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It is time to repeal the Second Amendment





Beyond the confusion over the way the amendment is written, there are several other excellent
 reasons to repeal it.

While we try to believe the Constitution is sacrosanct, it is in fact a 
"work in process" — and repealing the Second Amendment would serve our 
country well in the 21st century.
REUTERS/David McNew

A radical idea? Yes. Beyond reason and logic? No. And not unprecedented.

But
 first a disclaimer. Those who drafted the Constitution and Bill of Rights 
were bright, thoughtful and creative. It is a document that has served our 
nation well for more than 200 years. But, having said that, it is not without
 flaws and weaknesses — and the Second Amendment, in particular, is the 
subject of numerous interpretations and challenges.


But beyond the confusion of the amendment, there are several other excellent
 reasons to repeal it. Among those are the enormous changes in America since 
Colonial time, changes in the American character the past 200-plus
 years, and weapon development. All are worthy of consideration. But, first
 the amendment:



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.

Many interpretations

While simple and succinct in it drafting, its brevity is also the subject of a wide range of interpretations. Those who support strong gun control claim the amendment has strict limitations. As recently noted in a New York  Times 
editorial: “The Supreme Court has made clear that the right to bear arms is
 not absolute and is subject to regulations and controls. Yet the NRA clings
 to its groundless arguments that tough regulations violate the Second
 Amendment. Many of those arguments serve no purpose other than to increase 
the sales of guns and bullets.” The NRA, of course, claims there are no 
limitations as to ownership, type of weapon, or purpose of use.



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But the fact is the Second Amendment is subject to vague interpretation. Indeed, 
since it was adopted in 1791, it has been the subject of more than 31 federal
 court cases of various kinds: six in U.S. District Courts; 19 in U.S. Courts
 of Appeals; and six that ended up in the Supreme Court. To describe the 
outcomes of these cases alone proves the confusion surrounding the Second
 Amendment — but suffice it to say, it presents a situation that will never
 be fully decided, and will probably remain a source of confrontation forever. Unless it is repealed.

While the confusion of the amendment is reason alone to suggest its repeal 
and/or amendment, the better reason is the enormous change in our nation 
since the “right to bear arms” was first adopted.

A rural populace

America in 1789 (when the
 Second was first drafted) had a population of about 2.5 million, not 
including slaves or Native Americans. Less than 1 percent of our population
 today. It was a rural country — the largest city was Philadelphia, with
 40,000 inhabitants. The rural inhabitants, while mostly farmers, also used
 their arms to shoot game — not as today’s sportsmen do, but to put food on
 the table. And the reference to a “well regulated militia” clearly was
 related to the fact that we had just fought a brutal war of independence,
 with a tiny standing army, and a dependence on multiple state militias.



Admittedly, repeal itself would not stop the bloodshed of recent mass
 murders, but that still does not address its relevance today. Our
 forefathers could never have imagined, back then, densely packed cities with
 many times the entire population of 18th-century America. How could they
 imagine an area like the south and west sides of Chicago, where most of the city’s 506 homicides occured 
last year?



They never foresaw the push westward, the multiple frontiers, the effect on
 the American character as it developed from the homogeneity of the
 Colonists. They never had an opportunity to consider the molding of the 
”new” American character as the early settlers pushed into frontiers that
 were wild, untamed and without established laws. And obviously they did not
 ever imagine the development of individual weapons capable of killing dozens 
in barely a moment

.

An anachronism in today’s world

All these factors — the massive increase in population, the urbanization of
 our country, the changing character of our citizens over the centuries, and
 the increasing devastation of weaponry — have also changed the dynamics of an
 amendment written for the conditions of the 1700s, but still in play today. 
It is clear that the Second Amendment as written is an anachronism in
 today’s world,  a part of our constitutional rights that has outlived
 itself.



Further, our Founding Fathers would almost certainly not object to
 modification or even repeal of the Second. Indeed, they made provisions for 
just such a possibility. Since 1791, when the Amendment was adopted, there
 have been a total of 27 amendments to that great constitutional document. 
Moreover, repeal itself is not unique or precedent-breaking. In 1933, the
 21st Amendment did repeal the 18th.



While we try to believe the Constitution is sacrosanct, it is in fact a 
”work in process” — and repealing the Second Amendment would serve our 
country well in the 21st century. Such repeal/amendment could also include
 retention of those types of weapons we would all likely agree on: such 
things as rifles for hunting, pistols for target shooting, certain approved 
security reasons for owning weapons, etc. But it would end forever the 
argument that virtually anyone can own any weapon of any devastation, for 
any reason, because of some vaguely defined “right” granted two centuries
 ago.





Myles Spicer of Minnetonka has spent his business career as a professional writer and owned several successful ad agencies over the past 45 years.

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