The Second Amendment Education Act is a response to zero-tolerance laws that have punished children for such gun-related references as breakfast-pastry-shapes and fictional stories about shooting dinosaurs. South Carolina legislator Alan Clemmons proposed that, to counter-balance such extremes, schools needed to ensure that children knew about the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. While most people might agree that students need to be aware of the entire Bill of Rights, Clemmons’ Education Act goes to extremes on a number of levels.
First, the Second Amendment Education Act would require the information to be taught every year, and the curriculum would focus on the Second Amendment, presumably to the exclusion of others. It requires students to participate in poster and essay contests centering around the right to bear arms. The instruction would be required to cover a period of three weeks — that’s three weeks on one constitutional amendment, out of a 36 week school year.
The curriculum is also required to cover “the impact of legislative reactions to gun violence on Constitutional rights and the impact on reducing gun violence, if any.”
Essentially, opponents to the legislation say, the Second Amendment is, by this bill, elevated to a higher level of importance and greater focus than any other portion of the Bill of Rights, responding to apparent overreactions at the merest thought of a weapon with a greater overreaction in the opposite direction.
There is a still more startling aspect to the law: the curriculum is required to be “developed or recommended by the National Rifle Association.” Participation in the coursework would be a requirement for graduation.
On Clemmons’ Facebook page, constituents are airing their dissent.
Overall, the comments are strongly opposed to the Second Amendment curriculum, but even among supporters, the suggestion that the curriculum should cover the entire Bill of Rights, rather than a single amendment, is a common theme.
Clemmons has responded to a few comments. When one woman compared the curriculum to Nazi Germany, Clemmons answered, saying that Hitler started by taking away guns from citizens. Another commenter referenced the Militia Act of 1792, leading Clemmons to refer her to the Supreme Court opinions in the cases of Heller and McDonald — two cases in which restrictive handgun laws were determined to violate the Second Amendment, according to PBS. The decision in District of Columbia v. Heller in particular, affirmed the individual right to gun ownership, outside the “militia” whose definition has been the subject of debate.
Overall, there seems to be no consensus that the Second Amendment Education Act is necessary in order to prevent zero-tolerance excesses. Instead, there seems to be a widespread agreement that students would be better served by a course on the Constitution as a whole, or at least covering the entire Bill of Rights.
[photo credit: hardwarehank]