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Read about our most-commented TED Conversation yet

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TED-Conversation-generic-imageAustralian Morgan Barnes posted a TED Conversation discussion question in December that was on many people’s minds: “Has the time come for the U.S. Second Amendment to be repealed or amended?”

Over the next month, TED community members chimed in to voice their opinions nearly 1,400 times. The discussion closed this week, just as President Barack Obama presented his proposal for the most sweeping gun control measures in years. Since this was the most commented-on TED Conversation we’ve hosted so far, we wanted to share with you the results. Below, check out the highlights or head to TED conversations for the full exchange.

Don Levy wrote:

The original premise of the 2nd Amendment is valid and was written to enable citizens to protect themselves from a hostile government. It was also based on the need or desire to have local militia, for which citizens would be able to provide their own weapon — which at the time was a single shot musket. What has gotten completely out of control is the way zealots, especially among those on the pro-gun side of the equation, have corrupted the meaning and intention of the 2nd amendment. I see less of a need to repeal than it is to legislatively update and clarify. It seems clear to me that setting some limitations on what one has the right to own, carry, and use is hardly the same as banning all guns. To hear the NRA, any limitation begins the slippery slope towards taking away the right entirely. If that is truly the case, then what is the legitimacy of any law or regulation? My right to own a car does not also grant me the right to drive it any way I want at any speed. My right to consume alcohol and my right to drive, does not grant me the right to drink and drive. My rights are not being infringed when the greater good of society is protected. Regulating the possession of high-powered weapons and lethal ammunition designed solely to kill other human beings, is not the same as banning all weapons or voiding the second amendment. Given the statistics on gun related deaths here in America, the argument that gun ownership makes us safer rings hollow.

To which Marianne Delongi responded:

What are those statistics, Don?

Don responded:

Here are a few links, including one from the University of Utah Medical Medical School. The blog entry in The Guardian references the FBI and there is also a US Dept. of Justice databank that outlines gun-related homicides versus that by other weapons, with gun use far higher than other weapons. The US also ranks 4th in the world for gun related deaths, behind South Africa, Colombia and Thailand.

Mike Colera added:

Just who are the zealots who have interpreted the Constitution? Those who say the arms in the 2nd Amendment just meant muskets? What about the sabers? Aren’t all weapons high powered in the sense that they can kill human beings? All ammunition is lethal regardless of design…

The frustrating thing for me is that the illegal violence continues albeit, it is supposed to be improving. Yet, the issue of the 2nd repeatedly comes up, restrictions are placed against legal gun owners, and these effects made no appreciable reductions in violent crime. Reductions seemed to have come from more policing efforts and new law enforcement techniques. I am at a loss to understand why some raise this cry for action concerning the 2nd. Over-zealous gun owners cry out that certain elements are out to disarm them and take over the country. Repeated attempts at doing something to the 2nd begins to lend credence to cries of the conspiracy theorists.

Lee-Anna Johnston wrote:

I have been following this conversation from the start and I have come to a couple of conclusions. The point is not about the caliber of a weapon or preventing people from owning weapons, but about the mortality rates in gun crime as opposed to other violent crimes. People get beaten to death too. I am from New Zealand a country that has extremely strict regulations around owning weapons (not a country that bans weapons or prevents decent, sane, non-criminal people from having them), and given that I work within the police/Ministry of Justice field, I have a much better understanding of how many murders occur and how they were killed, so I feel that I am in a position to say that guns are more likely to kill than knives or bare hands because of their lethal nature. The damage to human tissue is extreme. The wounds from a gun shot are also a lot more serious and as someone else mentioned in this discussion. And let’s not forget the survivors who have been shot and left extremely disabled.

I am not telling people they should not own guns, I am saying that the reality is, that in countries where there are a lot more regulations, guns are less likely to be in the wrong hands. Hands of people who go on killing sprees. If you are law-abiding, have had psychological testing that shows a respect for life, do not have a history of violence and you and your family have been interviewed to establish that nobody in your life is afraid of the idea of you owning a weapon, and you can prove that this weapon will be locked up securely when not in use and under no circumstances will any children in the household have access to the weapon/s or the codes/lock to get into the weapons, then by all means, get yourself a gun!!! For me the argument is about “Regulation.” Is that so unreasonable?? Does this infringe on your rights?

John Frum responded:

While I agree with the general idea behind regulation, I don’t like the idea of asking the family if they’re comfortable with you owning guns. That assumes that 1. your family is interested in your well-being, which may not be the case, 2. your family’s idea of your well-being is the same as yours, which may not be the case.

Kate Blake wrote:

What saddens me is the very intense fear that most Americans here are expressing — can I ask you all to honestly look at that? Is the US so dangerous, so life threatening that everyone has a genuine need to own weapons? Or is this fear being perpetuated by manufacturers who gain profit from selling those weapons? Does this fear have any real base?

To which Bob Shingles responded:

Perhaps there is justification for “a very tiny segment of our society” to be in fear when something so simple as the size of sugary drink we can consume is regulated. Some people rightfully fear losing liberty.

I remember a nation with less regulation where I could buy a happy meal in San Francisco. Show me a world where more regulation offers more freedom and I’ll show you a contradiction.

Craig Shamwell wrote:

I will leave this conversation, with some thoughts about our future. And I guess I must ask the question: Where are we going as a society, as a nation, as a species? … At what point do we protect ourselves, from…OURSELVES? While I can disagree with so many of you out there on this issue, I still believe that our government is the answer. We the people have got to become more involved and hold politicians more accountable! But we the people have to be dedicated to not perpetuate a violent society … It is the crux of this thread when all is said and done.

To which, Gary Taylor responded:

I like your ideas for a better future, but people cannot be forced through legislation to follow a certain path to achieve your idea of a better future. People have their own ideas for reaching their goal of a better tomorrow.