The 2nd Amendment
The 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution, which was adopted in 1791, protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. It’s taken for granted, particularly in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings, that America is an unusually violent culture, and many ask why the 2nd Amendment—which is burned so deeply into the collective psyche– is considered sacrosanct by such a passionate swath of the population.
(As of this writing there have been 1,901 gun deaths in the US since the Sandy Hook killings.)
Given the revolutionary context from which the United States was forged, the 2nd Amendment makes some sense. As a hedge against despotic governance, the populace must be permitted the opportunity to defend itself, to be playing on a relatively even playing field so to speak.
However, this right was enshrined nearly a quarter of a millennia ago, and the world, America in particular, has changed in unfathomable ways since then, whereas the 2nd Amendment has not. Then, a musket (firearm) was a realistic way in which to do battle with evil overlords, who were similarly bound by the technology of single loading weaponry.
Now, of course, the difference between the technology owned by the government and that of its citizens has widened to unimaginable proportions. The US military, widely recognized to be the most awesome martial presence in history, spends more than the next 13 nations behind it combined.
If the 2nd Amendment were to have kept the people and the Government at commiserate technological levels, it would have had to be amended every generation so that the people had not just the right, but were enabled to have jet fighters hidden under tarps in their corn fields. As it is now, with the American government having a mighty arsenal of firepower that includes the media, lasers from space, drones and aircraft carriers, to name just a few, the 2nd Amendment enthusiasts are little more than Stone Age tribesmen running out of the jungle and shooting arrows at the mysterious airplanes screaming above. Telling the people that they have the right to bear arms is like telling an impoverished and over-taxed populace that they have the right to buy lottery tickets.
It seems to me that the 2nd Amendment exists as a symbol now, a vestigial relic of a political principle. It’s abstract, really, but it has concrete and ruinous effects on the society at large. (For instance, statistics suggest that a young, black man has a greater chance of being shot and killed in Philadelphia than if he were serving in the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan.) In a sense, the gun owner in the States is making a moral decision that his right to feel secure by owning a weapon is more important or valid than your right to feel secure in knowing that he doesn’t own a weapon.
It’s a fuck-you, kind of thing.
If the American people need some “hammer” with which to strike back at a tyrannical governing force, then they should be demanding that education is constitutionally enshrined. For surely, it will not be survivalists rising up from the misty hills of West Pennsylvania that saves America from herself, but an informed populace and people living in the 21st century, people who can hack computers, shut-down operating systems and disseminate information.