September 17, 1787—The day our ageless Constitution was officially ratified. It also happens to be the day that the pro-gun movement will cement what they regard as their strongest argument: the Second Amendment.
People who defend what they see as the need for guns in this country desperately clutch at the Second Amendment. They wave it in the faces of anti-gun activists, a sense of victory in their words because they believe they’ve attained the most perfect confirmation bias there is: a government document.
Well, I’m here to tell those people that their point is moot, frankly. The Constitution is not set in stone. On the contrary, it morphs with public opinion, transforms with the dynamics of people, and emerges modern every time. It is the true embodiment of a living, breathing document, and was intended as such by the framers.
Nothing proves the changing dynamics of the Constitution better than the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the 1960’s, civil rights was a hotly contested topic, with southern representatives supporting segregation because their constituents did, northern representatives denouncing segregation, and even the President hesitating to act until the events at Selma, Alabama forced him to do so. The point is, attitudes shift with time, and the American public can easily become more tolerant or intolerant of an issue over a period of years. With regards to the Civil Rights of 1964, Congress “enacted a comprehensive measure outlawing discrimination because of race or color in access to public accommodations with a requisite connection to interstate commerce” (1). I’ll repeat this; Congress outlawed discrimination on the basis that it would hurt economies, and that is why the Civil Rights Act of 1964 invoked the commerce clause of the Constiution. This is an example of the Constitution being molded to shape the shifting attitudes of the time. Indeed, Congress using the commerce clause to outlaw segregation was a stretch. But it worked. The main takeaway from this instance is that the Constitution has a history of being fitted and shaped into different perspectives, making it a document that is a far cry from the “set in stone” perception individuals have of it.
And this shaping, reforming, and fitting of the Constitution is exactly what the pro-gun movement is doing to support their stance, while claiming that the Constitution’s Second Amendment is immoveable. Well, I call bullsh*t on that. I wouldn’t have an issue with using the Constitution in an argument as long as you take the modern environment into consideration. And this is what the pro-gun movement is failing to do. When the pro-gun movement invokes the Constitution through their beloved Second Amendment, they are referring to a time long past, and very much different to the AR-15-infested world we live in today. They are referring to a time when the Second Amendment was actually necessary. You have only to read the opening words of the Second Amendment, which are “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” to plainly see the rationale behind the amendment. The amendment was created as a part of the revamped Constitution, formed after the complete failure of the Articles of Confederation, which failed because they unwittingly handed too much power over to the states. The Second Amendment, in particular, was adopted in order to “reassure states concerned that Congress might try to disarm the state militias.. [since the] state militias were… the chief military force of the nation” (2). We are far past this time, where states held much sway and the federal government was weak. Today, we live in a nation where the federal government is powerful, and rightly so, since only strong central governments have the capability to handle events such as depressions, stock market crashes, or civil unrest. Today, the Second Amendment is, frankly, unnecessary. Today, invoking the Second Amendment to defend your pro-gun views is, at best, misinformed, and at worst, ignorant. I kindly ask those people to reeducate themselves regarding the history of the Second Amendment, and its original, and only purpose.
The Constitution is specifically designed to reshape itself according to the attitudes of the public, and if we are truly adhering to this design, then it would be inaccurate to invoke the Second Amendment to support pro-gun views. It would be inaccurate because invoking the Amendment fails to take into consideration rapidly evolving technology that makes weapons deadlier, the mass shooting epidemic in America, and a shifting public consensus that gun control, at least, should be stronger. While I would call for a complete repealment of the Second Amendment, I recognize how tricky and radical this would be, and so gun control is where the nation should start.
To be quite honest, I am sick and tired of hearing about the supposed sanctity of the Second Amendment. Sick and tired of debating pro-gun individuals who fail to recognize that the debate isn’t about adhering to the Constitution-- it’s about making the lives of everyday Americans safer, and less drenched with death. I am especially sick and tired of hearing about the ‘right to bear Arms,’ and want to scream that the ‘right to be safe’ in this nation is more pressing.
Call me a socialist, a communist, or anything, I don’t give a damn. But if believing in a world where guns are outlawed, mass shootings decrease, and where I can send my little brother up into the bus without feeling a sense of trepidation deep in my stomach makes me a socialist, or a communist, then I will wear that brand proudly. Throw those accusations at me; they are nothing but syllables and vowels that barely dent my shell. Besides, socialists are the cool kids on the block. F*ck the absolute ignorance of pro-gun activists, especially those who espouse the Second Amendment.
(1) https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution-conan/article-1/section-8/clause-3/civil-rights (2) https://www.minnpost.com/eric-black-ink/2019/05/second-amendments-origins-laid-out-in-compelling-fashion-by-igor-volsky/