Constitution Fail

For the past few weeks, 8th graders have been studying the U.S. Constitution in History.  In our analysis of the Bill of Rights, we have been investigating why these particular 10 things were targeted as protections by the founding fathers.  Most immediately, this week we have been discussing and debating the 2nd amendment in particular.  We looked at the most recent Supreme Court opinion, overturning the years-long gun ban in DC, much to my students' horror. 

As we are located in DC, this opinion affects us directly.  For my students, it's still unclear why the Supreme Court decided that the 2nd amendment does not allow for gun regulations. My 8th graders, in their 13- and 14-year old wisdom, understood the 2nd amendment to have been written at a time when guns were necessary for farming, hunting and protection in the frontier; they also understood it to be written as a direct reaction to an imposed tyranny, and not as a blind sanction of anyone owning automatic and assault weapons.  My students believe that gun control is necessary, and perfectly compatible with the spirit, if not the word, of the 2nd amendment.

At the end of the day on Friday, 14 December, I received this email from one of my distraught students, an 8th grader, but wise beyond his years:

So much for the constitution making the US better than England. 10,728* gun deaths in the US last year compared to 8** in the UK. Somewhat obvious which country is more forward-thinking. It makes me so mad how the gun lobbyists argue that it is a constitutional right to own a gun but ignore that it is also a constitutional right to be able to make an amendment in order to avoid innocent children being shot. And how is it that the advantages of having gun 'rights' can possibly be comparable to the massacres that happen multiple times a year?!

We can't argue with statistics, and this statistic is convincing.  It's time for us to recognize that the usefulness and purpose of the 2nd amendment is long past. As my wise student has noted: let's just go ahead and propose a new amendment to change this antiquated one; let's have a Constitution that actually protects our life, liberty, and our pursuit of happiness.

*This is an outdated statistic.  According to the FBI statistics, the latest year for detailed statistics is 2010.  In that year, 8775 people were killed in the U.S. due to gun violence.  Still too large of a number.

**In England the number is 41 for the year 2012 (according to The Guardian).

Comments

Thank you Mrs G for having this important and timely conversation with the students. Cecilia told me about it when she came home from school and it certainly has helped process this tragic news. We truly appreciate all of our CHDS teachers!

The kids had great questions, and deep insights into the tragedy and possible legal solutions. They were really the ones leading the discussion and asking tough questions. The Second amendment issues are tough, especially when we remember why the right to bear arms was originally protected in this way. Oh well, perhaps in the New Year we will solve this crisis together. Thanks for checking out the blog; I try to keep it updated every two weeks or so.

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