At the time of the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, most people of the thirteen colonies lived in the countryside making their living from farming. For the most part, they lived on bread and butter, potatoes, and tea. In order to include meat in meals they depended on hunting game. Policing was limited, so they were responsible for their personal and family’s self-protection. Because there was not a standing professionally trained armed force, in order to protect their communities, colonial statutes required all white men to both keep and bear arms for mustering a militia on short notice. Hence, it should be understood, weapons were an existential need.
It is therefore not surprising that the framers wrote into the Second Amendment of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, “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.” In their zeitgeist, it was a pragmatic and reasonable act.
Today, the Supreme Court’s task is to interpret the Constitution’s meaning from what was originally written. Of course, determining the framers’ intent is the only valid way for its interpretation. In light of the zeitgeist of the framers, the Constitution’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is very clear. Its intent is not confusing or open to any other interpretation other than what was clearly written: the right of the people to keep and bear arms is necessary to the security of a Free State.
Accordingly, its not surprising either that recently the Supreme Court ruled that a citizen’s right to gun ownership could not be impinged upon, not only federally, but by local or state government as well.
That being said, however, the decision to strike down Chicago’s gun-control ordinance is not reasonable and is extremely shortsighted. Many press sources have predicted that the decision has the potential of limiting State and local government from enforcing restrictions on gun ownership. A New York Times editorial predicts that it “spells trouble for the country as a whole.” During the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, U.S. Senator Feinstein, (D-CA.), cited, “the plague of gang violence in her state, ‘metropolitan states’ have different problems than rural states and suggested the court's decision is challengeable.”
In many U.S. cities and along the border with Mexico there is an existential need for gun-control regulation or even prohibition. Guns fuel the violence that has exploded along the southern border and in Chicago, California and in many other gang-infested communities. Along Mexico’s northern border, there have been more deaths as a result of drug-wars than U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq combined. It’s the result of America’s unquenchable desire for drugs. It’s guns they acquire from the United States that facilitate the violence. The availability to acquire guns must be regulated and even eliminated. America’s penchant for violence must end.
Moreover, the framers wrote the Constitution in such a way as to make it open to change through amendments by legislative process and ratification by the States. The Constitution, therefore, was intended to be a living document evolving over time as a result of greater gains in knowledge, and in consideration of advancements in technology and science, of cultural changes and greater diversity, of ever increasing political and economic complexities, of new and different international and national security threats, and in view of our evolving need for greater global participation.
What is needed is a Constitutional amendment that repeals and replaces the Second Amendment to one that recognizes the real world differences between 1776 and 2010, and that, too, must be updated as America evolves.