Our outdated amendment

It wouldn’t be too radical to suggest the 18th century was very different from the 21st century, but bring up gun control laws and the differences are suddenly inconsequential. A glance at technology’s relentless advance over the past three centuries readily demonstrates the stark contrasts between today’s firearms and the antiquated fire-sticks of an equally antiquated era. The relentless advance has most recently shifted its focus towards non-lethal, or compliance, weapons. This begs one to reconsider gun control issues with a distinctly modern eye. Do tomorrow’s guns change yesterday’s policies? Gun culture isn’t the subtlest cultural facet throughout the South, of which Texas A&M is an ardently enthusiastic constituent. It’s (somewhat) understandably important to people. But a salient feature of American society is the ability to adapt to new technologies and, in the face of a better solution, let go of bygone ways. Gun culture and the Second Amendment of the Constitution dictate that every American has a right to bear arms; devices that, at the time of our nation’s founding, fired solid little balls at 450 meters per second after loading the gun with black powder and ammo at the muzzle end. We’ve had no qualms in applying the Second Amendment to today’s semi-automatic technological marvels, so why stop there? Non-lethal weapons have come a long way, now encompassing everything from mace to the painfully efficient Active Denial System, a military directed-energy weapon capable of sending the most hardened Steven Segal-like tough guy heading for the hills. It does this not by throwing more bullets or puncturing more organs, but by microwaving your skin and causing an unbearable amount of reversible pain. This technology has gone through a barrage of testing and, although it garners its own share of concerns, is in the process of becoming a field weapon in today’s conflicts. There are many other avenues available to develop even more impressive and effective non-lethal arms, using everything from electromagnetic radiation (the Active Denial System) to high-intensity sound waves and even to the already familiar electric shock of the stun gun. Research into non-lethal weapons not only opens a whole new vista of hurting people, it has the chance to replace what may eventually become known as the barbaric modern gun. Each disparate branch of non-lethal weapons demonstrates a modern marriage of physics, physiology and military thought our founding fathers could never fathom and never address through constitutional amendments. Does that mean that for the rest of eternity, we are forced to protect a so-called âÄúdivine rightâÄù to metal bullet propellers, regardless of the evolving definition of ‘arms?’ Imagine an age of non-lethal weapons. Non-lethal weapons could take the over the role of current firearms as self defense and may even be an expedient to justice with current laws having rules against incarcerating corpses. The military has a clearly demonstrated interest and intent in non-lethal weapons and law enforcement has already seen the effectiveness of stun guns. Enthusiasts might get the shorter end of the non-lethal stick, but nothing is stopping them from adapting. Deer hunters can become deer Tasers, though gun hobbyists may have to take the same route guillotine hobbyists were forced to take: extinction. Face it: gun recreation is apparently not a God-given amendment. The bottom line is that personal defense, with a thorough consideration of the principles the United States was founded on, should deem the complete replacement of today’s weapons with non-lethal counterparts a no-brainer. The original intent of arming citizen militias as a defense against government force has become somewhat outdated. Rambo himself couldn’t stop the U.S. government if it went George III on us. What we can do is ensure personal defense becomes a bloodless event using modern, non-lethal technology. Obviously, even non-lethal weapons will see a barrage of criticism and controversy leveled at their sometimes-damaging benignity. Active research into non-lethal weapons will invariably address many of the substantiated qualms against current technologies, as well as provide those of us with pacifistic tendencies a glimmering hope of compromise over the undoubtedly important issue of the citizen’s defense. Second Amendment arguments are seldom the calmest or most straightforward, but people, regardless of their current opinion of guns, should work toward establishing an entirely new class of non-lethal arms, and maybe rid the world of yesterday’s lethal violence. This editorial, accessed via UWire, was originally published in the Texas A&M Batallion. Please send comments to [email protected]