The school shooting in Newtown, Conn., once again highlights the need for such sensible gun control measures as restoring the ban on assault rifles and eliminating the gun show loophole for background checks ("What must be done," Dec. 26).
The key factor that distinguishes the U.S. from other countries that have far lower murder rates is not mental health or video games but the availability of guns.
Beyond those steps, however, it's time to repeal the Second Amendment. The amendment states, "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."
This amendment made perfect sense when it was adopted in 1791. The U.S. had no standing army, and untrained militias comprised of citizen-soldiers bearing their own muskets were considered crucial to national defense.
The next major conflict, the War of 1812, showed how inadequate such militias were in confronting trained regular troops. The U.S. has long since outlived any need for citizen militias. Our armed forces are second to none and our defense budget nearly equals those of the rest of the world combined.
Just as the 18th Amendment was repealed by the 21st Amendment after Prohibition led to an explosion of crime, the Second Amendment, whose misinterpretation has resulted in the highest murder rate in the industrialized world, must go.
Repealing the Second Amendment would not in itself ban a single gun but it would remove the legal pretext of gun ownership as an entitlement. That would open the way for us to determine when gun ownership makes sense — such as for licensed hunters and target shooters, neither of whom require semiautomatic weapons — and when it doesn't.
Ron Meservey, Columbia