State of the Question

America’s editorial “Repeal the Second Amendment," in the issue of Feb. 25, evoked considerable reader response. Some comments were published in the issue of April 8-15. Here are more.

Unintended Consequences

With all the gun rhetoric out there, both pro and con, including your proposal, guns are flying off dealers’ shelves, ammunition manufacturers are unable to keep up with orders, and guys with no more than one single-shot, 12-gauge in the closet are out looking to buy AR-15’s “before they are banned.” This cultural divide is not good for the country and needs to be toned down.  


Your proposed repeal will probably go nowhere. But one way or another, it will get a lot of people angry, and the results will be bad for everyone. The national debate over slavery led to the Civil War. Prohibition led to the establishment of organized crime. The war on drugs is a joke. Trying to get Americans to give up their guns, even minimally, will most likely lead to extensive violations of the law and even widespread violence.

Francis J. Murray

Freeport, Me.

Taking Notice

All I can say is: Brilliant! Those who disagree with you seem not to notice that America is not saying no to guns but is updating something that was reasonable in the 18th century but not in the 21st. Please continue your very timely endeavor.

Joan Marie O’Neill, P.B.V.M.

New Windsor, N.Y.

Legitimate Defense

I saw the cover and asked, “Have the editors taken collective leave of their common sense?” I read the editorial and answered my question with a resounding, “Yes!”

Do I have a natural right to defend my life against a real (motive, means, immediacy) lethal threat to my life? I am not asking if I would be obligated to exercise it, but is there at least a right to self-defense? And further: Is there any extension to a right, and perhaps a moral duty, to do the same for my neighbor who is so threatened? If the Good Samaritan had come upon the scene while the bandits were assaulting the traveler, what might Jesus say was his duty?

If the answer to either question is yes, do I not then have a consequent right of access to such means as will effectively accomplish the goal of self-defense (or defense of my neighbor), commensurate to overcoming the level of lethal force being employed by the assailant (law enforcement calls it “the force continuum”)? Or would you hold that any person attacked by another is morally limited to taking flight to avoid injury or death, resorting only to “command presence and voice” or perhaps use of the least offensive means conceivable (bringing a pocket knife to a gunfight)?

(Rev.) Bruce M. Hennington

Livingston, Tex.

Real and Present Danger

It is shockingly naïve for the editors to call the threat of tyranny “an increasingly remote, fanciful possibility in the contemporary United States.” Tyranny in the United States is real and present. Mass incarceration, militarization of police forces, privatization of prisons, full spectrum surveillance, indefinite detention without trials and elections bought by corporate “persons” at home and a global war on terror abroad are only a few aspects of a tyranny that is a “grisly, daily reality” for many.

Yes, “the human cost” of gun violence “is intolerable,” as the editors insist. We cannot, however, begin to address that cost while even tacitly tolerating the far greater human cost of our government’s institutional violence. We cannot protect our own children in their homes and schools while threatening the lives of children in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Colombia, Gaza and Iran.

A year to the day before Martin Luther King Jr. died as a victim of gun violence, he said that before he challenged violence in America’s streets, he needed to first speak clearly to the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today—my own government.” Anything else is straining gnats but swallowing camels.

Brian Terrell

Federal Prison Camp

Yankton, S.D.

Join the Guard

I strongly support your editorial. This will be a long process.

In the meantime I suggest that gun owners be challenged to carry out the full meaning of the Second Amendment. Aren’t the successors of the “well regulated Militias” of 1791 the National Guard Units in each state today? Therefore, shouldn’t those seeking to “keep and bear arms” be expected to join their state’s unit and participate in monthly education, training and drill sessions and a more extensive experience in the summer to maintain and update their skills and knowledge in using their weapons?

Every right has accompanying responsibilities. Those who wish to own guns need to demonstrate clearly their willingness to collaborate with their fellow citizens in carrying their responsibilities as well as their rights, in accord with the full meaning of the Second Amendment.

James DeBoy

Catonsville, Md.

Against the Odds

With more than 300 million guns in the United States, do you seriously believe that their possessors would repeal the only legal protection they have?

I called the special number in Las Vegas to get a sense of the kind of opposition repeal would have. I explained it to a technician who dutifully put the information into a large computer.

The answer came back in five minutes as 7,000 to 1 in opposition. In other words: If I bet $1 for repeal within the 10-year constitutional timeframe for three quarters of the states to ratify it, I would get $7,000. Fat chance. Good luck, in any case. Passage of the repeal would rank as one of the greatest miracles of the 21st century. It would rival only the parting of the waters of the Red Sea by Moses.

Peter J. Riga

Houston, Tex.

Redirect the Focus

Columbine, Virginia Tech and Fort Hood were tragedies involving mentally deranged shooters, a fact that was never mentioned in the editorial; and the victims were killed in gun-free zones. Unfortunately, the shooters followed the long-standing tradition that criminals do not obey the law.

If you want to overturn a law, then overturn abortion on demand, as in Roe v. Wade. Those 80 lives per day attributed to gun violence are dwarfed by the 4,000 lives per day lost by abortion.

Paul Selwa

Brownsburg, Ind.

Call for Confiscation

If you want to fix a national scourge, plead for the confiscation (yes, the “C” word) of unlawful, unregistered guns. This includes the daring but lawful proposition to get warrants and go door-to-door demanding the surrender of illegal weapons. Start in urban areas where violence prevails, and if that offends your sensibilities and sense of due process, well then, tough.

Vincent Gaitley

Online comment

Status Update


Elia Rubio Cuomo. The most courageous act by any institution in the last few years. So much to lose and yet so willing to stand for what is right.

Eduardo Moralez. I agree that far more gun control is needed, but repealing the Second Amendment? Now that the editors of America want to place the Bill of Rights on the chopping block, are there any other portions that they would like to see done away with?

Karen Elizabeth Park. I could not be more proud of the church at this moment.

David Ozab. I don’t think we need to repeal it, but maybe we need to ask ourselves what the words “well regulated” mean.

Ellen Clair Lamb. Thank you for moving the discussion toward a more rational middle ground.

Joreen Kelly. Yes! Thank you, thank you, thank you. Pro-life has to be pro-life from womb to tomb—no exceptions.

Mary Wisner Miller. I will not entirely hand over the protection of myself and my family to a despotic government that fails to protect millions of unborn children. In what world does this make sense?

Roberta Proffitt Lavin. I have the right to own a gun and choose not to because I believe they are implements of violence and are designed to take life. I have the right to have an abortion but would not have one. If we value life, then sometimes we make decisions not because it is our legal right but because it is a moral responsibility.

Julie Gossett. At least this editorial is honest enough to admit that you folks want to change the American Constitution. Unfortunately, America has never called for a constitutional amendment to reverse Roe v. Wade, which is responsible for far, far more human destruction and depravity than guns. I wonder why. I’m sorry to say, the Jesuits are putting political correctness above rationality.

Melonie Tannous. The article makes some assumptions that I find quite narrow-minded. Everyone always thinks that we will never again have to face the possibility of tyranny. This is absurd. History has always repeated itself. Why should it stop now?

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5 years 9 months ago
Why is our government so eager to disarm law-abiding citizens? To save lives? To protect children? We can save more lives by raising the driving age by one year. Add to that a lowering of the speed limit. Would we? Ha. Want to go after illegal weapons? Easy. Go after organized gangs. Oh wait! They fight back. And most are members of a minority group. That would be politically incorrect. Furthermore, harassing gangs could have repercussions in our penal system. Better go after law-abiding citizens.


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