America’s Failure on the Issue of Gun Control

Why the rigidity of the second amendment is a hindrance to positive change

Senote Keriakes
5 min readMay 27, 2022
Photo by Maria Lysenko on Unsplash

In recent days, the world was shocked to hear of yet another mass school shooting in the United States. This time the victims of the shooting were young children of primary school age at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas.

The saddest and most disappointing part of the news of these shootings is the frequency with which they take place as well as the subsequent lack of action by the US federal government regarding the issue of gun control. The perpetrator of the recent shooting at Robb elementary school, Salvatore Ramos, had purchased two assault rifles as well as ammunition only days after his 18th birthday.

The ease with which people are able to acquire firearms in the USA and execute these heinous crimes continues to shock the world and raise the same question: why not just restrict gun ownership as was done in Australia as well as several other western nations over the past 30 years?

The Second Amendment and Gun Control

In the USA, the second amendment of the constitution enshrines a citizen’s right to bear arms. The reason for this is to ensure that, if the government ever became tyrannical, the citizens could band together and form a resistance against the government, armed with their guns.

Ben Shapiro, a well known political pundit and staunch defender of the second amendment, once stated that he believes that if the Jews of Germany in the 1940s had not relinquished their firearms in the gun seizures of 1938, they would have been able to mount a resistance against the Nazi German effort to eradicate them en masse. Shapiro holds the view that the issue of gun control should focus on balancing the rights of citizens to bear arms with the risks associated with firearms to reach a sound solution that still ensures access to firearms.

“The fact that my grandparents and great grandparents in Europe didn’t fear [government tyranny] is why they are now ashes in Europe. This leftist revisionist history where there is never any fear of democracy going usurpatious or tyrannical is just that — it’s fictitious.” — Ben Shapiro

However, there is now a fundamental flaw with the ‘government tyranny’ argument regarding gun control. At the time of American independence in the late 1700s, the most sophisticated weapons in existence were the musket and the rifle. This meant that, if the average citizen owned a musket, they were able to match the technological superiority of the governments weapon of choice. If the US government in the late 1700s had become tyrannical, indeed the second amendment allowed the citizens to band together, take up arms and revolt effectively.

This is no longer the case. Modern militaries, especially the US military, have developed at a rapid rate. The rifle that could at one point rival the army’s weapons now does not stand a chance in the face of what a potentially tyrannical government could pose. In fact, if a tyrannical US government wanted to undertake a genocide of their own population, the firearms sitting inside the average citizen’s home will prove to be no match for the US military’s drones.

Thus, the risks and rights which Shapiro speaks of must be revisited. The risks of allowing firearms to continue to be as accessible as they currently are extremely high, I need not regurgitate the sickening statistics regarding school shootings which I am sure you are familiar with. But can we truly see any benefits to maintaining such easy access to guns? Is there truly a practical and logical reason to continue to have such easy access to firearms?

What Now?

As previously mentioned, sweeping gun reforms took place in Australia in 1996 following the Port Arthur massacre, when Martin Bryant opened fire in the Tasmanian town of Port Arthur, murdering 35 people, including several small children.

12 days after the Port Arthur Massacre, the Australian senate passed the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) which outlawed the use of most automatic and semi-automatic weapons, established a registry for all guns owned by private citizens and established a firearm buyback, whereby the government would purchase the recently-made-illegal firearms back from citizens. The buyback was costly — costing the federal Australian government $230 million, yet it was a small price to pay for peace of mind and safety.

However, the ease with which the Australian federal government introduced the NFA can never be replicated in the USA, precisely because of the second amendment. The existence of the ‘Bill of Rights’ in the American constitution elevates the first ten amendments of the US constitution to a near untouchable status. American conservatives pride themselves on their fidelity to the US constitution, and their unwavering support for the second amendment is a manifestation of this fidelity.

However, why should anyone allow themselves to be governed unopposed by laws that had been implemented almost 250 years ago in a political and social context that was vastly different to our own? Why is it such a taboo to challenge a constitutional amendment that has proven time and time again to be the reason for near unobstructed widespread access to firearms?

More importantly, if the founding fathers were aware of the devastating impact gun ownership would have on American society centuries later, would they still have pushed for the second amendment to feature on the Bill of Rights?

Guns as Self-Defence

Perhaps the most effective provision of the NFA in Australia was the establishment of the need for a ‘genuine reason’ for owning a firearm — with self defence not being regarded as a genuine reason. In a country such as the USA where many other people carry arm, perhaps it may be considered justifiable for the average citizen to want to own a gun in order to feel ‘safe’. A recent Pew research survey of American adults found that 75% of gun owners in the USA felt safer when there was a gun in their household. The same survey found that 63% of gun owners listed protection and self defence as their reasoning for owning a firearm.

However, when the main justification for carrying firearms is to protect oneself and one’s family from other gun owners (who are in turn also carrying firearms to protect themselves and their family from gun owners), we reach a classical chicken and egg situation where the only logical solution is to simply remove firearms from widespread use for the sake of public safety.



Senote Keriakes

Notes on philosophy, history and religion. I write to share my point of view and reinforce the concepts that I learn, enjoy:)