Second Amendment must go

January 18, 2011

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TO PASS off the tragedy in Tucson as an anomaly is to do injustice to all those killed in this and other shootings.

We have given an almost religious meaning to a document designed to solve, put aside, or assuage the concerns existing in late 18th-century America. Its authors could not possibly have foreseen America as it exists now. Some of the concerns of our so-called Founding Fathers need be reexamined.

In its historical setting, the right to bear arms set forth in the Second Amendment was both an acknowledgement and a practical solution. It acknowledged that self-armed militia, made up largely of country folk we now call the Minutemen, sparked the Revolution. And it provided a solution for those faced with Indian raids and the need to kill wild animals for food and leather. At the frontiers, especially, there were no police or military forces sufficient to free people from the need for self-protection. Indeed, the claim of self-protection today generally relates to someone who approaches with a firearm.

There is no weapon today that is comparable to a handgun. It is easily hidden, it contains multiple rounds, the ammunition itself may be highly lethal, and the delivery of fire is rapid. The right to bear arms has been decreed as not an absolute right. Consider, for example, restrictions on machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, and in some states, licensing requirements setting forth the need, character, and background of the applicant.

Let us rid ourselves of the nonsense that something that was needed in the 18th century must continue as a sacred right today. It is time to expunge the right to bear arms from our Constitution.

Richard D. Gilman