There's a good chance I'm going to piss a lot of people off by saying this, but I think it's time to repeal the Second Amendment.
Before the snorting and dismissive comments about "liberal sissies" start, a few things: I grew up around a hunting and fishing culture in Michigan. Most of my family members owned guns when I was growing up. When I lived in Louisiana, I owned several guns and had a concealed carry permit. Going to a shooting range was a hobby for me. I do understand gun culture, and the ways in which guns are used responsibly. Often, when people hear me say that I think we should do more to control guns, their first response is to tell me that I don't understand guns, or the legitimate uses for guns. This is a really narrow-minded way of dismissing someone, because it says, "No one who has had similar experiences as I have could ever come to differing conclusions about the way things should be done. therefore this person must not understand or know something I know." Not only is this a very condescending way to think, it also could not be further from the truth. I have hunted, shot for sport, and carried for personal protection. I have owned guns, bought guns, and sold guns to other private buyers. I am not anti-gun, and I don't lack an understanding of their place in society.
I still think we should repeal the Second Amendment.
The first thing I should say here, is that repealing the Second Amendment does not preclude people from having guns. It simply makes owning a gun a privilege which has to be earned, rather than a right that has to be taken away. People who have a legitimate use for a gun should still be able to get permits. The reality is, though, that the great majority of us do not need our guns. Certainly we enjoy having them, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, the activities that most Americans use their guns for (such as hunting and sport shooting) are not constitutionally protected, or a necessary part of survival. To be sure, there are some Americans for whom subsistence hunting is a main source of food, and those people should be able to get permits to have fire arms. But once again, it ought to be a privilege that you earn, and not a right that has to be taken away.
But what about self-defense you say? Well, atatistics show having a gun for self-defense is a lousy idea. Carrying a gun makes you much more likely to be shot during an assault. Having a gun in the home increases the chance you will die in a gun homicide or suicide. Guns are used more frequently to intimidate than for self-defense. Statistic after statistic points to the idea that carrying a gun will rarely help you, and almost always end up being used to hurt you, if you find yourself in a self-defense situation.
I actually say this from the position of being someone who has used a firearm in a self-defense situation, and successfully. As I was leaving a St. Patrick's Day party in Baton Rouge one year, I found myself blocked from leaving in my truck by a group of drunk men who were claiming I had backed into one of their friends. One of them was standing by my driver's side window with a tire iron, threatening to break it. When I pulled my gun from the center console, he and his friends ran.
What I realized right then, was just how fucking stupid it had been of me to pull my gun. After all, how did I know for sure that they weren't also carrying guns? This was Southeast Louisiana, for christ's sake. They were clearly drunk enough to get violent in the first place. My escalating the situation further by pulling a gun could have caused it to spin out of control. All of this slammed into me like a ton of bricks, and I bawled my eyes out when I finally got home safe. It underlined, for me, the exact reason that guns are not good for self-defense: they are a massive escalation. Sometimes they are an escalation in a situation where there would not have been a gun in the first place, if the victim themselves had not brought one.
All of this brings me to the last reason that Americans often claim that we all need our guns: the defense of liberty. You hear it all the time from militia groups, especially as of late. In the aftermath of the Cliven Bundy situation last year, I saw some people pointing to the showdown in Nevada as proof that citizens with guns could take on a tyrannical government. I saw it as proof that government agencies can learn to use restraint, because nearly every other instance of "armed standoff" against the government has turned out horribly for everyone involved. Which brings me to my point: guns are good for the 'defense of liberty' if the only guns on the market are muskets. That doesn't work anymore, when one side has handguns, rifles or the occasional automatic weapon, and the other side has the biggest Army and Navy in the world. Sure, a group of armed rebels in Afghanistan and Iraq were able to outwit the US Armed Forces, but those rebels were fighting in the own homeland where they knew the locals, the terrain and the language. Even then, their victories were in no way decisive, and were based mostly on waiting the US out. When it comes to full-scale revolt within the United States, the Army are the locals. They know the terrain. They know the language. They have a decided advantage. I'd go as far as to say that they will win every time.
So, to wrap it all up in a nice little bow, let's talk about reality. One of the unfortunate things about politics today is that it often deals with things how we'd like them to be, not how they are. Our politicians talk about how guns are important for self-defense, because that's how we would like it to be. In reality, that is not what they are used for. The reality is that more Americans have died from gun violence, than have died in war going back to the American Revolution. Our right-wing militias can say that we need to defend ourselves from the government. The reality is that this rarely, if ever, works out for anyone, but least of all the non-government parties. We have to stop romanticizing guns as the things that we protect ourselves with, and realize they're the things we're killed with instead.
Our constitution was written with a process for amending it, because the Founding Fathers understood that it wasn't perfect. It would need to change. They did not want it changed lightly, to be sure, but they did believe it would need to be changed. And it has been changed, several times since it was written. It was changed when we as a people recognized that it was no longer serving our needs. The Second Amendment is no longer serving our needs. It is no longer enabling us to protect ourselves from intruders, criminal or government, and instead causing tremendous harm to our nation. The Second Amendment is not more important than life - rather it was written to help protect life. It has long sense become a facilitator of death. It would be nice if that were not the case, but we cannot deal in "what would be nice." We have to deal with what is, and what is tells us that guns are not a force for good in our society anymore. It is time that we acknowledge this fact, and repeal the Second Amendment.