Walter Shapiro Attacks The Bill Of Rights

Today at Salon, Walter Shapiro calls for the repeal of the Second Amendment, which has been part of the Constitution for 216 years:

April 18, 2007 | WASHINGTON — Fifteen unambiguous words are all that would be required to quell the American-as-apple-pie cycle of gun violence that has now tearfully enshrined Virginia Tech in the record book of mass murder. Here are the 15 words that would deliver a mortal wound to our bang-bang culture of death: “The second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.”

Let’s address the practical aspects of this first. First, it’s unlikely that a Constitutional Amendment to repeal the Second Amendment would ever make its way through the 38 states needed to ratify and amendment to the Constitution. Maybe it would succeed in the Northeast and the Pacific Coast states (principally California), but there’s simply no way it would make it through any state South of the Mason-Dixon line, or any of the states in the Far West. Second, Shapiro’s assertion that more gun control could’ve stopped the Virginia Tech massacre isn’t supported by the evidence; just look at New York City and Washington, D.C. — both have very strict gun control laws, and both still have high rates of gun crime. Heck, on the same day that we were mourning the massacre in Blacksburg, the mayor of a Japanese city was shot dead, and Japan has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world. Criminals always have and always will find a way to get guns.

What’s interesting is that, in Shapiro, we finally have an intellectual honest opponent of the Right to Keep And Bear Arms. For years, gun control advocates have tried to ignore the Second Amendment, or to argue that it merely protects the right of states to have a militia like the National Guard.

All of these arguments are, of course, nonsense. The history of the American Revolution and the drafting of the Constitution make it clear that the Second Amendment was intended to protect an individual right to keep and bear arms. For a long time, that right was not fully recognized by the Courts. Now, though, thanks to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Parker v. District of Columbia, we seem to be on the verge of what would clearly be a monumental change in Second Amendment case law.

And Shapiro at least recognizes it. Thanks to Parker, gun control  advocates know that the Second Amendment stands in the way of their efforts to disarm the American public. And that is exactly what the Founding Fathers intended.

  • Brad Warbiany

    What I’ll still never understand is why these people think that repealing the second amendment will actually get rid of guns. It hasn’t happened in Britain, it won’t happen here.

    Heck, for the last 30 years, it’s been illegal to buy, sell, manufacture, or possess drugs in this country. Yet with a few phone calls, just about anyone in the US could get any drug in existence within 24 hours.

  • Doug Mataconis

    But Brad, don’t you get it.

    Once we repeal the Second Amendment, we’ll declare a War On Guns and get all them nasty guns off the street ;)

  • Ismael

    Please, don’t ever forget to remember who you are and where you came from, what your fathers fought for. Second amendment it’s still the one thing that makes you relatively free.

    From Spain.

  • Bill

    It makes so much sense, I dont’ know why it hasn’t been done already!

    I see it clearly now. Thank you so much for making me see the obvious!

    To stop murder, all we have to do is pass a law banning citizens from owning guns.

    So, to stop all these terrorists blowing things up all over the world, we just need to pass a law against building bombs!

    It is so obvious!

  • mike

    Well, remember…VT was a gun free campus.

    Obviously rules and laws are the only realistic solutions to this problem.

  • Brad Warbiany


    If we want to stop murder, I’ve got an easier idea. We could just make MURDER illegal! That’ll work!

    Oh, wait, you mean they already tried that?

  • Neoabolitionist

    Salon columnist Walter Shapiro’s sympathetic letter writer, EgoWumpus, is convinced of the obsolescence of the 2nd Amendment.

    He believes that citizen militia are necessary “[o]nly in a society in which you expect common injustice on the parts of your neighbors and tyranny on the part of the government.” He asks, “Really, what is it that gun owners are afraid of, that some day we may decide, as a democracy, that …?” Hmmm … that we can dispense with habeas corpus, jury trials, and search warrants or that we can employ indefinite preventive detention, torture detainees, and conduct secret tribunals where defendants are convicted on the basis of secret evidence and the hearsay testimony of anonymous witnesses?

    Oh well, even so, as EgoWumpus reminds us that “unless I also get to own cruise missiles, military satellites, nuclear bombs and tanks, I don’t see how any private militia can hope to defeat a modern government’s army.” Right, so much for revolution! A modern army could put down a citizen militia in a couple of days. “Mission accomplished!” How could any citizen militia, armed with no more than militia-style weapons and improvised explosive devices ever be expected to stand up to a modern army? Hmmm .. like Vietnamese guerrillas or Iraqi militia?

    On second thought, I thought I’d hang on to both my ACLU membership card and my militia-style rifle …

    But then, two minutes later, EgoWumpus amends his pleadings to remind us that “if you have to take up arms against a tyrannical government, you’re not going to be engaging in ‘legal’ activity regardless of your right to bear arms …” He’s right. The 2nd Amendment does not legalize armed revolt. What it does do however, is prohibit government from engaging in the prior restraint of revolution by protecting the right of citizens to be prepared for an ‘illegal’ revolt by keeping and bearing arms necessary to the security of a free state.

    On third thought, … at least until they pry them from my cold dead fingers.

  • LiberalLeaningToMiddle

    I suspect Walter Shapiro has never fired a gun or even owned one. He means well, but he’s no friend of mine or the moderate wing of the Democratic party which I consider myself a part of. The whole gun control argument was won over a decade ago by thoughtful Conservatives and Libertarians. I’m stunned and embarrassed that there’s still people like Shaprio who want to alter the 2nd Amendment. Luckily, the horse I’m pulling for in ’08 has a great rating from the NRA but more importantly an immaculate resume. I’m of course talking about the Governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson.

  • Herb Martin

    His 16-word “repeal” would not work however, since the Right to Keep and Bear Arms pre-existed the 2nd Amendment, and is protected by the 4th, 5th, 6th, especially the 9th, 10th, and the 14th — as well as the entire structure and intent of the body of the Constitution which delegates power TO the government but retains all Rights among the people.

    An “anti-right” amendment would be needed to void the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

    We could more easily repeat the 5th and 6th, allowing the police to just beat confessions from “obvious” criminals, thus actually saving lives in exchange for living in a police state.

    The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is arguably the oldest recognized and most important right of all — it secure originally and now protects all of the rest.