Substitutes for the Second Amendment

One of the purposes of the 2nd Amendment was to protect the people from government tyranny. The most important aspect of this was probably not to arm the public per se but rather to minimize the necessity and use of a standing army. Unfortunately, Americans have long gone from fearing standing armies to loving them. So isn’t it time for an additional or substitute amendment? Given the immense changes since the founding what amendments would best protect the people from tyranny today? Here are some possibilities:

  • The right of the people not to bear arms shall not be infringed (i.e. no conscription. Requiring someone to bear arms, thus taking all of their freedom, is a far worse example of tyranny than preventing them from bearing arms.)
  • If 1/3rd or more of the Supreme Court rule that a law is unconstitutional it shall be unconstitutional. (Greater protection of minority rights).
  • Congress shall pass no law abridging the right of the people to encrypt their documents and effects. (Modern supplement to the fourth amendment.)

Other ideas?

The 2nd Amendment does have an important (unique?) advantage in protecting against tyranny namely that the right is self-enforcing, it creates the conditions, an armed public, which make the right difficult to abrogate. To some extent, free speech works in a similar way but “you’ll have to take my gun from my cold, dead hands” is a bigger threat than “you’ll have to take my free speech over my objections.” Are there are other self-enforcing amendments?

Hat tip for discussion to Bryan Caplan.


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