Repeal the Second Amendment

Plagued by rising levels of violent crime, in the autumn of 1976 the District of Columbia enacted one of the nation’s toughest gun control laws. The law effectively banned handguns, automatic firearms and high-capacity semiautomatic weapons. Police officers were exempt from the provisions of the law, as were guns registered before 1976. Over the following decade, the murder rate in Washington, D.C., declined, then increased, shadowing a national trend. Overall, however, the new law helped to prevent nearly 50 deaths per year, according to one study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. “We knew there were problems we couldn’t wipe out,” said Sterling Tucker, chair of the district council at the time, as he reflected on the law 22 years later. “But we had a little more control over it.”

On June 26, 2008, in a closely watched, far-reaching decision, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the D.C. law, ruling that it violated the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states: “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.” In the court’s majority opinion, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia wrote: “We are aware of the problem of handgun violence in this country, and we take seriously the concerns raised by the many amici who believe that the prohibition of handgun ownership is a solution.... But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table.”

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Justice Scalia was right. Even those who subscribe to methods of constitutional interpretation other than Mr. Scalia’s brand of modified originalism must concede the basic point: The Second Amendment impedes the power of the government to regulate the sale or possession of firearms. Unfortunately, the grim consequence of this constitutional restriction is measured in body counts. The murder of 20 elementary school children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., in December was merely the latest in a string of mass shootings: Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek. In the last 30 years, there have been 62 mass shootings (each leaving at least four people dead) in the United States. Since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colo., there have been 130 shootings at schools; nearly half involved multiple deaths or injuries.

True, stricter gun laws would not have prevented all these tragedies. But it is very likely that stricter measures could have prevented at least some of these incidents and could have minimized the number of casualties involved. Two facts should be kept in mind. First, the easier it is to get a gun, the easier it is to make use of one. Second, a violent act involving a gun is far more likely to result in fatalities or multiple casualties than a violent act involving some other type of weapon. The notion, therefore, that there is no meaningful correlation between the nation’s relatively lenient gun control laws and the extent of the nation’s gun violence simply defies common sense. It also contradicts the empirical evidence. Experts at the Harvard School of Public Health found that when gun availability increases, so do gun homicides. In the United States, there are approximately 300 million guns in civilian hands, the highest per capita rate in the world (88.8 guns per 100 residents, well ahead of Yemen, No. 2 with 54.8). Though the United States represents less than 5 percent of the global population, Americans own 40 percent of the world’s civilian-owned firearms.

Each year in the United States, approximately 30,000 people, or 80 per day, die from gun violence. True, guns do not kill people; people kill people. In the United States, however, people kill people by using guns. The murder rate in America is 15 times higher than in other first-world countries; the majority of these murders are committed with guns. As for the notion that guns are necessary in order to defend oneself from an intruder with a gun: One study of three U.S. cities revealed that injuries involving guns kept at home almost always resulted from accidental firings, criminal assaults, homicides and suicides by the residents, not self-defense scenarios. In October the American Academy of Pediatrics reminded us, “The safest home for children and teens is one without guns.”

The facts, however, do not appear to shake a deeply held American belief in the near-unconditional use of force as a means to an end. The culture of violence in America has spawned a deadly syllogism: Guns solve problems; we have problems; therefore, we need guns. Yet consider the tragedy in Aurora. Imagine if just 10 other people in that movie theater had been carrying guns. In the confusion of the onslaught, would fewer people or more people have died when those 10 other people opened fire in the dark? More important, is this really the kind of world we want to live in, a world in which lethal power can be unleashed at any moment at any corner, in any home, in any school?

We do not have to live in such a world. Both Australia and Britain, for example, experienced gun massacres in 1996 and subsequently enacted stricter gun control laws. Their murder rates dropped. Yet in the United States, the birthplace of pragmatism, our fundamental law proscribes practical, potentially life-saving measures.

Americans must ask: Is it prudent to retain a constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms when it compels our judges to strike down reasonable, popularly supported gun regulations? Is it moral to inhibit in this way the power of the country’s elected representatives to provide for the public safety? Does the threat of tyranny, a legitimate 18th-century concern but an increasingly remote, fanciful possibility in the contemporary United States, trump the grisly, daily reality of gun violence? The answer to each of these questions is no. It is time to face reality. If the American people are to confront this scourge in any meaningful way, then they must change. The Constitution must change. The American people should repeal the Second Amendment.

We acknowledge the gravity of our proposal. The Bill of Rights enumerates our most cherished freedoms. Any proposal to change the nation’s fundamental law is a very serious matter. We do not propose this course of action in a desultory manner, nor for light or transient reasons. We also acknowledge that repeal faces serious, substantial political obstacles and will prove deeply unpopular with many Americans. Nevertheless, we believe that repeal is necessary and that it is worthy of serious consideration.

Our proposal is in keeping, moreover, with the spirit in which the Constitution was drafted. The Bill of Rights belongs to a document that was designed to be changed; indeed, it was part of the genius of our founders to allow for a process of amendment. The process is appropriately cumbersome, but it is not impossible. Since its adoption in 1787, the American people have chosen to amend the Constitution 27 times. A century ago, leaders like Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson raised serious questions about the Consti-tution. Amendments soon followed, including provisions for a federal income tax, the direct election of U.S. senators, women’s suffrage and the prohibition of alcohol. The 21st Amendment, which repealed prohibition, established the precedent for our proposal.

Yet that kind of thoughtful, critical engagement with our fundamental law, the kind of spirited debate that characterized early 20th-century America, is not evident in contemporary American discourse. In the national imagination, the Constitution is too often thought of as a kind of sacred text. Yet neither our founders nor our forebears held to that view. The Constitution is mere human law. It is excellent law, but it is not divine law; it is not revelation. We should be wary of amending the Bill of Rights. We should also be wary of idolizing it. The Constitution is the man-made law of a self-governing people; the people, therefore, are entitled to ask basic, critical questions about it. In our time, is a given constitutional provision a good law or a bad law? Does it promote the common good? The secular dogma of constitutional immutability must yield to careful, critical inquiry.

In the most comprehensive statement on gun violence to come from the U.S. bishops’ conference, in 1975, a committee identified “the easy availability of handguns in our society” as a major threat to human life and called for “effective and courageous action to control handguns, leading to their eventual elimination from our society” with “exceptions…for the police, military, security guards” and sporting clubs. While this course of action, as the District of Columbia discovered, is constitutionally proscribed, reasonable restrictions on handguns are morally licit in the Catholic tradition. Indeed, we may have a moral duty to enact such laws.

In a recent interview, Tommaso Di Ruzza, the expert on disarmament and arms control at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, explained that an individual does not possess an absolute natural right to own a lethal weapon: “There is a sort of natural right to defend the common interest and the common good” by the limited use of force, but this applies more to nations with an effective rule of law, not armed individuals. In the wake of Newtown, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said that “the fight for greater gun control in the country” is a pro-life position. “The unfettered access to assault weapons and handguns, along with the glorification of violence in our ‘entertainment’ industry…is really all part of a culture of death,” Cardinal Dolan said.

Repealing the Second Amendment will not create a culture of life in one stroke. Stricter gun laws will not create a world free of violence, in which gun tragedies never occur. We cannot repeal original sin. Though we cannot create an absolutely safe world, we can create a safer world. This does not require an absolute ban on firearms. In the post-repeal world that we envision, some people will possess guns: hunters and sportsmen, law enforcement officers, the military, those who require firearms for morally reasonable purposes. Make no mistake, however: The world we envision is a world with far fewer guns, a world in which no one has a right to own one. Some people, though far fewer, will still die from gun violence. The disturbing feeling that we have failed to do everything in our power to remove the material cause of their deaths, however, will no longer compound our grief.

The Supreme Court has ruled that whatever the human costs involved, the Second Amendment “necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table.” The justices are right. But the human cost is intolerable. Repeal the Second Amendment.

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Michael Kent
5 years 8 months ago
"Our proposal is in keeping, moreover, with the spirit in which the Constitution was drafted. The Bill of Rights belongs to a document that was designed to be changed; indeed, it was part of the genius of our founders to allow for a process of amendment." The Second Amendment can be repealed. As can the First Amendment. For that matter, the entire Bill of Rights can be tossed out and the rest of the Constitution scrapped with it. But the rights affirmed by those parchments cannot be repealed. The Bill of Rights merely affirms certain rights that the Founders understood to be naturally existing. Apparently, even the Jesuits now think that rights are created by, flow from, and thus exist at the whim of, the government.
Michael Kent
5 years 8 months ago
“There is a sort of natural right to defend the common interest and the common good” by the limited use of force, but this applies more to nations with an effective rule of law, not armed individuals." A "sort of natural right"? Possessed by governments? That is what passes forJesuitical logic these days? Wrong. There are no "natural rights" inhering in governments. Natural rights inhere only in individuals. In fact, governments do not possess any rights at all! They merely possess certain powers delegated to them by the people. All "rights", as such, are retained by the people and cannot be taken away.
Michael Kent
5 years 8 months ago
"Tommaso Di Ruzza, the expert on disarmament and arms control at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, explained that an individual does not possess an absolute natural right to own a lethal weapon." If I have an absolute natural right to use lethal force in defense of my life or another person's life -- which I do -- then it follows that I do, in fact, have an absolute natural right to own a lethal weapon. Of course, that does not mean that I have an absolute right to own absolutely any lethal weapon. But the Founders, for starters, were clear about what they mean by "arms", and I am happy to take up that debate in another thread if need be.
Michael Kent
5 years 8 months ago
"The Constitution is mere human law. It is excellent law, but it is not divine law; it is not revelation." Without calling it "revelation" we can agree that the Constitution articulates principles of natural law as understood by the Framers. It cannot be credibly argued otherwise.
Alex David
5 years 8 months ago
Funny how this magazine is called "America" and they want to repeal the 2nd Amendment. There is a reason why it is the 2nd, just right after the 1st right of Free Speech, etc. America exists because of the rights secured by our Creator and one of those is the right to defend ourselves and to bear arms. The author also does not even bother to explain what it takes to repeal a Constitutional Amendment. Why? Because if he did, his article becomes folly and useless.
Rick Speicher
5 years 8 months ago
As a gun owner, I surprisingly find myself agreeing with you. If your goal is to take firearms away from law-abiding citizens, then your only recourse is to amend the constitution. By all means, go ahead and try. You'll just need to get two thirds of both houses of Congress and 38 of the state legislatures to agree to it, but I'm sure it's doable. So, good luck with that.
John Beier
5 years 8 months ago
The author recognizes the uniquely high level of gun ownership in the United States, but does not connect that rate to the fact that the United States is both highly dynamic and innovative while remaining exceptionally stable and protective of individual liberty. It is this combination that has enabled the United States to lead the World out of perpetual poverty and tyranny to achieve the levels of wealth, health and freedom enjoyed by most people across the World today. By distributing the right of defense to the lowest level, the US Constitution has ensured that the consent of the governed will always be required to rule this nation, while also allowing the country to adapt and transform itself in every other way. This is the genius of the Second Amendment. If you want to see what happens without trusting duty of defense to the general population, look at most other nations over the past 230 years. With very few exceptions, they have endured periods of tyranny, where their governments have acted brutally against the individual, at a cost of hundreds of millions slain or starved. The United States has acted to save the World from just this type of tyranny three times in the last hundred years, asking nothing in return but a few acres to bury our dead. The United States is the exception to the rule of tyranny, and the exceptionally high rate of gun ownership in the United States is the mechanism of this exception.
eamon kelly
5 years 8 months ago
What reasonable sounding but fallacious tripe. The new catch phrase, 'gun violence' brings a new and terrifying element to the argument of guns, compelling us to act quickly to avoid anymore 'violence' while is ratchets down the 'control' aspect, giving the appearance of benign sensibility. In the last hundred years tens of millions of humans have died at the hands of tyrants and despots and millions more continue to suffer in oppressive hellholes because they lacked the one thing that gives the would-be dictator pause; an armed populace. As bad as it seems, gun violence today and the resultant toll on humanity is but a mere blip compared to those hundred years and any attempt to alter that equation by seemingly well-meaning people or groups is sheer sophistry. The greatest crimes against humanity have been done, ironically, in the name of humanity. The founders were nothing if not prescient.
Jim Lewis
5 years 8 months ago
Those who would give up liberty for safety deserve neither liberty or safety.
Laura Denton
5 years 8 months ago

" The world we envision is a world with far fewer guns, a world in which no one has a right to own one" - except, of course, tyrants. I wonder how many Jews would have died before and during WWII if they had been allowed to protect themselves with guns? How about Russians during the tyrannical reign of Josef Stalin? Chinese during the bloody reign of Mao? This writer, though well-intentioned, has no concept of why the Second Amendment was added to the Constitution. It was not added to protect the rights of hunters, or even people trying to protect their homes and families. It was enacted to protect the citizenry from a tyrannical government. If you want to protest this fact by saying that this could never happen, let me point out that people in the last century believed the same as you, and look what it got them.

don sykes
5 years 8 months ago
67% of firearm murders happened in the largest Metro areas. Almost all are solid democratic voting districts and voted for Obama. New Orleans, Detroit and Obama's Chicago are far above the national average when it comes to gun violence and those cities voted OVERWHELMINGLY for Obama and the Democrats. Gun violence is a Democrat party problem. They are far more violent than Republicans.
David Leach
5 years 8 months ago
There are those in government who want to take away your right to Freedom of Religion as it relates to HHS mandates and abortion rights. They claim that the world will be safer and healthier and that the 1st Amendment shouldn't apply. Perhaps we should repeal the 1st Amendment as well. The human cost if we don't is intolerable.
Allen Johnson
5 years 8 months ago
Why don't we repeal the 26th amendment instead. Getting children off the voter rolls will do wonders to get more responsible people into office who will not try to repeal the only right that guarantees all the others.
Gus Bailey
5 years 8 months ago
I'm assuming you are running low on Jesuits on your editorial staff. Your arguments, while well meaning and obviously peaceful, are rife with straw-men. You would leave the flock unprotected from the predations of the secular world. We are not monks, we are not secure in our cloisters, we must perforce survive in the secular world with as much Christian guidance as possible. This is an idealistic and naieve pipe dream. I am disappointed.
John Clement
5 years 8 months ago
why don't we start at the top and repeal them right down the list in order? Those who deny the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.
john andrechak
5 years 8 months ago
I was glad to see the editorial brave stand by the writers! How many of those writing against it understand that a large number of the pro-gunners are paranoid delusional? maybe those writing against the editorial are also paranoid. Let me guess, most of those writing against this column are "pro-life" and supported the unjust invasion of Iraq
Stanley Kopacz
5 years 8 months ago
If someone is carrying a gun, he's no problem as long as his mind is under control. The possession of a gun can even lull him into a delusional sense of autonomy. In the meantime, he has no control of his government. Or his CPI. Or his life.
Tomas Nally
5 years 8 months ago
Should the 2nd Amendment be repealed, the right to bear arms does not go away. After all, the 2nd Amendment doesn't give us the right to bear arms. Rather, it RECOGNIZES a right that PRE-EXISTS our government...and all governments. The right to bear arms is a "natural right". (Jefferson called these "unalienable rights" from "The Creator".) What is a "natural right"? It refers to the rights that you would have if you and thirty acquaintances were stranded on a desert island beyond the reach of any government. Among other things, it includes the right to defend yourself, with weapons if need be, from those who would subjugate you, or otherwise do you harm. We don't need an authority to give us this right. We are endowed with it by virtue of our humanity.
Thomas DeCive
5 years 8 months ago
well said
Jen M
5 years 8 months ago
Actually, this is not entirely true. The Constitution and the rights therein are a "social contract." Social Contract theory was presented in the 1600's and 1700's and many of the Founding Fathers point to its originators as inspiration for the Constitution - Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau to name a few. The theory states that as people we have the right to do whatever it is that we want, including murdering, stealing, etc. But in order to live in a civilized society, we must give up some of those rights to be regulated by a power above us (police, government) so that said power can protect us from people who DO kill and steal. Obviously, ideally you give up as little rights as possible, but as society changes so does the contract. God has given man free will, and therefore the right to do whatever he pleases. The question we should be asking ourselves isn't what rights do we have? Because you're right in asserting that we have all the rights that exist in the world. The question should be, what rights are we willing to give up so that our country and our children are safe?
pale horse
5 years 7 months ago
brilliantly stated
scott roberts
5 years 8 months ago
My right to arms is not dependent upon the 2nd Amendment. As the SC said in CRUISHANK (1878) the right to arms (and assembly and speech) existed "prior" to the adoption of the Constitution and the 2nd Amendment only protects thata pre-existing right from infringment. If the 2A were to be repealed you would likely have a new revolutionary war. Indeed you might get it yet if you do not quit trying to disarm the American people. We law-abiding citizens (that is redundant of course) are tired of be told that we believe "in the near-unconditional use of force as a means to an end" and other such tripe. We believe in no such thing. We do however believe that the right to use deadly force in self-defense is a natural right. That right exists whether gov't allows it or not. And wherever gov'ts have not allowed it the cost in freedom and human lives has been much higher than the supposed cost of the right to keep and bear arms has been in the US. So, take this as a warning. Pushing gun control is going to have unintended consequences. The above mentioned civil war is one. And the elitists and other wannabe tyrants won't escape their responsibility for that violence.
Dave Hickman
5 years 7 months ago
I'm glad there are people like you that understand the result of being disarmed. The second amendment was written to enforce the 1st Amendment. How do we enforce it without guns?
Darren Potter
5 years 8 months ago
"very likely that stricter measures could have prevented at least some of these incidents" Based on F.B.I. crime statistics, stricter gun control measures would result in more tragedies or incidents. Less guns = more violent and deadly crimes (period). Criminals don't need guns to murder, but criminals will "always" be able to get guns** to murder with. Non-criminals benefit from having guns to protect themselves, because non-criminals do not get to choose the time and place they are attacked, nor the size and skill of their criminal attacker. A gun is an Equalizer. **Especially with Barack Obama and Eric Holder running Guns. Regardless, Second Amendment is there to protect We the People from Dictators, Kings, Czars, Socialists, and Commies who want to turn America into another USSR, 3rd Reich, Korea, Vietnam, or Iran.
scott roberts
5 years 8 months ago
The gun makes civilization possible. Without an equalizer, the gun, the weak are at the mercy of the strong. In the US most rapes occur without a weapon being used, much less a gun. Why, because men in general are stronger than women in general. Extend that to the entire population. The smaller, the older, the weaker, at the mercy of the strong. And the police only minutes away when needed. Keep your gun-free utopia. I'll take messy freedom. It's a lot less deadly in the long run.
Jen M
5 years 8 months ago
Actually most rapes are acquaintance rapes and a gun is not involved because a predator preys on the low-confidence and trust of the victim. You're very much mistaken to believe that rape is just a struggle of physical strength - it involves power on many different levels. You're also mistaken to believe that guns are the only thing that keeps this country strong.
Elmer Stoup
5 years 8 months ago
Six years of Jesuit education (Creighton Prep and Creighton U), I thought, taught me that I have a God-given individual right to defend myself and my family. As other commenters have pointed out, the Federal government did not grant this right and can't take it away. The 2nd Amendment says that the Federal government shall not infringe on this right. Your editorial writers should have learned their lesson with ObamaCare's infringement upon our religious freedoms which the 1st Amendment supposedly protects. We'll see whether this scrap of paper will save our religious freedoms from overweaning politicians and activist judges. So, why are you making Big Brother's job of controlling our lives easier than it already is? You need to acknowledge we have rights which a government can't take away from us, among them, the most elemental right of all, to defend oneself. Otherwise you're nothing more than left-wings hacks who think they can run our lives better than we the people can.
pale horse
5 years 7 months ago
thank you.
Rick Malloy
5 years 8 months ago
The 2nd amendment grants the right to own a musket. Time to get an amendment for the 21st century. Kudos to America for speaking this truth.
Tomas Nally
5 years 8 months ago
Rick, I think you are incorrect. I don't believe that the 2nd Amendment grants anything. Read it again. The Amendment is a limitation on the power of government to interfere with a Right that already exists.
john andrechak
5 years 8 months ago
great writing; as far as those writers frothing against this editorial, the armed citizens protecting against the government? Please, trillions of dollars of wealth have been stolen from 99% of Americans, and where are the gun nights? And let me guess, all those ranting in favor of guns A) consider themselves pro-life, and B) supported the unjust war on Iraq
Michael Assaf
5 years 8 months ago
Let us not forget that the Viet Cong faught an effective war against two superpowers and finally won. They started with shoulder fired weapons. An armed defense of our rights IS possible. However, look at the ineffectiveness of gun control in NY and Chicago on crime. A bottle of gasoline and a rag can kill more people than an AR-15. If citizens of the world are disarmed, they become the subjects of their governments. For the recors, Yes to A and no to B. All of us doing a better job of being christians is the correct answer to ending violence.
Steve brown
5 years 8 months ago
You would drag the murder of innocent children into this discussion ? Let me guess: all those ranting in favor of gun control A) consider themselves pro-abortion and anti-death penalty, and B) supported the war in Iraq before they were against it. Finding the murder of innocents OK but despairing over the law-required death of a murderer who, under the ageis of the law, is found guilty by 12 peers, is as absolutely illogical as it is depressing. Sir, back to your pot and Xanex.
Jeff Moran
5 years 8 months ago
Editors, I study human rights law in Geneva, and I am profoundly distressed and disappointed at this piece for its immoral presumption that the individual's right to armed self-defense should be entirely subordinated to a collective or government interest and that somehow the Second Amendment is now so restrictive that it doesn't allow for serious and meaningful gun control policies. Current American and international law clearly allows for a balance of the individual's right with the collective and state interest of law, order, public safety. Your piece seems based on a delusion about the law. The fact is that the right to keep and bear arms is not an absolute right just because it is in the Bill of Rights, not even the right to right to life is absolute in the eyes of the law. This is why even in international human rights law there are words like "arbitrary" and derogation clauses. I'm also disappointed that you wrongly argue, like many others tend to do, that the US should be more like other developed countries by banning guns, because such bans are the reason why mass shootings haven't happened there. Three problems with this. First off, countries are different, and different approaches are needed to their problems. The international arguments for gun bans in the US make as much sense as saying “democracy seems to work in America, so China must reject Communism now.” To anybody with any sense of international perspective on Chinese history, such a line of advocacy is simply ridiculous. Second, while America shares many important economic characteristics with other developed countries, and it is democratic like many others as well, America remains exceptional in several respects. America, unlike the usual countries it is compared to, was founded out of an insurgent war of national liberation from an abusive colonizer. As such, the United States has an incomparable political and social legacy, and modern day context. What keeps America exceptional is that individualism is sewn into the fabric of society and constitution (in contrast to collectivism, or the supremacy of a Party, a King, or a religion, etc.). Third, Australia and the UK have been singled out as good and relevant examples of gun bans done good. They aren't. A quick fact check is in order. While gun killings are not as bad as the US, the UK violent crime rate went up after their gun ban and is now multiple times that of the United States. The same would likely result in the US, and I doubt anybody would trade out guns for a more pervasive risk of general violence. With respect to Australia, you should know a reputable scholarly study (McPhedran & Baker, 2008) suggests Australia's gun ban had no impact on mass killings there especially since New Zealand, a comparable but relatively more heavily armed “control” country that did not have a ban, did not experience mass shootings either during the 10 year study period. I am also disappointed that you wrongly frame the problem of gun violence as somehow epidemically large and increasing and affecting everybody equally. My 8 February Washington Times commentary addresses this directly. Gun homicide, suicide, and accidents are in fact declining, and relative to other preventable non-gun accidents in America, they are very small. The problem of gun violence is way more complex, and one-size-fits-all solutions are not appropriate. Suggesting American repeal the Second Amendment without even examining the data on weapons usage, demographic impact analysis, or a look at trends comes off as lazy and unreasoned. Some key facts to recognize: First, with respect to gun homicide, a quick review of relevant data will show you that it is clearly and mostly a problem that disproportionately affects blacks who account for just 14% of the total population (54% of all gun homicides from 1993-2009 took the lives of blacks according to the CDC). Second, gun suicides are way more numerous than gun homicides and gun related accidental deaths combined. Third, accidental gun deaths are so infrequent they don’t even merit serious discussion. Twice as many people die from natural disasters, seven times more people die from drowning, and 36 times more people die from poisoning and accidental gun deaths have decreased by nearly 70% since 1993. It would seem just from this quick review that suicide and care for the mentally ill seems much more appropriate to fixate on than the means/methods of homicide. This being said, your citation of "reputable" academic studies is not relevant nor all that helpful. I’m talking about the ones that show the incidence of death going up with greater gun availability. This logic is as irrelevant as it is mockable to me. You could substitute "firearms" with "knives" or even "contaminated food" and one would find an increase in incidence of death. My point is that your reliance on these studies are borderline worthless and present a moral hazard of their own when you use them to extrapolate into the realm of private behavior policy. Let me also inject some relevant data on weapons usage in the United States by the FBI and CDC. About 58% of all homicides from 2000 to 2010 involved guns says the CDC. But, the FBI says the share of all types of firearms relative to non-firearms weapons in homicide from 2006 to 2010 (the most recent data available) has actually decreased. It didn’t decrease by much, but the point is that it decreased. And, the share of non-firearms weapons in homicide over this period actually increased. What’s more, the same data shows the HUMAN BODY is absolutely more lethal than rifles and shotguns combined in America with the human body becoming more lethal over time while rifles and shotguns are becoming less lethal. In conclusion, unless you can point to some other data to consider, asserting that now is the time to tackle guns and guns availability is demonstrably arbitrary and indicates you have done grossly inadequate research on the problem you claim to be solving. You don’t even appear to even have a clue about the problem of violence in America. You seem focused on symptoms and a simplistic one-size-fits all “nuclear” option of repealing the Second Amendment and banning guns of all kinds. The fact is that gun use in homicides is on the decline compared to other weapons like sharp or blunt objects, or the human body. Claiming guns are a growing problem requiring the repeal of the Second Amendment is absolutely unsupportable when reconciled with facts published by the both the FBI and the CDC showing gun use in homicide is decreasing. I would go even further and say your article is completely off target and socially irresponsible because it jeopardizes rational and reasoned efforts to actually bring about practical solutions with serious humanitarian impact. Shame on you. This is because your article will polarize and motivate many more people to join organizations like the NRA (which has grown from around 4 million to around 5 million in just the past two months). You have succeeded only in pouring fuel on the policy fire. You have delivered the validation irrational and extremely pro-gun people needed to justify their now not-so-crazy view that extreme progressives like yourselves are out to grab everybody’s guns and to dissolve the right to keep and bear arms completely. Lawmakers and policymakers need to look at facts, not feel with emotion with regard to public policy making. And you have a moral obligation to do this as well. And you seem to have shamefully failed. If we focus on weapons that are truly becoming more dangerous, the data actually shows that sharp objects, blunt objects, and the human body are where to start. But this is misguided too. Americans need to focus on the problem of resorting to violence in the first place, not the means and methods so much. Policies should therefore focus on reducing the probability somebody decides to act violently well before they pick their weapon, whether it be their fist, a club, a knife, or a rifle. This must entail targeted and tailored outreach and care to those most at risk of acting violently, and a complete rethink of how children are socialized in civil society. Again, shame on you for making matters worse with your editorial. You have done humanitarians a tremendous disservice. Jeff Moran The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Geneva, Switzerland
Michael Zorn
5 years 8 months ago
Jeff: I commend your elegant stand on the side of right and reason. The editors may have been testing the waters. If so, they've found them most uncongenial.
Greg Redford
5 years 5 months ago
He doth protest too much ... "Jeff Moran, a Principal at TSM Worldwide LLC, specializes in the international defense, security, and firearms industries. Previously Mr. Moran was a strategic marketing leader for a multi-billion dollar unit of a public defense & aerospace company, a military diplomat, and a nationally ranked competitive rifle shooter. He is currently studying international law of armed conflict with the Executive LL.M. Program of the Geneva Academy. Earlier this year he completed an Executive Master in International Negotiation from the Graduate Institute of Geneva. Mr. Moran also has an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and a BSFS from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service." -- http://iapcar.org/?tag=jeff-moran Surely there is no bias in your presentation of your facts is there? Regards,
Elmer Stoup
5 years 8 months ago
Jeff Moran: Well reasoned and insightful comments with facts to debunk the editors' phony statistics. I knew there was a large jump in violent crime in Great Britain after law-abiding citizens could not own firearms. However don't be so hard on the NRA. They are working to defend our individual liberties. I joined four years ago after my Democratic liberal buddies made it clear they didn't give a damn about our individual rights. They thought that, if only they could pass yet another blizzard of laws outlawing handguns, the inner city would magically become safer. Even when they acknowledged these gun bans don't actually stop "gun violence" because criminals and creeps ignore them, they still insisted we had to "do something." That night I decided to join the NRA. The other thing that bothers me about this article is that the editors of a supposedly religious magazine made almost no attempt to justify, on a theological basis, why people have no individual right to protect themselves. They quote one sentence, probably ripped out of context, from a guy most readers never heard of.
Steve brown
5 years 8 months ago
The purpose of your American 2nd Amendment is not just for self-protection from thugs or break-ins to your homes, or hunting or any of the other stated issues. It is for protection against "King George" level over reach by your Federal Government. This reason both includes and eclipes all the others. THAT is your Founders reason for including it immediately behind religion and speech freedoms. We are concerned with things to the extent we do not have them--and your Founders were very concerned about all three. The 2A's purpose is not to "Take over" the government--it is to defend yourself against it. Thus the pledge to obey the Constitution and defend America against all threats, foreign and domestic...that all government employees make from your president to your private. Keep in mind that at the time of your founding that the British Empire was the most powerful entity on earth. To go to war against a power that had worldwide reach seemed insane at the time. To go against an American government that may/will eventually seek to oppress its people--ALL governments eventually deteriorate to that level (c.f. "Revolution")--seems equally ridiculous. But defense of one's freedoms, home and family has historically carried the day against the largest oppressors. Follow any gun registration scheme long enough and you'll see that country eventually ends up with some form of depotism. The more facist or socialist the government, the faster this change occurs.
Kenneth Borah
5 years 8 months ago
This is one of two issues (the other being immigration reform) that official and quasi-official elements of the Catholic Church should refrain from commenting on. As a non-Catholic who supported the Catholic Church in its grievance against the Obama Administration over the requirement to provide birth control, I am offended that you would so casually dismiss my right, as a free man, to defend myself and my family. I would venture a guess I'm not alone in these feelings. Since you want to tinker with the Bill of Rights, if you're going to repeal my 2nd Amendment rights, let's take a look at the rights afforded to you under the 1st Amendment. Furthermore, while we're repealing fundamental rights, let's talk about repealing the 2nd Amendment when you advocate for the repeal of clerical celibacy.
Elmer Stoup
5 years 8 months ago
Kenneth, as a Catholic taught by the Jesuits, I appreciate your support of 1st Amendment rights of all of us. This magazine has always been a liberal Democratic lover of Big Government as a solution to societal ills. As I've pointed out elsewhere in the comments, mainstream Catholic teaching holds that we have an individual right to defend ourselves. You'll notice these left-wing editorial writers don't even try to address Catholic teaching on the natural right of self-defense, but for a one sentence quote from a guy nobody's heard of, which was probably taken out of context..
john andrechak
5 years 8 months ago
sad but I should not be surprised- those ranters such as the one of "taking my R 15 when I am dead must be the contemporary US version of the Spanish Catholics who backed Franco-Flangist, etal. or Chilean Catholics who sided with Pinochet
Dominick Ahrens
4 years 5 months ago
Such pithy anti-Catholic commentary with comments like the ones made above disparaging the Founders? Che shirt.
bill carson
5 years 8 months ago
Fight the Jesuits to the death!
Gerald Mucci
5 years 8 months ago
I was shopping for a Christian/Catholic magazine for my Kindle Fire. Upon reading this editorial that promotes the removal of one of our cherished rights of self-defense in this country, I will certainly look elsewhere. Do the editors really believe that outlawing our right to bear arms will make us safer? Their opinions are irrational and untrustworthy. Look at Chicago! Or are they coming from the perspective of being entirely "Christlike" by subjecting ourselves and our families to gang rape, theft, murder, torture and mayhem.
David Haschka
5 years 8 months ago
I seem to recall that once before, a determined minority in the USA sought to control individual behavior they deemed harmful and distasteful by means of amending the constitution. The result was the 18th Amendment, How'd that work out? Those who would ignore history are doomed to repeat it!
Frank Huber
5 years 8 months ago
Interesting discussion! As I am not a hunter, am no longer in the US Military and have developed other interests by which to hone and test my mechanical skills, I have no use for guns. They hold no allure for me. I applaud the Jesuit Editors for their examination of the 2nd Amendment. It is not surprising there is blowback, mostly from those who live in fear or those who believe they are entitled to their own facts. It is interesting, also, that our Supreme Court is currently dissecting the Civil Rights Act and likely will repeal some of it because it is no longer relevant (they say) in our current society. The same process needs to apply to the 2nd Amendment, as it needs to fit into our current society and culture which has grown and changed a great deal since the 18th Century. It's a tough issue, but much of the current discussion reflects how poorly our citizenry understands or practices critical thinking, much less civil discourse.
Mary McManus
5 years 8 months ago
Wow. Fantastic editorial. Surely you'll take a lot of heat for it, but thank you for the courage to print it and for challenging us to re-examine what our culture considers sacrosanct.
franklin ohlin
4 years 7 months ago
Mary, both his courage to print it and your ability to read it are covered by the second amendment... enjoy it.
J McCredy
5 years 8 months ago
Surrendering even one of our rights will start the surrender of more. Nazi Germany started by removing rights, one at a time. Do we want to go down that path. If this is the attitude of the editors of America, then I will not welcome the magazine in my home. Once we loose the second amendment rights, what's next...freedom of religion?
Joseph Gregrich
5 years 8 months ago
I cannot disagree more with the title or the premise of this article. The fact that a very small percentage of Americans use guns to commit crimes is not an absolute for gun-control; it requires a closer look. More gun control laws or outright prohibition will not stop immoral, criminal acts. The US Constitution and the Bill of Rights work well when they are applied to a moral citizenry. I want to focus on a theorem the author uses when he states, ‘”True, guns do not kill people; people kill people. In the United States, however, people kill people by using guns”. The corollary to this statement is that if access to guns is decreased or further limited, killings will decrease. It’s true there are approximately 300million guns in civilian hands in the United States. The author is misleading, however, when indicating that 30,000 people die from guns violence. The actual number of murders is approximately one-third of that number, or roughly 10,000. Sadly, suicide makes up the other two-thirds of deaths by gun violence. Accidental gun deaths, although not insignificant to the families that have lost loved-ones this way, are insignificant statically—averaging 600-700 deaths per year. But let’s use the author’s 30,000 number, and considering the current population of America (approximately 310million), the percentage of annual deaths by guns is less than 100th of 1 percent. The actual math works out this way, 30,000 ÷ 310,000,000 = 0.00967%. Ironically, the U.S. population and the number of guns in civilian hands in the U.S. are almost identical, 310million and 300million, respectively. Given that, the formula above could be restated to conclude that less than 100th of 1 percent of civilian-owned guns are used to commit murders. This could lead one to the conclusion that law-abiding American gun owners, overwhelmingly—by 99.99%—do not use their guns to kill other people. Yes, the gun-control debate is based on a false premise. Access to guns is not the primary issue. The primary issue is the criminal’s access to guns. There is plenty of evidence to show that most murders are committed by individuals with prior felony records. Common sense should tell us that criminals will not likely go through lawful channels in order to gain access to a gun. If the United States currently possesses enough civilian-owned guns to give one to every man, woman and child, then perhaps we should take the more prudent approach of education about guns. I have participated in NRA gun safety and training courses, and my children have been taught how to safely handle guns. There would be no harm in allowing local police departments or the NRA to come to schools and teach and demonstrate gun safety. With only 600-700 deaths per year by accident, and approximately 40% to 45% of US households with at least one gun on the premises, it would seem reasonable to assume that gun owners, by an overwhelming percentage, safely and lawfully use their guns. Repealing the Second Amendment not only insults their level of responsibility, it impugns the intent of the Founding Documents. The Founders believed that individuals were far better equipped to govern themselves then a central government. Not only the Second Amendment, but the whole Bill of Rights protects law-abiding American citizens from the over-reaching of a relative few installed in government. Enjoy a couple quotes from our first president, George Washington, who said, "The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good.", and, "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." Yes, firearms are everywhere—300million in American households. Are firearms second only to the Constitution in importance? God willing we will never have to test that assertion. Our central government, however, has as its first law, the Declaration of Independence, which expresses the peoples’ right to throw off their government when it no longer recognizes or protects the unalienable Rights of its citizens. The Bill of Rights is the protection that all law-abiding American citizens deserve and keeps our central government in check. Repeal the Second Amendment, I think not. A couple sources for anyone who would like to do further research. http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp#general http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/02/gun-violence-in-america-the-13-key-questions-with-13-concise-answers/272727/#howmanyguns

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