Tag Archives: Second Amendment

Guns–A Meditation

Once again, Americans are talking about guns in the wake of an unspeakable tragedy. There is little I can add to the outpouring of conflicting opinions, but after digesting a fair number of them, and for what it may be worth, I will share my perspective.

Bear with me.

  • There are 300 million guns in this country. We aren’t going to get rid of them–couldn’t if we tried. Furthermore, the vast majority of gun owners are responsible people–hunters, sportsmen, people hoping to protect their homes. It’s true that a significant number of the 30,000 plus gun deaths in America each year involve those responsible owners: suicides, domestic abuse, children accidentally shooting themselves or others. These deaths are tragic, but I’d draw an analogy to highway deaths–we don’t ban or confiscate cars because they can be lethal.
  • If we continue with the car analogy, however, there are lessons to be learned. We don’t let just anyone drive; in order to get a license you must pass a test. Your license can be revoked if you repeatedly break the rules. Academics study traffic deaths and issue recommendations for making our roadways safer–and legislatures, by and large, take those recommendations seriously. With guns, Congress has prohibited government from funding research on gun violence, and state lawmakers are constantly attacking and rolling back even the most reasonable firearm regulations. Congress even refused to pass a measure that would have prohibited individuals on the no-fly list–people with demonstrable connections to ISIS–from owning guns.
  • The history and interpretation of the Second Amendment has been twisted beyond recognition. If self-proclaimed “originalists” are really interested in the original meaning of the Amendment (I have my doubts), they might find this explanation by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens edifying.
  • Stevens entire explanation should be read for a full understanding of the history of the Second Amendment and Supreme Court cases interpreting it, but a couple of paragraphs are illuminating.

For more than 200 years following the adoption of that amendment, federal judges uniformly understood that the right protected by that text was limited in two ways: First, it applied only to keeping and bearing arms for military purposes, and second, while it limited the power of the federal government, it did not impose any limit whatsoever on the power of states or local governments to regulate the ownership or use of firearms. Thus, in United States v. Miller, decided in 1939, the court unanimously held that Congress could prohibit the possession of a sawed-off shotgun because that sort of weapon had no reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a “well regulated Militia.”…During the years when Warren Burger was chief justice, from 1969 to 1986, no judge or justice expressed any doubt about the limited coverage of the amendment, and I cannot recall any judge suggesting that the amendment might place any limit on state authority to do anything….

Thus, Congress’s failure to enact laws that would expand the use of background checks and limit the availability of automatic weapons cannot be justified by reference to the Second Amendment or to anything that the Supreme Court has said about that amendment. What the members of the five-justice majority said in those opinions is nevertheless profoundly important, because it curtails the government’s power to regulate the use of handguns that contribute to the roughly 88 firearm-related deaths that occur every day.

  • I am not and never have been a gun owner, so I will not attempt to respond to the gun lobby’s impassioned defense of an unrestricted and unregulated right to own any and all kinds of firearms. I will leave that defense to Trae Crowder, who is both more eloquent and more informed about “gun culture” than I am.


Liberal Redneck – On Guns

I sympathize with pro-gun people and always have. But at some point god damn enough is enough. Side note: Ignore the shirt, I just didn't have a plain black one and am dumb. That's all. Love y'all.

Publicado por Trae Crowder em Terça-feira, 3 de outubro de 2017

  • What I do know is that a mother should be able to take her daughter to a concert without worrying that one of them won’t live to make it home. I do know that a husband has a right to take his wife to a concert without having her die in his arms. I do know that constant, widespread anxiety about safety feeds social tensions and paranoia, and exacerbates the tribalism that is tearing this country apart.

Gun owners, please listen: Obama wasn’t going to “take” your guns. Hillary wasn’t, either. No one is suggesting the confiscation of 300 million firearms, or a law forbidding further gun sales. Funding research on gun violence, keeping guns out of the hands of people with a history of violence or mental illness, or people on the no-fly list, is not an infringement of anyone’s Second Amendment rights.

Requiring drivers’ licenses wasn’t a “slippery slope” toward the confiscation of cars, and restrictions on AK-47 ownership won’t lead to Armageddon.



Why Do Gun Rights Trump All Other Rights?

As readers of this blog know, I’m a pretty rabid civil libertarian. But even I know that my right to free speech doesn’t mean I can stomp into your living room to harangue you. My right to free exercise of religion doesn’t include the right to impose that religion on students in my public university classroom. My right to petition my government for a redress of grievances doesn’t translate into a right to march into the legislature when it is in session and disrupt the proceedings.

In other words, the exercise of my rights is conditioned upon my willingness to respect the equal rights of others.

Granted, that little caveat is widely ignored by citizens who are absolutely convinced that they and they alone are in possession of Truth that must be imposed upon others despite the fact that those others may have Truths of their own. Nevertheless, respect for the equal rights of others is a foundational premise of our legal/constitutional system.

Those for whom the Second Amendment is less a statement of rights than a religion just don’t get that. They seem to believe that the Second Amendment trumps all the other provisions of the Bill of Rights. A couple of years ago, the Indiana legislature blithely ignored the rights of employers to determine what safety measures they would require, and passed a measure allowing workers to pack heat in the workplace. Now, a state representative has introduced a bill to allow students–and presumably others–to come armed to campus.

There are sound reasons why IUPUI and other universities do not want guns on campus. We have our share of immature students, troubled students, and far more troubled visitors. (There used to be a self-described “evangelist” who “preached” loudly on the plaza next to my building, calling female students “whores of Babylon” and ranting about various sins he attributed to passersby. I don’t think arming him would have been a great idea.) I know that gun lovers really believe arming students would prevent tragedies like Virginia Tech;  I don’t share their sunny suppositions–my guess is it would be equally likely to increase the bloodshed. But whether I am correct or they are is not the point.

The point is that government should not be able to decide who can come armed into my home, my place of business or my office on campus.

Gun rights activists who are constantly criticizing government over-reach, constantly talking about limited government, ought to take a good hard look in the mirror. Their hypocrisy is showing.