Connecticut Professor: Repeal the Second Amendment

Printed from:

“These senseless killings will continue as long as we have that cursed Second Amendment in the Constitution. Repeal the Second Amendment.”

—  Bob Englehart, adjunct professor at Eastern Connecticut State University


The National Rifle Association is the bogeyman for anti-gun politicians and their allies. But their real enemy is the Second Amendment.

And it should be. If you really want to take people’s guns away, the Second Amendment ought to be your target.

What does it mean? And where does it come from?

Some people get tripped up by the first part – “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State …” But the second part should be clear enough to all:  “… the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The sweeping language is striking. After all, the vaunted First Amendment starts out more modestly:  “Congress shall make no law …” But long before the federal Supreme Court decided that the Fourteenth Amendment’s due-process clause automatically applies the Bill of Rights to state governments, the Second Amendment made a universal declaration (“… shall not be infringed”).

The reason it exists should be obvious to anyone who lives in Massachusetts. Why were the British marching out to Concord in the early morning of Wednesday, April 19, 1775? To get our guns. (And, even more vitally, our gunpowder – we didn’t make it here, so we couldn’t replace it easily.)

And why did British General Thomas Gage want our guns and gunpowder? The common people of Massachusetts and their political leaders were not accepting the actions of a far-off government to try to control and reorganize their way of life. So they were stockpiling weapons to fight back.

Gage believed he had a right to get the guns and gunpowder, on the theory that they were the king’s. The patriots thought he didn’t, on the theory that they were theirs.

That experience led to the Second Amendment.

The Founding Fathers did not believe in monopolies. They had seen corrupt deals by the British government favoring certain connected people and shafting others. So they didn’t believe in allowing government to grant economic monopolies.

But they also didn’t believe in a monopoly on force. The point of the Second Amendment was not only that people could defend themselves from hostile individuals, but also that they could defend themselves (if need be) from the federal government.

This right was so important, the United States Constitution wouldn’t have been ratified without its being promised. The principle of it helped sell the idea of a federal constitution creating a new federal government.

Alexander Hamilton, trying to alleviate fears about a federal government tyrannizing Americans, argued that local armed citizens would counterbalance any centralized force. An army, Hamilton wrote in Federalist Paper 29, “can never be formidable to the liberties of the People, while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights, and those of their fellow-citizens.”

That’s the “Militia” part of the Second Amendment. It doesn’t mean a centralized force, like the United States Army or the Federal Bureau of Investigation or police, but rather local people with guns. That’s why “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Some people are suggesting the Second Amendment is outdated.

Why?  Because now we can trust the federal government?

Some suggest giving up guns and accessories to guns is a small price to pay to prevent mass murder such as what we saw in Las Vegas.

These arguments are doubly wrong.

First, because gun control doesn’t work.

Leah Libresco crushed the arguments for gun control in The Washington Post on Wednesday, saying she was all for it before she spent three months studying statistical data showing there’s no evidence it prevents mass shootings or individual shootings.

“By the time we published our project, I didn’t believe in many of the interventions I’d heard politicians tout,” Libresco wrote. “I was still anti-gun, at least from the point of view of most gun owners, and I don’t want a gun in my home, as I think the risk outweighs the benefits. But I can’t endorse policies whose only selling point is that gun owners hate them.”

Think the United States has a unique problem with mass shootings because guns are so readily available?

Think again.

Eleven countries in Europe had higher death rates from mass public shootings than the United States did between 2009 and 2015, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center. Those include countries with strict gun control.

Apparently, mass murderers don’t obey gun control laws.

These are practical arguments based on facts, and they’re important.

But in some respects the theory is even more important. The theory that Americans have a right to keep and bear arms is based on freedom, which doesn’t bow to statistical data or polls.

You don’t have to own guns or like guns to recognize the importance of the freedom to have guns.

Because there’s one sense in which gun control does work:  It takes our guns away.

And that, for many anti-gun politicians, is the point.


Matt McDonald is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of New Boston Post. See other articles by him here.