I am not a gun person. I’ve never handled a gun, nor do I want to. But when I see calls for the repeal of the Second Amendment I am very concerned. A detail often lost in the debate about the Second Amendment is that it’s the second of the ten amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights. In other words, it’s a package deal. If we decide that one of the 10 is outdated, it puts the remaining nine on the chopping block.
It’s easy to make the link between a protection of instruments of death and the mass killings we’ve tragically witnessed all too often recently. But dig around the Bill of Rights more deeply and you’ll find that some of the other amendments can also — albeit circuitously — lead to loss of life.
Freedom of religion (first amendment) has led to children dying when their parents forbade them from receiving life-saving medical treatment out of religious grounds (e.g. Jehovah’s Witnesses).
Protection against illegal search and seizure (fourth amendment) has led to criminals being set free out of procedural grounds. Just last month a man in Denver was released from prison because a judge hadn’t signed a valid arrest warrant; four days later he stabbed someone to death.
The founding fathers decided that the benefits of these amendments outweighed their ills. I tend to agree, as I believe most Americans do. Every freedom comes with both personal responsibility and the potential for misuse. The price of the Second Amendment can be high. But repealing could end up leading to “throwing out the baby with the bathwater.”
Shana Goldberg may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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