Repeal the 2nd Amendment! Or Don't!


The relaunched and rebuffed New Republic has been making with the excellent content recently, which makes this essay by Benjamin Wittes read all the weirder:

It's time for gun-control supporters to come to grips with the fact that the [Second] amendment actually means something in contemporary society. For which reason, I hereby advance a modest proposal: Let's repeal the damned thing.

OK, let's do it! Or…

It's true that repealing the Second Amendment is politically impossible right now; that doesn't bother me. It should be hard to take away a fundamental right.

Let's repeal it, even though we can't and it's a fundamental right. Who needs some time to catch up? Come back and check out Wiites' main argument:

I like guns well enough in rural areas. I don't like them in cities. I don't believe that the Constitution ought to prevent my hometown of Washington, D.C.–which has a serious problem with gun violence–from making a profoundly different judgment about how available handguns should be than the New York legislature would make for the hamlet near my old camp. Guns, in other words, present a legitimate policy question on which different jurisdictions should take very different approaches–including, in some areas, outright bans.

Great idea! Washington banned handguns in 1976. Check out the chart and see if you can grok the impact the ban had on murders, violent crimes, etc etc.

Wittes is so good on other Constitutional issues that this piece hardly makes sense. Not unless you consider it a token of how badly the anti-Second Amendment school has fallen into disrepair.

NEXT: Letter Imperfect

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  1. Dang David! Photo finish 🙂 Glad they left that story open for all to read. I thought it was a trick headline.

    OT: Something that does seem odd, no coverage of the weekend demonstration in DC where the war protestord were outnumbered by counterprosters by quite a large margin. It is usually the other way around. Yes, I saw it in person.

    I know there are not a lot of Michelle Malkin fans around here, but when her coverage is incredibly more accurate than the WaPo that should be news too.

  2. I like guns well enough in rural areas. I don’t like them in cities.

    And what is so different about those of us who live in cities, I have to ask?

    I could draw some uncharitable conclusions about how Wittes views city dwellers. And given the demographics of cities, I could observe that gun control in urban areas has achieved effects that might warm the hearts of people that Wittes would probably prefer not to be lumped in with…

  3. Benjamin Wittes
    Thinks that cities
    Don’t need the Second.
    How’s the Tenth reckoned?

  4. Same as the Ninth is.
    We ignore it and get angry
    If you mention it.

  5. Jeebus H Kee-rist!
    March 16 = H&R Haiku Day.
    No more!
    (Besides, I count 8 syllables in line 2.)

  6. I had a Spanish buddy of mine tell me once, “The right to bear arms may have been needed 200 years ago, but now we don’t face any threat from our governments as to require guns.”

    Up until that point I had thought him a serious person.

  7. I had a Spanish buddy of mine tell me once

    I see the joke there, might want to fill in for the folks who are not familiar with the Franco government.

  8. When highnumber berates,
    He adumbrates:
    Just his wish, or a case
    Of ukase?

  9. No joke, Guy.

    And that’s the irony, he’s from a country that was a fascist dictatorship barely three decades ago and yet he thinks government is not a threat to us? Granted, he’s young enough to where he never lived under Franco, but still…

    On a side note, I knew a girl from Cadiz who had never heard of Hitler or the Holocaust. Apparently they don’t teach history very well in Spain.

  10. If I lived in a rural area, I’d be glad to have not only my handgun with me (for dealing with the unlikely physcho farmer), but I’d also want my 45-70 (great for bears).

    In the city, the big gun probably wouldn’t be necessary, but the handgun would. And probably a shotgun as well.

    I just can’t count on the police to protect me. Geez when my friend’s car got prowled they took the report OVER THE PHONE. What a joke. Besides they’re too busy around here setting speed traps to protect and serve.

  11. Good call, thoreau. If anything, I would think that guns are much more necessary in an urban environment. I do live in Detroit, after all.

  12. And that’s the irony, he’s from a country that was a fascist dictatorship barely three decades ago and yet he thinks government is not a threat to us? Granted, he’s young enough to where he never lived under Franco, but still…

    That is exactly what I meant.

  13. andy once knew a girl from Cadiz
    Who numbered, among other feats,
    That of playing the ostrich
    Re: Adolf from ?sterreich
    And the handiwork of his elites.

  14. So basically what Wittes is saying is: Guns for some, violent death by gun crime for others.

  15. I wonder what he thinks about a Lincoln/FDR style free press?

  16. Kang,

    Nobody in DC is falling victim to gun crime. Guns are banned there, so nobody even has them. And things have never been safer.

  17. I’ll give Wittes credit for the intellectual honesty to admit that the 2nd amendment protects a fundamental, individual right and for going about changing it through the amendment process instead of using the Supreme Court to do an end run around the process. If gun grabbers are so sophisticated and smart, let’s see them convince the general electorate of that for onces.

  18. I see the joke there, might want to fill in for the folks…

    Gee whillikers, Guy! You so smart! You gon’splain nex’ wha’ a “Spain” be?

  19. Damn, Wiegel! Don’t let facts get in the way of an incoherent rant!

  20. I don’t approve of the use of statistics to “prove” that gun control sucks because look how crime-ridden DC is any more than the use of statistics to “prove” that gun control is necessary because look how crime-ridden Houston is. We all know that statistics can be used to “prove” anything.

  21. Well, at least he’s honest about what the left would like to do with gun rights.

    So, I’ll give Wittes points for not trying to do the whole “we don’t want to really ban guns” dance that the anti-rights crowd is so fond of.

  22. To all,

    I used to be a big believer in gun control until I started to work abroad in a political advisory position for the DoD.

    After I had worked abroad for several years I changed my position for one reason: I’d never seen an armed group of people massacred.

    Every time I’ve seen, read about, been reported to on, or investigated a mass killing the people murdered were unarmed.

    That pretty much sold me on the issue of an armed public.

    Sure, an armed populace is definately harder to maintain law and order in and does result in some unplanned for killings. But government sponsored bad guys and terrorists in general tend to run like the grandmother murdering cowards they are when granny is shooting back.



  23. And what is so different about those of us who live in cities, I have to ask?

    You have better tans?

    Awesome limerick, M!

  24. As convoluted as Wittes views are, repealing the amendment is really the only constitutional way to get rid of the RKBA.

    As opposed to ignoring it completely, which has been the standard operating procedure since 1934.

  25. Count me with those who respect Wittes for at least treating the black letters of the Constitution as if they formed real words that mean things, instead of as Borkean inkblots.

    I don’t think his opinion on the 10th matters, as he lives in D.C., to which it does not apply. I’m also glad that, as a Washingtonian, he has no representative who could conceivably toss a Repeal RKBA Amendment in the hopper. There’s still a good case to be made that no permanent denizen of the Federal city should be trusted with the franchise for anything more important than mayor. Even D.C. home rule may have been a mistake.

    I recommend reading Sanford Levinson’s classic article on the matter.


  26. My former colleagues at the Washington Post described the decision as a “radical ruling” that “will inevitably mean more people killed and wounded as keeping guns out of the city becomes harder.”

    When Florida passed shall-issue concealed carry in the mid-1980s the anti-gun folks predicted disaster. For more than twenty years they’ve made similar predictions every time the subjects of privately owned guns or self-defense are raised. “Concealed carry will result in fenderbenders becoming firefights.” “Pilots will end up shooting passengers.” “Ending the assault rifle ban will stack bodies like cordwood.” “Police officers carrying nationally will cost cities millions in liability.” “Fifty caliber rifles will shoot down airliners.” “With castle doctrine laws blood will flow in the streets.”

    After two decades and dozens of predictions they’ve been wrong every single time. I keep wondering when the national media is going to notice the trend.

    While at the Founding, the Second Amendment may have embodied a “collective” right, after the Civil War amendments, the constitutional landscape changed dramatically, and “gun-toting was individualistic, accentuating not group rights of the citizenry but self-regarding ‘privileges’ of discrete ‘citizens’ to individual self-protection.”

    Instead of 20th century liberal law professors guessing, why not quote the founders who wrote the Bill of Rights? They’re crystal clear on what kind of right they were protecting. And it ain’t “collective.”

    There are lots of good reasons why our values today might not coincide with those of the Founders on the question of guns. The weapons available today, for one thing, are a far cry from muskets, which could never have yielded the kind of street violence America sees routinely now.

    This is a truly ironic argument from a member of the press. Suppose we could bring Ben Franklin to the present.

    I bet he would look at an M-16 and say, “That’s a really strange-looking firearm.” It has a barrel, a stock, sights, a trigger. It would be recognizable. I could show him how it worked, and in five minutes or so he’d be loading, firing, and hitting targets. He’d find it much easier to use than his flintlock.

    But how would he compare his one-page-at-a-time hand-screwed printing press with a TV news camera? Today’s journalists claim (justifiably) “freedom of the press” for processes that don’t in any way even use a “press.”

    And, by the way, this guy has no clue about the history of “street violence” in the U.S., starting with the Boston Massacre. Has he not heard of Indian wars, union busting, the civil rights movement, slave rebellions, bleeding Kansas, regulators, range wars, race riots, alcohol prohibition, the wild West, etc? Not to speak of the official wars, Revolutionary and Civil?

    The Founders had a lot of experience with oppressive rulers and little idea whether the constitutional order they were setting up would remain free; maybe they would need to overthrow it sometime. After more than two centuries of constitutional government, however, it’s safe to assume that neither an armed citizenry nor a well-regulated militia really is “necessary to the security of a free State.”

    PATRIOT Act.

    f we disagree with the Founders–and as to guns, I very much disagree with whatever they might have meant–we should say so and invoke that provision of the Constitution they specifically designed so that we could give voice to our disagreements with them.

    Let the debate begin.

  27. I like guns well enough in rural areas. I don’t like them in cities.

    I don’t mind the idea of equal rights for negroes in Vermont.

    But what works there is not necessarily applicable to Alabama.

  28. After two decades and dozens of predictions they’ve been wrong every single time. I keep wondering when the national media is going to notice the trend.

    It is the millenarian disease. I fear it to be a fairly irrepressible aspect of the human condition.

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