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article imageCalls for repeal of 2nd Amendment stir controversy

By JohnThomas Didymus     Jan 2, 2013 in Politics
There is a growing clamor among liberal opinion piece writers and columnists for repeal of the Second Amendment. Recently, a Des Moines Register columnist Donald Kaul caused an uproar when, in a provocative piece, he called for repeal of the Amendment.
Kaul writes in Des Moines Register: "Repeal the Second Amendment... surely the Founders couldn't have envisioned weapons like those used in the Newtown shooting when they guaranteed gun rights." He adds: "This time, the debate has to be about more than not offending the NRA's sensibilities."
He advocates declaring the NRA a terrorist organization and "making membership illegal." He declares: "We did it to the Communist Party, and the NRA has led to the deaths of more of us than American Commies ever did."
Kaul, quoting Obama's statement at the Sandy Hook memorial service, claims the president spoke for many Americans when he said: “We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.”
However, he is of the opinion that Obama's speech was "not enough. Not nearly enough." He argues: "Obama’s speech was fine as far as it went, but it didn't go very far. Neither have any of the other responses I've heard."
He also argues that California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's proposed bill to ban sale and importation of assault weapons does not go far enough. He notes: "The bill wouldn't apply to weapons already out there, and in defining illegal weapons, it listed more than 900 exceptions."
Kaul comments incisively: "The thing missing from the debate so far is anger — anger that we live in a society where something like the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre can happen and our main concern is not offending the NRA’s sensibilities."
He opines that a situation in which after a demented man opens fire on a class of innocent children, all that everyone, including the president, is concerned about is not offending "NRA's sensibilities" is obscene. He writes: "Here, then, is my 'madder-than-hell-and-I’m-not-going-to-take-it-anymore' program for ending gun violence in America."
He then lists, with a stiff-dose of sarcasm, his “madder-than-hell-and-I’m-not-going-to-take-it-anymore” proposals to end gun violence:
-Repeal the Second Amendment, the part about guns anyway. It’s badly written, confusing and more trouble than it’s worth. It offers an absolute right to gun ownership, but it puts it in the context of the need for a “well-regulated militia.” We don’t make our militia bring their own guns to battles. And surely the Founders couldn’t have envisioned weapons like those used in the Newtown shooting when they guaranteed gun rights. Owning a gun should be a privilege, not a right.
-Declare the NRA a terrorist organization and make membership illegal. Hey! We did it to the Communist Party, and the NRA has led to the deaths of more of us than American Commies ever did. (I would also raze the organization’s headquarters, clear the rubble and salt the earth, but that’s optional.) Make ownership of unlicensed assault rifles a felony. If some people refused to give up their guns, that “prying the guns from their cold, dead hands” thing works for me.
-Then I would tie Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, our esteemed Republican leaders, to the back of a Chevy pickup truck and drag them around a parking lot until they saw the light on gun control.
As if his proposals were not radical at all, he concludes with irony that if they don't work then he would introduce radical measures for the first time!
Increasing clamor of call for repeal of 2nd Amendment
The call for a repeal of the 2nd Amendment is gathering strength. Kaul is not the first to advocate its repeal. Christopher Hren, writing in the The Huffington Post, did not mince words: "We will not be safe until we eliminate this nonsense from our founding document. We need to repeal the Second Amendment."
Many liberal columnists advocating for a repeal of the 2nd Amendment base their arguments on the view that it is outdated in its conception. Some argue that it is ridiculous for 21st century Americans to argue over what 18th century "Fathers" intended or meant in drawing up the American Constitution. They say Americans should rather be arguing over which part of the Constitution remains relevant and applicable to 21st century American society.
The Huffington Post writer Stephen Hren, condemns the 2nd Amendment, arguing that "it is potentially... [a] fatal flaw in our nation's Constitution." He writes:
"That our Founding Fathers were brilliant men... is without doubt. But...because the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson laid the groundwork for what would become the greatest country on earth, we now see them as perfect creations, like gods whose works should never be altered.
"Dubiously placed among... essential elements of justice is the Second Amendment. Its language... is vague in the extreme...: '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.'
"Until the Supreme Court's 2008 ruling against the city of Washington, D.C.'s hand gun law, this was not interpreted as an individual's right to bear arms. But now it is."
After admitting he is not a lawyer, Hren speculates on what the "Founding Fathers" may have meant by the "vague" language of the 2nd Amendment:
"One thing our Founding Fathers generally agreed upon, and indeed most everyone agreed upon until our age of endless war began with World War II, was that a standing army is the quickest way to tyranny. So perhaps, by the wording of the 2nd Amendment, they intended for a well-regulated militia, in the absence of a standing army..."
Hren expresses the conviction that:
"By giving up our right to bear arms, we would gain something else profound, so profound no American today can enjoy it -- the right to security, to go the movies and not fear being gunned down, to send our children to elementary school and not worry about them being gunned down... I for one am ready to make that trade."
"... we will not be safe until we eliminate this nonsense from our founding document. We need to repeal the Second Amendment."
Edward Falzon, also writing in The Huffington Post, says:
"It continues to befuddle my mind that the USA permits its citizens to arm themselves with a personal arsenal... After the Aurora shooting, handgun sales in Colorado soared, assisted in no small way by certain politicians claiming that if others had weapons in the cinema they could have taken out the shooter.
"Yes. In a dark, smoke-filled theatre full of panicking patrons and gunfire, the solution is for more people to start firing rounds in whatever direction they think the shooter might be.
"I have a simple solution for the USA. It might be a tough sell, but I think you're at that point: Repeal the Second Amendment."
The pro-gun reaction
Reactions to Donald Kaul's provocative piece is typical of pro-gun reactions to calls for repeal of the 2nd Amendment.
While Kaul's proposals were evidently deliberately laced with sarcasm and irony, many pro-gun readers have preferred to read them literally. A writer in The Examiner comments that Kaul's proposals prove, yet again, that "liberalism has become and ideology of genocidal hate and rage."
Several readers attacked Des Moines Register on its Facebook page:
"I just read the column by Donald Kaul. Does your paper really endorse that mindset? I am shocked and dismayed by the utter lack of 'civility' which the left claims to have a monopoly on. The fact that you allow such garbage to be published in your paper shows your contempt of the constitution, and of conservatives who support it."
"I am stunned and appalled that your paper would publish, as if it were acceptable, the kind of hate speech spewed by Donald Kaul on Tuesday. I challenge you, Donald Kaul or any other knee-jerk extremist to give me any stats on NRA members who've gone on mass murder shooting sprees. I am the 99.9% and I call you out for promoting and furthering the witch hunt against law abiding citizens."
"So your paper condones death threats and threats of violence? How liberal of you."
Will repealing the 2nd Amendment abolish the 'right to bear arms'?
Bob Greenslade, writing in the, expresses the view that the call for repeal of the 2nd Amendment as a means to abolish the "right to bear arms" is a misconception because, in the first place, according to Greenslade, the 2nd Amendment did not create the right to bear arms, thus repealing the Amendment cannot constitutionally abolish the right.
Greenslade argues that the purpose of the Amendments that several States submitted to the Congress for consideration between 1788 and 1789 were to prevent the federal government from “misconstruing or abusing its powers.” He writes:
"To accomplish this, 'further declaratory and restrictive clauses' were being proposed. The amendments, if adopted, would place additional restraints or limitations on the powers of the federal government to prevent that government from usurping its constitutional powers. Every clause of the Bill of Rights, without exception, is [therefore] either a declaratory statement or a restrictive provision."
He points out that the word "granted," indicating the establishment of a right, does not appear in any Amendment. He argues that in reality, the Bill of Rights placed secondary restraints on the federal government with respect to powers of the state and citizens' rights. He states,"That is why the words 'no,' 'not' and 'nor' appear throughout the Amendments instead of the word 'granted.'"
Greenslade concludes:
"Since the Second Amendment did not create or grant any right concerning firearms, the right enumerated in the Amendment has to be an existing right separate from the Amendment. Thus, repealing the Second Amendment would not eliminate any right because the right enumerated in the Amendment was not created by the Amendment. The right to keep and bear arms exists independent of the Constitution or the Second Amendment." [Emphasis mine]
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