Watchdog Blog

Carolyn Lewis: Repealing the 2nd Amendment

Posted at 10:36 am, April 8th, 2009
Carolyn Lewis Mug

“Each country has its own quirks,” President Obama noted at his London news conference last week. He was trying to show a tolerance for the differences between foreign cultures and our own. But as the news media around the world report events here in the United States, other people have learned that one particular American quirk is not only deadly but it has constitutional cover. Because of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, in effect the right to live in this country is trumped by the right to bear arms. Guns and gun owners are protected, and as a result countless innocents are dying in a hail of bullets.

On campuses and in shopping malls, in retirement homes and in churches, nowhere are we safe. Recent weeks have seen massacres of policemen in Oakland and Pittsburgh. And then there is the latest killing of fourteen students in Binghampton, New York, an event I find particularly poignant. Newcomers studying English to help them pursue the promise of the American Dream, murdered in their classroom by the American Nightmare.

Yet all of this is met not by sustained outrage, but by a sigh and a shrug. We tell ourselves, “Oh no, not that again,” and then return to our daily concerns. New York Congressman Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was murdered and her son paralyzed by a mad shooter on a suburban train years ago, noted how after an initial outburst of public anger, nothing changes.

Do we really believe that, in the 21st century, it is appropriate to permit ordinary citizens to own and carry handguns? The Supreme Court has ruled that it is okay since the Second Amendment to the Constitution grants that right. But why can’t we change the quirk that is killing us if we believe it is wrong?

Our peculiar American devotion to guns is claiming the lives of our neighbors, too. Mexican drug cartels are buying guns on this side of the border and killing Mexican policemen, each other, and innocent bystanders on the other side – a violence that is now spilling back into border states like Arizona.

Arizona’s attorney general, Terry Goddard, was quoted in the Washington Post on April 5th as saying that some of the gun laws need to be changed. But when asked if he was “afraid of the NRA” – the National Rifle Association – he answered,”I’m not afraid of them. I’m respectful of them.”

The only reason the NRA can garner respect is because it can rest its pro-gun argument on a constitutional amendment. Repeal the amendment, and the organization will become relatively toothless, and exposed as a group that doesn’t give a continental damn whether ordinary citizens are being massacred by the guns they hold sacred.

Why not embark on a public dialogue about this “right,” and the awful toll it takes on the lives of innocents? Of course the NRA will produce the old canard that “guns don’t kill people, people do.” But again and again it has been shown that these horrible murderous rampages would not have taken place if guns were not so readily available.

Click here for a New York Times April 9 editorial on guns.

14 Responses to “Repealing the 2nd Amendment”

  1. Kevin B. O'Reilly says:

    What an excellent commentary on journalism. Oh, wait, my mistake — it wasn’t that at all. It was a brainless op-ed. Oh, well.

  2. Voice says:

    Do you actually think that making gun-ownership illegal will deter people who are already *criminals* from owning them, or prevent them from acquiring them? Take a look at how effective Prohibition was.

    By and large, places where people are allowed (or even encouraged) to own and carry fire arms have *less* violent crime than places where people are discouraged or prohibited from doing so. Every state that has passed a ‘concealed carry’ law has watched it’s fire arms related crimes (and violent crimes in general) fall.

    When was the last time you read about some poor sap who finally snapped going and shooting up the local military base, or police station, killing dozens of people, and getting away? It doesn’t happen there because the people there are able to defend themselves. It happens in schools, churches, etc. because the perpitrator *knows* nobody there is going to be able to stop him, and he’ll have anywhere between 20 minutes and 2 *hours* before the police are alerted and can arrive.

    Regardless, the whole point of the 2nd Amendment isn’t (just) ‘being able to hunt’ or ‘self protection’, it’s also the ability, when all else fails, to stand up to the government when it does unjust things. Our founding fathers would support private ownership of tanks and warplanes, just like they supported private ownership of muskets, rifles, cannon, and armed ships.

  3. Joseph Wilkinson says:

    However cliched the NRA’s argument (“guns don’t kill people, people do”) may be, it remains accurate. Yes, guns make killing people much easier – but mass private possession of guns also provides a wonderfully effective deterrent to criminal activity. If you play the odds, gun buyers are far more likely to be law-abiding citizens than mass-murderers or even generic criminals. And despite his poor grammar, the poster above me has it right: criminal activity is far more prevalent in areas where gun ownership is restricted than it is in localities where “concealed carry” is legal.

    Please, just think: will a man who is about to kill sixteen people and then himself really be deterred by *laws*? And will those laws truly limit the average criminal’s access to firearms? Absolutely not. Instead, they will foster a massive black market, and, as usual, government intervention will result in a “solution” that is worse than the problem it was intended to solve.

    I don’t like the government, I don’t trust the government, and I appreciate the amount of personal freedom that the Constitution guarantees me – personal freedom that it will continue to guarantee me until maternalistic liberals like yourself finally get the Second Amendment repealed.

  4. Joel Shimberg says:

    The founders were opposed to our maintaining a standing army. This made an armed citizenry necessary for the defense of the nation. That is why the amendment speaks of a militia. It would seem that either we should repeal the amendment as unnecessary, now that we have the Pentagon, or we should do away with the military.

  5. H Donald Capps says:

    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.

    “The original understanding of the Second Amendment was neither an individual right of self-defense nor a collective right of the states, but rather a civic right that guaranteed that citizens would be able to keep and bear those arms needed to meet their legal obligation to participate in a well-regulated militia.” Cornell, Saul (2006). A WELL-REGULATED MILITIA — The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. p. 2.

    This is not the proper forum for yet another in the endless fecal-matter slinging matches which seem to characterize any supposed discussion of the Second Amendment. It certainly seems to be one of those topics which incites feelings that turn normally rational people into ranting, raging zealots.

    However, I do have some thoughts concerning this issue on a personal level. I have been around firearms my entire life, learning to shoot at the age of 7. I spent 33 years in the military. I have used my weapons to kill people at literally pointblank range on several occasions. I have also had to deal with the results of their firing back.

    I have known too many whose deaths were directly attributable to firearms, ranging from accidental discharges with fatal results to suicide to homicide.

    Guns kill people. You ignore that unpleasant reality all you want, but handguns and assault rifles exist for only one purpose — to kill. And they do exactly that year after year after year.

    The advocates for guns tend overlook the rather difficult chicken and the egg problem that guns create — if someone feels that need to be armed because others are, then others, in turn, think that they have to be armed and so on and on and on.

    I am not sure how the bearing arms as an obligation of militia membership got so out of kilter, but it certainly has.

  6. Andy Jones says:

    “…it’s also the ability, when all else fails, to stand up to the government when it does unjust things. Our founding fathers would support private ownership of tanks and warplanes, just like they supported private ownership of muskets, rifles, cannon, and armed ships.” (writes Voice below)

    Fathering a ludicrous opinion on the founders of your state doesn’t make it any the less ludicrous. Countries where private ownership of military hardware is common are known as ‘failed states’. I believe the US has encountered a number of these in its collective travels recently.

  7. Erwin Dessu says:

    The LAST person I would ask about the guns I have in my home would be an old lady. Why you guys would even publish the opinions of any grandmother, even mine, is an indication of your mindless slavery to everyone’s opinion is equal. Perhaps she also has
    an opinion on the appropriate length of the landing deck on a U. S. Navy Carrier? Or how to flank a machine gun emplacement?
    Utterly ludicrous and simply absurd!

  8. Hardrada says:

    Binghamton, not “Binghampton.”

  9. Praedor Atrebates says:

    Yeah, right. Just after we repeal the 1st Amendment.

    Cold dead fingers, babe. Cold dead fingers.

    We don’t need to repeal ANY Amendments, we need to expand them to include an explicit right to privacy so the mealymouthed asshats on the SCROTUS like Thomas, Scalia, Roberts, and Alito have no room to even TRY to argue flat-out nonsense like “there is no constitutional right to privacy” (as if the 4th Amendment makes ANY sense when viewed with that idiocy).

    Be that as it may, you will NEVER get my guns. Hell, even if you did get a looney repeal of the 2nd through, I would hold onto them. They would then become absolutely necessary to hold off jackbooted government thugs in fact rather than their current manifestation as (largely) metaphors for our growing tyranny.

  10. Praedor Atrebates says:

    Andy Jones:
    Countries where private ownership of military hardware is common are known as ‘failed states’.

    I’m interested. Where can I get military hardware in the USA? I own a semi-auto assault style weapon myself but it is NOT military hardware. Military actual assault weapons have select fire, full auto modes. To get that, I would have to cough up a lung, pay a bazillion dollars, and wade through major federal paperwork.

    My “assault (style) weapon” is NOT military hardware, it just looks like it. Then there is semi-auto NON-military LOOKING rifles out there too.

    Seems you and your ilk have a major definition/description problem on your hands. Just as you cannot define pornography, you cannot legally and properly define “military” hardware beyond simply saying “whatever the military has is military hardware, ipso facto”. Anything I, as a civilian, have is civilian hardware. Also ipso facto.

  11. Richard Carter says:

    I linked to Ms. Lewis’s opinion piece when checking out Nieman Watchdog, which appears to want to stand up for responsible “journalism.” Yet last sentence of piece holds this bit of absurd hyperbole: “countless innocents are dying in a hail of bullets.” Just before that were these strange assertions: “the right to live in this country is trumped by the right to bear arms” and “Guns and gun owners are protected.”

    (1) Aside from the absurdity of there being only “a [one] hail of bullets” killing those “countless people” in many places, the hyerbole is that people are dying in a “hail” of bullets and that these victims are so many they are “countless.” Few I’ve read about died in a hail of bullets. And indeed, in incidents reported, the victims have been counted and personally identified by name, sex, etc. Such irrational falsity makes all of her piece untrustworthy.
    (2)”There is no right to live” in this country nor anywhere else. We all die. (I’ve had two doctors tell me, “If you smoke, you’ll die.” — Really, doc? Gee.)
    (3)Gun ownership is protected, not either guns or gun owners.

    Am I being trivial, or do straight thinking and attention to reality matter? Not a propitious introduction to a media watchdog site.

  12. Scott says:

    I consider myself “liberal” and I understand that many conservatives accept it as fact that liberals are trying to take their guns. Be it known that while I am liberal, I do think taking away our Constitutional right to bear arms would be a mistake. I wrote a paper in college for one of my liberal professors on gun control and I cited, similar to an early poster here, that if we take away the law abiding citizen’s gun, we will NOT be taking away the criminal’s gun, and therefore, will be tipping a scale that we ought not to tip. I think more people should carry guns. I think many of the problems we have in the United States can be traced back to religion. So many of the more “civilized” societies do fine with little to no religion.

  13. Rodney Hoffman says:

    I’ve long said, “Reverse the debate. Repeal the blanket right to bear arms, and let those who feel strongly enough fight to grant it in special circumstances.”

  14. Degeroyanna says:


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