The text of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads: “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.” The Supreme Court has interpreted the amendment to mean that we can legally have no limits on the number of guns American citizens own.
As a result, we have more firearms than people in the U.S., almost 400 million of them. Those numbers exclude weapons in the hands of law enforcement and military forces. We have more than 120 guns for every 100 of us. That ratio is higher than for any other nation in the world. We own 40 percent of the guns in the world, but we account for only 4.27 percent of the world population.
We also have the weakest gun laws of any modern nation on earth. We do almost nothing to control who can own a gun.
Our death rate from firearms is the highest among the western democracies. Every day, 100 Americans are killed with guns and hundreds more are shot and injured.
The spate of mass shootings in the past few weeks—most prominently at Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton—force us to confront the issue: Is the Second Amendment, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, to continue? How many deaths by shooting will we tolerate before we change the rules?
My sense is that we must act at once. We can either reinterpret the Second Amendment to mean no restrictions on guns for militias or we can repeal it in its entirety.
The argument that guns are and always have been a key part of American culture doesn’t move me. Better to change our culture than to allow the killing of a hundred of us every day.
The time to act is now.