It’s no secret that the United States has a problem with gun violence. Mass shootings seem to make the news every few months, the most recent occurring on February 14, 2018 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida where 17 people were killed and another 17 were injured. However, the recent increase in mass shootings and gun violence in general in the U.S. seem to have sparked a collective shift in how Americans view gun ownership.
A national survey in February found the 21 per cent of Americans want the second amendment to the constitution (the right to keep and bear arms) to be completely repealed. Furthermore, the same survey found that just under half (46 per cent) of all Americans wanted the second amendment to be modified.
In all honesty, I’m not surprised by these results. The U.S. has seen massacre after massacre and there has been very little legislative change. Americans are opening their eyes to the reality of gun ownership, and it’s clear a lot of them aren’t happy about it.
Yet little change has actually been made, and the reason is simple: American’s love their guns. In all honesty, I get it. I’ve watched the military-action movies. I’ve played Call of Duty. The fact of the matter is that there’s something alluring about guns. I wouldn’t own a gun if I lived in the States, but I understand why so many Americans do. But it’s not just a weird fascination with guns in themselves, the U.S. has a long history of hunting and sport shooting. A lot of Americans see hunting as a big part of their personal identity. I’m sure a lot of them see changes to gun laws as an attack on their heritage and livelihoods. But the biggest reason there’s been little change to the second amendment is that it’s the second amendment. The right to keep and bear arms isn’t just any piece of legislation, it sits in the company of the right to security of person and the right to a fair trial as a constitutional right. It seems a lot of Americans see proposed changes to gun laws as a direct violation of their guaranteed rights, and makes legal proceedings more difficult because of this.
Personally, I don’t think the second amendment needs to be completely repealed, but I do think drastic changes need to be made to gun legislation. I think all states, not just those who elect to, should require background checks on a gun buyer to see if they have a history of mental illness or a criminal record. Keep guns away from people who are potential threats, but respect the millions of responsible gun owning Americans. Additionally, the age to purchase a gun needs to be increased. In states where they’re legal, an 18-year-old can buy an AR-15. There’s something wrong with your legal system when you can buy an assault rifle before you can buy a beer. But most importantly, there needs to be a ban on ownership of assault rifles like the aforementioned AR-15. No civilian needs to own an assault rifle. Why? Because they’re designed for assault. These are the exact weapons used time and time again in mass shootings.
It’s unlikely the second amendment will ever be repealed, but assuming appropriate changes are made, it doesn’t need to be. Americans are too romantic about their constitution; time would be better spent making modifications to the second amendment rather than getting rid of it. With adequate changes to gun legislation, Americans can keep their guns while hopefully decreasing gun violence and massacres.