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The second amendment is well known and cherished by most Americans but, like all of our constitution and history, it is always worthy of review and discussion:

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.

People will debate until they are red and blue in the face about interpreting this sentence. Some will point out “well regulated militia” and demand regulations or only allowing firearms for those who are engaged in public service. Others will point out the part about “shall not be infringed,” and stand firm on the tradition of the document. 

The vast majority of us fall far more comfortably in the bell curve.

Some folks will suggest, imply, or even state, that our founders never considered modern firearms. Which assumes they were unaware of weapon development of their own era.

Puckle Guns and pepperbox pistols and all other manner of technological growth would not have escaped the notice of the generals, colonels, men of study, and tacticians of every ilk, to be met in any room the Founders gathered.

Wherever one stands, one can see it’s no longer as cut and dry as it once was. When it was written, appropriate resources could allocate to citizens the same tools of war—or better—than what was government-issued. 

Today, an average American cannot simply purchase and maintain the actual tools of warfare. Firearms certainly, but not modern tanks, nor explosives, nor ships,  nor submarines, nor bombers, nor cruise missiles, nor nuclear/biological/chemical weapons, et al and ad nauseam. 

So we know it can already be infringed, it just has to be a damn good reason. Like not letting Earl down the street napalm his yard because mowing it is a pain. Or cruising the central business district in a loaded M1A2 Abrams.

Prerequisites for denying a constitutional right.

We all know there are exceptions to every rule. One can NOT yell fire falsely—or incite a riot, or threaten harm—and expect their first amendment right to protect them.

There are conditions which disqualify a resident of this incredible slice of terra firma from legal firearm ownership. Preventing them perhaps from exercising even their (evidently questionably) inalienable right to self-defense and denying them the joy of skill development and training. Like any other tool, these disqualifications can be used well and for the public good, or unjustly to specific gains.

Fugitives and felons. 

Anyone dishonorably discharged. 

Drug addicts. 

Anyone adjudicated as “mentally defective.”

Anyone who renounces citizenship.

Non-US citizens.

Stalkers/the recipient of a restraining order.

Domestic abusers.

That last one is important for a number of reasons. Approximately 1 in 4 women and 1-9 men experience domestic violence (that is 42 million women and nearly 18 million men) per year, and it is costing over 8 million paid workdays (Exceeding $8.3 billion in costs. The equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs). Most experts agree that it is a public health issue. One that is associated often with a correlation in other criminal/unethical behavior.  (Stats courtesy of NCADV.org) 

That bears unpacking. Roughly 60,000,000 Americans currently alive will experience domestic violence in their life. If there's a gun available when it happens, the odds of being shot increase fivefold. It’s also the call that gets more officers shot on duty than any other. So the cost-benefit analysis makes this restriction reasonably arguable. Better still, it allegedly applies to those who carry a weapon in the line of duty, and that’s important because…

Domestic violence is 22-41% more prevalent in the homes of police families than amongst the general public.

If that restriction did apply to officers, where is the news of the thousands of police that have been disarmed?

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, there are approximately 12,000,000 cases of domestic violence that occur each year. That puts the rate of DV in the US at 3,636 victims per 100,000 residents. 5 times the national rate for herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and aids and syphilis combined. (Approximately 700 per 100,000 for the above STDs)

With approximately 700,000 sworn and active officers in the United States, if 55% are married (American average as of 2006), and even if we don’t account for the greater prevalence in police homes, that should amount to nearly 14,000 disarmed police officers every single year. 

I’d ask why the hypocrisy, but it is a wildly tangled web of defunded education, white nationalist misinformation, colonial imperialism, and toxic patriarchy that most often leads both to domestic violence and to the propensity for police to “get away with it.” Injuring innumerable Americans without recourse.

The Cure

Unfortunately, as with most of societies’ more complex issues, there is no quick or easy solution. 

Everyone, but particularly those who carry professionally, needs better access to mental healthcare. Since it is a public health issue, it has to be inclusively available. Not just to those who can afford it.

Funding needs to go toward better training. Both in police de-escalation and in healthy coping mechanisms.  

We need to practice reaching out, and encouraging both dialogue and getting support as often as needs be, without shame. We need to be able to talk to each other empathetically, respecting our differences so long as they don’t fly in the face of scientific consensus, public wellbeing, personal agency, and autonomy.

The job of a peace officer is an impossible and often thankless task, rife with pitfalls and all kinds of peril. If we want to help them, we have to reform the structure in which they operate. Otherwise, well, we get out what we put into it.