Has The 2nd Amendment Outlived Its Usefulness?

A debate takes place today in New York City; one side, led by Alan Dershowitz (who sometimes makes perfect sense), arguing that the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms is outdated and should be done away with, and the other side, led by David Kopel, arguing quite the opposite. What can you do? Well…watch the debate streamed live at 6:45 PM EST here and make your opinion known in this poll. At the very least, I expect to learn something new and add some pro-2A arrows to my quiver. Or bullets to my powdered wig bandolier, as it were . . .

As of when I’m writing this, I must say that the results of the poll so far are heartening!

Poll image from http://intelligencesquaredus.org/debates/upcoming-debates/item/907-the-constitutional-right-to-bear-arms-has-outlived-its-usefulness


  1. avatar Rokurota says:

    Wow. It’s really awesome that a select superminority of ultrasmart academics and media wonks keep raising this question and keeping the spotlight on it. One day maybe the 98% will learn from them.

    1. avatar Matt in Idaho says:

      I’d take watching “actual” debates on it all day as opposed to the common sense bloody shirt waving you usually see in the media.

      1. avatar ropingdown says:

        Agree. And I would note that Alan Dershowitz is playing devil’s advocate. He does not actually believe the 2nd Amendment is outdated. He was, among other things, the first reputable academic lawyer to point out the abuse of state power which the George Zimmerman prosecution represented.


        1. avatar ropingdown says:

          Laugh. I noticed too late that the post itself highlighted Dershowitz’ better angel.

        2. avatar Mark N. says:

          Actually I would note that Mr. Dershowitz was invited on to Piers Morgan as a counterpoint to a guest appearance by John Lott, during which Dershowitz continually, rudely, and unprofessionally attacked Lott on his intellect and professional qualifications, claiming that Lott was no expert and would never qualify to testify in federal court as an expert witness, and that his book, More Guns, Less Crime was totally bullshit 9even though Dersh had never even read it or the studies Lott cites) as totally lacking in “common sense.” The statistics do not matter, “common sense” tells us that more guns means there will be more crime.

          It was a truly appalling display. He is a dyed in the wool gun banner. And I have little doubt that he would have nothing good at all to say about the D.C. V. Heller majority. (Which in my view is not too surprising–most of the criminal defense attorneys I know are raving liberals.)

        3. avatar PavePusher says:

          Mark N., IIRC, in that same segment, Dersh also claimed there was no right to arms for the Citizenry under the Second Amendment. Which shocked me silly….

  2. avatar dph says:

    Well, I for one don’t need a debate or poll to know that the 2nd amendment is the cornerstone of all other freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. If it fell all the others would be gone in short order. Consider it the parakeet in the coal mine.

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      The fact is that the precedent set by amending or repealing the Second Amendment, one of the ten cornerstones of personal liberties enshrined in the Bill of Rights as those rights over which no government has any authority to control or modify, would open the floodgates for revisions, alterations and or repeal of any of the other amendments in the Bill of Rights. Once it has been agreed that government has the authority to define these rights, rather than affirmed that they are natural, civil and Constitutionally PROTECTED rights, all bets are off. If you think we have to fight for our 2A RKBA rights today, just wait to see the kind of fights we will be in when the First and Fourth and Fifth amendments are under fire!

      1. avatar John in Ohio says:

        The first, fourth, and fifth are under fire today and have been taking a beating. The second has been perhaps doing better than the others so I don’t think some POTG realize how much has been infringed lately in those areas. Seriously, we get thrown a bone on one right and it seems to distract us from what’s happening with the others.

  3. avatar Roll says:

    Ha, ha, ha, self preservation has never been outdated.

    1. avatar PNG says:

      Unless you live in the UK.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        Or Australia, which worries me more. That’s the model the anti-gunners want to use.

        1. avatar Braenen says:

          The fundamental difference is that the Brittish are “subjects”. Americans are not.

        2. avatar Rich Grise says:

          Is Australia a real country anyway, or are they still a penal colony?

          According to that guy in the copy center in South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut, Canada’s not a real country. (0:55)

      2. avatar Jason Lynch says:

        Had some interesting conversations with a USAian opposite number while over in Little Creek recently (for the record, his CCW is a Colt Defender) and we got to discussing defensive options and legislation during a run ashore: while we’re not doing brilliantly in the UK, there are several US states that are more restrictive than we are. (Not far off California… now there’s damning with faint praise).

        1. avatar PNG says:

          That might be the case, but with the possible exception of Commiefornia, the criminal or criminal’s surviving family usually can’t sue the victim’s DGU. The opposite holds true in the old empire. Criminals have more rights than victims in the UK, and we’ll be damned to give them even more rights here.

        2. avatar Mark N. says:

          For all its ills, at least California doesn’t require you to get government permission to even buy a gun (unlike New York and New Jersey), only a permit to carry it in public (which for some counties–the rural ones–is as simple as asking for one and doing the training and for others–LA and San Fran–is never gonna happen).

          And felons CANNOT sue their victims for injuries suffered in a DGU–by statute. The only exception is that “trap guns” are outlawed and damages may be recovered.

        3. avatar PNG says:

          Mark N., thank you for enlightening me. If I ever find myself in California again for more than a few days, I’ll remember what you said.

        4. avatar Jeremy S says:

          Mark N. — can’t fully agree with you here: “For all its ills, at least California doesn’t require you to get government permission to even buy a gun”. California requires all buyers to take a safety class and pass a test to get your safety certificate. I think that’s $20. You also have to go through a State background check and can be denied permission to purchase a gun if you have outstanding violations or back [state] taxes, etc. THEN, CA has a Roster of handguns approved for sale and you can ONLY purchase a handgun through a dealer, used or new, if it is on this Roster. Approved for sale = permission to buy. Not on the list, cannot buy from an FFL. I believe that a State background check, specific menu of guns that are “not unsafe” (to use CA’s wording), and safety certification all amount very much to “government permission.”

  4. avatar Blue says:

    The 1st Amendment must be outdated in NYC.

    ***Sarcasm Warning***

  5. avatar Chip says:

    Wow! I don’t know how long that poll has been up but as of right now it is 38,000 to 600 with the minority being the ones who think the 2nd should go away.

    1. avatar Braenen says:

      You are reading the chart wrong. Read the question. It is written so that support for the 2nd Amendment is a “No” vote on the chart.

      1. avatar mark_anthony_78 says:

        You read his comment wrong.

        He is correct – the minority want it to go away.

      2. avatar Chip says:

        No, I just said it wrong….. someone upstream in the comments said it better: A super minority know better than the rest of us what Rights are still valid and what ones should be set aside.

    2. avatar IdahoPete says:

      Current results: 2% want to get rid of the 2nd, 98% want to keep it.

      Obviously, the 2% are the intellectual elite, and their whims must be imposed on all of us serfs.

      Hey, if those dipwads don’t like the 2nd Amendment, they can get 2/3 of each house of congress and 3/4 of the State legislatures to pass a repeal amendment. Otherwise, they can STFU.

      1. avatar Rambeast says:

        Even if they could repeal the 2nd, it does not remove the right, just the US Gov’s recognition of it.

        1. avatar IdahoPete says:

          Correct – the 2nd recognizes the right, and does not “create” it. Pretty good analysis of this fact in Heller vs. DC.

        2. avatar Mark N. says:

          Bingo. Natural rights cannot be legislated away, but they can be waived or abandoned by the holder of the privilege. Unless of course you are the US Attorney General who, as I understand it, is the “holder” of all of our rights and gets to decide who can exercise which ones.

      2. avatar Jeremy S says:

        FWIW, the site is rounding. It’s actually 1.6% to 98.4% if you crunch the numbers and go to one decimal place. 717 to 43,475 now. …okay 1.65% to 98.35% if you go to two ;)…

  6. avatar Casey says:

    I think people should be required to take constitutional history classes in both high school and college. Maybe it would end a lot of our problems we have today with the government.

    1. avatar Duke of Sharon says:

      And who would teach said classes? Who would determine the content of the textbooks? Who would write the tests?

    2. avatar dph says:

      You had better hope they don’t teachers like Obama. (so called constitutional law professor)

      1. avatar Old Ben turning in grave says:

        Not contradicting you, expanding for anyone who doesn’t know the details…

        He was never a professor, he was a lecturer. The two titles mean different things in different countries. In the US, Professors are full-time faculty members who teach and do scientific research or scholarly work. The real thing. Lecturers are usually more like temp workers, who teach a class or two (usually the ones the profs don’t want to teach) for relatively little money. Many people do this either for fun or to build up their resumes to get a real job.

        Second, it would be more accurate to say he taught anti-constitutional law, or how to get around the constitution for “social change.”

        Regardless, he never produced a single scholarly work, either as a student or teacher. Not one monograph. Not one paper. Not one book. He’s a total, complete fraud.

        OK, I feel better now. /Rant

        1. avatar Cliff H says:

          Thank you, Ben, you said it better than I could.

          I would like to add one fact that is always misunderstood: Just because you are a Constitution professor or lecturer does NOT mean that you agree with or support that document. Sometimes the purpose of a class or lecture is to teach you how to subvert the subject, not how to support it.

          I believe the last five years support my thesis.

    3. avatar BillF says:

      They are teaching it–well…sort of… Subliminally, and with the “new” interpretation. Common Core anyone? http://eagnews.org/common-core-assignment-the-constitution-is-outdated/

    4. avatar smackit says:

      I’d much prefer that my kids listen to what I have to say about the 2A than what a bunch of leftists teachers would pontificate/lie/indoctrinate about.

      Take it from a parent of a 17YO and 20YO…. It has been a nightly job at the dinner table for the past 10+ years to correct the misinformation that is spewed from their teachers. Fortunately my work has been successful to the point that they now come home and say “Take a guess what load of crap my teacher tried to say today…..

      That makes papa bear and mama bear smile…..

      1. avatar IdahoPete says:

        “… they now come home and say “Take a guess what load of crap my teacher tried to say today…”..
        Dang, that made my day. Good job!

  7. avatar Andrew Baker says:

    Although I voted “Against”, the argument “For” seemed to be better crafted. You can tell which way the debate was biased.

    1. avatar Braenen says:

      I don’t think they expected the NRA to ask its members to weigh in on the poll.

      1. avatar mike w says:

        this pole is not the only pole to support gun rights…

        I bet the number of NRA members voting isn’t that large. I also bet more NRA members have voted in this pole than people who have signed up for Obamacare

        1. You mean more than 6?

        2. avatar Accur81 says:


    2. avatar Matt in Idaho says:

      Yea, it was really interesting reading both of those. I like the 2nd paragraph in the against description.

  8. avatar John F says:

    When an INTRUSIVE person is trying to break into your Home,
    Or an INTRUSIVE government is trying to break into your home.
    Without the 2nd Amendment what are you to do ????

    1. avatar Sixpack70 says:

      It’s called “Die in Place”.

      1. avatar Cliff H says:

        Actually, in the case of governments at least, it is traditional for them to round you up and ship you to facilities where the dying part is more efficient, and less visible to the other sheeple. Seeing someone “picked up for questioning” does not raise as many alarm bells as seeing them hauled off in a coroner’s wagon.

        1. avatar John in Ohio says:

          Boxer’s fate in Animal Farm was much easier for the pigs to get away with because the other animals were ignorant and removed from his presence.

  9. avatar mike w says:

    the for argument is totally projection. it assumes the founding fathers are either for regulation or would be for regulation.

  10. avatar Ralph says:

    Yes, the Second Amendment is antiquated. In an era of high-quality, low cost firearms, gun ownership should not be permitted. Instead, it should be required for all able-bodied, law-abiding citizens, and all of them should be part of the militia as they were in the time of the Founders.

    1. avatar IdahoPete says:

      And the states should get off their collective asses and TRAIN the militias (That’s what “well-regulated” means.)

    2. avatar peirsonb says:

      They didnt state it, exactly, but I’d bet the majority of the founders viewed it as a requirement when they wrote it.

      As much as I agree, you need to be careful. Forcing people to buy a private product is a gross overreach of the government and is somthing they’d never be allowed….wait….damn…..

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Exactly. Just call it a tax.

    3. avatar Cliff H says:

      Buy, hell. The first time you register to vote the government should GIVE you a pistol; something simple like a 9mm Double tap, and you should be REQUIRED to actually come to a polling place to vote and to have that pistol with you. The serial number on the pistol is your voter ID number.

      No pistol, no vote. Wrong pistol, no vote and lots of questions.

      1. avatar John in Ohio says:

        Ballots as targets. If the voter isn’t well regulated, they aren’t going to have much success in voting their will. 😀

    4. avatar Greg in Allston says:

      Yes, all citizens are part of the militia, able-bodied or not; if you can lend a hand in whatever capacity that you are able to, you’re in. The militia is not an anachronism. It’s been said that the only part of the American national security apparatus that actually worked as it was supposed to on 9/11/2001 was the unorganized militia. A small group of citizens, acting on their own initiative, without a command, control, communications and intelligence structure (C3I), without orders, uniforms, formal training or weapons, defeated a determined and well trained enemy and saved countless innocent lives. That unorganized militia was, of course, the brave passengers aboard United Flight 93; American citizens who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting their fellow citizens and all that we as a nation hold dear.

  11. avatar Ross says:

    Dershowitz has outlived his usefulness and should be done away with, I’m inclined to go with: wall, blindfold, firing squad, in that order.

  12. avatar Culpeper Kid says:

    Not sure about the 2nd amendment, but the 1st, 4th and 5th certainly appear to no longer be in effect, if not outright repealed.

  13. avatar PhoenixNFA says:

    >>is called intelligence squared.
    >>can’t get the page to work on my iPhone 5s


  14. avatar MRC says:

    I hate the term “Constitutional Right”, its a God given or Natural right. If the Constitution was revoked tomorrow, it only means the FedGov doesn’t have a responsibility to protect that God given right, it doesn’t mean that right doesn’t exist anymore. Removing the writing on the Constitution is one thing, removing the tools to defend ourselves from tyranny from American Patriots is something completely different. Come and take em bitches!

    1. avatar peirsonb says:

      The constitution doesn’t require the government to protect rights. It preventsthe government from infringing on them, something they ignore. It’s left to the PEOPLE to protect their rights.

    2. avatar KCK says:

      Do atheist have them or are they granted to us by believers?
      You did say Natural so I’m in.

      1. avatar Cliff H says:

        Exactly right. However you consider the origin of each person, the things that each and every one is born with, even people we do not like at all, is their life is their own to do with as they please, the liberty to live that life, and the ability to use their life to acquire property (happiness) which then belongs to them personally. So long as any individual’s actions do not interfere with another person’s same rights, they are sacrosanct. (Sorry for the religious term, but it is most descriptive of this condition.)

        IMO, the intent of the Bill of Rights was to list those minimum natural rights that would be required to ensure the Life, liberty and pursuit of property/happiness and to tell the government that they had no authority over those rights. To relinquish any of them is to lose all of them, at least as far as government goes. We obviously, since they are natural rights, retain them, but government is no longer constrained from attempting to suppress them, or us. A Progressialist’s wet dream.

        1. avatar John in Ohio says:

          And do we ever see today how invasive our government has become. I think those guys might have been onto something back then! Their concern appears to have been warranted so, can a free people honestly afford to risk allowing government to violate shall not be infringed even on hair more?

  15. avatar Alpo says:

    What the antis always seem to ignore is that the Bill of Rights, as a whole, was designed to protect individuals from goverment abuse/overreach/tyranny.
    The 2nd fits right in to that design.

    This point also demonstrates how stupid the “militia = national guard” agrument is. All of the other amendments limit goverment power by granting rights to individuals. But somehow, the 2nd is about giving more power to government and less to individuals? So blatantly stupid!

  16. avatar Danny says:

    By saying something like that, isn’t it possible to say that the 4th is outdated because people share everything about their daily lives on Facebook? Dumb argument, but so is this.

  17. avatar ropingdown says:

    It is worth noting that the use of government power to curtail rights is always done at the behest of some non-government special interest group. In a representative democracy the ‘government’ itself is nothing but an institutionalized vehicle for the enactment and execution of private wishes. Add the legitimizing of “money talks” K Street lobbyists and the swaying of prosecutions via privately-owned mass media…and this truth becomes doubly vital to realize. It is the very reason the founders created a constitutional republic rather than a pure democracy, with rights (at least theoretically) protected from the whims of oppressive legislation and malicious prosecution.

  18. avatar Don says:

    I listen to all of these debates. They are usually VERY good. I’ve been anticipating this one since the day it was announced.


  19. avatar Jeh says:

    As long as their are/is animals to hunt, targets to shoot, fun to be had, life to protect, and tyrants and criminals exist, there will always be need for the 2nd.

  20. avatar Jim R says:

    If anything it’s more useful today than it’s ever been. With the ever-encroaching threat of government control and the more and more prevalent problems with street crime and gang violence, I think it’s more important to be armed and ready than ever before.

  21. avatar dudebro says:

    Dershisquirts is an Israel firster above US Const. look how he cujo’d the blumenthals. pay no mind.

  22. avatar C says:

    All rights are outdated when a democrat is president. Get with it, guys.

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      I think we need to push for a Constitutional amendment:

      From the moment of ratification of this amendment to The Constitution of the United States of America, it shall be an act of treason for any person, group, or government agent/agency to alter or modify in any manner whatsoever any of the first ten amendments to this Constitution, collectively known as “The Bill of Rights”, or to promote their interpretation under any criteria other than the common usage of the English language at the time of their original ratification.

  23. avatar John in Ohio says:

    As long as we have a government and we wish to live in a free state; the individual right to keep and bear arms will be necessary. Did we get rid of our government? Are we no longer a free nation? If the answer is still ‘no’ then the 2A has not outlived its usefulness. In fact, it looks to me that it was crafted precisely for days like these!

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      “Did we get rid of our government? Are we no longer a free nation? If the answer is still ‘no’ then the 2A has not outlived its usefulness.”

      John, precisely because the answer to those two questions is somewhat ambiguous in our current political climate, the Second Amendment has not only NOT outlived its usefulness, it is absolutely more important than it has been for many centuries.

      1. avatar John in Ohio says:

        I figured that you and more than a few others around here would get that. 😉

        I seriously wish the sheep would. 🙁

  24. avatar BDub says:

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m still using it.

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      And I will continue to use it until (doubtful) something better comes along.

  25. avatar Taylor Tx says:

    “The individual right to bear arms, like free speech and trial by jury, is fundamental to our American identity. It safeguards democracy, guaranteeing that all citizens have power relative to the state and to each other.”

    I really like how the Against vote started with this paragraph, FUNDAMENTAL TO OUR AMERICAN IDENTITY, hell yes preach it.

  26. avatar Mark N. says:

    41,789 against, 686 for, as of noon, PST.

  27. avatar Glenn in USA says:

    I believe in the meaning and intent of the Framers 2nd Amendment, but I do believe that the wording should be updated to reduce the confusion and eliminate cause for anyone to think that the right to keep and bear arms is not a human civil right. Pennsylvania’s constitution explicitly stated (my paraphrase) the right was for protection of the self and protection of their free state. But I wonder about the futility of any statement when we have a government that totally ignores and infringes on our rights everyday.

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      Government, by nature, always seeks power. No matter how strongly the wording; without the People willing to keep government in check, tyranny is always at the door. It doesn’t get much stronger than shall not be infringed yet government still infringes. When the People have enough, they are duty bound to throw off the chains and refuse to be complicit in government’s usurpation of their power.

  28. avatar Patriot says:

    To all gun-grabbing [email protected] swatters:

    I don’t understand, there are so many other countries to go live in and and not be able to exercise your “outdated” 2nd amendment right, these @ssholes so badly want to live in these dream Utopias yet don’t have the balls to actually do it. Michael Moore bitches about the problems of capitalism and our health care system while getting fat and rich off the very things he hates about America.

    Two words for gun grabbing, demanding action @ssholes: FVCK YOU!!!!!

    You don’t like the fact we have a 2nd Amendment, then with vigor FVCK OFF!!!!

    No one said you have to live here, go live in your dream Utopia and see how “great” they have it. Go live in Cuba where you get free healthcare, or Mexico where it is illegal for civilians to own firearms.

    But don’t fvcking sit here and tell US how to live OUR lives.

    End rant.

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Well… alrighty then.

    2. avatar Cliff H says:

      Patriot, I don’t think the word FVCK! means what you think (or intended) it means. Just sayin’, for clarification.

    3. avatar John in Ohio says:

      Good rant.

      @Cliff H: Oh great, off to google I go again. 😀

  29. avatar Excedrine says:

    Q.: Has the Second Amendment outlived its usefulness?

    Allow me to answer your question with another question, which is two-fold: 1.) Since when has any right outlived its usefulness, and 2.) since when has any right been grounded in social utility or public opinion?

    The answer to those two questions are: Never and never. Ergo, the answer everybody is (or should be) looking for to the first question is, precisely, “No.”

    And it never will.

    Additionally, I pay absolutely no mind whatever to malicious, ignorant, arrogant, small-minded and uneducated little curmudgeons like Dershowitz that exhibits the a-typical behavior of a school-yard bully that has only ever engaged his opposition with ad-hominem circumstantial attacks, non-sequitur post-hoc ergo proctor hoc arguments, as well as (and not limited to) relying entirely bleeding heart and appeal to emotion and unqualified authority premises.

    In short, fuck that guy.

    1. avatar Rambeast says:

      “In short, F that guy.”

      I couldn’t have said it better.

  30. avatar Chip says:

    So did anyone watch it? Who won?

    1. avatar Rambeast says:

      It was a New York academic audience, they agreed that the 2nd is outdated. Really no surprise.

  31. avatar William Burke says:

    I think Dershowitz had outlived his usefulness. If he ever had any.

  32. avatar Kyle says:

    I just Googled the Dershowitz vs John R. Lott video on Youtube. Wow was Dershowitz unprofessional acting! And he also claimed that people being able to easily acquire guns, where those that want to can go and shoot people, is not liberty in his mind, it is totalitarian, Stalinist (!!!!). I suppose he thinks that War is Peace and Freedom is Slavery as well.

    1. avatar Rich Grise says:

      Don’t forget the one he seems to be relying on the most – Ignorance is strength.

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