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Tom H. Hastings: Taking aim at the Second Amendment

constitution politics
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It is long past time to repeal the Second Amendment. Why?

To strengthen democracy

Without the Second Amendment, wrote Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, states and towns would be free to pass their own gun laws that wouldn’t be overturned again and again by courts citing either the Second Amendment or other precedent reliant on the Second Amendment.

To save lives

Already in 2022, as of September 25, there have been 32,643 gun deaths in America from a variety of causes, including murder, homicide, accidents, and suicides. Many of these deaths were in places that attempted strict gun control, including a ban on assault rifles, but were successfully sued by the NRA or other gun rights groups and their local or state laws vacated by rulings prompted by the Second Amendment.

To become a civilized country

Civilized countries enact laws that actually protect their children. Unlike every single other developed or large country in the entire world, the number one cause of death for children in the US is firearms. If this works for some states, let them remain the Wild West gun toting free-for-all that the Second Amendment has produced. If other states or counties or cities wish to join the civilized world, take away the Second Amendment and give them the chance to do so.

To prevent Civil War 2.0

With approximately 400 million guns floating around US society and an armed MAGA-driven polarization met by an increasingly armed leftist radical wing, along with evermore virulent rhetoric and escalating numbers walking around open-carrying war weaponry in public, half of America believes that civil war is coming. Tossing out the Second Amendment would free legislatures and city councils to begin seriously ending such belligerent displays of combat weapons. Curbing gun sales in all the places that voted to do so would begin to dial down at least some of the terrible tension flaring up by the Oathkeepers and others who have called for civil war.

To give all American children a far more secure and relaxed childhood

With the many school shootings at virtually all grade levels, kids and parents are nearly as anxious every day about the dire possibilities in their own lives as kids are in countries at war. After the entirely preventable mass slaughter in the high school in Parkland, Florida, a Pew Research survey showed the majority of children 13-17 and their parents feared that catastrophe might come to them. Now, post-Sandy Hook elementary and Robb elementary school shootings in Uvalde, Texas, we can expect younger children and their families to suffer similar or worse daily anxieties.

To stop treating America as a war zone

Repealing the Second Amendment would enable legislation to ban weapons of war, such as assault rifles, from the country. A combat weapon is not a hunting instrument and it’s not for home protection. Americans cannot own howitzers, shoulder-launched missiles, or live grenades, all of which are designed and manufactured for militaries at war or ready for war. Assault rifles radically increase the masses of dead and wounded in the worst cases. But they were purchased legally by many of the mass murderers from Las Vegas to Sandy Hook to Uvalde to Parkland and on and on. The war and peace researchers call any armed conflict with more than 1000 battlefield deaths in a year a war, and more than 10,000 battlefield deaths in a year as a major war. The US is by that standard already at war with itself, just not in an organized fashion. Getting organized to repeal the Second Amendment can reverse this.

It’s time. Let’s fix this. America prides itself on being a “can-do” people. We can do this.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is Coördinator of Conflict Resolution BA/BS degree programs and certificates at Portland State University, PeaceVoice Senior Editor, and on occasion an expert witness for the defense of civil resisters in court. 

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