Whatever its historical merit, the Second Amendment in 2013 is a hindrance that we would be better off without. That every discussion of gun rights has to be mediated through this anachronism is an unmitigated disaster that serves no useful purpose.
Even if it were repealed, the legislatures of the land could not be counted on to produce laws that would help much. The problem is much deeper. It lies in our culture. In the final analysis, culture governs politics.
While Newtown may generate helpful changes in laws and practices, the fundamental transformation that is needed awaits the dissolution of our perverse fascination with guns and our fanatical pursuit of individual rights to the neglect of social responsibility. It waits for the willingness to sacrifice a personal pleasure in owning and shooting instruments of mass murder like assault rifles if it would reduce their availability to criminals and mentally and emotionally sick people.
I do not see any evidence of that basic reordering of ideas, habits, values, and practices yet. I expect that we will continue to be the worst example of child killing with monstrous weapons among the nations we would like to be compared with.
This is a form of American exceptionalism that we cannot be proud of. How many more Newtowns will it take to produce the kairos that is needed, that right and ripe moment when all the preconditions of redemptive transformation are present? Enough, I expect to break our hearts many more times.
See also posts of 12/23/2012 and 1/22/2013