The Second Amendment of the Constitution: The Need for Supporting Legislations
When does it get ‘Too Much ‘ ? When do you say, ‘This has Gone Beyond Control‘ ? Remember that line from Joe (Friends), when he talks to Chandler about Kathy? – ‘Over the line ? You’re so far past the line – the line is a DOT to you’.
As I woke up this morning after treating myself to an athletic banquet last night in the form of Usain Bolt and Andy Murray – a part of me felt empty reading New York Times over coffee. Ever since I remember, how many mass shootings have I known about ? I don’t think anyone can forget the NFL wide receiver – Plaxico Burress shooting himself accidentally in a New York nightclub. Ofcourse, the Columbine high school in 1999 and Virginia Tech in 2007 stand out in my memory. When you are young, you only realise something bad has happened, where as when you grow up – you appreciate the gravity and profundity of the event in itself.
‘The Dark Knight Rises’ was released last month, and the mindless killing of young students happened in Aurora, Colorado. Then last morning, more innocent civilians were killed – of all the places inside the country, inside a place of worship (A Sikh Temple, in Oak Creek, Wisconsin).
When I went to the Capitol Hill earlier this summer, I purchased a personal copy of the US Constitution – I have always wanted to own a personal copy. The laws of the land are simple, and so is the interpretation of the Second Amendment. It was adopted on 12/15/1791 along with the other Bill of Rights. In simple interpretation: It states that as someone who lives in the country, you have the prerogative to purchase and own firearms. Amongst other amendments, the second amendment embodies the intrinsic fabric of Liberty that defines the United States of America.
On the contrary, what some call Liberty, others call it Disturbing. There is little doubt that the issue of gun control is back into the discussion in Washington DC, it will eventually find its way into one of he most important talking points in Presidential debates between now and November. The problem is not with the amendment in itself, but with how it has been taken advantage of (as with any law – if its not revised with changing times). There are certainly many law abiding citizens out there who use firearms for protection and hunting, and that is perfectly legal. The real problem originates when people driven by racism and hatred, and psychologically unstable individuals get their hands on dangerous firearms.
As with any law written during the beginning in a country’s time – we have a tendency to consider it as set in stone. One of the biggest strengths of the United States Constitution is the fact that for the most part – it is still relevant to this day. Think about that – a document written almost 225 years ago is still relevant to this day – which innately indicates that our founding fathers got it right for the most part. That is an enormous achievement in itself. In contrast, think about the number of religious texts that we still hold on to – which seem like they have no real correlation to our current world. The problem is not with the second amendment in itself – but the lack of supporting legislations that allows an individual to exploit it.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) is one of the biggest organizations that defend the second amendment. Their lobbying power and leverage in Washington is unquestioned, and in certain parts of the far conservative right, they hold a sacred place within the political framework. The real truth of the matter is, President Obama does not have enough votes to pass legislations, and curb such mass shooting incidents before the elections. The Republicans will never go for such policy measures, and even some of the Democrats embrace a similar stance. At its core – this is not about the right – versus – left, it is about protecting our citizens. The Huffington Post had an excellent article on Nancy Pelosi discussing Washington and gun control earlier this evening.
So, let us be smart about it. Let us frame the question differently, can we ? There is no doubt we can work within the existing structure of the second amendment. A good start would be to consider every mass shooting incident as a ‘Domestic Terrorism’ event. That inevitably places a higher burden on the perpetrator of the crime. Secondly, legislative proposals can be introduced to perform comprehensive quality checks on the potential firearm buyer’s past history and psychological health. I understand in most cases, completely law abiding individuals with no prior misdemeanors actually commit the crime. Hence the additional legislative proposals are at best – risk hedging strategies with a high probability of reducing such incidents in the future. It is very important to control the types of firearm sold to civilians inside the country (as our President said, AK-47 belongs in the hands of soldiers in warfare, not in the hands of civilians in downtown Denver).
One can draw parallels from ‘The DREAM Act’ and the immigration policy under the current administration. Through a series of strategies, President Obama got to his eventual objective of not deporting minors and especially, minors with no criminal records out of the country. He was able to achieve that despite the opposition support for strictly adhering to the immigration regulations. As someone who is deeply passionate about the intrinsic freedom and liberty offered by this country, I am confident about the fact that the problem is not with the second amendment in itself. It is not feasible for us to change that, and we probably don’t need to. The underlying problem is predicated on the lack of supporting legislations that allow us to maintain the integrity of second amendment, while at the same time – keeping our innocent civilians safe. It is time for the highest office in the country to have a serious policy discourse with regards to The Second Amendment.
No more Jokers in Gotham !
1. United States Constitution: Link