Growing up in the U.S., we all learn about the Constitution and the 27 Amendments that make up the laws of our country. Many have caused controversy over the years, with the Second Amendment being the target of scrutiny as mass shootings become more prevalent across the nation.
While wanting to uphold the law that has stood for almost 230 years is understandable, the stubbornness of the nation to even consider updating the Constitution is the most problematic issue in today’s society. Our forefathers did not intend for the Constitution to remain unchanged, so why should we leave it as so?
Written in 1787 and put into effect in 1789, the Constitution was designed for a different society — a society that was still finding its footing as an independent nation, creating laws to establish order after a brutal eight-year war.
The framers designed a strong government that ensured the power would still lie in the hands of the people. However, checks and balances had to be put in place keep the citizens of America free, including the first ten Amendments, known as the Bill of Rights.
Though many nowadays are arguing that all amendments made should remain untampered, as they believe it’s kept the nation in perfect order since its inception. These same people seem to forget both what the word amendment means, but also the fact some have been written to cancel out previous ones.
What many people also seem to forget is that the Amendments were written specifically because the authors realized that despite all the time and effort put into it, it wasn’t flawless. If they could look at what they created and realized they needed to fix it after the fact, why can’t people today realize the same thing and work on fixes?
Amendment, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “the process of altering or amending a law or document (such as a constitution) by parliamentary or constitutional procedure rights that were granted by amendment of the Constitution.”
Proclaiming that we can’t change something in the Constitution is the exact opposite point of having the amendment process. When a law no longer fits a changing society, it is the government’s duty to look at them and change them appropriately. It is also the public’s obligation to listen to proposed changes.
One notable amendment that found criticism and was changed for the better was the 18th amendment, which led to the Prohibition Era.
The laws presented by the Constitution and corresponding Amendments have found criticism in the past, and in one instance was changed for the better of the public: Prohibition.
After the temperance movement, which began in the early 1800s, led to the rise of the Anti-Saloon League in 1906, many states agreed that outlawing alcohol would lead to a better society and began enacting their own bans on drinking. This would lead to the ratification of the 18th Amendment, prohibiting the production, transportation and sale of alcohol across the country.
However, the nation came to see the negative effects the Amendment had on the nation, most notably the rise of crime as gangsters soared running the black market on alcohol. Congress reconsidered its previous motion and ratified the 21st Amendment, which repealed the 18th and made alcohol legal again.
The government took a look at how society was changing and adjusted the laws accordingly, which put the nation on a road towards a more positive atmosphere. Allowing alcohol to be sold again proved to be economically fruitful and worked towards eliminating the organized crime it created.
Even prior to this, America had the unfortunate time period in which slavery was legal, according to the Three-Fifths Compromise in the Constitution. However, as society progressed and came to see the flaws in this, slaves were eventually freed and slavery itself outlawed by the 13th Amendment.
The prohibition of slavery took the country’s first step of the long journey towards racial equality which, though still being fought for, was instrumental at this early period of American history.
If the government can look at these societal changes and adjust the law accordingly, why aren’t we considering doing the same thing in today’s increasingly brutal world?
Our country continues to suffer various tragedies, and in their wake, we need to consider modifying our laws to adapt to these new times.
When this country’s founders developed the Constitution, they had no idea the scope and potential that the culture and technology in the nation would change. They didn’t know that we’d go from guns that took minutes to load and fired only one shot to automatic weapons that reload in seconds and fire 30 rounds with extreme accuracy.
As a nation, if we can’t allow legislators to have reasonable and productive discussions on how to change the law to protect our well-beings, we can’t hope to progress as a society.
Now, does this mean we need to completely repeal the Second Amendment as a matter of national protection? Not necessarily, but it is time we took a step back and recognize that our technology has advanced far past what the forefathers ever predicted..
For starters, rather than outlaw firearms, an amendment to ban automatic weapons and attachments that modify semi-automatic guns to mimic assault rifles should be considered.
While no one should have to immediately resort to guns to resolve any conflict, there is certainly no need for assault-style weapons in everyday life, in any situation. Be it hunting, self-defense or even a fight.
Creating such legislation would much better ensure the public’s safety while also allowing the public to feel they can hold on to their Second Amendment rights.
The Constitution has done a good job thus far in keeping our nation structured and fair, but if we don’t take a second to revisit some of the laws and see how they hold up in today’s advancing world, how can we truly consider it an appropriate law of the land?