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Chester County Press

The imperfect perfect Amendment

08/16/2016 01:09PM ● By Richard Gaw
In his June 13, 2016 editorial, Rolling Stone writer David Cohen called for the repeal of the Second Amendment, calling it a threat to liberty and a suicide pact. His argument for the law's dissolution was familiar to those of the anti-gun lobbyists; that in 1791, at the time the Bill of Rights were passed, it was to provide for the right to carry the rudimentary weaponry of the day, in order to hunt for food and protect themselves in a country fresh with new laws.
Those who drafted the Constitution, Cohen wrote, could not have imagined that the Amendment would someday give license to purchase and own semi-automatic assault weapons, like the AR-15. Making reference to the recent massive shootings in Orlando, Cohen wrote that when “the Second Amendment was written, the Founders didn't have to weigh the risks of one man killing 49 and injuring 53 all by himself. Now we do, and the risk-benefit analysis of 1791 is flatly irrelevant to the risk-benefit analysis of today.”
In his argument, Cohen calls for “a  mass movement of those who will stand up and say that our founding document was wrong and needs to be changed.”
The Chester County Press is not in the business of second guessing the editorial opinions expressed in other publications, let alone those of a national magazine whose primary content has to do with the music and entertainment industry. But for those who have read Rolling Stone over the 50 years of its shelf life, the publication's regular dips into the spin culture of our country's most volatile topics have been done so with poignancy, humor and by means of razor sharp investigative journalism.
Mostly, they've gotten it right.  Occasionally, they've gotten it wrong. Here, by calling for the death of the Second Amendment, they're very, very wrong. Cohen is inviting a dangerous precedent that could become the entire dismantling, piece by piece, of the ethical primer for how America works.
While Cohen is correct in his premise that “liberty of some to own guns cannot take precedence over the liberty of everyone to live their lives free from the risk of being easily murdered,” his call for the repeal of the Second Amendment potentially leaves nothing in its wake but an empty hole.
The Second Amendment is a garbled mess of outdated and confusing terms. Its modern meaning is very far removed from its original intention. And yet, as Cohen suggests, do we reduce the United States Constitution to the legislative version of a rough draft, a foot loose and fancy free document that can be altered by the one who wields the most power?
His suggestion has a tumble-down volatility that could cause every patriot with a cause to call for a red pen and scissors to rewrite and hack up our Constitution from the First Amendment to the tenth. Imagine if the five freedoms provided for in the First Amendment were deemed out of touch with today's America. We would not be able to assemble for fear of alienating an opposition. Newspapers like this one would no longer be given the freedom to strike the chord of dissenting opinion. Search warrants would no longer be needed. The accused would no longer be given rights to a fair trial, thus sending millions of innocent citizens to jail. By a signing of a pen, cruel and unusual punishment would be back on the books.
Repealing the Second Amendment will not prevent another Columbine. It will not hold back another Newtown or another Orlando. The only method of preventing these horrific incidents will be through continued dialogue between law enforcement agencies, anti-gun activists, responsible gun owners, school administrators, elected officials and concerned citizens.
There are three meeting spaces at the new 26,000 square-foot Target Shooting Solutions facility in Avondale. We strongly suggest that the owners of this new facility make it their mission to use these three rooms to keep this conversation alive, to serve as a place where those who disagree in principal can find a common ground on the issue of gun control. 
Let this be our new well regulated militia. Let these factions form together, and bear arms. The Second Amendment is a document that helped define the laws of America, but the dialogue that happens in small rooms between people who do not always agree is what may eventually save America.

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