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It’s Time to Rewrite the 2nd Amendment




On the morning after the Las Vegas Massacre, by all counts the deadliest mass-shooting in modern American history, social media is abuzz with death counts, shock, grief, thoughts, prayers, and the bone-wearying gun debate.

Those in favor of even the most moderate gun law reforms timidly make their case, and are blown back by enemy fire.

What is it about this country that is so uniquely enamored with military-style assault weapons? They’re no good for hunting. They’re way over-kill for home-defense. You can’t overthrow a tyrannical government with them – (it won’t be with small weapons fire that the Deep State comes to crush your precious liberties).

So what good are they? Military-style assault weapons are nothing more than elaborate props for disaffected American cosplay, a kind of steampunk meets Rambo, lurid objects of desire for collectors (hoarders) and other “enthusiasts” who delight in amassing high-efficiency murder machinery. The sole purpose of these weapons is to cut living, breathing human beings into ribbons.

And then every once in a while, someone goes out and uses the damn things for exactly what they’re designed for.

And then we’re shocked. Shocked I tell you.

You can’t predict human behavior. You don’t even want to try.

But you can do something about access to the machinery of mass murder.

The framers of the second amendment lived in a very different world than we do. It’s hopeless to try and suss out what they’d say about today’s weaponry. I’m afraid it’s up to us – they aren’t talking. Today, most Americans favor private gun ownership and the right of self-defense. But most Americans also favor sensible gun regulations like universal background checks, weapons restrictions, ammunition restrictions, and other rational measures.

Standing in the way of sensible gun law reform is the gun manufacturer’s most powerful lobbying arm, the National Rifle Association. The NRA used to be cool. The NRA used to be about gun safety and gun control. But something changed. Over the last four decades, the NRA morphed into an extremist group that places the totemic worship of weaponry over and above all other concerns, including the lives of every single person living in the United States.

In any discussion of rights, it’s always the case that the existence of one class of rights conflict with the existence of another class of rights. After every mass shooting, the right to life and the right to bear arms seem to contradict one another. So what do rational people do? They find a balance – some way to keep as much as possible of both conflicting rights afloat.

No right is absolute. You have free speech, but you cannot yell “Fire” in a theater. You have the right to own guns, but not rocket launchers. We already place reasonable limits on rights all over the place.

It’s time to take a good, hard look at the 2nd amendment. And rewrite it.

Peter Bolland is the philosophy and humanities department chair at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, California where he teaches world religions, Asian philosophy, world mythology, and ethics. Bolland is also a columnist for both Unity Magazine and the San Diego Troubadour. An award winning singer-songwriter and poet, Bolland draws on the world’s wisdom traditions as a frequent lecturer and performer throughout the San Diego region.

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