Sunday, May 13, 2007

An interesting take on the 2nd Amendment controversy

Here is an interesting possibility, although highly impractical. What do you think of this?

Current version of the 2nd Amendment:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Here is a proposed amendment:
"Section 1. The second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2. The right of the people to keep arms reasonable for hunting, sport, collecting, and personal defense shall not be infringed.

Section 3. Restrictions of arms must be found to be reasonable under Section 2 by a two-thirds vote of Congress in two consecutive sessions of Congress before they can be forwarded to the President for approval."

It seems like this proposed amendment would actually protect firearms in the scope that most people use them more than the current amendment. It would probably allow limitations on fully auto AR-15's, but then again, the current amendment doesn't prevent that either.

In any case, it's much more clear. The only sticking point is the word "reasonable", but the fact that hunting, sport, collecting, and defense use are explicitly allowed makes restrictions less likely, and an absolute prohibition impossible. Depending on how you (or more importantly, a judge) reads the current amendment, a ban is not out of the question, so long as it's ratified by Congress. Also, the fact that legislation has to make it past a 2/3 Majority in the House and Senate TWICE, in consecutive sessions, before even making it to the President makes restrictions much less likely.

I wonder what would happen if the President vetoed a restriction under this proposed amendment. Congress can normally override a veto with a 2/3 majority vote. If a 2/3 majority vote is required to simply pass a restriction under the proposed amendment, will a congressional override be automatic?

Practically, however, both sides of the gun dispute would probably oppose this amendment, because it is clearly a compromise, and each side probably believes that its interpretation of the current amendment will prevail. At most, only one of these positions can be correct.

I do think the gun-rights movement has more to gain from this language than the anti-gun lobby, and they definitely have more to lose with the current amendment.

I found this discussion on the 2nd Amendment here.

1 comment:

N. J. Thomas said...

As a first year law student, I personally feel that all uses of the word "reasonable" should be stricken from all legal rules and discussion.