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Sandy Hook Shooting: Is It Time to Change the Second Amendment?

About 80 million Americans, representing half of U.S. homes, own more than 223 million guns. The debate about the Second Amendment has been fierce, but after the horrible atrocity that just happened in Newtown, Connecticut, the time has come to rethink the amendment and change it. The change of the amendment in terms of availability of weapons, and who has the right to possess them, would create a safer society and lower the gun homicide rate in the U.S. — a figure that currently makes the U.S. the highest in the world. The change would include a certain necessary procedure in order to get a license for possessing a gun. Moreover, this procedure should include medical checks, full criminal history, and a police interview to prove they actually need a gun. Atrocities like what happened today could theoretically be prevented if it were more difficult to come into possession of weapons in the U.S.

At this moment, there is a widely accepted misconception about the history of the amendment and its purpose within American society. When the founding fathers implemented Second Amendment the main idea behind it was to provide citizens with a way to oppose possible tyrannical government. However, today it is widely believed that the Second Amendment is there to provide you with a way to protect yourself from other individuals. The debate is also present over whether the Second Amendment provides for collective or individual rights. However, in 2008, in the District of Columbia v. Heller case before the Supreme Court, the Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

In a 2011 Gallup poll, only 26% of American citizens said they would support the handgun ban. When Gallup first asked Americans this question in 1959, 60% favored banning handguns. But since 1975, the majority of Americans have opposed such a measure, with opposition around 70% in recent years. Americans have shifted to a more pro-gun view on gun laws, with record-low support for bans on handguns, assault rifle bans, and stricter gun laws in general. This remains true even as high-profile incidents of gun violence continue across the United States. The reasons for this ideological shift do not appear to be reactions to the crime situation, and are probably rather related to a widespread acceptance of guns by the American public.

It is widely believed that having the right to bear arms contributes to higher security. By enabling a great number of people to carry weapons, the society as a whole will not benefit from greater security. Moreover, it will become more unstable. The control of the weapons must be toughened and the right to possess and bear them restricted. The cases of shootings on American campuses and in schools are numerous and an argument that stricter gun control laws should be enforced stands strong. With medical and background checks, people who want to possess a gun won’t be stopped. However, the chance that someone with a mental disorder will have access to arsenal gets lower. The U.S. has the highest rate of gun ownership and of gun homicide in the developed world, it can definitely be argued that the amount of guns present the homicide rate will also be reduced.

In 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton agreed with the U.N. to set a timetable for the regulation of the arms trade between the states. The United States joined 152 other countries in support of the Arms Trade Treaty Resolution, which establishes the dates for the 2012 UN conference intended to further regulate gun trade around the world. Many in the U.S. have seen this treaty as an introduction to domestic firearm control, even though this is wrong. In order to change the Second Amendment, a two-thirds majority in the Senate is required and at this point chances of changing that happening are slim.

Throughout the world there are different regulations about gun ownership. Great Britain banned private ownership of guns in 1997; Australia also followed the same path. A 1999 Harvard School of Public Health study revealed that, "Americans feel less safe as more people in their community begin to carry guns," and that 90% believe that "regular" citizens should be prohibited from bringing guns into most public places, including stadiums, restaurants, hospitals, college campuses, and places of worship.

We should not have the illusion that the world can overnight become a safe place where guns are not needed. These are dark times for those who demand sane regulation of gun ownership. The courts come and go. Public opinion and political power, like the common law, changes and evolves. Guns must not be accessible to all and they must be restricted. By restricting the gun availability, the possibility for situations like the Newtown massacre would be dramatically lowered. Even if we assume that one day a tyrannical government may come to power, under the current circumstances, with the U.S. government in possession of tanks, airplanes and drones, one can argue that the light weapons held by the citizens would not be enough. The argument of the founding fathers therefore becomes obsolete and the amendment must be changed to ensure the greater safety of American citizens.

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