The right to bear arms

The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution, adopted on December 15, 1791 (part of the first ten amendments to the constitution, collectively known as the Bill of Rights), protects the right of individuals to keep and bear arms.

Effectively this means an individual can own guns for their personal use and for use in the militia. Whilst upholding the Second Amendment, The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the right is not unlimited and does not prohibit all regulation of either firearms or similar devices. State and local governments are limited to the same extent as the federal government from infringing this right.

Before the Bill of Rights, in countries with an English common law tradition, the long standing right to keep and bear arms was recognised, as pre-existing in common law, prior even to the existence of written national constitutions. In Australia, such rights are not legislated; in fact, it is just the opposite. We have no right to own guns for private use, with few exceptions, and each firearm of any description requires registration.

What the second amendment has become is a thorn in the side of legislators trying to control gun related violence.

Our Starts at Sixty publisher, Rebecca Wilson, posted a picture from the USA of a Christmas gift available from Walmart – look and weep. Pretty isn’t it? A pink gun makes it so much more acceptable to a young woman don’t you think?

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I find this photo terrifying! We lived on a farm as kids and Dad had a gun to deal with vermin. We all knew where the gun was kept and that the area was out of bounds. Yet even so, my father always so careful to check the gun was not loaded, and to hide the bullets, managed one day to put a bullet through the floor as he picked up the gun. Even as semi-rural-dwelling kids, we never received our own guns for Christmas, not even pretty pink ones!

Comedian Chris Rock is well known for his raw comedy. I am not a fan; I prefer more subtle comedy, with no blasphemy and coarse words. So why am I quoting him in an article about the right to bear arms? Because his Saturday Night Live rant makes perfect sense to me:

“You don’t need no gun control, you know what you need? We need some bullet control. Men, we need to control the bullets, that’s right. I think all bullets should cost five thousand dollars… five thousand dollars per bullet… You know why? Cause if a bullet cost five thousand dollars there would be no more innocent bystanders.

Yeah! Every time somebody get shot we’d say, ‘Damn, he must have done something … ****, he’s got fifty thousand dollars worth of bullets in his ***.’

And people would think before they killed somebody if a bullet cost five thousand dollars. ‘Man I would blow your ******* head off…if I could afford it’. ‘I’m gonna get me another job, I’m going to start saving some money, and you’re a dead man. You’d better hope I can’t get no bullets on layaway” 

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So effectively Chris Rock says “don’t change the constitution” – people can bear arms to their hearts content – BUT they have to pay heavily for their bullets. Now that is lateral thinking! The Second Amendment confers the right to bear arms; it does not offer a price guarantee.

I started this blog before the tragic events in Martin Place and then I hesitated to finish and publish it. Please read it in the spirit in which it is written, an opinion. It is not a commentary on current events.


What do you think, will Chris Rock’s $5,000 bullets reduce the gun crime in the USA? If so, why? And if not, what is another solution?