Back in 1791, the Bill of Rights was adopted and incorporated into the United States Constitution. Like any other document at the time, it was written by people who were writing from the perspective of their time. They must have thought of the future, but there is something that they just could not have anticipated. Their guns were simple muskets, hard to load and often inaccurate. The idea of automatic machine guns with countless rounds of ammunition that can be loaded and reloaded within a minute would have sounded as fanciful as the fairytales of the time. Sadly, it is not a fairytale at all. It is a modern day nightmare.
According to Everytown Research, there are an estimated 12,000 gun homicides per year in the United states. Compared to other countries, this number is alarming. CBS news states that other countries have a much lower gun violence rate, for Australia only have one total gun death per 100,000 people and the United Kingdom has only 0.2 gun related deaths per 100,000 people. Why is it that the United States, a country that is championed for its progressiveness and power, falls victim to an epidemic that is encouraged by its very constitution? This lends to the question if the second amendment is still needed as it is interpreted today or even at all.
The Second Amendment is listed on Cornell’s law site as “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free Sate, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”. This amendment clearly that a well regulated Militia should have the right to bear arms. However, in modern day America, people outside of militias are allowed to own guns. It is entirely possible that this is against the constitution if one was to take the text literally. This is a problem if it was meant to be taken as is, for that means the average American gun owner is not obeying the very amendment they fight so hard to keep intact. The loose interpretation of the second amendment that may not be what the founding fathers intended raises the question of whether we should reinterpret and reevaluate the amendment as a whole.
The amount of gun deaths in the United States has become such a cancerous presence in this great nation. It is absolutely unacceptable that high-powered killing machines are sold in conventions and shows as if they were action figures. There is absolutely no reason why a person should own a weapon that was made for the sole purpose of killing another human being. Hunting rifles are understandable, for they are made for the hunting of animals such as deer. However, what exactly are semi-automatic weapons made for? What are guns that have 20+ rounds of ammunition that can fire in a matter of seconds made for? Why would anyone hunt with a gun like that? The easy answer is that they don’t. They are used in one of two ways. One way is using them for fun in firing ranges. The other is to mow down entire crowds of people; crowds filled with innocent men, women, and children gone in an instant. Although this is not too common, the use of guns to kill people is still too common to ignore. It leads to the question of whether guns should be legal to everyday civilians. Within the context of the Second Amendment, this is vastly unclear, but to someone who worries about the extensive loss of human life caused by these death machines, it is entirely too clear.
There must be something done about these guns, whether it be stronger background checks and more restrictions on the type of gun one can own or the banning of guns altogether. It does not matter what route is taken as long as human lives are not cut short by these heinous weapons. I dream of a day where mass gun violence is a phenomenon of the past and a lesson to future generations.
“Gun Violence by the Numbers.” Everytown for Gun Safety. Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, 2015. https://everytownresearch.org/gun-violence-by-the-numbers/.
Preidt, Robert. “How U.S. Gun Deaths Compare to Other Countries.” CBS News. CBS News Network, 3 Feb. 2016. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-u-s-gun-deaths-compare-to- other-countries/.
“Second Amendment.” LII. Cornel University Law School, n.d. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/second_amendment.