With the US election passing just a month ago, it seems fitting to once again evaluate the Second Amendment, and its apparent necessity to a lot of American citizens.
The Second Amendment, reading:
“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.“
can be interpreted in two ways. One, arguably the most well-known and heavily supported, says that every US citizen has the legal right to bear arms without links to any military force. The second, however, details that individual State militias may be allowed weaponry but not individuals separate to that.
The second meaning of this amendment immediately appealed to me as an almost unheard of compromise between the (stereotypical) views of Republicans and Democrats. Despite Hillary Clinton’s attempts at compromising with gun laws during her electoral campaign (and the numerous attempts Obama has made), I can’t believe reducing access to guns is comparable to how simply this argument reduces the hold many have on the Second Amendment. Nevertheless, some could argue that there is more than just the meaning of the Second Amendment that would swing both supporters and votes. A resounding number of American citizens use their guns for hobbies (such as hunting) or as a means of protection. Some could even call them vital in country life where some animals are hostile and potentially lethal. Even in cities, some would argue that guns are necessary to protect people against intruders or attackers. They could also say that even attempting to restrict guns would spawn a black market without any government control (a well voiced argument for legalising drugs as well). This, I believe, is all well and good until guns used for security turn into a wall of guns that aren’t properly locked away.
It seems odd, despite the cities being feared for their gang violence, dark alleyways, and the lack of a tightknit community, that many shootings originate from children and teenagers getting into locked cupboards full of guns – typically in the country. Another oddity is the rising frequency of mass shootings in the US since 2000 – with five occurring in 2015. You would think, by now, that America would unanimously agree that guns need restrictions for the safety of the entire population. We can certainly see Democrats pushing for change, as they have for years, yet there are still many who disagree. “If only they had a gun” they cry after every mass shooting, but they did have a gun, only the person who did was the shooter. Then they quickly descend the slippery slope of “guns in cities”, “guns in the streets”, “guns in the car”, “guns in school” and it delves into ridicule. Perhaps the stance of a British citizen, who has never really been involved with guns at any level, isn’t the most sympathetic of routes, yet it baffles me that Americans have such a lack of understanding that hobbies and addled theories of safety can’t be placed above the lives of others and clearly proven drops in gun violence.
To quickly compare gun violence rates in the US to ours: guns homicides per 100,000 people for the US totals at 3.2, whereas in England and Wales it comes to 0.07. No country except for the US in the top 25 in the Human development Index rises above 0.77 per 100,000.
Another outrageously displaced focus the US has found is terrorism. While it isn’t unfounded to be worried about attacks, the casualties due to terrorism in the US (between 2005 and 2015) is less than 1/10,000 of the casualties from gun violence in the same time span.
Finally, it seems to be a question of what is being done. A short answer is nothing. Especially with a Republican House, Senate, and President Elect, it’s extremely unlikely anything will change in favour of gun control anytime soon. Furthered by years of hardly any improvement and an uprise in nationalism, the Second Amendment doesn’t look like it will relinquish its hold on US politics any time soon. It is too integrated with politics, lifestyles, and the rights people hold dear to ever really be completely removed. Nevertheless, perhaps in years to come America will aim to reduce its gun deaths. But for now, Americans have shot themselves in the foot.