
Noah Ponzer, 6 (Connecticut)
Caroline Previdi, 6 (Connecticut)
Jessica Rekos, 6 (Connecticut)
Avielle Richman, 6 (Connecticut)
Lauren Russeau, 30 (Connecticut)
Benjamin Wheeler, 6 (Connecticut)
Allison Wyatt, 6 (Connecticut)
Steven Mattew Forsyth, 45 (Oregon)
Cindy Ann Yuille, 54 (Oregon)
Zina Haughton, 42 (Wisconsin)
Cary Robuck, 35 (Wisconsin)
Maelyn Lind, 38 (Wisconsin)
Rami Cooks, 62 (Minnesota)
Ron Edberg, 58 (Minnesota)
Jacob Beneke, 34 (Minnesota)
Keith Basinski, 50 (Minnesota)
ReuvenRahamin, 61 (Minnesota)
SatwantKaleka, 62 (Wisconsin)
Sita Singh, 41 (Wisconsin)
Ranjit Singh, 49 (Wisconsin)
Suveg Singh Khattra, 84 (Wisconsin)
Prakash Singh, 39 (Wisconsin)
ParamjitKaur, 41 (Wisconsin)
Veronica Moser, 6 (Colorado)
Gordon Cowden, 51 (Colorado)
Matthew McQuinn, 27 (Colorado)
Alex Sullivan, 26 (Colorado)
MicaylaMedek, 23 (Colorado)
John Larimer, 27 (Colorado)
Jesse Childress, 29 (Colorado)
Jessica Ghawi, 24 (Colorado)
Jonathan Blunk, 26 (Colorado)
Alexander Boik, 18 (Colorado)
Alexander Teves, 24 (Colorado)
Rebecca Wingo, 32 (Colorado)
Chris Northcliff, 43 (Texas)
Brian Bachmann, 41 (Texas)
Herman Curry, 47 (Delaware)
Alexander Kamara, 16 (Delaware)
Kimberly Layfield, 38 (Washington)
Drew Keriakedes, 45 (Washington)
Joe “Vito” Albanese, 52 (Washington)
Gloria Leonidas, 52 (Washington)
Dannaer Fields, 49 (Oklahoma)
Bobby Clark, 54 (Oklahoma)
William Allen, 31 (Oklahoma)
Doris Chibuko, 40 (California)
SonamChoedon, 33 (California)
Grace Eunhae Kim, 23 (California)
Judith O. Seymore, 53 (California)
Lydia H. Sim, 21 (California)
BhutiaTshering, 38 (California)
LauroreOrnis, 42 (Florida)
PartersonDubreus, 27 (Florida)
Michael Schaab, 25 (Pennsylvania)
Daniel Parmentor, 16 (Ohio)
Russell King Jr., 17(Ohio)
Demetrius Hewlin, 16 (Ohio)
Lecarlos Todd, 19 (Tennessee)
Kum Hi Song, 61 (Georgia)
Byong Ok Kang, 64 (Georgia)
KumSook Kim, 57 (Georgia)
Tae Yol Kim, 55 (Georgia)

Brian Francis lives in River Falls, Wis. He works in athletic communications and coaches high school baseball.

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Comments (13)

Sacred

In another thread, it was implied that because the first 10 amendments comprise the Bill of Rights, they are in some way sacrosanct and immune from any discussions of alteration or elimination.

Other amendments, fair game. But not the first ten.

Thoughts on this? Are the first ten amendments almost "sacred text" in their immutability? And if so, why? (Other than just "Because they're the Bill of Rights, that's why".)

Re: An amendment that needs amending

"Maybe we will re-evaluate our political beliefs once a loved one of our own appears on one of these lists."

Mr. Francis:
1. Do you believe the state should have a monopoly of armed violence?
2. Do you believe that innocent people should be punished for the acts of others?

Here we go again

You're trying to highjack this thread. Again.

If you're so interested in a discussion of whether the state should have "a monopoly of armed violence", why don't you do what Mr. Francis did: Follow MinnPost guidelines and submit your own article on the subject to the Community Voices section.

First, explain a couple of things

1. Why would an unregulated, free market in armed violence be a good thing?

2. Why is regulation punishment?

1. Saying one person can have

1. Saying one person can have something and one can not is regulation; we will never have an unregulated free-market when it comes to firearms.

2. How is it not? Regulation is punishment for those that had nothing to do with the crime.

Anyone that uses anything to kill someone is committing a crime and should be punished for that. It does not matter what they chose to do the crime, just that they chose to do it.

What?

1. The question was not about "firearms" per se; it was about armed violence. Mr. Krasnoff appears to be questioning the wisdom of barriers to entry to that market.

2. I can't dump dioxins in drinking water, but I have never done so in the past. Am I being "punished" for the acts of those who did?

There are many things wrong

There are many things wrong with the authors "logic"

1. Crime with firearms have been going down since the early 1990's. Since then the population has gone up in the US (from ~257 m to ~315 m) with the firearms per person going up to the now roughly 1 per person (with most firearm owners having multiple). Yes saying "more guns= less crime" is incorrect there are many other factors in this relationship but at the same time is a fact. There are more firearms and less crime.

2. High majority of firearm crime is committed with handguns not semi-auto rifles. Therefor any law to restrict semi-auto rifles is only for the people that do not know the numbers/crime data. The same with any restrictions on magazine capacity, it only has an affect on how many times someone needs to reload the weapon. It does not make the firearm "less lethal" both of these measures are for those that act emotionally not logically.

3. To say that the any child would still be alive if semi-auto rifles were illegal shows how closed minded the author is. You can not say that in any terms.

4. It is a truth that people kill people. Our species is violent. Firearms are not the only thing that kills people and it is not the top killer in the US. People that are anti-firearm need to learn something simple. If you are against firearms don't own one.

If a drunk driver kills a pedestrian do you blame the car? If an arsonist kills someone in a set fire do you blame the fire? I have never met a person that would say it is not the drunks fault, the arsonists fault or in any other case it is not the persons fault unless a firearm is used. It is always the firearms fault in that case and then they call for the inability for law abiding people to own them. It is the person, they choose to use a tool that is designed to kill and is efficient in doing so that is why our Military and Police use them also. Anti-firearm peoples problem is our species intellect in being efficient at murder.

As a firearm supporter I am by no means saying that our system is perfect. I believe that we do need more reforms. Make it more difficult for me to get one. Make it so I need to take multiple classes in manipulation/safety/range qualifications to receive a license at which point I can go to a store purchase one (with a FBI background check) and pick it up after a week waiting period. I do not care if I have to do those things. But regulating a certain weapon in any form is not logical but emotional.

Regulating the weapon is not the issue. Regulating the people that can get them (maybe) since most criminals still own firearms when they can not legally. Most criminals weapons come from committing a different crime, theft.

begin the campaign

I hope Brian starts a campaign to get rid of all guns. As he stated, "without guns 20 children would be alive today."

Hopefully he can convince the DFL of MN and the Dems of WI to join in re-writing of the constitution or proposing of an amendment to outlaw guns. Maybe Amy K and Big AL can join Brian in this "mainstream" campaign to rid our nation of guns.

I think Brian would be as successful in outlawing guns as the pro-life movement has been in outlawing abortion. Just think of how many children would be alive just today if abortion were outlawed.

Brian - I hope you are pro-life.

Re: An amendment that needs amending

The following are legitimate questions that are at the core of the argument concerning the limits of gun control and individual armed self-defense.

Mr. Francis, I will ask you again:

1. Do you believe the state should have a monopoly of armed violence?
2. Do you believe that innocent people should be punished for the acts of others?

If Miss Berg or anyone else wishes to answer these questions as well, they is certainly free to do so, though I asked Mr. Francis specifically.

Punishing the innocent

"Regulation" is not "punishment" to those of us old enough to understand that "because I want it" is not a justification for everything. Sometimes you don't get candy, and no one's being mean.

I'm still wondering if your open market for armed violence should extend to CAIR.

Good idea.

Since the freedom of the press can be misused causing injury, death, and incitement to genocide, I don't think you'd mind if you are required to be licensed, your computer registered with the Department of Homeland Security or the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, and you must secure your means of written expression when not in use.

After all, "regulation" is not "punishment". Don't you agree?

Nice try, but it falls short

My computer has a purpose other than "causing injury, death, and incitement to genocide." Calling out silly arguments is one of them.

Are you allowed to have a driver's license? Does the requirement that you have one before you drive mean you are being "punished?"

And I'm still waiting for your answer about CAIR: If they decided to arm their members to protect themselves against anti-Muslim bigotry, would you be alright with that?

Poor argument

Your analogy is senseless, and the time you devoted to coming up with it was wasted. The consequences of the misuse of a computer that you mention are far more remote than are those of the use or misuse of a gun (since a gun is designed to shoot people, is busting a cap at someone really "misuse?").

I agree: Regulation is not punishment. I have to get a driver's license, but that doesn't mean I am being "punished" for others' misuse of motor vehicles.

How about the next part of my question: Would you approve of participation in an open market for armed violence by a group formed to defend Muslims?