Do the arguments in support of the right to bear arms made in 1791 hold true today? Common sense tells us not. Here’s why:
Gun rights advocates almost always wrap their arguments around the Second Amendment with the conviction that this right is sacrosanct and inviolable . . . a notion that is disabused by Article Five of the Constitution and the framers’ intent to create a “living document.”
Many advocates possess an intensely spiritual devotion to the notion that Americans possess an a-priori right to self-defense through the ownership of firearms of all forms and fashions. In fact, conservatively oriented legal scholars describe gun ownership as a moral and civic responsibility primarily on the basis of its assumed propensity to reduce the tyrannical impulses of government.
Simply translated, their argument holds that citizens rightfully maintain a duty to kill each other with guns when the appropriate legal conditions permit.
This is unquestionably a draconian perspective on human rights and social order in a mature democracy. It also bespeaks a deeper, almost cavalier, disregard for the sanctity of human life, and particularly in a society deeply troubled by economic inequities, social injustices, a permissive culture and the myriad unsavory consequences of such conditions on human behavior.
Over time the Second Amendment has perversely undermined its original intent through the heinous actions of disturbed individuals by offering them virtually unfettered access to firearms.
If acts of gun violence were uncommon events, arguments against gun ownership might well be subordinate to the framers’ intentions more than 230 years ago. But gun violence is of epidemic proportions in America and common sense tells us that the behaviors and motives of too many citizens are sufficiently suspect to support unregulated access to guns and ammunition.
The government’s ability to control murderously disturbed people in a society that ardently protects individual rights and privacy is limited both legally and practically. It’s ability to control guns and ammunition is considerably less so. That’s just common sense.