Home / Culture and Society / A Time for Change: Gun Laws Must be Rewritten

A Time for Change: Gun Laws Must be Rewritten

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Tumblr0Share on StumbleUpon1Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

The United States Constitution is the very fabric of our law and our lives. It should not be lightly modified. If we make a case for the changing effect of time and culture, we open a can of worms that may be hard to close.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution, written and polished by noble and fervent Americans living at a time when a new nation was coming into being, took measures to protect the rights of Americans to “keep and bear” arms. Courts subsequently ruled that the Second Amendment protected Americans’ right to possess firearms unconnected to a militia, although the need for a standing and present militia was then a real necessity, and the matter was discussed at length.

Some reports of these long-past events suggest that care was taken to avoid the unpleasantness of a “right of citizens to own arms provision” which might be used to provide armaments to those who would overrule a government, in a situation wherein that government no longer had the trust and support of the majority of people.

The Second Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights. Again, that’s December.  Of 1791.

We may take a moment to call to mind what life in these United States was like in that early time. While civilization was booming in the east, life in the interior and farther west was far from civil. As Americans in covered wagons sought to make homesteads, farms, areas to breed cattle, they encountered Indians native to the region. The history of the defeat of the Indians is a tragic page in American history. The early settlers had to deal as individuals with bad men and rustlers. Gun-wielding bloodthirsty thieves, lawless criminals ran unchecked, out to take everything available for themselves. These lawless riders of the plains were often vicious; they worked in union with others of that ilk. When settlements turned to towns, and later, towns turned to small cities, there was little or no law. Some brave men rose up to protect the community; in some areas sheriffs were elected. Still we can imagine the plight of a man with a wife and children in those trying times.

One early sheriff and fighter for the people was the famed Wyatt Earp, believed to have been born on March 19, 1848. Earp worked for the law and helped to tame the west. He is remembered for a famous historical gunfight at the OK corral in Tombstone, Arizona. Earp’s birth was nearly 60 years after the passage of the Bill of Rights.

William H. Bonney, “Billy the Kid” started a life of crime with theft and horse robbery. He killed a man at the age of 18. He was a gunslinger known for his wanton violence. Billy is thought to have been born on November 23, 1859. That was 70 years after the Constitution was written as the law of the land.

Son of a preacher, John Wesley Harding was possibly the most bloodthirsty of the infamous in the Old West. He killed at least 42 people, including former slaves and gunfighters. He was known for carrying two pistols in holsters strapped to his chest, which enabled a faster draw. He was arrested at the age of 17, but was able to get a gun, kill a guard, and escape. John Wesley Harding was born in Bonham, Fannin County, Texas, on 26th May, 1853.

The old west is gone, and a militia has been replaced with a vast and well armed military. People don’t ride in covered wagons, and they are in most cases well protected. In the United States, major cities daily are forced to defend the force of the special interest groups who openly profit from gun sales. Children are shot. Young people anticipate a short and violent lifetime.

Can you imagine a drug-ridden US city, forced to accept the rights of individuals to carry hidden weapons? No self respecting gang member would go weaponless. Concealed arms would be the rule of the day, and gangbangers with guns, like children with toys, wouldn’t rest until they had heard the explosion and felt the recoil of the respect-granting weapon.

Today’s world is nothing like the time of our founding fathers, and they had no hope to envision the future, just as we today have no hope of previewing the world down the road. So it doesn’t make sense to continue gun laws that are clearly obsolete, and counterproductive. We hope that today’s awful violence in unique situations, and in every US city, will bring light to this night, and that sensible laws which don’t conform to the early constitution will be the rule of the day.

Photos: Teachingamericanhistory, biography, legionsofAmerica.

Powered by

About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • And that Richard can’t spell words with letters he can’t hear.

  • Igor

    I’m guessing that ‘richous’ means “righteous”.

  • Zingzing

    “You ARE responsible for your ADs, aren’t you?”

    Authors aren’t responsible for ads. Although if this website is using google Adsense or a similar service, your search history might be responsible for whatever ads you are seeing.

    And what is this “richous” word?

  • Richard

    I was about to read the Gun Control Blog, when I happened to notice your advertisement:

    “DUI’s Can Be Beat”

    And I don’t think I can take you seriously if you allow that sort of content on your “richous” Gun Control post…

    You ARE responsible for your ADs, aren’t you? And you promote getting out of DUIs?

    And we believe Legal Gun Owners are a problem…


  • Maurice

    Now just posting the pertinent paragraph and hoping it will be permitted.

    The only refuge left for those who prophesy the downfall of the State governments is the visionary supposition that the federal government may previously accumulate a military force for the projects of ambition. The reasonings contained in these papers must have been employed to little purpose indeed, if it could be necessary now to disprove the reality of this danger. That the people and the States should, for a sufficient period of time, elect an uninterupted succession of men ready to betray both; that the traitors should, throughout this period, uniformly and systematically pursue some fixed plan for the extension of the military establishment; that the governments and the people of the States should silently and patiently behold the gathering storm, and continue to supply the materials, until it should be prepared to burst on their own heads, must appear to every one more like the incoherent dreams of a delirious jealousy, or the misjudged exaggerations of a counterfeit zeal, than like the sober apprehensions of genuine patriotism. Extravagant as the supposition is, let it however be made. Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it. Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the national will and direct the national force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments, and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the legions which surround it. Let us not insult the free and gallant citizens of America with the suspicion, that they would be less able to defend the rights of which they would be in actual possession, than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be to rescue theirs from the hands of their oppressors. Let us rather no longer insult them with the supposition that they can ever reduce themselves to the necessity of making the experiment, by a blind and tame submission to the long train of insidious measures which must precede and produce it.

  • Maurice

    Posted a comment earlier that has not made it in yet. Not sure why. It was the last 2 paragraphs from the Federalist #46. Madison argues that all citizens need to be armed so that State rights would prevail over the Federal government.

    Have to echo the personal feelings of troll #42 in that I too have a personal goal to go to my grave and never kill anyone.

  • troll

    @ #41 – if you are asking me personally :

    I am ambivalent concerning how to treat a tyrant and hold no leader to be immune from the syndrome – (gurus must die) – intoning those so called greats assassinated by fanatics doesn’t get me all sentimental though I understand what you’re saying and what appears to be your fear of crazies

    while I personally choose an aggressive pacifism as my ‘axiom’ and want little more looking forward than to live out the rest of my days without killing anyone (while effecting a more peaceful [and just] world society of course) I understand those who challenge politicians’ claim to a monopoly when it come to the control and use of
    (physical) force which they deal out on behalf questionable interests worldwide and find the risks of vigilantism acceptable under the circumstances

    the status quo is unacceptable and – combined with the clear limits of Enlightenment – volatile

  • Igor

    @40-troll: surely you don’t think that we should go around killing our political enemies, do you? Or, do you?

    I’m sure that every political assassin in US history has had words like this ringing in his ears. John Wilkes Booth made it pretty clear when he jumped to the stage of the Ford theater.

    Don’t you think that the assassins of JFK, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, etc. imagined themselves as slayers of tyrants?

    Jefferson himself was no god and was in fact a wily politician who knew how to use hyperbole. It’s unfortunate that some people are so innocent as to take careless political diatribes as serious thought. This should serve as a warning to you: the easily gulled WILL be gulled, often to horrendous purpose. Skillful liars will note the identities of the easily deceived and address them specifically. Nothing makes a person more susceptible to lies than his own idolatry.

    One may appreciate a clever aphorism for it’s artistic flourish without having to think it has intrinsic worth.

    And I will repeat again, the Founders were acolytes of The Enlightenment and thought that differences should be settled by discussion and organization (i.e., politics), not with blazing guns.

  • troll

    @ #38 – I can’t see what use that statement is now, except as a debating stunt.

    What is the implication here Igor? Is it that tyranny is so unlikely as to be no problem or is it that we’ve arrived at a place where ‘resistance is futile’?

  • Wasn’t Plato’s central idea that the person who most desired to run the republic was the last person who should be allowed to do so?

    America went astray pretty early on there…

  • Igor

    Of course the Founders didn’t invent the Republic they took the idea whole from Plato, who wrote “The Republic”. Still worth reading today. It was Jefferson who mentioned “refreshing the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants”, a lurid image, not taken up by anyone else in his own time. I can’t see what use that statement is now, except as a debating stunt.

    The Founders were not fond of guns, preferring to settle differences in courts and legislatures, rather than on the dueling fields as was common in Europe. In fact we have no writings from the Founders lauding guns, nor do guns appear in any of the many paintings of those worthies.

    Perhaps they used guns for hunting game birds and varmints, as country gentlemen do even today.

    In the 1790s the US government found it necessary to REQUIRE a gun and some ammunition of every fit male so as to be prepared to be called into an impromptu militia. They required the guns and ammo to be registered so the government could make sure they were prepared.

  • Maurice

    Have to take exception with comments about the Founding Fathers. Unlike us they were well educated. They understood exactly what they were doing. That is why our government was founded as a Constitutional Republic and not a Democracy. They were well versed in different styles of government and made their choice. They also knew we would need to periodically “freshen the tree of liberty”.

  • It’s going to be difficult to find any common ground on this debate as long as the gun lobby keeps wheeling out the “they want to take away all our guns” straw man, as evidenced in comments 34 and 35, above.

  • The constitution shouldn’t be changed

    I also support the banning of horror films for the desentsitizeing of our youth toward violent/torturous actions.

  • The constitution shouldn’t be changed

    Prohibition has never worked. Take guns away from the people using them as protection and those who obtain them illegally will run ramped. Lets all wait 25 minutes while trying to defend your family against multiple armed assailants with only our hand to hand weapons and our wit! Gun control is smart ownership and knowledge of the firearm; not making them illegal. If you see your family member is not stable or in a right frame of mind, lock your safe(which most firearm owners use) and seek medical attention. A man robbed a store with pepper spray, we should make it illegal!

  • John, you say, “Today’s world is nothing like the time of our founding fathers,…” With regard specifically to weapons, I must agree with you. But the US Constittion was written to address human nature, not weapons. So, what does my line of thinking mean? Address human nature. Why does not a person who violates (in this instance, by shooting) another’s rights forfiet any “rights” he/she has ( like the “right” to spend 20 years on death row at taxpayer expense)?

    You also say, “No self respecting gang member would go weaponless.” That, sir, is human nature! But it is much easier to call for gun-control than it is to address/confront human nature. It is much easier to call for gun-control than to call for swift justice. Besides, guns cannot protest or speak for themselves, but you can bet that any gang member (or some bleeding-heart liberal lawyer) will protest when the gang member’s “rights” are “violated.”

    Besides, I was in the Army for 22 years, plus have had guns of all types all my life. Not once in all that time has any gun acted on its own.

  • troll

    (…and if you must factor in the US then note that its extreme saturation and low firearms homicide rate – compared to Central and South American countries generally – further reinforces my point)

  • troll

    oy Chris…your blinding obsession with the USA is touching – really – but has little to do with my point

    it doesn’t take a Nash to recognize the patterns I pointed to in the data…if they are not apparent to you and if you have any interest in the issue I raised in #24 then I suggest that you crunch the numbers for yourself…pretty straight forward descriptive stats

    my take is that the data suggest that a country’s saturation w/ legal guns isn’t highly correlated w/ its homicide by firearm rate: Europe = high saturation w/ legal firearms and low homicide by firearms rate…Central and South America = low saturation w/ legal firearms and high homicide by firearms rate

    personally I suspect other social forces/trends are at work so for example when Australia implemented its successful buy back it reinforced a trend that might well be missing elsewhere in the world

  • troll, all I got from that survey is that the USA has somewhere between 100 times to double the number of guns of anywhere else, so I don’t see how that is supporting your point…

  • troll

    note that I left the US out of the comparison – it’s England that is the outlier…see the rankings for France Germany Switzerland Austria…and on and on

    then compare these to Central and South American countries

  • Dr Dreadful

    troll, which definition of “saturation” are you using?

    While there are high levels of gun ownership in places like Switzerland, Finland and Serbia, I’d hardly say these countries are filled to capacity with them. Not, at any rate, compared to the US, which has almost double the ownership rate of any of the three.

  • troll

    ok Chris – I’m sure that your intuitive take is more accurate than the survey data presented here by the Guardian (be sure to muddy the well) – see column 5 for the measure of what I called ‘saturation with legal firearms’

  • Clavos, just because people are willing to supply guns to criminals has nothing to do with this category of crime. Maybe if you dropped your flip attitude you’d be able to follow the logic a bit better.

    As someone who frequently objects to government expansion or control, how do you suggest that it focuses on identifying, helping and isolating people with mental health issues?

    As I’m sure your smartarse attitude knows very well, there is no data to support either your point of view or mine. However, I know more Americans than any other nationality except my own and Spanish, and the vast majority are, in my experience, pretty straight and conventional.

    For example, that is why Hollywood and US TV uses English people to say and do things that they can’t or why Ricky Gervais, who is fairly mainstream and even a little boring in England, is seen as a controversial host of the Grammys.

    Troll, surveys, schmurveys. What is a small arm anyway? Furthermore, there isn’t a high saturation of legal firearms in Europe…

  • Dr Dreadful

    Clav @ #22:


    I don’t know where you’d get hard data, but the very first article I ever wrote for BC may contain some insights. Please excuse the shameless self-promotion.

  • troll

    some (wiki)lists of interest for the likes of Baronius:

    List of rampage killers: Europe

    List of rampage killers: Americas

    List of school massacres

    @ #20 – Chris while he is able to take care of himself rather than simply dismissing Clavos’ comment as non-responsive you might consider the context in which it makes sense: eg the UN’s Small Arms Survey work indicates that common sense notwithstanding saturation with legal (and therefore controllable) firearms isn’t all that clearly correlated with a country’s rate of homicide involving firearms which can be seen comparing {Europe – high saturation of legal firearms/low rate} and {Central and South America – low saturation of legal firearms/high rate}

  • Clavos

    And further, you took my comment out of context. in context, I was comparing American individualism and iconoclasm to those attitudes among the Swiss and Israelis specifically.

  • Clavos

    it is a complete myth that Americans tend to be “far more individual and iconoclastic”.

    Uh huh.


  • Clavos

    Those “not averse to breaking the law” are a different class of person than those who commit the kinds of acts we have seen in Newtown

    True, but they will be happy to supply them to those who do.

    Merely “reducing” the number of guns in the population will do little to prevent future Newtown incidents.

    A far better idea is to concentrate on identifying and helping (and if necessary, isolating) mental health patients before they commit these atrocities.

  • “Reducing the number of weapons circulating in a civil population will help reduce their use though, that is for sure.

    Not likely. As long as there are guns out there, they will be easy to obtain for those not averse to breaking the law.”

    Clavos, your response is not relevant to the remark, maybe it is time to abandon the dogma and get real?

    Reducing the availability of guns will obviously make it harder to get hold of them.

    Those “not averse to breaking the law” are a different class of person than those who commit the kinds of acts we have seen in Newtown.

    This was a very safe, respectable, small town with a very quiet way of life. The mother of the perp felt the need to own 5 guns, including the semi-automatic rifle, for her own safety, despite the fact that the threat level was about as low as it is likely to get in the USA.

    If she hadn’t been so seemingly paranoid and hadn’t been able to get so many guns, including the rifle, this wouldn’t have happened in the way it did.

    We can’t do much about her state of mind (short of psychological assessment of everyone buying a gun and a deeper assessment of people who want to own multiple weapons and the conditions they keep them in), but we could have done something to stop her so readily indulging it.

    Whilst I’m at it, it is a complete myth that Americans tend to be “far more individual and iconoclastic”. My experience of them has been that the vast majority are pretty conservative.

    This is about as true as it being the land of the free, another popular but completely inaccurate idea everyone seems to have bought in to.

  • Clavos

    They’ve both got high rates of ownership, but also have significantly greater gun control regulation than we do.

    1. They have a much greater respect for authority than Americans do. Americans tend to be far more individualistic and iconoclastic. If you look closely enough, you’ll see that both the Swiss and the Israelis are more obedient to and respectful of, both authority and the law than Americans (as a group).

    2. The Israelis also are far more successful in protecting their commercial aviation than America is, mostly because they are willing to use techniques (profiling is one such) that Americans are squeamish about. Swiss society is far more docile and regimented than Americans would ever put up with.

    Apples and oranges, Glenn.

  • Baronius

    No automatic weapons, no assault rifles…

    There aren’t any automatic weapons on the streets. They’re illegal, rare, and expensive. And they’ve never been used in a modern (post-Prohibition) mass shooting in the US. Ditto with assault rifles. Now, assault weapons are different, but it turns out that there’s no such thing as an assault weapon beyond the legal definition. In terms of capability, they’re the same as any other semi-automatic weapon (which account for the vast majority of all firearms made since we moved past muskets). I know, it sounds like NRA propaganda, but there really isn’t such a thing as an assault weapon. It’s arbitrary. The civilian “AK-47” you could find in the US is designed to look like something it’s not. It’s like those Mazdas that look kind of like Porsches, but when you put your foot down on the gas pedal, it ain’t no Porsche. We banned assault weapons for ten years, from 1994-2004. There was no decrease in gun crime when the ban went through, and no increase when it was discontinued. This is a classic example of legislation that makes the voter feel better, but has no real impact.

  • Glenn, I think you stumbled into the answer.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clav –

    If controlling – regulating – gun ownership doesn’t work, then why are Switzerland and Israel so successful at it? They’ve both got high rates of ownership, but also have significantly greater gun control regulation than we do.

  • Clavos

    Reducing the number of weapons circulating in a civil population will help reduce their use though, that is for sure.

    Not likely. As long as there are guns out there, they will be easy to obtain for those not averse to breaking the law.

  • Is anybody actually saying that merely controlling gun ownership will eliminate their unlawful use?

    Nothing in isolation will achieve that, just like taking a single step is not the same as going for a walk. Reducing the number of weapons circulating in a civil population will help reduce their use though, that is for sure.

  • Clavos

    A pretty good analysis of why merely controlling gun ownership will not eliminate their unlawful use.

  • Clavos

    We don’t want to take away your toys, Crake – we want to keep those toys out of the hands of young men who don’t know the meaning of responsibility.

    If you don’t eliminate ALL the guns (an impossibility), you won’t succeed.

    A better plan would be to return to active and effective identification and treatment (including locking up where appropriate) those suffering from mental diseases and conditions.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Crake –

    You’ll find that most of us liberals do NOT want to get rid of all the guns, but we DO want sensible gun regulations: registration for all guns, background checks for anyone buying a gun anywhere, no automatic weapons, no assault rifles, no high-capacity clips.

    Personally, I’d add mandatory insurance, mandatory reporting of all private sales and transfer of ownerships and stolen weapons, and mandatory safety training (even if it’s given by the NRA).

    And you know what? With the exception of the insurance, all the above is LESS than what Switzerland requires for gun ownership!

    We don’t want to take away your toys, Crake – we want to keep those toys out of the hands of young men who don’t know the meaning of responsibility.

  • We need a registration procedure that’s simple but cost effective and practical. We need better control
    over interstate sales-particularly for the more lethal weapons with a rapid fire capability. In addition,
    gun owners need to sign affidavits regarding the steps they’ve taken to keep guns out of the hands
    of other family members and the public. A continuing education procedure is in order as is done
    with automobile insurance except that the continuing education should be mandatory. Criminals will
    always find ways to circumvent the laws; however, this case was a situation where the mother had
    custody over the weapons used in the crime. At some point, she lost control over the guns which
    got into the hands of the son Adam. We need a control to prevent this in the future. Maybe an
    automatic gun lock is the answer so that only the owner can disengage the locking mechanism.

  • Crake

    Yes, I was being a little hypocritical… I just couldn’t resist 🙂

  • Crake, weren’t you objecting earlier on to a reductio ad absurdum?

    Seems to me you’re doing the same thing here, or at any rate the common variant known as the slippery slope fallacy.

  • crake

    We need more barriers to entry.

    We need more paper, a slower process.

    We need to track every projectile, to drive up prices.

    We need compulsory gun owners insurance.

    We need several more federal agencies with arresting powers.

    We need more gun control, less raw milk and no fricken lemonade stands unless you have papers.

    Papers please…

    We need the 10th amendment, screw the 1st through 5…

  • crake

    That’s the funny thing about needs. If we all lived strictly to meet our needs, life would not be fun. Well, maybe it would be fun, if some of your needs involved entertainment. In my case, I’m a competitive pistol shooter, and I enjoy it – I don’t “need” it. It’s no different than a BMX, dirt bike riding, race car driving, cliff scaling, base jumping, crack grinding, boxing, UFC, knife throwing, chainsaw wooding cutting etc. etc. kind of hobby… “We” don’t need a collective solution to a personal problem. These rampant shooters – I guarantee you, if desperate enough – will not only violate laws against murder, but they’ll violate future gun laws, and perhaps even worse…

  • Much depends on the area we live in. People in big cities like New York City don’t really need guns because there is a large police force of over 30,000 officers. For a person in the middle of a desert with no police around, then the case for gun ownership makes sense.

    Recreational use of guns is another problem. This needs to be controlled by licensing and registration. In addition, gun owners should be required to take seminars in gun safety in the same way that drivers of cars take continuing seminars to have their insurance costs reduced.

    The difference with guns is that the periodic seminars should be mandatory instead of just being required to reduce the insurance premium. Gun owners need to sign affidavits which state that they’ve taken precautions in maintaining their guns away from people in the household who are unlicensed.

    In addition, those who purchase guns for recreation should be restricted from buying the more sophisticated weaponry available. Guns crossing state lines is another area which requires constant vigilance. I’ve never owned a gun and probably never will.

  • Igor

    Wyatt Earp enforced “no gun” laws in rowdy frontier towns, mostly thru agility and ability to whip out his pistol and bonk a drunk cowboy on the head before he could cause trouble.

  • John Lake

    Weak sauce: Precisely my sentiment, as you might guess from my picturesque “can of worms” mention.
    But with the killing in cities, that particular amendment might be subject to updating.

    And crake: Old white guys are among my favorite! People in the old west needed guns. Now, we don’t.

  • weak sauce

    If government can edit or rewrite the constitution based o an ever changing political climate, would be the most wreckless thing in the history of this country. The day they attempt to rewrite it, is the day our own military will turn on its government. Trust me when I say that the constitution is the entire reason our top ranking military officials serve.

  • crake

    I believe “we” should heavily sensor the web because, lets face it, the constitution is a document written by old white guys; and that first amendment is far to dangerous. This collective would be much better off without the first, second, third, forth, and fifth amendments.