When somebody in America has the temerity to allude to “gun control”, gun fanatics immediately rise and brandish (like a crucifix) the sacrosanct Second Amendment. Vade Retro Satana they shriek.
They quote the Second Amendment (mainly the part “the right to bear arms”), but I bet that few among the gun-toting crowds know its origins or would be able to quote it verbatim.
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution says:
“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.”
This amendment was adopted by Congress (along with the Bill of Rights) on December 15, 1791, a few years after the American War of Independence.
The American Bill of Rights has its roots in the English Civil War of 1642-1651.
It was a time of turmoil when Catholics and Protestants were at each other’s throat.
To summarize this complicated conflict, Catholic King James II (who reigned from 1685 to 1688) attempted to disarm his enemies, the Protestants.
James II was eventually overthrown and Protestant monarchs William III and Mary II decided to abide by the conditions specified in the English Bill of Rights.
Among other things, the Bill read:
“That the Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law.”
“In its full context it is clear that the bill was asserting the right of Protestant citizens not to be disarmed by the King without the consent of Parliament and was merely restoring rights to Protestants that King James II briefly and unlawfully had removed.”
So originally, the “right to bear arms” was basically a way to allow Protestants to defend themselves against Catholics.
Eventually, in the context of the American Constitution, it meant to be that citizens had the right to arm and defend themselves against an eventual return of the vengeful Red Coats. And they did return in 1812, when America declared war on Great Britain. And militias were needed.
Today, I wander why we would need militias? Is anybody ready to pounce on us?
In the 18th century, most militias were armed with muzzle loading muskets.
A trained militiaman could fire about 3 shots per minute, so even if he went rogue his killing potential was rather low.
Today it is quite different. A single man armed with automatic weapons could inflict a heavy human toll in a matter of seconds.
Gun control doesn’t mean disarming the entire country, but having a say about what guns could be legally purchased, and who would be allowed to possess such weapons.
Most buyers acquire weapons for hunting or defensive purposes.
But nobody needs assault weapons with high capacity magazines to defend themselves against intruders or to shoot rabbits.
The Second Amendment is not carved in stone. It could and should be amended.
In view of recent carnages, limiting and restricting access to guns to certain people is nothing more than common sense.