Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates ‘Constitutional Right to Bear Arms Has Outlived Its Usefulness’

Kaufman Center, November 14th 2013.

Constitutional Right to Bear Arms Has Outlived Its Usefulness
Constitutional Right to Bear Arms Has Outlived Its Usefulness
Intelligence Squared U.S.
Intelligence Squared U.S.

New York, NY – -( Award-winning NPR series Intelligence Squared U.S. (IQ2US)— the Oxford style debates championing the art of debate and intelligent discussion—will take up one of America’s most hotly contested and timely issues with a panel of some of academia’s top thinkers on November 14th 2013 with “The Constitutional Right to Bear Arms Has Outlived Its Usefulness.”

Recent mass shooting tragedies have renewed the national debate over the 2nd Amendment. Gun ownership and homicide rates are higher in the U.S. than in any other developed nation, but gun violence has decreased over the last two decades even as gun ownership may be increasing. Over 200 years have passed since James Madison introduced the Bill of Rights. The country has changed and so have its guns.

Is the right to bear arms now at odds with the common good, or is it as necessary today as it was in 1789?

Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz with University of Texas Law and Government Professor Sanford Levinson will argue for the motion. David Kopel, Research Director of the Independence Institute and Associate Policy Analyst with the Cato Institute will argue against the motion with UCLA Law Professor, Eugene Volokh.

  • WHAT: Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates “The Constitutional Right to Bear Arms Has Outlived Its Usefulness”
  • WHEN: Thursday, November 14, 2013 / Reception 5:45-6:30 / Debate 6:45-8:30 PM
  • WHERE: Kaufman Center/129 W. 67th Street (bet. Broadway and Amsterdam)/New York, NY 10023
  • TICKETS: $40 ($12 for students w/ ID). To purchase, visit

The debate will take place in front of a live audience at Kaufman Center in New York City. Before the debate, audience members will vote on the motion; afterward, the audience votes again. The team that moves the most voters to its side will be the winning team in this provocative debate.

Winner of the 2013 Silver Radio Award for Best Public Affairs Program and named one of “Five Podcasts that Will Change the Way You Think” by Forbes Intelligence Squared U.S. was founded in New York City in 2006 by Robert Rosenkranz, and has grown into an internationally syndicated series heard and watched by millions. The debates have attracted some of the world's top thinkers including Paul Krugman, Karl Rove, Malcolm Gladwell, Alan Dershowitz, Peter Thiel and Arianna Huffington. Intelligence Squared U.S. has presented 80 debates on a wide range of provocative topics including global warming, genetically engineered babies, science refuting God, and legalizing drugs. Author and ABC News correspondent John Donvan has moderated IQ2US since 2008. The executive producer is Dana Wolfe.

  • 9 thoughts on “Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates ‘Constitutional Right to Bear Arms Has Outlived Its Usefulness’

    1. Matthew,
      You made some very valid points before you went off the rails. It is absolutely correct that our Founders were clear, our rights come from God and/or nature, not government. If the 2A didn’t exist, the argument for already established rights could still be made. It would, however, be on equal footing with those who argued against them. The Bill of Rights granted nothing but it did prohibit government from infringing on those rights, at least for a while. My point is that, while the Bill of Rights doesn’t really guarantee anything, it does act as a roadblock for an ever encroaching government. It has, therefore, been extremely important to the freedoms that Americans fight constantly to keep.

    2. Ghost of Jefferson, just to say it, when you respond and cay that I’m wrong, then it helps to actually say why, instead of spending your time putting me down.

      Superfluous means unnecessary. If we did not have a 2nd amendment, then we would be in better shape than we are by having it. The laws that are on the books are based on the Interstate Commerce Clause, and are unconstitutional. We need to be fighting this on the basis that the laws are invalid because they have no constitutional foundation.

    3. Obamba boy has on a number occasions said that he backs the 2nd very much so and yet has at every turn tried to eliminate the guns then we know he is anti gun, he is also anti constitution. What we have in the W/H is a dictator plain and simple all one has to do is look at hoe he is doing things to the country NOT for the country. He made a statement back before he was even a senator and that was “people do NOT have the right to own guns.” he said that when he was at college. Look at how he is and has been pushing the anti gun bills, he is using the kids by saying it is for the kids, well that is just a bunch of bunk. As proof of what he is doing look at what has been happening to gun collectors and people like that, bamba’s people are going into homes and taking the guns out of the hands of the law abiding, if that is NOT bring a dictator then what is.

    4. Since the constitution was based on individual rights it was infered that we had the right to self defence.However the majority of states needed more assurances that they could keep the newly formed federal government from over powering the states.That is why the constitution had to be sent back to be amended.Thus they came back with the first ten Bill of Rights.It was no accident that the second amendment was second on their list.If the colonists hadn’t had arms to oppose the British there wouldn’t have been a revolution.Not only did the people distrust the British, they distrusted all powerful government.They wanted law, but not all powerful government.If the new government became too powerful and prevented them from pursuing happiness, they needed the means to cast off the bonds that tied them together and reinstitute a new government that more suited their objectives.If these ideals are not as important today as they were back then, then I think we have lost are morel compass.The second amendment to me is like money in the bank.You have it just in case you need it.

    5. If the “common good” is higher crime rates as demonstrated in hundreds of countries without the individual’s “right to bear arms” – If the common good is to empower the bad guys/criminals while taking away the defenses of the good guys/law-abiding citizens – If the common good is depending on the police / government to protect you even though they have proven time and again they are not up to the challenge, then by all means, do away with the 2nd Amendment – right after you eliminate the 1st Amendment and just before you eliminate the entire Constitution. Since the turd with ears doesn’t care about the Constitution, as appears to be the case with most if not all democrats, let us openly declare this supposed democratic Republic and nation of laws to be a dictatorship and let’s have a new dictator who actually knows how to do something besides lie while make speeches and play golf.

    6. “Superfluous” ??? Buddy, if the 2nd Amendment is superfluous to the Constitution .. That’s like saying the fingers are superfluous to the Hand.

      I don’t know where to begin correcting this thing that you’ve said.

      Instead I’ve decided to write you a poem:

      I once had a good friend named Matt
      who wasn’t particularly Fat,
      except in the Head,
      As his joy turned to Dread
      when he mistook his Bill of Rights for a Bed.

    7. Just two things.

      1. We do not have a constitutional right to bear arms. The Right to bear arms pre-dates the Constitution and does not rely on that document for it’s existence. The 2nd is superfluous at best, and dangerous at worst, because the right was primarily protected by not enumerating it in with the rights granted to allow the Constitution to exist.

      2. Just a technical note: James Madison did introduce the Bill of Rights, but it was over his objections. He was required to do this to get the states to ratify the Constitution, and the wording was eventually his, but the larger concepts were not. The Bill of Rights was based on a number of other Bills of Rights authored in England, and each state submitted a slightly different version which Madison coalesced into the amendments we have now.

      The entire question that the team will address is based on fallacies, misunderstandings, and the wrongheaded idea that the Constitution grants the people rights.

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