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The Right to Bear Arms: Is the U.S. Constitution out-of-date?

#1 · Posted: 24 Feb 2012 18:31
Since a lot of Americans have recently signed up to this forum, I thought of raising a subject that I've often wondered about.

Tintin often expresses distaste in using firearms ("Black Island", "Land of Black Gold") but uses them because his enemies are also armed. That is an argument often used by supporters of the 2nd Amendment: if criminals are armed then ordinary people must also be armed in order to defend their homes and families.

But this rule has also led to people killing others either deliberately or by accident and even carrying out wholesale massacres, from Columbine (15 killed, 24 injured in 1999) to Virginia Tech (32 killed, 25 injured in 2007).

Has anyone considered that the Constitution may be out-of-date? When the Amendment was introduced in 1791, most firearms were single-shot pistols and muskets. In order to have any impact, an event like Virginia Tech would have required about a dozen men with a musket or pistol each, one half firing while the other half re-loaded.

With a least two single-shot pistols, one man would just have had time to shoot a couple of victims before being overpowered, but with two semi-automatics he managed to kill 32 people and injure 25.

Any opinions?
#2 · Posted: 25 Feb 2012 06:14
The US Constitution is 222 (223 in September) years old, the oldest written constitution in the world. It was written when America was an agricultral backwater and wilderness. I would say the whole document is outdated.
#3 · Posted: 26 Feb 2012 08:32 · Edited by: Moderator
If laws are (usually they are) a result of agreements, they can be and sometimes must be changed.

In Finland are more guns per capita than almost in any country in the world. I reckon we are in top 3. Most of the guns used to be hunting guns and those guns WW II veterans brought from the war in case USSR might have occupied Finland. Those guns didn't cause school massacres, typically they caused family tragedies: a desperate man killed his dog and shot himself at the end.

During last two decades young adults have bought semi-automatic handguns for sportshooting (?). Now we have our own school tragedies. If I remember correctly in every case the gun was .22 semi-automatic handgun.

I don't know what "the right to bear arms" means, but, though I own 3 rifles (air, .22 and .308), I don't have a right to bear them. I am allowed to use them in tracks and in forest during the hunting season. In Finland police has a right to bear arms not civilians.

The constitution is not God's word, it can be changed if it is out of date. Fortunately Finnish gun laws are not part of the constitution and they have been updated after few school massacres. Former it was quite easy to get a gun in Finland but nowadays it is very difficult to get a handgun which is a good thing. In England the hand-gun law is extremely strict, even the Olympic shooters cannot keep their guns in home.

I won't give any advice, every country makes its own decisions. As an amateur sports-shooter I know many people can handle guns with responsibility.
#4 · Posted: 26 Feb 2012 11:29
That is an argument often used by supporters of the 2nd Amendment: if criminals are armed then ordinary people must also be armed in order to defend their homes and families.

I'm sure members from the US will correct me if I'm wrong, but I've heard it argued that the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution wasn't particularly intended to be a way to ensure every individuals could carry a weapon to shoot armed robbers, but was more intended as a way of ensuring that their newly founded country was able to defend itself against armed threat or tyranny, and that the actual 2nd Amendment in full talks about the right to bear arms in the context of of communities being able to form a well-regulated militia, necessary for the security of a free state.

As for Tintin's right to bear arms, it's true that he's consistently anti-war and that he generally only uses guns in self defence or the defence of others. But he certainly bears arms quite a lot within this moral context; I think there are only four books in which he doesn't wield a gun of some sort, and he quite often shoots at people or achieves success by convincing his adversaries that he would be prepared to shoot them dead.
#5 · Posted: 29 Feb 2012 03:35

You are correct, the 2nd Amendment says "Congress shall maintain a well-regulated Militia". This is the National Guard. The Founding Fathers believed a volunteer force would be better than a professional army, to prevent there being a "warrior" class, like the Junkers of Germany or Samurai of Japan. It would also keep would-be General Alcazars and Tapiocas from being powerful enough to stage coups.
#6 · Posted: 29 Feb 2012 12:33
But as I understand it the US Supreme Court has recently ruled that this applies not only to militias but individuals as well. Isn't it rather worrying that guns can be made available to any Tom, Dick or Harry (or idiot, fool and psycho)?
#7 · Posted: 2 Mar 2012 05:26

Yes the US Supreme Court(which is a very right wing), has re-interpreted the 2nd Amendment to allow anyone to own a gun, and yes it scares the living daylights out of me. However what the court ruled is not what the Founding Father's intended for it to mean.

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