The Second Amendment – should we shoot it?

One constitutional scholar says no.  We can’t shoot it – it’s in the Constitution, after all – and we have to learn to live with it.  Most incredibly, he says, we will do just that, with help from the courts.

Adam Winkler of UCLA School of Law recently spoke at the Social Law Library in Boston.  His new book, Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America, was the subject, but so, too, were constitutional history and recent political machinations.  Sponsored by the American Constitution Society, the presentation took a look at history, jurisprudence and politics.

I was interested to learn about the evolution of the National Rifle Association from a sportsmen’s organization advocating for gun restrictions to a lobbying behemoth now trying to repeal some of the very legislation it helped enact.

The NRA has managed to tap into a strain of the American psyche (apparently possessed by some Americans) that encourages people to believe in an idealized version of an earlier America, where men were free to keep guns by their side.  That fact is that once a western outpost wanted to become a real town, and attract women and cultivate families, the town fathers put restrictions on gun toting.  In other words, choosing to live among other people meant accepting limits intended for the common good.

Over the last few years the Supreme Court has waded into Second Amendment jurisprudence, upholding the legitimacy of reasonable restrictions while also misinterpreting (in my opinion) the amendment’s language.  Winkler thinks the courts will ultimately create a path between gun proponents and gun control advocates.  As much as I’d like to believe he’s right, I’m not sanguine.

updated: 6 months ago