It’s an outlier. It is essentially unrelatable to the other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights or anything else in the U.S. Constitution. But because the founding fathers wanted to make sure that white males would be able to keep slaves in check, the “right to bear arms” was included in a sloppily worded notion called the Second Amendment.
If slavery was America’s original sin, then the Second Amendment is the second sin. And they are related, as that right to bear arms was in large part included in order to perpetuate slavery.
Other than slavery, there was really no need for the Second Amendment. At the time that the constitution was being framed, guns were just another implement of life in on a lightly developed continent.
Guns were definitely an improvement over bows and arrows. There were definite human and non-human threats while living on the prairie. A gun could be useful there. It also would be efficient for the government to know that many potential draftees in a time of war would have their own weapons.
But in a lot of ways, they were just another implement, like a plow or a gas lantern. They made life easier. The Constitution already said that individuals had the right to property, so there was no need to establish a specific “right” to own firearms.
This Amendment facilitated the use of violence, something that is part of human nature. But as we look at countries such as the United Kingdom or Australia, we can see that human nature can function without easy access guns. And Australia is like the United States in that it was a vast expanse that had to be settled under dangerous conditions. But after a school shooting in the late 1990s, they called upon their common sense to make it very difficult to purchase firearms. They have had no school shootings since.
I would love it if the Second Amendment was repealed and most guns were confiscated. My reason is simple – we would be a more civil and civilized society. But I am not so naïve as to think that this will happen. The process of confiscating guns would likely result in domestic carnage the likes of which we have never seen save for the Civil War.
But what we should do is to recognize that the Second Amendment was created on spurious grounds and that it protects a specious right. It is unlike any of the other rights that are essential to a democracy.
What we can do is recognize that this mistake of a “right” will likely be with us for a long time, but we should work to craft gun policy that looks at weapons like any other implement that can be dangerous and needs to be regulated to ensure safety (e.g. power tools).
There are many Americans who resent the lives of metropolitan elites. They have good reason to hold grudges and to want a rebalancing of economic power within our society. But the right to resent should not be confused with the right to bear arms.
It might be easier for us to try to get along better if there were fewer guns. Let’s not lose sight of that.