Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

stop_the_insanity

Students, families, and supporters of "March For Our Lives" took to the streets of New York City to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence in our communities and schools today. (Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The Second Amendment Demands Gun Control

A National Guard, yes. Heavily-armed lunatics roaming the streets unregulated? Never.

Harvey Wasserman

This piece was first published in large part at Common Dreams on January 13, 2011; it has been updated in light of the latest horrific Supreme Court ruling.

Make no mistake: this murder and mayhem has been made possible by the claim to a Constitutional right that is not there.

The Second Amendment supports those of us who would CONTROL guns—-and thus prevent the insane slaughter that compromises our security.

James Madison and the Founders of this nation would be enraged to see the Second Amendment being used to put guns in the hands of so many random, crazed mass shooters in this country.

Indeed, this week's horrifying Thomas-written ruling undermining most American gun control will have all-too-familiar consequences that would utterly devastate Madison and his ilk.

Here is what the Second Amendment actually says:

"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."

Of the first Ten Amendments, this is the only one that contains a rationale for what it requires.

The Bill of Rights is the law of the land, clearly stated. Guarantees of religion, speech, assembly, the press, freedom from torture and so much more are natural rights, inherent to the human condition.

But "the right to keep and bear arms" is granted only in the context of a well-regulated militia and thus the security of a free state.

A National Guard, yes. Heavily-armed lunatics roaming the streets unregulated? Never.

Lawyers and the courts have been fighting over guns for 220 years, since that great day in 1791 when the Bill of Rights was ratified. The essence of the Founders' intent was embodied in the Supreme Court's 1939 Miller decision, the prevailing judicial view until the recent coming of a hard right NRA-based court very much out of synch with the sane balance our nation has tried to maintain between gun rights and the public good.

As we've just seen in Uvalde and so many other places, these faux "conservatives" have allowed renegade ownership of rapid-firing instruments of wholesale slaughter.

This imbalance clearly threatens "the security of a free state." The Second Amendment says access to these weapons must be strictly regulated.

As a free and lawful people, we have the legal duty to end this unconstitutional madness.

Make no mistake: this murder and mayhem has been made possible by the claim to a Constitutional right that is not there.

The assassins and mass murderers who continue to threaten our national security make ever so clear the reason for the Founders' demand that gun ownership be wisely regulated.

These are dark times for those who demand sane regulation of gun ownership. But courts come and go. Public opinion and political power, like the common law, change and evolve. These murders in Uvalde—just the latest in a long, horrifying, thoroughly avoidable procession of senseless, gun-inflicted tragedies—underscore once again that this is a struggle we can never abandon.

And in continuing to do this work, gun control advocates must not cede a legal inch. We are the the ones with a more accurate "Second Amendment remedy"... the clear Constitutional demand for a "regulated" gun ownership that serves rather than destroys the "security of a free state."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Harvey Wasserman

Harvey Wasserman

Harvey Wasserman is an activist and author. His first book "Harvey Wasserman's History of the United States" was published in 1972. Harvey edits www.nukefree.org.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

DOJ Sues to Prevent Arizona's 'Onerous' Proof of Citizenship Voting Law

Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke said the law "constitutes a textbook violation of the National Voter Registration Act."

Brett Wilkins ·


House Progressives Urge Reforms to 'Hold These Rogue Justices to Account'

Recent rulings by the Supreme Court's right-wing majority have made clear the need for substantive changes, including expansion, argues Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

Kenny Stancil ·


'Win for Wildlife' as Federal Court Restores Endangered Species Protections Gutted by Trump

"In the midst of a global extinction crisis, the court's decision to vacate the rules will help ensure that imperiled species receive the protections they desperately need," said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·


Senate Urged to Block Biden's Pro-Privatization Nominee for Social Security Board

"The Senate can, and must, block this terrible nomination," Social Security Works said of the administration's choice of Andrew Biggs.

Jake Johnson ·


GOP Senator Defends Guantánamo Bay Prison as 'Absolutely Vital Institution'

Sen. James Inhofe's comments come as congressional Democrats are reviving efforts to close the notorious U.S. military prison.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo