Politics
03.12.17

Is it time to repeal the Second Amendment?

This photo was taken by Will Milne. From Pexels.com

In light of the deadliest mass shooting America has ever seen, many have now turned to the Head of State with the question: ‘Mr President, when is enough enough? How many more people have to perish as a result of gun crime before we realise that nothing good can ever come out of the legal ability to carry firearms with ease?’ After the 1992 mass shooting – infamously named the Port Arthur Massacre – in Southern Tasmania, Australia, it took just twelve days to implement gun reforms in a country where firearms had long been considered essential. Twelve days. Believe it or not, Australia has not seen another mass shooting in the 25 years since. Perhaps now is the time for America to follow in Australia’s footsteps and seriously reconsider whether the (very few) benefits of legally possessing firearms will ever outweigh the bad.

Recently, America has seen yet another gun attack, this time in Texas. Although not as fatal as Steven Paddock’s infamous attack in Las Vegas on the 1st October, it has deeply affected the USA once again and further reiterates why this is a topic that needs great  discussion. Since David Kelley opened fire on the Sutherland Springs Baptist Church in Texas, ever more debates are now circulating in the press, once again asking: when is enough enough? The President has controversially blamed the tragic incident on mental health, not gun laws. However, it would seem not all are happy with this conclusion and once again are calling for a repeal of the Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment reads, “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.” Debated from 1791, right until its final passing and cementing in 2008, the amendment basically allows individuals the right to possess a weapon at home. Unfortunately, abused by many, the Second Amendment has fast become a controversial topic, especially recently in the wake of the latest harrowing mass shootings. It has become somewhat of a shield for gun-right advocates and a saddening example of the ‘American Right’. At the same time though, it has also become a chilling area of the American Constitution and a growing concern in the minds of many. Questions have now turned to – if not for the Second Amendment, would events have played out differently in Texas and Las Vegas, or would they have even played out at all?

Steven Paddock, the Last Vegas shooter, was aged 64 and described in the media as a caring guy who kept himself to himself. In reality, he was no more than a common domestic terrorist. He opened fire on an open-air music festival on the Vegas strip after being able to freely carry seventeen firearms without question to his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. It is thought that Paddock was able to do this by making multiple trips throughout the day – not once was he challenged or questioned.

After the initial shock and devastation of these horrifying events, questions have now turned to the American Constitution. The massacre, now recognized in the media as the ‘Mandalay Bay Shooting’, saw the death of at least 59 people, with a further 527 injured, quickly making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. It has brought up many controversial issues for debate – how did the hotel not see Paddock as suspicious and why couldn’t security protocols have prevented this? But the one burning question on the minds of most is when are the laws on gun ownership going to be suppressed in order to make sure nothing like this will ever happen again? It’s a simple question with a regrettably complicated answer. Let’s briefly look at why those who support the Second Amendment do not want to see it quashed.

Gun-right advocates claim that the legal possession of firearms gives them safety, upholds tradition and guarantees their freedom. However gun-control advocates see a wholly different side to it. Gun rights, they state, make crimes all too easy to commit, suicide more accessible and allow someone, like Paddock, to commit something as horrendous as a massacre with little planning and preparation – an unsettling thought to say the very least. We do not live in a make-believe land and we can be under no illusions that crime would be repressed if the Second Amendment is repealed. It is, however, a perfect place to begin on the long and uncertain road to peace. In reality, what actual harm can come from restricting civilians’ accessibility to firearms? Very little. So why has this not happened already? Why does the Constitution overrule the discussion every time? America now needs to use its voice and spark a debate that goes further than every day conversation. It needs to surface an issue that will be constitutionally recognized and consequently dealt with. Or at least considered. That would be a step in the right direction in itself. The Heads of State need not look into this issue with a closed mind but an open one which would prove much more productive. Of course, it is a complicated issue with many ramifications, no matter what the result. However, one must believe it to be a matter that with time and etiquette can be got right. Why not repeal the 2nd and bring in a 28th? One that promises to impose restrictions on firearms and that works in favour of every American citizen? There’s a long road ahead of America, but a route towards armistice is a route worth taking for all.

Jessica Pardoe

Global Seven News