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WELCOME TO THE ZOO | The 2nd Amendment

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With an open mind and two sides of the story, you’re bound to learn something new.

Welcome to the zoo! This is a blog where both the Republican and Democrat viewpoints are represented. The blog is not meant to sway you either way necessarily, just to present both sides of the story. You may not agree with the whole article, but hey, you’re likely to agree with half! The topic this week: The Second Amendment

 

Stance 1

I stand firm in my belief that the second amendment must be protected. The original intent remains pertinent in today’s society: allowing common citizens to take up arms and protect themselves. Obviously, exact terms have to be calibrated to accommodate for the change in times. According to the United States Code, a “militia” involves all male citizens ages 17-45 but only female citizens of the National Guard. In the 2008 case of District of Columbia et al. v Heller, the United States Supreme Court ruled that “the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self defense within the home.” This reflects the emerging scholarly consensus that the framers intended to allow for an armed citizenry, not organized by the federal or state governments, prepared to assist in the common defense of invaders or domestic threats.

The firearm homicide problem of the United States is greatly exaggerated; internationally the US is ranked 28th in homicide rates. And even this homicide rate is not directly correlated to solely gun violence, particularly violence caused by legally obtained guns. In mass shootings in the United States between 1982 and 2012, 49 of the 62 shooters used illegally obtained guns. If people want to obtain guns to hurt people, a ban on the Second Amendment will not stop them. In my anthropology class, I read the narrative of a woman who. with each visit to a prison, snuck in parts of a gun in her vagina. The point being that if people want guns, they will find a way to obtain, move, and use them.

Gun graphFurthermore, not all gun control is effective, and intense restrictions of the Second Amendment would certainly fail. This is not to say guns should not be controlled at all, but it is also definitely NOT “the stricter, the better.” Mexico has much stricter gun laws, and still has three times the homicide rate of the United States. England has had notably fewer murders by firearms with a tightening of gun restrictions, but has also earned the nickname “Crime Capital” because this drop in gun violence has come with a significant (and continuing) increase in the rate of violent crime, including rape, murder, and assault. Nevertheless, one of my favorite examples of ineffective gun control is still the 2005 Florida Stand Your Ground law. It’s rather average as far as ineffective gun control goes in that murders with firearms did not decrease, but what is funny is how the Florida Department of Law enforcement tried to hide it! (look at the graph closely – *hint* the y-axis).

Not to mention, in the current US gun control laws have racial roots and undertones. Before the Civil War, African-Americans were not allowed to own guns, and following the Civil War, guns were kept out of African-American hands to suppress any possibility of a revolt. Around this time, the KKK emerged as a gun-control organization. Gun control laws in the 1960s were enacted in response to the militant Black Panthers who carried guns. Though less prevalent today, laws are still aimed at lower income people of color who are perceived as more dangerous than white gun owners.

The Second Amendment holds that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Stop trying to infringe.

Conservatively yours,
Katie

 

Stance 2

The Second Amendment in the Constitution of the United States reads, “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 meaning of this amendment is extremely contentious. Many argue that the amendment protects an individual’s right to own a gun. It is absurd to believe that the Constitution intends for individuals to own military-grade weapons – weapons that can kill more than fifty people in under five minutes. The Framers could never have fathomed the weapons that exist today. Even if they did intend the Second Amendment to permit individuals to “bear arms,” that does not mean they would have included the guns sold now in our society.

The grammatical structure of the sentence is confusing and the commas are placed in peculiar places, which makes it much more difficult for us to understand. “Being necessary to the security of a free state” seems to refer to a “well regulated militia.” After that clause, however, comes “the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” which may refer to the “well regulated militia.” Because of the commas, it seems as though citizens have the right to bear arms if they are members of a militia. When the amendment was written, the Framers wished to protect against potentially corrupt governments. They had just won a revolution against the British, and wanted to ensure that, if a similar government ultimately gained power, American citizens in their states could protect themselves. There was no federal army or police force protecting the people. There were militias. The militias were the only way members of the newly founded United States could defend themselves against potential threats.

We no longer live in a society with militias. We definitely do not want angry groups of white supremacists claiming they have the right to carry machine guns at protests because of the Second Amendment.

Most conservatives interpret the amendment to guarantee each individual’s right to weapons. Justice Clarence Thomas is an originalist and the late Justice Antonin Scalia was a textualist. These two methods of interpreting the Constitution require that one read it with its original intent and textual meaning in mind. Originalism does not allow for evolving law. It protects the original meaning of the text. Therefore, it would seem reasonable that an originalist would interpret the law to mean that only individuals in militias have the right to bear arms. Since there is no allowance for evolving law, we cannot carry this amendment into the 21st century and defend it by saying that the original intent was for each individual to have a lethal weapon in his or her home for individual protection.

Furthermore, looking at the amendment through a textualist lens, all that matters is the language used. The amendment explicitly says that it applies in order to ensure a free state. Owning a gun for one’s own supposed safety does not ensure a free state. Textualists also look at what reasonable people would have thought the law meant at the time it was written. If they knew what weapons were available today, they never would have permitted the amendment to be incorrectly interpreted the way it has been in recent debates. Therefore, it is hypocritical to argue that we must look to the text of the Constitution but also allow individuals easy access to guns.

Guns kill more than they protect. For every one justified gun death, there are 34 criminal gun murders and 78 gun suicides. There must be greater regulations on who can obtain a lethal weapon, much less one that is used by soldiers in the military. Using the Second Amendment as a defense for anyone to own a gun is a waste of time. The amendment is a grammatically messy, inconclusive piece of writing. It cannot blanket the major problems confronted by our society today involving gun violence. Just as the framers would have wanted, we have to find a way to protect individuals from the very thing intended initially to ensure their safety.

Liberally yours,
Rebecca

 

Rebecca Saber is a senior government major in the College of Arts and Sciences. She aspires to be a Supreme Court Justice (think RBG but with curly hair), but is willing to settle for Broadway director. When she is not writing about politics, Rebecca can be found watching TV in her bed or at some musical theater rehearsal. If you want to chat, Rebecca can be reached at rms432@cornell.edu.

Katie Barlow is a senior biology and anthropology double major. Besides talking politics, she performs research in an undergraduate neurobiology lab, instructs tree climbing for COE, and eats mashed potatoes whenever possible. She can be reached at kmb324@cornell.edu.

 

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