The Second Amendment: Then and Now

Print page


The Second Amendment was written by white men with property.  It was written in a different era with different priorities and visions for the purpose of firearms.  It was not written with the idea that women, children or even non citizens were going to have firearms. It was not written with the idea that there would be social hate or suicidally depressed young people using guns to kill. They never would’ve thought that something that was made to protect family and property was going to be later on used against each other and continuously cost lives throughout time.

In order to understand how we move forward with the 2nd amendment in modern American society, it is necessary to understand the social differences of when it was first written in 1787 and the modern realities of our complex society today.  Back in 1787 a “well regulated militia” and the “right of the people to keep and bear arms”  were basically the same thing.  The militia was voluntary and made up of all citizens.  The citizens in 1787 were white men with property.  Today we have a voluntary military as well as police forces however so many more people are citizens.  Should all citizens today have access to weapons used by the military?

Guns have always killed.  Guns have always been used as weapons of war as well as tools of safety.  The argumment today is that guns offer protection of our freedom and our property but this overlooks the idea that guns have increasingly been used as tools of entertainment.  Gun rights activists say that gun ownership is a Constituional right of citizenship.  Gun control activists are quick to point out that with every right there is a responsibility; no citizen’s freedom comes without the social compromise of responsibility.  In the 18th century era guns were violent but they were not used except for war, farming, hunting and the basic security of policing.  Its hard even for those of us who witness it today to imagine guns being used at schools to slaughter children and teachers.  Its hard to imagine even for those of us who witness it today that guns would be used at concerts, parades, food stores, places of work, and political venues to randomly and senselessly kill fellow Americans.  Unfortunately we are not in 1787 anymore. We are in 2022 where you hear about school shootings every other week and mass shootings daily. There is no control on who can buy a gun. There are existing laws that prohibit the illegal gun use but what are they doing to enforce it? a 12 year old can have access to a gun just by hanging in the wrong group of people that have access to buy guns illegally from stores and distributers.  Honestly it is a frustrating situation where many feel helpless.


There have been 27 school shootings this year!

There have been 119 school shootings since 2018. The highest number of shootings, 34, occurred last year. There were 10 shootings in 2020, and 24 each in 2019 and 2018.

On May 24, 19 children and two adults were killed and 16 injured in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. It was the deadliest school shooting since 2012, when a gunman 18-year-old Salvador Ramos shot and killed 26 people as young as 6 years old at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

An Uvalde police officer armed with a rifle requested to shoot Salvador Ramos outside Robb Elementary School. The officer’s supervisor either did not hear the request or responded too late to open fire on Ramos, allowing the shooter to enter the building where he killed 19 children and two teachers.

“The officer turned to get confirmation from his supervisor and when he turned back to address the suspect, had already entered the west hallway unabated,” said the report. – Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center.

About 32 seconds after the officer failed to shoot, the gunman made his way into classroom 111.

“Immediately, children’s screams could be heard along with numerous gunshots in the classroom,”.

Officers on the scene did not enter the building until after 77 minutes from the time the shooter entered the school. That left Ramos with more then an hour to take away the lives of innocent children and staff. Police having firearm weapons, training, and a major presence of numbers WAITED AN HOUR to take away the life of someone who was maliciously shooting innocent children and teachers IN A  PUBLIC SCHOOL.  So are guns useful? police had over 100 firearms and weapons and still couldn’t prevent Ramos from taking away more then 20 lives.

Ramos legally bought a semi-automatic weapon on May 17, 2022.  The firearm is believed to be the Smith & Wesson M&P15. His family had found an AR-15-style rifle in a duffle bag in their home on May 19. Under Texas’s lax gun laws, he then went on to legally purchase a second semi-automatic weapon from the same store just three days later on 20 May, without raising any alarm bells. On May 24, Ramos and his Grandmother were arguing because she discovered he had brought guns into her house and she didn’t want them there. He then shot his grandmother in the face before driving towards Robb Elementary School in the family’s truck. He was obviously not a stable person.

When guns are something you can buy without limit; meaning anyone with money has access to them, then there will always be a gun violence problem in America. Literally anyone can buy one and use it as they wish.  Meaning anybody mentally unstable could buy a gun and harm anyone.  This was not the purpose of this amendment. When the second amendment was written its purpose was to protect white men with property. Most white men had large farmland to take care of and used guns as tools and to protect their animals and family.

Gun Rights | Congressman Robert Aderholt

1787 Mindset

 The mindset and geography of the American citizen was so different from today. But why? what’s different from todays era ? Starting off with population the United States only had 13 colonies. None of these colonies had large urban areas with easy access to guns. The 13 states summed up to about 2.5 million people. That’s an average of 192 thousand people per state. That’s just about the same population of New Mexico today over the entire 13 colonies.  Guns in early America had their place.  They were tools to be used for certain jobs.  What is also different are the guns themselves!



What did guns look like in 1787?

What 'arms' looked like when the 2nd Amendment was written - The Washington Post

Above you’ll see a a clear comparison between an old revolutionary-era musket and a modern AR. Starting off with ammunition a modern can hold up to 30 more rounds then the shot gun. Its effective rate, velocity, and range on a modern AR is more than 50% than the musket.

Our Modern guns can cause more destruction and damage to property, animals, and humans with much more capacity. So should we be even more scared that these life taking tools are evolving and if in the wrong hands could be used in a bloody massacre.  Our culture of mass consumption has mass produced guns in a way never imagined by the founding fathers. The problem of mass marketed guns is an American problem but it is also a global problem.  It seems impossible to overcome at times but if all of us decided to act as part of the solution rather than allow the problem to grow unchecked then we have hope for a better society.  In an ideal world there would be no guns but that is unrealistic.   In reality we need the need the “well regulated citizen militia”.  It is the the necessary social compromise to be “well regulated” when “keeping and bearing arms”.   What we can do is enforce gun laws with effectiveness.  We can become more aware of the larger social causes of the problem so that we get creative and passionate about acting on the solutions.