The Second Amendment Doesn’t Say You Can Own Any Gun You Want

As the funerals and memorial services take place in Newton, CT, the recent school shooting is still fresh in all of our minds.  Partly because the news media won’t report on anything else, but that’s a topic for another day.  There have been countless media reports, blog posts, Facebook discussions, and dinner table debates around who was to blame and how to prevent another incident like this and the many that have come before it.  The unfortunate truth is that attacks like these will continue to happen, regardless of the social, political, and legal reaction to them.  But as members of this society and members of a species, don’t we have the responsibility to do anything and everything we can to prevent the large-scale loss of life?  I believe we do.M4A1_ACOG

Although we can never fully prevent bad people from doing bad things, we can make it more difficult for them to do bad things to large numbers of people in a matter of seconds.  A ban on assault rifles would not totally prevent people from obtaining them.  What it would do however, is prevent a teenage kid, without the means to obtain an illegal one, from getting his hands on one from his parents’ house.  It would make it much more difficult for a school, movie theater, or shopping mall shooter to walk into such a place and immediately fire 100 rounds into innocent people.  Sure, he could still walk in with handguns and fire away.  But at a much slower rate, and only until someone brave tackled him or fired back.

There is no reason any American citizen should have a need for a firearm that is capable of producing a body count in the dozens in less than a minute.  The Second Amendment defense does not apply here.  I would never advocate a ban on all guns.  It would be ineffective and largely unenforceable.  But in the spirit of public safety, guns like the AR-15 should be prohibited from purchase.

How many citizens have protected themselves from attack or tyranny with an assault rifle?  I can guarantee that number is dwarfed by the number of victims from shootings with a legally-owned assault rifle.

In the end, I’m not claiming to have the answer to preventing events like the recent shootings from happening.  I agree that we need better security in schools and more effective medical care of mental illness.  But along with that, if we can make it more difficult for someone to obtain a weapon capable of ending so many lives, then we are potentially saving lives.  You can argue that it won’t save lives, that bad people will find a way, and that I’m assuming too much.  What a ban on assault rifles will NOT do, however, is raise the body count.  If it has the potential to lower the body count, and certainly that potential is there, then we, as parents, neighbors, and humans, should advocate for it.

Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis is the head writer and editor for SecularVoices, co-founder of Young Skeptics, and author of Understanding an Atheist. He is known for local and national secular activism and has spoken at conferences and events such as Reason Rally 2016 and the Ark Encounter Protest and Rally.

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3 thoughts on “The Second Amendment Doesn’t Say You Can Own Any Gun You Want

  1. This is a good point. As I try to tell people, prohibition does work…kinda. The reason I haven’t tried coke is because I don’t have a coke guy. The reason I don’t have a coke guy is because if someone went on craigslist to sell some blow he’d go to jail.

    But I don’t support banning assault rifles simply because 2A exists for us to defend ourselves from government run amok. It would be difficult for the citizenry to stand against the police or military if we were left with single stack pistols. I concede we haven’t needed these weapons for an exceptionally long time. But if we do need them against our government or any large force and are without them, the costs to us from a utilitarian standpoint may well dwarf gun deaths to date.

  2. There are already lots of laws about owning guns and who may have them and who may not as well as what kinds. The problem isn’t in intent, it’s in application. The sad fact is, no law will keep firearms from the hands of criminals and those wackos that don;t care. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try or make it easy for them.

    Here in Brazil, it is very difficult for a private citizen to own a firearm, especially a handgun. Yet, the traficantes (drug dealers) an other criminals are often better armed than the police.

    I have an essay about gun control at:

    I don’t delude myself that what I propose there will solve all the problems. Nor do I delude myself that it is possible to eliminate guns from American society or that, even if it were, that would cure the culture of violence that makes those guns a problem. Still, to do nothing is to tacitly condone what is happening.

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