It’s our constitutional right! (but should it be?)

You know what phrase I’m real tired of?

“It’s our constitutional right to bear arms…you can’t take that away from us!”

You know what?  We can.

Just because something is constitutional, doesn’t mean that it’s a good thing.  Take prohibition.  The 18th Amendment made it illegal to produce, transport, or sell alcohol.  For thirteen years, according to to amended constitution, alcohol was a substance that should be prohibited at all costs.

…and you know what happened?

Thirteen years later, we decided that it was a bad amendment and we repealed it with the 21st amendment.

When the constitution ceases to be beneficial to the people of the United States of America, then it’s time for a change.

…and every part of the constitution is up for change.

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2 Responses to It’s our constitutional right! (but should it be?)

  1. lwk2431 says:

    “When the constitution ceases to be beneficial to the people of the United States of America, then it’s time for a change. … …and every part of the constitution is up for change.”

    No one who understands the Constitution could disagree. The Founders didn’t make it impossible to change, only difficult. If Congress were to propose and pass an amendment repealing or modifying the 2nd Amendment then that would be 100% Constitutional.

    The question though, since you used the 2nd Amendment as the obvious example of something that could be changed, is whether you believe it should be changed, and if so, why and how.

    The obvious fact is that a lot of pain and suffering results from people using guns in careless, irresponsible, or criminal ways. Again no objective person could deny that fact.

    One issue I have with many gun banners – and not saying that is you because I don’t know your real position well enough yet – is that they often will not give much credit to the positive use of firearms. For example just consider defensive uses of firearms. Americans do use firearms every year for self defense and they save lives and property in so doing.

    The question is whether they do it often, and does the positive benefits outweigh some of the negatives. Here is a link to a paper by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz. It is not a 5 minute read, but it is worthwhile consider:

    Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (Northwestern)
Guns and Violence Symposium,
vol. 86, no. 1, 1995: 150.


    In the distant past people thought you could measure this by counting how many people were killed in justified homicides and that number is always less than the criminal and negligent uses. Kleck and Gertz come up with a number of defensive gun uses somewere around 2,500,000 times a year. How can that be and can we believe it?

    Honest answer to “do I believe it” is I don’t know for sure. I believe they have done one of the best attempts at getting the number but not 100% sure they nailed it. It is a very peversely difficult number to get right (and if you read the above you will get some appreciation as to why it is hard).

    If you read the above you will read about the NCVS (National Criminal Victimization Survey) which puts the numbers somewhere around 80K a year, a small nmber. You will read about 12 or 13 other studies that seem to coalesce around 700-800K which are not small numbers. Then you have Kleck and Gertz at 2.5 million.

    I don’t know if the Kleck got it right. One thing for sure is he highlighted two incredibly important points:

    1. A lot of defensive uses are not going to be reported to the police

    2. People very rarely fire a gun but almost always threaten with it

    My unscientifc guess is that the real number is somewhere between the 800K number of a lot of studies and Kleck and Gertz’s number. Maybe something over a million times a year.

    But that is a guess. Kleck and Gertz have stood up pretty good in terms of method so far.

    The point is this. Firearms are almost certainly used a lot more than was previously known and in the great majority of cases the gun is not fired.

    In my book that is a hell of a lot of positive outcomes to outweigh the negative ones.

    Not saying we couldn’t work on reducing negatives too, but as Kleck points out, sometimes measures to prevent bad uses can also make it difficult for people to have the tools they need to for good outcomes

    Anyway, if you read Kleck it is worthwhile.

    And the equation is never going to be simple.



    • Jason Tyne says:

      I’ve cleaned up this thread for my readers, although non-sequitur, the response is worth reading. Through my gun posts, I’m building a methodical proof that I’m not sure where will end…but if you get bored of the slow pace, reading Kleck is worthwhile and I’m eager to hear other responses to it.

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