February 24, 2018
Bret Stephens has this one right: Repeal the Second Amendment.
Americans who claim to be outraged by gun crimes should want to do something more than tinker at the margins of a legal regime that most of the developed world rightly considers nuts. They should want to change it fundamentally and permanently. There is only one way to do this: Repeal the Second Amendment.
He argued this on October 5, 2017, right after Stephen Paddock murdered 58 people in Las Vegas. On February 16, 2018, after Nikolas Cruz gunned down 17 schoolchildren in Parkland, Florida, Stephens wrote To Repeat: Repeal the Second Amendment. It’s no good nibbling around with the regulation of firearms while trying to uphold a general right to keep and bear arms. We have to start by denying any such general right and then ask what makes sense in a free country regarding the right to purchase and use firearms.
Today, on the Washington Monthly’s blog, Martin Longman provides a useful summary of how we came to have the Second Amendment and why it is an anachronism. He says:
The rationale for the Second Amendment is an anachronism. This is true if you look at the narrow language they used (“A well regulated Militia, being necessary…”), and it’s also true if you look at the wider context and purposes of the amendment. Not only is a militia no longer necessary, but the whole scheme we use for our national defense is a gigantic violation of the principles the amendment sought to preserve and protect.
It is worth reading his account of why the Second Amendment made sense in the late 18th century as part of a scheme of national defense through militias, and why it no longer makes any sense at all.
If you want a fuller account, see Jack Rakove (Stanford Professor of History and Political Science, and my classmate 50 years ago at Haverford) on why the current Supreme Court reading of the Second Amendment is a serious misreading of what the Founders intended.
I’m for repealing the Second Amendment.