Is the Second Amendment Outdated?


Xiaoying Mei, Reporter

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

-The Second Amendment

Living in the era of muskets and rifles, weapons with limited power, James Madison and the other Founding Fathers may have never perceived the invention of the machine gun, which can fire 300 rounds of bullets per minute. In other words, cause 300 deaths per minute. With their articulated brains, and judgment, towards the nation’s situation at the time, they wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Both are the founding principles of the United States government.

Despite the significant role the Bill of Rights has played in the founding of this democratic country, as mass shootings have frequently occurred in recent years, questions have arisen with respect to the right to bear arms.  Is the Second Amendment outdated when people abuse their right to bear arms?

First, let’s go back to the earliest days when the Second Amendment was drafted by the Founding Fathers, and understand why the Second Amendment became part of the Constitution. At the drafting of the Constitution, there were two major political groups, the Federalists and the Antifederalists. Considering the nation’s revolutionary background, and the oppression from the British government, the Antifederalists believed that the ultimate political power would be in the hands of those who controlled the means of force, and to prevent the government tyranny and preserve the individual right against such tyranny, the right for the people to keep arms was necessary.  In addition, gun ownership was deemed essential to reinforce domain property, which meant slaves in the South. Therefore, the Second Amendment was believed by the Founding Fathers to be a significant deterrent to government abuse, as well as a protective tool for personal property.

However, as gun ownership has evolved, the interpretation of the Second Amendment by the Supreme Court has changed. In the Supreme Court case, District of Columbia v. Heller, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “The Second Amendment guaranteed the individual’s right to possess or carry weapons in case of confrontation.” Despite the republic’s values that prevent despotism in government, behind the addition of the Second Amendment, in the face of repeating mass shooting and innocent deaths caused by people who abused the right to bear weapons, it seems that the designed purpose of the Second Amendment has swayed away from its origin. As David C. Williams points out in his article, The Civic Republicanism and the Citizen Militia: The Terrifying Second Amendment, “the error of those who today seek to guarantee a private right to arms is that they would thereby consign the means of force to those who happen to possess firearms-a partial slice of society-rather than to the whole people assembled in militia.” Can we trust the individuals who use guns, resulting in deaths of innocent lives, to rise up for virtue against government tyranny? Do the people who abuse their rights to bear arms meet the criteria of “a well-regulated militia”?  

Though to a great extent, the Second Amendment ensured the safety of the people in the Revolutionary Era who the upheld principles of checks and balances in the creation of the nation. It is worth questioning the significance of the institution, as our culture evolves and our society progresses, because rules are more efficient when they are able to correspond to our societal needs now.