Second Amendment Discussed for Constitution

Ashley Elston

Staff Writer

Hudson Valley honored Constitution Day this Sep. 17 by discussing the history and importance of the Second Amendment, which grants the right to bear arms. Robert Whitaker and Alan Joseph, both assistant professors of history, philosophy, and social sciences at Hudson Valley, led the two-hour discussion in the BTC.

Whitaker said, “The Second Amendment tends to go to court at times of crisis or unrest. Times when there is a major crime.” The right to own various types of weapons such as machine guns, short-barreled shotguns, and grenades was restricted in the aftermath of Prohibition when organized crime rate was high.

“At the time the Second Amendment was written, the people were armed with muskets,” said Whitaker. “Does the appearance of the right to bear arms in the Constitution give someone the right to go buy a tank or a drone?”

“The idea of people having weapons is as old as our country,” said Joseph. He continued, “There are certain limits to what the arms may be. A handgun, a rifle that’s okay, but an automatic assault weapon, no.”

One Hudson Valley student asked during the Q&A portion of the discussion if there was any way that Congress would be able to repeal the Second Amendment. Joseph answered, “Well we have an amendment process. but my bet is that it’s not going to go anywhere.”

“Most proposed constitutional amendments fail,” said Whitaker.

While the Second Amendment gives Americans the right to bear arms, not everyone exercises this right and not everyone can. “Even with the Second Amendment, there are going to be people who will not be allowed to own or bear arms. That will not violate the Second Amendment,” said Whitaker

“I think you could look at all the history and say that our understanding of the constitutional right to bear arms is constantly changing,” said Whitaker. “It meant something in 1791, it meant something else in the 1820s, it meant something a little different in the 1930s and today its meaning has changed again.”

Whitaker and Joseph, who have been doing the Constitution Day discussion for years now, explained that, as an American, knowing the Constitution is important. Whitaker said, “You don’t have to love it, you don’t have to like it, but it is absolutely important to understand the Constitution.”

“Everyone should know their rights,” Joseph agreed.

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