Will the USA repeal the Second Amendment in our lifetime?

Despite the precedent of other affluent nations, America appears to have a gun culture that's here to stay...

Amana Khan
27th November 2021
Gun enthusiasts browse a stall at Houston Gun Show at the George R. Brown Convention Center, 2007 (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The United Kingdom, Germany, New Zealand, and Japan, as well as many other countries, have either restricted the use of guns or have banned them outright. So why is there still a lack of restrictions on the use of guns in the US, and why is the protection of the Second Amendment so important to many Americans?

The Second Amendment of the American Constitution calls for the protection of the right to keep and bear arms. Following a Supreme Court decision in 1980 regarding the District of Columbia vs. Heller case, in which Columbia's gun laws were found to be impinging on the right to bear arms, it was essentially ruled that Americans have an unlimited right to own guns.

The Second Amendment has been the source of much contention for many years. There are several compelling arguments for the repealing of this amendment, not least the historic examples of mass shootings in the US. Most recently including the Las Vegas attack of 2017 and the 2018 Parkland massacre. However, these shootings have not yet been enough to lead to any definitive moves towards repealing the amendment. Instead, many continue to defend the Second Amendment as a necessary freedom for Americans.

Furthermore, although the gun debate is ongoing, the amendment makes up a key part of the US' codified constitution, meaning that to repeal the amendment would be a highly complicated process. The process would require massive amounts of support, not just from Congress but also from a majority of American citizens. The difficulty of repealing constitutional amendments is exemplified in the fact that the only amendment to have ever been repealed is the 18th (which had prohibited the manufacturing and sale of alcohol).

Experts in case law, such as Kevin McMahon, have argued that it is extremely unlikely that the Second Amendment could be repealed and points to the fact that it is challenging enough for gun control legislation to be passed in America. To repeal the Second would require a dramatic shift in the views many Americans hold, not only regarding gun control but also regarding the Constitution and even America itself. 

The gravitas of the Second Amendment should not be underestimated. The result of it being arguably a perpetuation of gun culture in the US. Moreover, the backdrop to Americans' 'right to bear arms' are statistics such as the 14,400 gun-related murders in 2019 alone, accounting for three quarters of all murders in the US that year.

It is clear that the defence of the Second Amendment rests on ‘freedom’, yet this neglects any acknowledgement of the damage done as a result of gun ownership. It is for this reason that I believe that the United States will not repeal the amendment in my lifetime. Americans hold the belief that the Constitution encourages their ‘freedoms’, so to repeal the Second Amendment would appear to take this freedom away.  

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