While some opponents of the 2nd Amendment engage in mental gymnastics worthy of an Olympic gold medal to “prove” the amendment doesn’t protect individual rights, others make a more straightforward assertion: that it is obsolete or outdated in today’s world.
How does that argument hold up?
Tom Fowdy made this assertion in an article for China.org.cn titled, “The Anachronism of the Second Amendment.”
The central thesis of his article states:
In the modern era, the proliferation of firearms is incompatible with urban life and has led to mass shootings time and time again in the United States. Nowadays, the prevalence of firearms allows an aggrieved individual to pick up a gun, usually an automatic weapon, and unleash his anger and malice on the world by indiscriminately murdering scores of innocent people. These shootings have become so frequent that they are accepted as part of everyday life.
Ultimately, such a culture of mass shootings shows the inability of the U. S. government to secure the welfare, best interests, and security of its own people, which subsequently pours scorn on its claim to be a defender and champion of human rights throughout the world. After all, what is liberty if this liberty cannot secure your right not to be shot by another? And what are human rights if they cannot provide a right to avoid being indiscriminately shot by mass shooters?
Alright, here’s a few problems right off the bat:
- Individuals cannot just “pick up” an automatic weapon. They require a special federal permit and that has been the case since the 1934 National Firearms Act was enacted. Even if you want to legally purchase a regular firearm you have to pass a background check and, depending on the state, go through a whole bunch of extra hoops to exercise that “right.”
- Highly publicized shootings almost always involve semi-automatic rifles, not automatics. And some “mass shootings” (depending on how you define them) do not involve rifles at all. Oftentimes, gang violence gets lumped in with the “mass shooting” statistics.
- More people are killed each year by blunt objects such as hammers than are killed by rifles.
- Left unmentioned are the number of times someone’s life was saved due to a law-abiding citizen having a firearm.
Now, what could follow is a lengthy rebuttal of Fowdy’s thesis, but what’s the point?
Put better, why dignify these papers by addressing claims so easily disproven?
This is fundamentally the problem with opponents of the right to keep and bear arms.
Here at the Tenth Amendment Center, we’ve reviewed research papers showing that gun control efforts instigated the War of Independence and how the colonists rejected amnesty in exchange for gun confiscation. We’ve explored other papers chronicling the beliefs of important founders like Tench Coxe and what they said about individual gun ownership, along with Congressional debates surrounding the Second Amendment. We’ve looked at what words like “bear,” “arms,” and “militia” meant at the time the amendment was written. We’ve investigated historical evidence offered by moderate gun control proponents and ripped apart arguments that the Second Amendment was meant to protect slavery in the South.
Yet, detractors still insist that the Second Amendment says what it doesn’t mean and means what it doesn’t say.
As for Fowdy’s more utilitarian claims, they require even less energy to disprove.
There’s little point in even examining the frame of Fowdy’s point, which is that modern people (in urban areas) are incapable of exercising an unalienable. It goes without saying that this would have some frightening implications for other civil liberties deemed “anachronistic” — as if a right can become outdated or taken away based on popular opinion.
At this point, it’s fair to say we’re at the post-debate stage regarding the right to keep and bear arms. We’re going to keep undermining unconstitutional federal gun control through state and local nullification. Detractors are free to argue all they want that it’s outdated, but the only anachronistic policy is letting the feds tell us what we can and can’t use to defend ourselves.
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