Once again, the Religion News Service has summarized this far more succinctly, but I think it is worth repeating. An editorial in America Magazine (not the most creative name, I know) argues that the Second Amendment should be repealed. Here’s the full article. Some of my favorite moments:
The Constitution is mere human law. It is excellent law, but it is not divine law; it is not revelation. We should be wary of amending the Bill of Rights. We should also be wary of idolizing it. The Constitution is the man-made law of a self-governing people; the people, therefore, are entitled to ask basic, critical questions about it. In our time, is a given constitutional provision a good law or a bad law? Does it promote the common good? The secular dogma of constitutional immutability must yield to careful, critical inquiry.
The world we envision is a world with far fewer guns, a world in which no one has a right to own one. Some people, though far fewer, will still die from gun violence. The disturbing feeling that we have failed to do everything in our power to remove the material cause of their deaths, however, will no longer compound our grief.
And yes, I know it would be easy to read the first paragraph and scoff “Oh, isn’t it ironic that a Catholic writer wants secular dogma to yield to critical inquiry?” Nor does this editorial signal the end of the conversation about guns, particularly within the religious sphere. The larger point is that the author questions the premise of treating the Constitution in the same way that Christians look to Scripture.
In a country where American individualism is too often conflated with Christian truth (exhibit A: 82% of Americans believe the phrase “God helps those who help themselves” is in the Bible. It is so not), this article stands out as one of the few voices willing to undermine that basic mistake.
I’ve said this many times before: the Jesuits have guts.