The Newtown school shooting has triggered vehement calls for gun bans and equally vehement declarations of Second Amendment rights. So instead of shouting and scheming, let’s look at some component parts of the problem.
The Second Amendment is a bona fide part of the Bill of Rights, no less than freedom of religion and due process. The Supreme Court recently affirmed this, which is why retaliatory blanket gun bans keep being stricken down.
Bans of certain more dangerous types of guns also fail. A friend who owns a gun shop tells me that when the WonderBluss Assault Rifle that fires 1,000 rounds a minute is banned, the WomderBluss manufacturers make a minor rifling change and, voila! The ThunderBluss Assault rifle is perfectly legal. Legislation cannot keep pace with manufacture.
Rights aren’t absolute; you can lose your right to vote by committing a felony, and your right to free speech by committing libel. Attempts to fairly regulate gun rights are tricky, but sometimes appropriate. For example, a few years ago the legislature passed a law allowing doctors to inform police when a gun owner with Alzheimer’s began to fail to recognize family members after a man shot his wife here on Cape, thinking she was an intruder. So rights aren’t absolute, but are subject to some reasonable regulation.
Maybe we have kept approaching this from the wrong direction – from prohibition rather than affirmation.
What if – we didn’t create a list of guns and weapons which are prohibited, but a list of guns and weapons that are allowed? Six models of pistols, three models of hand guns, eight types of rifles, etc. That would eliminate the WonderBluss/ThunderBluss shuffle. It would affirm the right of citizens to own guns for protections and recreation, while protecting them from the carnage of automatic weapons fire. The right to bear arms isn’t an absolute right to bear every kind of weapon there is.
We, as a nation, need to turn away from absolutisms and try to find workable solutions to protect our children and communities while preserving our rights.