Why does the Second Amendment matter? Tragedies like the recent Orlando shooting bring this question to the fore. It is clear that the Second Amendment makes America unique. Few other countries guarantee the right to bear arms to a degree comparable with the United States. So why is this guarantee so important? Do we still need it?
Many people claim a utopian society is one in which the citizens are unarmed. Aside from the fact that human nature has not proven itself inherently peaceful, everyday threats to public safety make this utopia a mere fantasy. A gun is the perfect equalizer in any unsafe situation. A 90 pound woman cannot take on a 300 pound man with her bare hands, but with a gun, she can neutralize the threat. According to Gary Kleck, professor at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University, firearms stop around 2.5 million crimes per year. The Second Amendment’s job is to ensure that the right of Americans to defend themselves is secured. After all, self-preservation is an essential element of natural law.
In addition, the Second Amendment acts as a check on an overbearing government and secures the rights and liberties outlined in our Founding Documents. The right to revolution as a last resort was affirmed by English political theorist John Locke in his Second Treatise on Civil Government–in the most extreme circumstances, should the government severely overstep its authority and flagrantly disregard rule of law, basic rights, and human dignity, citizens have a right to form a new government and to do so, they must be armed. Consider, for example, how different the Revolutionary War might have been if the British had successfully confiscated the colonists’ guns. The American people are armed and our government knows this. They must exercise care when considering legislation or other regulations that might infringe on our liberties. We should be wary of the underlying motives, not to mention implications, of anti-gun policies and their promoters. Which should make you wonder why rich, power hungry politicians want to control our gun rights.
Excessive gun control does not make the country safer–actually, quite the opposite. According to the Crime Research Prevention Center, the majority of mass shootings happen in gun free zones. This is not a coincidence; the shooter targets these places for a reason. Criminals know they will not be challenged in a gun free zone. Suzanna Gratia-Hupp for example, was involved in a mass shooting in Texas in 1991. She owned a handgun, but did not have it on her that day, because she had removed it from her purse and left it in her car to cooperate with Texas’s concealed carry laws. Suzanna stated in her testimony that she was not angry at the shooter or the guns, but the legislators of Texas who made it illegal for her to stop the madman from murdering innocent people including both her parents.
School zones constitute another example of gun free sites which, unfortunately, have been the site of numerous awful and despicable mass shootings over the past two decades. Guns are not permitted in any school zone. This includes preschools, elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. Why does the gunman not follow the law? Because criminals do not care about the law. School zones are the easiest target because no one on the property is armed. While students, faculty, and staff are on lock-down in fear for their lives, they have to sit and wait for police responders instead of taking matters into their own hands and stopping the assailant. If at least one person is armed during a shooting, that citizen can take charge and stop the shooter.
Countries with strict gun control are still rampant with crimes such as theft, rape, and homicides, both gun-related and non-gun. In 1996, Australia approved strict gun regulations. Most people thought this would make Australia a much safer place, however the data reveals a different outcome. Based on statistics from the Australian Institute of Criminology, it is difficult to link the 1996 gun restrictions with lower rates of homicide and armed robbery, as the homicide rate did not start declining steadily until after 2002 and the armed robbery rate only saw marked declines after 2003. Australia also has the third highest sexual assault rate in the world.
Extreme gun control tactics have demonstrably failed time and time again. Detroit and Chicago have some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the United States. Yet both of these cities have high crime and homicide rates. Criminals benefit from overly stringent gun control laws, because when law-abiding citizens are not armed, committing crimes without immediate punishment becomes significantly easier.
The Second Amendment still matters: for our self-defense, for safeguarding our liberties, for sport and recreational use, and for a host of other reasons. Gun control, in many cases, hurts Americans. The Founding Fathers were right to include the Second Amendment and they did so for good reasons. If all else fails, if liberty, rights, and human dignity fall prey to ravenous government and Constitutional protections falter, then we have the ability to recover our republic.