The Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution is likewise vestigial: it used to provide the basis for arming a universal militia, in which every adult citizen served as a matter of law, but since that system broke down and was replaced by the National Guard, the Second Amendment no longer serves a purpose. Some people say that it guarantees an individual right to gun ownership, and it may indeed. However, that was not its purpose. And that is what makes it vestigial.
America is very sick right now. It is sick of gun violence. It is sick of the slaughter of masses of innocent people. It is particularly sick of its impotent division in the face of this slaughter. One side wants gun control; the other side is all guns and undisciplined, open-carry nonsense.
In this case--unlike an appendix--the vestigial Second Amendment has made America very sick not because the amendment itself is sick, but because it has lost its original purpose.
And--also unlike an appendix, which must be removed when it gets sick--a vestigial amendment can be returned to health if it is restored to its original purpose. And given the impasse between the two sides that shows every sign of getting worse and worse (I saw a tweet today that said that the two sides would erupt into a war), it seems to me that someone somewhere should be talking about doing that.
One of the things that's making us sick is that we no longer act like we are the government. The government is something other than us, even if we elect our representatives. This is particularly pronounced on the Tea Party right, which has tossed out the traditional conservative reverence for state and local government, and which regards even such traditional civic solutions as public education with undisguised scorn.
In this fevered atmosphere we should remember that the most universal governmental institution of the early Republic--the one in which the entire public of the time (adult white male) was involved--was the militia. You might not have enough property to vote, but you had to serve in the militia--by law. None of this volunteer garbage. This meant that there was one universal arm of government in which everyone participated, and which provided a check on the power of elected or appointed officials.
Today, with the definition of citizen broadened to include everyone of both sexes, universal militia service would provide a common bond of civic duty unparalleled in the nation's history. Don't tell me that wouldn't make a difference.
I tell my gun control friends: stop talking about gun control. Instead, revive/update the militia law of 1792 by requiring all citizens to be armed, then regulate! The Second Amendment allowed it then, and it allows it now.
- Don't want to have a gun? Pay a tax, the same as people who don't want Affordable Care pay the mandate. Those taxes would pay for the administration of the militia system. Reduce or eliminate your tax by participating in the "peace militia" that would perform a wide variety of public services.
- How many people should have semi-automatic weapons? That's a military decision to be made by militia commanders in each state. Only those authorized for military purposes would have them.
- Concealed or open carry would be not be based on individual whim but would be subject to military regulations established by each state militia.
- Require semi-annual (at least) inspection, drill, and firearm education (especially safety) of all gun-bearing citizens.
- Those buying or selling firearms contrary to militia regulations for registration, fitness, etc., would be treated as insurrectionists.
- Make the militia relevant by giving it a hard purpose: dissolve the National Guard, stand down most of the standing army, and demilitarize the police.
These are only a few examples of the kinds of things that are possible with a Second Amendment well-regulated militia. Right now we are living practically in a state of anarchy when it comes to firearms. Change the culture. Let the Second Amendment be the Second Amendment.
Or you can keep on doing like you're doing and either not get anything done or do something half-assed and not address the real problem.