Second Amendment: Worth defending in context

Second+Amendment%3A+Worth+defending+in+context

Riley Garland

In the wake of the recent tragedy at a Florida high school, the debate over gun control has once again taken the forefront of the political stage.

According to a poll reported by NBC news, 66 percent of Americans support stricter gun regulation as of Feb. 20. Various popular figures, most notably Michael Moore, have called for not just stricter laws, but a repeal of the Second Amendment in general.

In times of political disarray, I believe it is important to recognize the importance of Americans’ right to bear arms, and to look at the evidence to protect it.

First, it’s important to recognize what the actual intention of the Second Amendment is. It wasn’t written with deer hunting in mind, and wasn’t even written to allow people to defend themselves against criminals, although these are both benefits. The right to bear arms is intended to be a check on the power of government by the people.

As Noah Webster proposes in, “An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution” in 1787, the American government is unable to enforce unjust laws because the people are armed, and constitute a force stronger than any that can be raised by the government. If the populace is armed with guns, then a tyrannical government is prevented from forming and oppressing the people.

Many people seem to forget that democracy is not immune to dictatorship and oppression. Remember, Adolf Hitler rose to power in a democracy, and then abused his power to oppress and ultimately kill millions of people. Had the people of Germany been properly armed, it may have been a different story. Just because America has done well thus far to avoid such totalitarianism, it does not mean we will never face that challenge.

When considering this, though, many people speculate that the military today would easily beat the armed population here, especially with the superior technology. But, over one third of Americans say they own a gun according to Pew Research in 2013, which would mean at least 1.8 million people. Compare this to the roughly 1.282 million people active in the military, and it may tip the scale. This isn’t accounting for the fact that if a dictator did rise to power, it is likely portions of the military wouldn’t fight against their own people. So, it seems today that the people of America still have a power check on their government, should they ever need to use it.

One major consideration about gun control is how often people use firearms to defend themselves. According to the Violence Policy Center, an organization that advocates for gun control, estimates reveal that every year there are around 13,548 incidents of victims defending themselves with a firearm. According to the National Rifle Association, an organization that promotes gun ownership, estimates are around 2.5 million. Where is the true number? Probably somewhere in the middle.

Either way, these numbers are evident that self defense is an important aspect of preventing or stopping criminal acts. Look no further than the recent Texas church shooting where the shooter was stopped by a good citizen with a gun.

Many often compare the United States to other countries in order to propose that we should adopt similar policy; they suggest that countries with stricter gun control experience less mass shootings. However, this doesn’t hold true all the time. As Crime Research Prevention Center president John Lott points out, in 2015 both France and the United States had four mass shootings, and France had a much larger amount of victims, despite strict gun control and being five times less populous than the United States. Is France a special case? Well, no.

According to Lott, from 2009 to 2015, 11 European countries experienced mass shootings at a higher frequency than the United States, even when adjusting for population. Included in these countries were Norway, Belgium and Switzerland.

So, is gun control the answer to all our problems? Is it time to get rid of the Second Amendment? I would say not.

It’s important to protect our right to bear arms, not only for our self defense, but for the preservation of our democracy.

As Ben Franklin once said, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” We would be wise to live by his words.