What If the Second Amendment Were Repealed?

The Second Amendment to the Constitution 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." Debate about the Constitutionality of the individual right to bear arms was settled when the US Supreme Court in District of Columbia et al. v Heller stated that:

The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

The Second Amendment is more than the right to bear arms. It represents a way of life and a culture in America. People who take advantage of their Second Amendment right are generally very responsible gun owners. In my experience, they take gun safety very seriously for two main reasons: 1) they are law abiding citizens and 2) they recognize the consequences both individually and collectively when guns are abused.

What if the Constitution Changed?

There are two avenues for the "right to bear arms" to be eviscerated, and to be clear I am not advocating for that in this article. The first is by changing the Constitution, specifically repealing the Second Amendment. While changing the Constitution and repealing an Amendment has happened in the past with the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment (Prohibition) in the Twenty-first Amendment, I don't think this is going to happen. To amend the Constitution we need to satisfy all of the requirements of Article V in the Constitution, which states:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Gun rights advocates rightly state that their only needed defense of the Second Amendment is that said civil right is enshrined and guaranteed in the Constitution. The Second Amendment is just as much a protected right as the right to free speech, the right to a speedy trial, and all of the other rights protected in the Amendments to the Constitution. Numerous US Supreme Court cases have ruled in this. Defenders of the Second Amendment point to these Court rulings.

I am a Democrat State Representative who has been endorsed by the Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) of Massachusetts because my position on guns rights doesn't interfere with law abiding citizens. In my opinion, the Second Amendment is here to stay. But as constant a student of human behavior and government, I also have an inquisitive mind.

What Would You Do?

As a legislator and I am always interested in people's opinions. This is a thought experiment; a hypothetical. There are no right or wrong answers.

  • What would you do if all of the requirements of Article V of the Constitution were met and the Second Amendment was repealed?
  • What would you do if the Second Amendment was effectively repealed by a US Supreme Court ruling that the right to bear arms does apply to an individual, but only individuals in a militia?
  • If the defense of the Second Amendment rests in reference to the Constitution as it stands now, what argument would you use if the Constitution was changed to no longer protect the individual right to bear arms?
  • As a law abiding gun owner, would you give up your guns?
  • What do you think would happen to violent crime rates, accidental shootings and suicides?
  • Would you follow the new law of the land that was legitimately established, just as laws allowing the possession of a firearm have been legitimately established?

I care about the opinions of citizens of America; I would like thoughtful comments in the comment section about what law abiding gun owners would do if the Second Amendment were repealed or if the SCOTUS issued a new ruling reversing the Constitutionality of the individual right to bear arms.

These are very tough questions, but these are not a stupid questions. Some of my colleagues in elected office would repeal the Second Amendment if they could, or curtail gun ownership and reduce the number of guns in circulation in the US. Also, a President could appoint Supreme Court judges who interpreted the Constitution differently than did the Nine did who ruled in Heller. I think it is important to know what the consequences of repealing the Second Amendment would be.

Paul Heroux is a State Representative from Massachusetts on the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. Paul was endorsed by GOAL in his last election over his Republican opponent.