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What should the US do about the Second Amendment?

Progress lies in understanding

A recent public opinion poll done in the US shows that one in five people are in favour of repealing the Second Amendment. With recent incidents such as the school shootings in Santa Fe and Florida, this is an important conversation for the US to have and the rest of the world to listen in on.

As a pacifist who has grown up in Canada’s relatively peaceful and safe communities, I don’t see the need for people to own guns in order to “feel safer,” though it’s clear to me the solution to this problem involves more nuance than a simple black or white answer. 

Before we can find a solution, we must understand what the Second Amendment actually is. As part of the first ten amendments to the US Constitution, the Second Amendment protects people’s right to own and bear arms. Surprisingly, another poll found that 59 per cent of Americans don’t know what the Second Amendment is. This would be like Canadians not knowing the major rights and freedoms of our Charter.

In a 2017 interview by Emma Watson for HeForShe, Lin-Manuel Miranda says “it’s also no accident that everyone who dies in [Hamilton], dies as a result of gun violence,” pointing out this issue has been around since the founding of the US. This is a complex issue with many facets and viewpoints. Should the US completely repeal the Second Amendment or just change certain aspects? Are there circumstances where it is okay to keep and bear a gun? Perhaps more clauses need to be added to the Second Amendment to restrict who owns guns and for what reasons.

As I started to think of situations where it might be acceptable to own a gun, I kept coming up empty-handed. The most popular argument used by proponents is that owning a gun helps keep families safe. This argument is circular and gets us nowhere. According to a 2015 study, only three out of five US gun owners receive firearms training. Requiring all gun owners to be trained in firearm safety would be an effective way to ensure that families with guns and families living in neighbourhoods with gun owners are actually safer. This would lessen the chances of gun-related accidents occurring in homes and neighbourhoods.

Some say that by restricting gun ownership, we would be discriminating against certain lifestyles, like hunting. Once again, the argument doesn’t hold weight. A system could be put into place so that guns could be rented from an official organization for hunting and other recreational purposes.

With movements like March for Our Lives, the issue is being looked at with more scrutiny than before. Those in power are realizing that the youth of today will not settle for less. This generation of young teens and adults have grown up watching so many things go wrong. They’re used to doing active shooter drills as often as fire drills in schools.

But they have also been told that they have the power to change the world. They’re seizing that power by holding protests, engaging with the issue on social media, and writing to their elected officials.  

After the events of recent school shootings, there’s been a call for change by thousands of people. As for me, I hope that change will happen for the better of young people and citizens everywhere.

2 Comments

  1. Creating stricter gun laws won’t solve any problems. There are more guns in America than people, trying to take them away would be an act of war, and violate the rights of the millions of Americans who are obtaining defence for themselves and their families.

    As said in another comment, the purpose of the second amendment is to grant citizens a defence against a potential tyrannical government. It’s understood that that is a priority not understood by most Canadians but that doesn’t mean we can simply pretend we don’t understand the purpose and significance of it.

    Nonetheless, when it comes to mass shootings the issue isn’t that guns are too easy to access, the issue is that mental health services are often ineffective or unattainable for the people out there that need help the most.

  2. What about the argument that citizens need to be armed in the case of the government increasing its powers for tyrannical, abusive control? Americans need to be able to revolt to maintain the freedoms their country was built upon. This is one of the main arguments that has been around for a long time and is more relevant today than ever before.

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