Criminal Justice

Should the Second Amendment be repealed?

A former Republican candidate had called to repeal the Second Amendment in 2018, launching a debate between those who believe repealing the amendment would end gun violence and those who use it as a means to guarantee individuals’ right to bear arms.

Rise of the Issue

The shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas has conservatives and liberals alike rethinking the gun laws that govern the land. A new YouGov poll found that 55% of Americans currently believe the only way to stop mass shootings is drastic gun reform. President Biden just signed a new bipartisan bill into law which is seen as the most significant gun reform legislation in three decades. Still some liberals believe it should go further.

Former Republican Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens previously called to repeal the Second Amendment in 2018. His plea was a reaction to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida four years ago. No such changes to the law were made.

Mass shootings have continued to happen at a staggering rate. This year, there has not been a single week that there has not been a mass shooting where four or more people were killed or injured. The question remains whether the new gun control laws are far-reaching enough to significantly decrease gun-related violence.

Issue Timeline


Second Amendment is Enacted

Part of the bill of rights, the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms, stating: "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."


Congress Passes the Gun Control Act

The assassinations of President John Kennedy, Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. incentivized law makers to enforce stricter gun laws, including the prohibition of firearms sales and ammunition to people convicted of a felony.


Brady Law is Enacted

This law amends the Gun Control Act of 1968, implementing a 5 day waiting period for unlicensed people to receive a handgun in states that do not have otherwise rigorous background checks.


Supreme Court Rules Second Amendment Applies Individually

In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Court rules for the first time that the Second Amendment applies to an individual’s right to bear arms.


Second Amendment Can Be Enforced Against States

Following District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008, the Supreme Court rules in McDonald v. Chicago that the Second Amendment can be enforced against states since it is rooted in the Constitution.


Right to Bear Arms Outside the Home

After New York tries to implement legislation that people must have proper cause to carry their weapons outside their homes, the Supreme Court overrules it, saying the right to bear arms does extend beyond a person’s front door.

Micro Issues


Scope of the Second Amendment

The two sides differ on whether the Second Amendment should apply to individuals' right to own guns or whether it was only supposed to be applied to militias.


Gun Violence Prevention

Supporters say restricting gun ownership is the best way to prevent gun-related violence. Opponents believe investing in school security and mental health services is more effective.


Gun Ownership and Crime

While one side believes more gun control would reduce (gun-related) crime, the other side thinks gun ownership prevents more crime from happening.

Pro Arguments


Times have changed since the Second Amendment was implemented.

The threats in the eighteenth century that led people to want to own guns are not the same ones that Americans presently face.


The arms in 1789 were different from the ones we have nowadays.

When drafting the Second Amendment, the most common firearms were muskets and flintlock pistols, which carry one round at a time. A skilled shooter could fire around 3 rounds per minute. The semiautomatic weapons that are available to us nowadays mean shooters can fire around 45 rounds per minute.


Politicians have a financial incentive to advocate for the Second Amendment.

Gun rights advocates spent a record $15.8 million on lobbying efforts in 2021 to persuade politicians to vote against stricter gun laws.


Other countries have implemented gun reform after mass shootings and the numbers have gone down drastically.

Countries such as the United Kingdom, Switzerland, New Zealand, Norway and Australia have had mass shootings in the past and adapted their gun laws as a result. Their gun-related crime rates all dropped significantly.


Stricter gun laws for future purchases will have a limited effect.

There are an estimated 400 million privately owned guns in the United States. Only applying stricter rules to purchasing new guns will not have the same effect as repealing the individual right to bear arms.

Con Arguments


There are other, less radical ways to limit access to guns.

Many other legal paths exist to either limit who gets access to guns, which firearms are allowed, at what age, etc. rather than completely eliminating the right to bear arms.


Gun violence is not only caused by access to guns.

Gun violence is not caused by the possession of guns but their misuse. Rather than banning guns, we should emphasize the importance of proper gun training and education.


People have a right to protect themselves.

Many people's lives have been saved because of gun owners who used their firearms in an act of self-defense.


Repealing the Second Amendment would criminalize gun owners.

An amount of people who currently legally and responsibly own guns would no longer be abiding by the law.


Gun owners would have to get rid of their arms.

Many in the US are attached to their guns both for personal and safety reasons and would indiscriminately have to give up their firearms, regardless of their circumstances.