Commentary: The Second Amendment needs amending. Here’s how.

Gun Rights

With the Supreme Court’s wrongheaded ruling on carrying guns outside the home, all persons in New York are less safe and in the bulls-eye. In the wake of this decision, the ability of states to regulate their own sensible gun policies has been sacrificed to the grossly misunderstood Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution amid cheers from gun manufacturers and sellers.

Clearly there is a deep divide with regard to gun laws in this country. There are those who will never yield their “right” to own a gun and their belief that the Constitution sanctions that right for virtually everyone. To try to convince a Wyoming cowboy or Texas ranch owner to the contrary is futile.

Congress has proven time and time again that even in the face of weekly mass murders committed powerful firearms it will do little or nothing to limit access to these firearms or even battlefield weapons. At every turn Congress falls back on the supposed sanctity of the Second Amendment.

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So what to do? How does a nation protect itself from itself?

Here’s a solution: Allow Texans or Floridians, or folks that live in the open spaces of our frontier Northwest, to do what they want. Satisfy the people who always proclaim the need to respect “state’s rights” and their opposition to overreaching and burdensome regulations from the federal government.

Replace the original Second Amendment’s 27 words with these 27 instead:  “The right to possess and bear arms shall not be infringed upon by the federal government, but that individual states shall retain their sovereignty over such matters.”

Yes the National Rifle Association. will howl, and some normally passionate state’s rights advocates will fall in line and march to the tune of these self-serving gun lobbyists. But if individual states are granted the power to fashion their own laws, then our fellow citizens who reside in gun-friendly states will be protected, but so will people who live in places like New York, New Jersey and California.

And there is precedent for this. The Constitution already says that powers not delegated to the federal government “are reserved to the states.”

Admittedly this is not the best answer to our gun violence plague. But with this most recent Supreme Court ruling against New York’s stringent concealed carry rules, there are barely any other choices or options. Of course, it will be difficult to achieve the two-thirds support of the Senate and the House of Representatives needed to amend the Constitution. And even if that is successful, there must be agreement by three-fourths of the states.

But the assertion that this is a state prerogative might be a winning argument in the South and other places. They would no longer feel threatened by federal initiatives on gun ownership.

Most importantly we could finally stop having a minority of politicians use a dubious interpretation of the Second Amendment in order to prevent the majority of us from doing something about gun proliferation and the deaths that accompany it.

After decades of trying other things, amending the Second Amendment seems the only way.

Steven Sanders, of Troy, was a state assemblyman for 28 years.

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