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Americans can't handle their guns. Time to repeal the 2nd Amendment.

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 7/11/2022 Carli Pierson, USA TODAY
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We must repeal the Second Amendment if we want this country to ever be safe again. 

Whether it's killings by police, like the 60 bullets fired into Jayland Walker, or by civilians like in Highland Park, Illinois, Uvalde, Texas, or Buffalo, New York our national record on gun violence is an international embarrassment. It can't be reformed without doing away with guns entirely. 

FILE - In this Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 file photo, a gun-rights activist carries his rifle decorated with a U.S. flag during a "National Day of Resistance" rally at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah. Activists said they were were there to show their support for the U.S. Constitution and the 2nd Amendment. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) ORG XMIT: NY844 © Rick Bowmer, AP FILE - In this Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 file photo, a gun-rights activist carries his rifle decorated with a U.S. flag during a "National Day of Resistance" rally at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah. Activists said they were were there to show their support for the U.S. Constitution and the 2nd Amendment. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) ORG XMIT: NY844

States like California and New York that have tried to set restrictive gun laws can do little when guns are trafficked in from other states. What's more – legislative attempts at restricting gun rights were recently shot down by a Supreme Court gone rogue. 

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We're way beyond what the framers ever had in mind for gun rights already. And for a selective originalist Supreme Court conservative majority, it's hard to justify glossing over the history behind the Second Amendment.

Much like we did away with the 18th (prohibition) when it no longer served us, it's time to do away with the archaic constitutional amendment holding Americans hostage in their own country. 

It's time to say, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, the Second Amendment's gotta go."

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The problem: Americans can't handle guns

Americans can't handle their guns. There were a whopping 692 mass shootings in the United States last year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines mass shootings as having "a minimum of four victims shot, either injured or killed, not including any shooter who may also have been killed or injured in the incident." 

In 2021, more than 45,000 Americans were killed by firearms. And while we have just over 4% of the world's population, as of 2017 we had over 40% of the world's civilian-owned guns

There have been 2,069 school shootings in America since 1970, according to the Center for Homeland Defense and Security's Naval Postgraduate School's K-12 School Shooting Database. But after every shooting, all we see from most Republican lawmakers is idle talk about "locking doors" and the ever-popular "thoughts and prayers."

Meanwhile, other countries tighten gun laws after mass shootings, including Canada, which still has relatively high gun ownership rates but much lower gun homicide rates compared with the United States.

America's only option is to take drastic action and reform our antiquated Constitution.

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The solution: Get rid of these 27 words

27 words.

"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." We are often reminded of the last 14 words of the amendment but completely overlook the first 13. But those 13 words provide critical historical context, which our cherry-picking "originalist" Supreme Court has glossed over in favor of expanding gun rights far beyond what the Founders ever envisioned for the Bill of Rights, and at the expense of American lives. 

In 1791, when the Second Amendment was adopted, the Founders had one thing in mind: To protect the people against a standing army, specifically, the muskets of the British standing army of King George III. The Second and Third Amendments, meant to be read together, were about protecting the people from the tyranny of professional, full-time militaries (much like the one we have now). They were not intended to protect the people from one another. They were not intended to protect the people from AR-15-style weapons. 

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Our Constitution is "the world’s longest surviving written charter of government," according to the Senate's website, but it is far from immutable: "The Constitution has been amended 27 times, most recently in 1992."

In order to get rid of the Second Amendment we'd use Article V of the Constitution, which sets out two options: Congress, through a joint resolution passed by a two-thirds vote, or by a congressional convention after petitions from two-thirds of the state legislatures, could propose the amendment.

I am not the only lawyer to point to the obvious solution. After 14 students and three staff were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018, none other than the late Justice John Paul Stevens called for repealing the Second Amendment in an opinion column in The New York Times. 

It took five decades of campaigning for conservatives to get the constitutional right to abortion overturned in the Supreme Court. Repealing the Second Amendment may look like a long shot today, but if progressives and moderates show up in full force to vote the right people into office over the next couple of decades, nothing is impossible. 

Carli Pierson, a New York licensed attorney, is an opinion writer with USA TODAY, and a member of the USA TODAY Editorial Board. Follow her on Twitter: @CarliPiersonEsq

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Americans can't handle their guns. Time to repeal the 2nd Amendment.

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