In the wake of the Conn. shooting, the 2nd Amendment has become a focal point for anti-gun proponents once more. Their message is that it’s time to re-evaluate the right to keep and bear arms, but the mistaken assumption is that the 2nd Amendment is easy to change.
Like all amendments in the Bill of Rights, the 2nd Amendment does not create a right. Rather, it recognizes a right with which we were “endowed by [our] Creator.”
Here’s the text:
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right the keep and bear arms shall not be infringed
Normally stressed in this amendment are the two obvious assertions: 1. We possess “the right to keep and bear arms” and, 2. That right “shall not be infringed.” But of crucial importance is the fact that this amendment is the only one which protects a right our Founders considered “necessary to the security of a free state.”
Obvious implications: No armed citizenry = no free state.
This is why the Founders made this amendment so difficult to change or eliminate. Therefore, although it can be changed, the requirements for doing so are near herculean, especially in our day.
For an amendment to be proposed or repealed, it requires two/thirds of both federal legislative bodies — House and Senate — to vote in the affirmative (two/thirds in the House, two/thirds in the Senate). It also requires two/thirds of the state legislatures of the 50 states to vote in the affirmative.
The move to propose or repeal can begin with the American people, with a majority of the populations in two thirds of the 50 states voting for the amendment or its repeal. However, even if the people do this, the push to propose or repeal still has to garner two/thirds House, two/thirds Senate, and two/thirds of all 50 state legislatures.
The difficulty required to change this amendment ought to give us pause. For our Founders went out of their way to be sure the rights protected by the Bill of Rights could not be easily stripped of their amendments.