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The Contender
Con (against)

The Second Amendment should be repealed

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Started: 9/10/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 1,636 times Debate No: 95332
Debate Rounds (4)
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NOTE: I prefer to go up against an experienced debater. If you want to accept this debate and have not completed more than 20 debates or have an ELO score below 2500, please post in the comment section before you accept.

Resolved: The Second Amendment to the United State's Constitution should be repealed.


Second Amendment: The second amendment and part of the Bill of Rights which reads, "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."

Should: Should implies that we have some obligation to do so on the basis of the evidence presented. As such, this debate implies that there is a moral and/or legal obligation to repeal the second amendment.

Repeal: the removal or reversal of a law.


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Thanks in advance to whoever accepts this debate.
Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank 16kadams for accepting this debate. It is a pleasure to be debating you and I am glad we can debate this topic.


In this debate, I will attempt to show three things: 1) That gun control is effective; 2) That the 2A restricts any meaningful gun legislation; and 3) That the current gun culture is out of control and that the 2A only contributes to this issue. For those reasons, the 2A should be repealed.

Gun control is effective

Research has shown time and time again that gun control measures are effective. For example, a paper that was published in 2015 in Epidemiological Review found “Evidence from 130 studies in 10 countries suggests that in certain nations the simultaneous implementation of laws targeting multiple firearms restrictions is associated with reductions in firearm deaths. Laws restricting the purchase of (e.g., background checks) and access to (e.g., safer storage) firearms are also associated with lower rates of intimate partner homicides and firearm unintentional deaths in children, respectively. Limitations of studies include challenges inherent to their ecological design, their execution, and the lack of robustness of findings to model specifications.” [1]

According to a report by The Lancet, universal background checks will reduce firearm deaths from 10.3 to 4.6 per 100,000 people; Background checks for ammunition purchases, which could reduce the mortality rate to 1.99 deaths per 100,000 people; and Firearm identification, by either microstamping or ballistic fingerprinting, which could reduce the death rate to 1.81 per 100,000 people. [2]

After Australia passed sweeping gun control legislation in 1999, studies show that there has been a significant decrease in crimes and homicides [3, 4, and 5]. Fiona MacDonald notes: “ [R]eview of gun control laws in more than 10 countries over the past 60 years, published back in March, showed compelling evidence that the tighter legislation reduced firearm deaths.” [5]

Rights are not absolute

The United States is the one of a handful of countries in the entire world that etches the right to own guns in its Constitution (the others being Mexico, Haiti, and Guatemala [6] )

As Rolling Stones noted: “The liberty of some to own guns cannot take precedence over the liberty of everyone to live their lives free from the risk of being easily murdered. It has for too long, and we must now say no more.” [7]

My right to life and to be safe trumps any right to own a firearm.

2A Impedes Progress

The main problem with the 2A is that it impedes any progress on mass shootings and violence in the United States. In fact, more people have died of gun violence since 1968 than than on battlefields of all the wars in American history combined. [8, 9]

The 2A impedes progress by limiting what, if anything, that the Government can do to help curb gun violence. Furthermore, because of the long history of the 2A, guns have become part of the American psyche and American culture. In order to make any substantial progress, we must eliminate the culture of guns. Repealing the 2A would be a helpful start.


In summary, the second amendment should be repealed if we want to make progress on curbing gun violence in the USA. The United States is the one of two countries in the world that etches the right to own firearms into its constitution (the other being Mexico). Gun control is an effective way to reduce violence and crime. The 2A impedes on any meaningful gun legislation. Therefore, the 2A should be repealed. The right to life and the right to safety trumps any right to own firearms.

I now turn it over to con.

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The Moral Right to Keep and Bear Arms

The following argument is taken from Bernstein’s et al. argument in favour of gun ownership.[1]

1. If x is a reasonable means of self-defence, then people have a prima facie right to be allowed to own x.

2. Firearms are a reasonable means of self-defence.


3. People have a prima facie right to be allowed to own firearms.

Each of these premises are straightforward and will be explained in depth.

Premise 1.

P1 assumes the right to self-defence exists as a natural right; that is, individuals have the right to protect themselves or their property when being aggressed against. Indeed, if people have a prima facie right to live, people ought to have the ability to secure such a right. As individuals can only secure their right to life if they have the means necessary to defend themselves against individuals (or state actors) aggressing against them, it follows that the right to life ensures the right to self-defence.

Of course, a right is meaningless if no one has the right to pursue it. Since the existence of a right entails the existence of the means to obtain what is needed for the rights-bearer, a right to self-defence entails the right to gun ownership. Indeed, a right to something—in this case, self-defence—means nothing if one lacks the means to utilise what is entitled.

Take the right to free speech, for example. Imagine if the state told the New York Times that they were not allowed to have any money. While their publishing operations have not been prohibited, their ability to publish has ceased to exist. Or, in another example, assume the state affirmed the right to free speech, but didn’t allow their population to get educated. In this situation, the state would not be truly affirming the right to free publication, as the means for publication is severely restricted. In other words, by affirming the end of a right—in his case, self-defence a right to life—one must also affirm the means to pursue that end.

To quote Bernstein et al., “A state that refuses to protect the prerequisite conditions of human flourishing cannot be said to respect human flourishing itself.”

In sum, if individuals have the right to self-defence, they also have the right to be allowed to own tools as a means for their defence.

The argument is strengthened in that it emphasizes reasonable self-defence. Indeed, any tool that is protected by this argument must be an equalizer. While a baseball bat may be an effective tool for someone like myself—a 6’1” 210 pound male—it would not be adequate for (most) women or the elderly. As physical disparities between victims and aggressors are very real, it follows that there is a real interest in allowing individuals to own weapons.

Therefore, any means for self-defence must be reliable and effective. With this, on to premise two.

Premise 2.

To begin this argument, let’s presume guns were eradicated from our society. Neither criminals nor the average citizen has access to any form of firearm. Joanna, a teenage female, only has a knife with which to defend herself. Bob, a young male, breaks into the house, also with a knife to commit the crime. Bob, who is physically stronger than Joanna, quickly subdues here and proceeds to sexually violate her and robs her home when he is done.

In this situation, the only way to dissuade her attacker is to enter into a physical altercation which, even if successful in fighting off her attacker, puts her at a serious risk for injury. If the example is slightly changed to that Joanna could own a firearm, the situation changes dramatically.

If Joanna has the ability to own a firearm, it would be possible for her to end the situation without any physical contact. Even if Bob enters the home with a firearm, and both of them are armed equally, physical strength is now irrelevant—whoever comes out on top relies on who is a more skilled firearms, and there’s no reason to presume Bob is any better at shooting than Jane is. In the scenario where both are armed with guns, the playing field is equal.

Therefore, guns are both reliable and effective, meeting the criteria from premise 1.

The hypothetical above is backed up by reams of scientific evidence.

Numerous studies have found the defensive benefits of gun use. According to one literature review, “[s]tudies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns … have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.”[2]

Indeed, defending oneself with a gun is more effective than other methods of resistance and non-resistance, with passivity being the worst option, and resistance with a gun being the best method for defence. One study found “victim gun use was the resistance strategy most strongly and consistently associated with successful outcomes for robbery victim.”[3]

A study by Lawence Southwick found women who resisted with a firearm were four times more likely to escape without injury and even men were less likely to be injured. Specifically with women, he writes “[i]t would appear that having a gun really does result in equalizing a woman with a man.”[4]

A study reviewing 16 forms of self-defence found “a variety of mostly forceful tactics, including resistance with a gun, appeared to have the strongest effects in reducing the risk of injury.”[5]

Indeed, both logically and empirically it has been demonstrated that gun ownership is, indeed, a “reasonable means of self-defence.” As this second premise is only concerned with the efficacy of defensive gun usage, it has nothing to do with the public health concerns. Even if my opponent can prove guns, on balance, threaten public health, it has no bearing on this philosophically argument.

Premise 3. People have a prima facie right to be allowed to own firearms.

And, as the third premise flows directly from the first two—and the first two have been validated—this argument is, therefore, logically valid.

Examples Where the Second Amendment Improves Public Health

“Hot” Versus “Cold” Burglaries

If burglars can be convinced to rob unoccupied homes or of non-residential properties, this would be a social benefit even if the overall rate of robbery does not change. “Hot” burglaries—or burglaries where a criminal breaks into a home while it is occupied—leads to a higher risk of assault, murder, and other violent crimes. A “cold” burglary is one where a criminal breaks into a home or property that is unoccupied. While neither one of these situations are optimal, cold burglaries are less-confrontational and are therefore preferable if one has to choose.

Many scholars have argued that gun ownership reduces the number of hot burglaries because criminals would rather not encounter an armed citizen. If this were true, this possible benefit would accrue to all citizens because criminals can’t tell which home is armed and which isn’t. In other words, everyone benefits.

Data seems to back up this basic theory. In the United Kingdom, where firearm ownership is either banned or strictly regulated, 43% of burglaries occur when someone is in the home. In the Netherlands, 48% of homes are occupied at the time of a home invasion. In Toronto, 44% of burglaries are hot, and 21% of burglaries led to a confrontation between the criminal and the victim. In the United States, only 13% of burglaries are hot.[6]

Thus, guns serve as a deterrent for hot burglaries.

Concealed Carry Laws

Economists who study crime assume criminals are rational. Like law abiding citizens, criminals respond to costs and benefits. People consume less of a product when the cost is higher; similarly, criminals commit less crime when the cost increases. Concealed Carry Laws (CCLs) increase the cost of committing crime because the chance a criminal runs into a law-abiding citizen increases. Therefore, according to the theory, liberal concealed carry laws would reduce crime by deterring criminals.

The majority of peer-refereed papers on this subject (albeit to varying degrees) support the deterrence hypothesis. As of 2010, 16 studies found CCLs reduced violent crime; only ten found no effect and zero found right-to-carry laws increased crime. However, many of the studies finding no effect—when their data is corrected for—find significant decreases in violent crime as well.[7]


(Lott 1997, Lott and Mustard 1997, Lott 2010)

Four of the more famous studies purporting to debunk the CCL-crime linkage (Black and Nagin, Duggan, Luwig, Ayres and Donahue) aren’t as powerful as they may look. Out of 113 coefficients reported by these critics, 56 of them find decreases in crime, only 2 show an increase, and 55 imply no impact.[8] In other words, the CCL reduces crime hypothesis is confirmed half of the time even by studies critical of the link!


The moral case to keep and bear arms protected by the second amendment remains relevant today as it is based on self-protection. On the utilitarian front, there are many cases where guns do make us safer. Therefore, the resolution has been negated.

1. C’Zar Bernstein, Tim Hsiao, and Matt Palumbo. “The Moral Right to Keep and Bear Arms,” Public Affairs Quarterly 29(4) (2015): 345.


3. Gary Kleck and Miriam Delone. “Victim Resistance and Offender Weapon Effects in Robbery,” Journal of Quantitative Criminology 9 (1993): 71.


5. Gary Kleck. and Jongyeon Tark. “Resisting Crime: The Effect of Victim Action on the Outcomes of Crimes.” Criminology 42(4) (2004): 861.

6. Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control (New York: Adine De Gruyter, 1997), 183.

7. John R. Lott, More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws (The University of Chicago Press, 2010), 284.

8. John R. Lott, The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You’ve Heard About Guns is Wrong (Regnery Publishing, 2003), 235.

Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by ThinkBig 2 years ago
I'm trying to get the debate reset
Posted by 16kadams 2 years ago
I wrote a rebuttal to this as well I just can't use it haha
Posted by 16kadams 2 years ago
Posted by Smithereens 2 years ago
The first systematic review of the literature occurred in 2016 tho.
Posted by fire_wings 2 years ago
get wrecked
Posted by ShabShoral 2 years ago
rip thinkbig
Posted by fire_wings 2 years ago
This is gonna be a great debate.
Posted by missmozart 2 years ago
Round 1
16k: "Fine"

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