The Evolving Interpretation of the Second Amendment: Navigating Gun Control and Constitutional Rights

The Evolving Interpretation of the Second Amendment: Navigating Gun Control and Constitutional Rights

Americans often approach political issues with a rigid mindset, we make immediate reactionary decisions and stick wholeheartedly to those initial conclusions without question. We have taught ourselves to value a fixed, unchanging outlook and to dismiss, and even fault, those who might have a more adaptable approach to thought. Our inflexible thinking will eventually influence (if it hasn’t already had devastating emotional impressions) our automatic responses and reactions, reprogramming our humanity and negatively affecting the way that we relate to one another on a day-to-day basis. Being open-minded and willing to reconsider our views is not only essential, but also inherent to our humanity. I have thought a great deal about my political views, and early in my life felt publicly pressured to choose and defend a particular side—not necessarily always a particular issue, but the umbrella ideals of a particular wing—I have come to realize that this automated way of thinking is harmful to our society, and our political aspirations. And politicized terms like “gray area,” “inconsistent,” and “flip-flop,” are brilliant political tactics to discredit a persons’ personality. However, changing our minds is behaviorally routine, and rationally proportionate to the way that we develop and grow as human beings. Within the scope of this requisite is the sense that we genuinely can support what might be considered opposing views.

The Second Amendment is not only a great example of our rigidity but also our ability to think rationally, without the confines and the pressures of party agendas.  Many have been unwilling to consider reasonable regulations for buying and selling firearms and ammunition, citing the United States Constitution as justification for unrestricted access. However, this approach generally ignores the changing world we live in and the need for balance between individual rights and collective safety. With that said, I am in support of the “right to keep and bear arms,” especially considering our present political climate (what I mean by this I’ll address throughout this essay). However, like all issues, this one is not so blanketly obvious, for either party.

“The Bill of Rights, Amendment II, states: "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.”


          The United States is one of only ten countries with personal gun rights cited in their Constitution and is the largest of the ten by far. The unique position for the development and evolution of the United States pressed for a degree of profundity and also prompted the internal conflict of interpretation. Paving the way for people to focus on specific words and phrases that might align with their personal worldview. Those who founded the United States, who not only fought for a new and free nation but also found themselves in the position to legislate its foundations then, and for generations to come, included the Second Amendment with the intention of a free people to legally resist the possible oppressive governments of tomorrow. And yes, I know what many of you are thinking, there have been considerable elements of innovation in the world from technology and to our general well-being that the nation’s framers never could have imagined when this document was penned. And although there are rational arguments to be made about the nature of contemporary firearms, that doesn’t really matter in regard to understanding the requisite for the Second Amendment. Although this might seem like a point in favor of unrestrained access to firearms it isn’t because our humaneness isn’t rated on a points system, and the “gun nuts” are wrong too. Most firearm enthusiasts are either unaware of or ignore the fact that the Second Amendment to the Constitution cannot be read without the context of the Preamble’s precedence. The amendments are not independent of the Constitution, which is to say that the amendments are not independent of the prerequisite of the Preamble, which reads:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The language of the Second Amendment, and specifically the last and most contentious thought, which reads “…shall not be infringed,” exists within the context of the Preamble. Therefore, the language of the Constitution, which demands that the United States government provides justice, domestic tranquility, common defense, and general welfare of the American people, takes precedence to unfettered access to firearms. And if a person’s emotional, psychological, or legal background is in conflict with securing the blessings of liberty for us and our children then said person doesn’t get to own firearms. Meaning that the government not only has the right to, but it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that said person cannot own firearms. If a government ignores that responsibility, then the American people have the right and responsibility to replace those representatives whom might behave in contrast of the demands of the Constitution. And this is one of the few areas that I believe that states should be restricted from legislating their own contradictory laws. A number of people misinterpret the intent of the Second Amendment because they’re reading it independently, and out of the context of the United States Constitution, which influences whatever arguments might exist throughout this ongoing debate.

          I want to take a brief intermission to address the trigger or bias that many of you are starting to feel creeping through your spine, and that will likely increase throughout the next paragraph or two, or three. This bias is unconscious, it’s a collection of beliefs that you have inherited, refined, and defended most of your lives, and it’s also probably the single greatest threat to our democracy (I challenge you to acknowledge it and set it aside, if only for a few more minutes). I’m also going to remind you that the language of the Constitution does not allow for unrestricted access to firearms, the prerequisite of the Preamble is and has always been presumed (unawareness is not an excuse). Let’s continue…

          A few of the assertions surrounding both objections and support for the Second Amendment include technological advancements, personal protection, and mental health issues that inspire endless, and often thoughtless debate that only leave the wheel spinning regarding this polarizing issue. There are a number of things that our nation’s framers knew they couldn’t anticipate about their future, however because they were aware that their futures would invite unimaginable possibilities they sought to allow for those possibilities in the language of the contract—within the context of the contract as a whole. What the founding fathers could never have anticipated was that many Americans would become mindlessly entitled whores of secular indifference, and completely at the whim of their uncontrollable alien online “communities.” Many Americans generally don’t maintain a linear thought process, and the foundations of a number of our arguments are based on conditioned biases, so right from the start we’re not doing well. When valuing our opinions we need to find and maintain reason. So, let’s value some notable observations.

Firearms have seen incredible technological advancements, and this to me is the most sensitive area because the point of the Second Amendment is to protect the American people from an oppressive government, however, if that oppressive government has access to firearms more advanced than the general public it can be entirely moot. Although, in what context and regulations are firearm owners purchasing and using these “heavy” weapons? On the other hand, the most reasonable and immediate argument to this point is that our society has progressed beyond this otherwise antiquated notion, that we are actually living in a post-oppressive culture, a gripping philosophical rebuttal. Unfortunately, we are not actually a more developed people than we were in 1791. And in fact, our post-COVID world has been um, a little shaky, to say the least. With a rampaging and imperialistic Russia, Iran and North Korea waiting in shadows, the dismantling of humanity of any kind in and surrounding Israel and Palestine, and our post-modern underhanded propaganda machine here in the states, people are very much uncertain and scared. And where, again, on one hand firearms might seem like a devastating mix, on the other it may be equally as devastating to be without them. And so, in the meantime, and indefinitely, we need to relearn how to live in a world where we mutually come to a sound, collaborative consensus.

          And this is how we do that.

Gun owners should have to be required to obtain specific-use permits for more advanced weaponry—which should also only be available from specialized firearm distributors—that outline how and where many firearms can be exercised, this is very much a reasonable alternative. The sacrifices that we might have to make for the well-being of others may be hard (sad face), however it’s a mastery of self, along with numerous other restraints that shadow us throughout our lives, that many of you are just going to have to get used to. While many people feel safer with guns in their homes, including millions of people who never imagined they would until they found themselves in frightening situations, the discipline that we command and the way that we manage our personal firearms should seem to be a strikingly straightforward idea—unfortunately, it isn’t always that simple (in some ways this is among the underlying, less-obvious mental health issues that we’re not even considering and that I’ll address in coming paragraphs). People often say, “guns don’t kill people, stupid, undisciplined people with guns kill people,” and the people that say that are absolutely right. While some of you are saying that you should be looking into a mirror. In regard to the much more frustratingly obvious aspects of this debate (again reminding you that the Second Amendment does not exist outside of the context of Constitution as a whole), consider the following:

  • Extensive background checks are the responsibility of the government to provide, and they should be (I will stress): “comprehensive.”
  • There should be non-elective firearms and behavioral, confidence, and composure courses (I would imagine that most gun owners would want to participate in these courses, check this out).
  • As well as mandatory, universal armament storage in firearm owners’ homes throughout the country, limiting accidental discharge injuries and fatalities.
  • And lastly, there should be regulated firearm distributors, that don’t include raffles, gun shows, and car trunks.

And now for what seems to me to be observably and characteristically obvious, however the quality of “reading” a person is apparently not a universal quality of every and all persons, is the ambiguous nuances of human behavior and quote/unquote “mental health.” The obvious and immediate symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, psychosis, and addiction are notable influences on our behaviors, and when coupled with unregulated firearm use can have devastating impacts on individuals and societies—we all know this, although we like to use it as a soundbite excusing the actually focus, and redirecting the conversation and blame so that little is ever actually done about the increasing problems. “It’s just the crazy people!” Alright, well, regardless of who it is, we need to be better about regulating access to firearms so that “the crazy people,” is no longer an excuse, but rather a reason still to regulate firearm sales and actually follow through with comprehensive background checks. In part, because it’s getting harder and harder to determine who “the crazy people,” are.

The impacts of the mental health conditions mentioned above, alone, can be overwhelming. When we’re making reasonable legislation—regarding gun laws and any laws—it’s important to understand, not only that there are nuances of common mental health issues, but how to approach them; and what I think is more important, when we maintain undisciplined and unconscious: biases, reactions, and unaccountability we understand that these qualities too have dangerous mental health implications. I’m going to repeat that. Willfully defending an untamed bias is a mental health issue. The consequences of which can be contagious and extremely harmful. People that don’t suffer from depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder often shoulder the conditions away as some emotional weakness and symptom of whiny indolence—that is utterly untruthful. However, I will concede that there are people, more and more people today than ever before, that do find solace in the unmitigated excuse of suffering depression and anxiety, and those people should be ashamed of themselves. Because depression is…hard. It would seem that for every issue, regardless of the issue, there are people on either side who will 1.) dismiss it, or 2.) abuse it. The conflict of which will only plunge all of us, directionless and stagnant, into an impasse. There are layers of implications that can be found in the unchecked mental health issues of our untamed biases, that I think are terrifying. Mental health issues exist on the spectrum. It’s not particularly obvious what, and to what degree, the mental health issues of a person might be, which makes screening for mental health issues difficult. So, this unnegotiated pass of “mental health” that redirects the conversation really doesn’t change anything, does it? It’s actually more of a reason to ensure that there are greater regulations and comprehensive background checks. I could do a deep dive here about investing in mental health services and educational programs that might help address some of the causes of violence, but there’s no real reason to do that, because that’s a separate issue entirely and does little to change the realities of legislating reasonable gun laws.

            With all that said, I don’t think our country, in the state that it’s in, can handle fewer regulations and background checks as much as I don’t think that our country can handle banning guns outright, we’re just not a mature enough society to maneuver the kind of transition it would take in order to realize either extreme. I think that’s just as true of our politicians as it is of the general public. However, waking up to increasing mass shootings and constant violence every day demands that we rethink legislation in a rational but substantial and immediate way. It’s frustrating because we already have the foundations in place to manage the simple and obvious mend, we just cannot seem to take the final legal steps to regulate it and then to enforce it. And the general public’s universal acknowledgement of these final few baby steps is where investing in mental health services and educational programs becomes interwoven into this argument.

            Our inflexibility involving political issues, like gun control, must give way to a more open-minded and balanced approach. By acknowledging the nuances of this issue, we can start to transition into a safer and more mature society for everyone. In any case, we might be able to use this example as a means to understand that we don’t have to be wholly in support or wholly against any one issue. And we definitely don’t have to assign our humanity to the ideals of a single party affiliation. We can very much weigh an argument’s advantages and disadvantages, come to conclusions about specific situations, and then once again weigh our options in the context of another separate and specific situation. Yes, I understand the continuing requisite for the Second Amendment, in part because when I look at the unstable state of our government today it’s far too easy to imagine a situation where the American people find themselves in a position to be ill-equipped to manage a radical situation. And yes, I do recognize the challenges and delicate balance that we are in, but again, as I mentioned before, we are too immature a society to rationally maneuver any vulnerable situation. We have to start moving in one single general direction as a society, and we have a lot of little opportunities to do that. Why don’t we start here?

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