Second Amendment Thought Experiment

published

Some people have very strong feelings about the nature and the content of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. I do not currently have strong feelings about this amendment. I have never owned a firearm, so this right afforded to me has always been an intellectual one, rather than a practical one. As such, any modifications to the Second Amendment will have very little bearing on my day-to-day life.

A thought experiment recently occurred to me, though.

Imagine that a new constitutional amendment were to pass, either by two-thirds vote of all members of the House and Senate, or by two-thirds vote at a national convention, that substantially limited personal ownership of firearms. Would you support that amendment as the rule of law?

As a thought experiment, much is left out by design. Of course the specific nature of the changes imposed by the new amendment, and its implementation details, would effect how one feels about it. The thought experiment is not asking how you feel, but whether you would adhere to the Constitutional process and submit to the will of the people.

I can’t begin to imagine how slave owners felt at the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, knowing that one day a cultural (and commercial) institution was legal and the next day it wasn’t. There’s no doubt that many slave owners rejected the legality of the amendment. There were a lot of creative maneuvers executed after passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to preserve the previous status quo as much as possible, making every effort to subvert the spirit of the law.

I wonder what lessons we might learn from the Thirteenth Amendment about any potential changes to the Second Amendment.


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