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An amendment that needs amending

The Second Amendment was adopted in 1791. Our country has seen multiple makeovers since then, including our morals and our technology.

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.
REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

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.

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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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