“Whilst I have no intention of orienting my entire argument towards the grammatical interpretation of the Second Amendment, I find it necessary to clarify how myself – and many other Americans – understand it.”
No American should dismiss a national tragedy that inconveniently challenges their perspectives. As a supporter of the Second Amendment of the United States, I still find it disturbing every time a firearm is used to slaughter innocent civilians. However, in the context of this event, I still support the Second Amendment. This is due to its critical role in balancing executive power and the irrelevancy of “common sense” gun laws.
Whilst I have no intention of orienting my entire argument towards the grammatical interpretation of the Second Amendment, I find it necessary to clarify how myself – and many other Americans – understand it.
The Amendment explains that a militia must exist to protect the United States and the people, whom are distinct from this militia, must therefore be allowed to be armed.
Why? A few years prior, the armed forces who were meant to protect the colonists from foreign invasion had instead turned their arms against them. The founding fathers recognised the feasibility of such an event reoccurring and, therefore, mandated that the people be armed as a check against the power of the executive branch and the armed forces commanded by it.
With this in mind, two questions must be asked:
Is it at all feasible that the United States military would turn against American citizens? And, should they do so, would firearm ownership be moot considering the power of the military?
The first question can be answered by historical precedent. There have been numerous incidents wherein American citizens were subject to dictatorial conditions. One such incident was the corralling of Japanese-American citizens into prison camps during World War II. At a time when some in our government are calling for the internment of Islamic extremists or when natural disasters preempt martial law and detainment (e.g. Hurricane Katrina), I believe this scenario, though unlikely, remains feasible and thus necessary to counteract.
Secondly, recent events of successful Taliban campaigns have given credence to armed resistance. A small minority of Afghans, many illiterate, have waged an insurgency against the world’s preeminent fighting force with outdated weaponry and crude explosives. Undoubtedly, learned Americans with more resources would be even more effective at doing so. This is not to say it is right for an American to desire civil war (as some radicals in the American right on keen to do). Rather, the mere existence of weaponry among the citizenry discourages it – in the same style of mutually assured destruction.
Finally, I recognise that the check on executive power comes at a significant cost.
When the mentally ill or criminally minded abuse the right to a firearm, it is easy to turn towards gun control. And yet, there exists no avenue of regulation that preempts shootings without compromising the check on power.
Removing firearms from the United States is out of the question – if only for ex post facto and the inability to un-invent the firearm. Barring citizens who will commit a future crime from having a gun today evokes an even greater array of issues.
Therefore, gun control can be argued as a net benefit of preventing oppression versus preventing mass shootings. I am inclined to opt for deregulation given historical precedent.
These are isolated events, which can often be more greatly attributed to our failing mental health infrastructure or lack of anti-gang programs.
And these isolated events do not warrant sacrificing security from a far greater and far more serious loss of life seen under innumerable regimes – even those disguised as democracies – from the last century.
NB: The IPF’s Comment section is a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily endorsed by the IPF.