Column: Second Amendment, on gun carry, isn’t sacred writ

Gun Rights

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A society must be unusually sick to continue allowing its people to possess many millions of firearms when gun victims now frequently include children. In the U.S., not even hundreds of thousands of gun deaths just in this century have led to worthwhile reform. Shamefully — to put it mildly — gun deaths are now the No. 1 killer of people 19 or younger in this nation. A recent New York Times article tells us that 1 in 25 American children age 5 will not make it to age 40.

Why doesn’t the gunning down of innocent children compel us to do away with guns? One could make the case that any country that does not find the killing of innocent children enough motivation to do away with guns might be a lost cause. But the outdated Second Amendment and those with an irrational, quasi-religious devotion to it stand in the way.

When the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791, life was completely different; the U.S. was still a very young, vulnerable country. That hasn’t been the case for an extremely long time, yet the amendment in its present form persists, and the excessive presence of guns, causing far more harm than good, continues.

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What no one on either side of the issue seems to be doing is looking closely at the very word “amendment.” “To amend” merely means “to change.” An amendment is a change in order to improve something. That’s all the Second Amendment was. If the Constitution was AMENDed then, there’s no reason it can’t be AMENDed now.

It takes a special brand of idiocy not to realize this. Contrary to what some Americans of questionable sanity believe, the U.S. Constitution is not a sacred text inspired by God or Jesus (55% of Americans believe this!). It was conceived of and written by mortal men. It has undergone changes and can continue to do so, especially for the improvement of citizens’ well-being.

Claims that repealing the Second Amendment will take freedom away from Americans are similar foolishness. More can be said on this subject than there is room for here, but just for starters, repealing it will GIVE freedom to the majority of Americans, freedom from constant fear and freedom from premature, senseless death.

All evidence and logic point to repealing it significantly. The rest of the developed world finds it incomprehensible that we haven’t done so. But all the above is based on logic, which will never persuade irrational people, especially when the country is held hostage by such corrupt gun-pushing entities as the NRA (National Rifle Association) and the weapons manufacturers, who make huge profits from keeping society drowning in guns.

Now, I am not the person who first thought of the following idea on ending gun violence, but it is relevant and thought-provoking. It definitely bears repeating after the latest streak of U.S. mass shootings and incidents of racism: the sad truth is that the U.S. is so racist that if every U.S. person of color went out tomorrow and legally bought a firearm, the federal and state governments would implement strict gun control so fast that it would make your head spin.

This is not just rhetoric. In 1967, the white-dominated California legislature, under its white governor Ronald Reagan, was so frightened by the sight of members of the Black Panther Party legally carrying registered guns into California’s capitol building that within just three months, the state legislature passed the Mulford Act — Republican legislation — which made it illegal in California to carry loaded firearms openly. But the whole country is still so attached to guns and racism that both problems continue to be huge and horrible today. Both must end.


Peter Greenhill is a philosopher, activist and the retired director of the ‘Iolani Peace Institute.


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