Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired from the nation’s highest court in 2010, recently wrote an op-ed in the New York Times, which was published on March 27th, calling for the repeal of the 2nd Amendment. This is perhaps the most controversial topic in America, and even more interesting to note that former Justice Stevens is a lifelong Republican.
The year is 1789, and the Constitution of the United States replaces the Articles of Confederation. The closely knit alliance of states had now become a true nation with a proper central government; a single military, headed by a President, led by a two-housed Congress, and kept in check by a Supreme Court. Just a few years prior, from 1786 to 1787, farmers were able to hold the state of Massachusetts hostage; dubbed Shays Rebellion.
Prior to the implementation of the Constitution, the United States had no unitary armed forces. Each state had their own militias, as allowed by the very weak and state-centered Articles of Confederation. Farmers who turned into protestors didn’t want the state to enforce the collection of taxes and took matters into their own hands. This was just one of the last straws for the constitutional framers, who have come to realization that the current system wasn’t working.
Then comes the Constitution, and with it, the Bill of Rights. The second, being the right to bear arms. This comes just years after the American Revolution. The fear of England’s vengeance lingered in the mind of every American… being once again oppressed by a non-democratic, totalitarian, authoritarian figure. That was over two hundred years ago, and that fear has been dead for a long time.
Guns can be used for hunting. Guns can be used to defend your property. But in no world should citizens have guns meant to maim and kill human beings. That is something we must address, as for just mentioning the repeal of the 2nd Amendment would cause a disastrous infighting in the United States, between conservatives and liberals. We are not at risk of being oppressed or having every single right taken away by the federal government. We are not at risk of being ruled by a totalitarian dictator. We are not at risk of losing our right to vote. And our states are not at risk of losing their already self-delegated autonomy.
The United States Congress isn’t coming after you, or after your right to vote, your right to protest peacefully, your right to freedom of religion, or your right of freedom of the press, etc. (That does not mean that there aren’t any flaws with our current system). The federal government is too busy giving us what we need to survive and thrive; running water, electricity, roads, hospitals for the sick, housing for the homeless, schools for our children, and so on. We all pay taxes, together, to use that money for all of our benefit. And before the Constitution, it was different, very different.
Political scholar Joseph Zimmerman wrote a book called Contemporary American Federalism, and details in its chapter 2 – Establishment of the Federal System, “…Congress was handicapped in carrying out its responsibilities by five major defects in the articles [Articles of Confederation] that made Congress largely an advisory body. First, Congress lacked the power to levy taxes and was dependent for revenue on funds supplied to the treasury by the states…”
A federal government without any real power could not even collect taxes to ensure the establishment of necessities, so could you imagine if we were still in that system? We can’t remain engaged in a system built out of fear of what could happen. We need a system that is built on what the people need. We, the people, need protection from homicidal people’s ability to obtaining an assault rifle. We, the people, need to live in a country where we aren’t afraid to send our kids to school because of the possibility of a mass shooting. We don’t need guns to protect ourselves from the federal government, we aren’t their enemy. We put our leaders into office, and we hold them accountable. This obsession with guns must come to an end.
So, what direction do we go in now? Could the 2nd Amendment be repealed? Well, the way to repeal an amendment is to implement another constitutional amendment overriding it. The way to get a constitutional amendment is for two-thirds of the House of Representatives and two-thirds of the Senate to pass it. Then, three-fourths of the states have to affirm it. So, instead of going to the comments sections of every social media platform and attacking one another on this issue, we get our leaders to start it up. If we really want to make change, let’s get our representatives in Congress to vote on such a resolution. If it somehow gets through Congress, each state should hold a referendum on whether to affirm or reject the proposal. That way, we can truly determine if this is what America wants and needs.
Zimmerman, Joseph Francis, 1928 – Contemporary American Federalism : the growth of national power / Joseph F. Zimmerman