The Second Amendment


It would take a heart of stone to remain unmoved by the terrible shooting of a young reporter, Alison Parker, and her cameraman, on live breakfast TV in Virginia, by a deeply disturbed former colleague Vester Haligan, who described himself as “a human powder-keg”, and committed suicide after the killings.

This year, it’s expected that gun deaths in America will reach 33,000 (though this admittedly includes suicides). Startlingly, that could be more than die in auto accidents  and hugely greater than those who die in terrorist incidents.

There is of course a massive lobby in the USA, headed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), a well-funded and vigorous campaign group, aimed at maintaining the right of American citizens to keep and bear arms.  And I must admit that I feel a strong gut-reaction in favour of their position.  There’s something refreshing about the frontier spirit and the culture of self-reliance that they represent.  Some years ago I was in the States, and someone kindly gave me an NRA T-shirt that I still wear from time to time.  The slogan reads:

The Second Amendment: America’s original Homeland Security Policy.

Nevertheless, the sheer level of gun crime in America raises a serious question – and one which may well be answered by the Second Amendment itself.  “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state….”.  Hands up those who think that Vester Flanagan constituted part of “a well-regulated militia”.  No one?  I thought not.  It’s very difficult to make the case that down-town drug dealers, or muggers, or survivalists in mountain caves, or disturbed and psychotic individuals, form part of “a well-regulated militia” which is conducive to the public good and to national security.

Of course in America, as in most modern states, national security becomes the province of the armed forces, and the USA has more and better armed forces than anyone else.  So in that sense the Second Amendment, and the need for a well-regulated militia, has been superseded by events.  So is there anything left that those who drafted the amendment would recognise as “a well-regulated militia”?  I guess that the National Guard would qualify.  And at a stretch of the imagination, maybe the police forces.  Not much else.

Of course Americans will want to keep their hunting rifles, and indeed the right to own a weapon for self-protection.  But for once I think that maybe President Obama may have a point when he calls for background checks and proper records on persons buying guns.

Is it possible to have widespread gun ownership but low levels of gun crime?  It is.  In Switzerland, the Second Amendment concept of “a well-regulated militia” appears to work extremely well.   But then I guess there are big cultural differences between the USA and Switzerland.

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16 Responses to The Second Amendment

  1. Jane Davies says:

    Nothing will change….those who wish to harm others will always find a way to get a gun.

  2. Ex-expat Colin says:

    I once thought and my friends in Oregon know that this armament might be required to challenge a government…a bad one? Unlike us with pitchforks who are stuck with serial bad ones.

    Oregon is bear country so a shotgun is mandatory just to frighten them…not for too long though. And the French reintroduce them?

    As regards the US police take a look at the american police programs on ITV etc and see who is trouble mostly. Quite a few psycho’s though…so whose looking?

    There’s no accounting for folk is there? So, Jane’s dead right. No shortage of guns in UK either!

  3. Eric Worrall says:

    Gun control is dead. 3D printers are only a few product cycles away from being able to produce high quality guns on demand. All gun control ensures is when the maniac starts shooting his printed gun, there won’t be any law abiding citizens who can shoot back.

    • catweazle666 says:

      The type of 3D printer capable of making a reliable breech and receiver assembly will have to be a laser sintering metal, they are not going to be domestic products any time soon.

      In any case, I have a small lathe and a high precision three axis vertical drill in my workshop, plus oxy-acetylene welding gear.

      Who needs 3D printers?

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      The BBC has shown us the mountains of Pakistan where in the street(s) of 1001 AK47 metal bashers you can get exactly what you want. About $30 each, mind you I’d be scared to fire one. I’d get someone else to do you do? Radicalise them a bit, add some cash maybe and…

      Apart from whats coming across the EU borders now I dread to think of what else is in with it. Borders?

      Have the French found their stolen weapons from a few months back? No follow up is there?

  4. Ian Terry says:

    Totally endorse the three comments made.

  5. catweazle666 says:

    Two points.

    First, it is necessary to examine the distribution of the deaths due to gun crime, and the ethnicity of both the victims and the perpetrators. This shows that the vast majority of crime takes place in less than 1% of the area of the United States, and over 90% of both the shooters and the victims come from a certain social group.

    In the vast majority of the USA, gun crime is very low indeed, in States licensing concealed carry, crimes against the person are very low indeed, and home invasion is practically unknown.

    Second, gun control is not about guns, it is about control.

  6. DICK R says:

    Does anyone imagine that EUSSR would be able to walk over this country if the population were not unarmed and defenceless ?

  7. auralay says:

    On the subject of demographics.
    Most NRA members are Republicans.
    Most gun murderers are from traditional Democrat demographics.(Including, I believe, Vester Haligan.)
    Just sayin…

  8. catalanbrian says:

    I don’t often agree with you, Mr Helmer, but here you, unlike a number of your commentators, have it just about right.

  9. Brin Jenkins says:

    Catch up Brian. Those who beat weapons into plough share will most certainly plough for those who did not!

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