Firstly the attack on Gabrielle Giffords and others is tragic, all human deaths are tragic. Attacking a serving politician is doubly a crime, firstly the human crime and secondly the attack on the right of her constituents to the representative of their choice. But that's not what I want to write about. I want to caution liberals (I use this both in the American sense of left wingers and the British sense Millites) that, as much as it may seem that this gives further proof to your idea, using today to attack the second amendment is seriously dangerous. I honestly believe it's at lest arguable that it's more dangerous than a madman with a gun.
The text of the amendment is:
The amendment exists for two reasons:
Firstly, defending the US from enemies at home and abroad requires the creation of armed forces in emergencies. This is best done by arming the entire body of the people, It's very hard to fight against the the entire population of a country with an army of almost any size. For this reason the body of the people should know how to use guns.
Secondly, the government is required to have access to arms, this is deeply worrying as armed forces are the primary tool of any tyranny. The people needed to feel secure that they could never again be oppressed by their government. For this reason the body of the people should know how to use guns.
So we should remember that given the American Revolution and the history of Enlightenment liberal thought it was inevitable (and in my view correct) that such a right to have arms should be given in the Bill of Rights. This wasn't some strange obscure part of the constitution that we can ignore as not what was intended. The Federalist Papers, a very authoritative cometary on the constitution, makes strong argument that the general population should be armed, note that the Federalist was written *before* the Bill of Rights. The regulation of the militia in the body of the constitution requires as an assumption that the people will be armed. The second amendment simply guarantees this.
So, it was good, or at lest, not discrediting, that it was introduced. The situation has now changed, the US does not face a treat from abroad that a militia could help with. The US now has a large standing army in time of peace (regardless of "war on terror" rhetoric the US is not under existential threat, certainly not from a sovereign state), something the Revolutionary War generation would have been appalled by. Times change, people change, all constitutions are variable. What one amendment can bring in another can remove. The question is, should fire arms be banned in the US?
To me it's one or the other, either we keep a 2nd amendment right to own guns and regulate it well or we introduce an amendment banning the civilian ownership of guns. If we have the constitution silent on this then some states will have them, some will not. This seems to support neither end, it neither creates the intended security against enemies of the people or prevent crime. If anything a legal market in guns over the road from an area without them would make violent gangs more likely.
We have to remember in discussing this that there have been two things in constitutional history that individuals have been banned from doing, owning slaves, which was instigated by a terrible and bloody struggle that lives down to today but ended well and selling alcohol, which was a disaster that ended well. In short, America's history of controlling individuals via the constitution is not good. This is exactly the opposition of the intention of the constitution.
What would happen if you did try to get such an amendment through? Well it would never work for a start. You just cant get that many states on your side, so it's a non starter. But importantly it would set a precedent.
One very easy way to portray such a move would be as Constitutional Rights v Law and Order. Now it's not hard to see where this ends up. Obviously in cases of terrorism or other serious organised crime it's not always possible to have a speedy and public trial it may be argued. It may be argued that the US has a long history of cruel and unusual treatment, so it would be easier to just legalise Guantanamo etc. There's already a substantial movement in the South to get the 14th Amendment scrapped.
I dont want to suggest that on repeal of the 2nd amendment that the South would separate again or that the Bill of Rights would instantly burst into flames. What I want to suggest that there is a risk. A serious risk that in giving the government a new power to stop crime you would empower others to try giving it powers that it seriously should not have.
I dont presume to say that these risks mean that Americans should be gunned down daily with no response. I just want to ask liberals to make sure they know the risks before talking up a rather dangerous course of action.