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On the Second Amendment

The Supreme Court announced Wednesday that it will consider striking down state and local gun bans nationwide, on the theory that they violate the Second Amendment’s guarantee of a right to bear arms. Considering that the court last year struck down a D.C. gun ban with a clear statement that the amendment does guarantee gun ownership rights to individuals — not just militias — it’s not hard to seeĀ  how this is going to end up.

My friend and nemesis Dr. Zaius calls this development “great news for liberty.” Maybe. I’m dubious.

I’ll risk offending some of my gun-owning friends with this statement, but: The Second Amendment is not always and everywhere a good thing.

In rural Kansas, where I’m from, it’s not so bad: Guns are used mostly for hunting and to provide owners with just a bit of peace of mind that they can defend their families from threats — but they’re not often used that way.

In Philadelphia, though, guns are mostly used to kill other people. Violence plagues this and other big cities. Society doesn’t really benefit from this.

My conservative friends would argue that striking down handgun bans in cities like Philadelphia would actually make the town more safe — that a flood of legal gun owners would A) make the thugs think twice and B) provide law-abiding citizens with an opportunity to defend themselves. Often, after a gun massacre on a campus somewhere, they argue it could’ve been prevented or mitigated if only students and teachers had been allowed to legally tote guns into the classroom.

That seems unlikely. Check out this new study from Penn:

Epidemiologists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine yesterday announced the findings of a study about whether guns are protective or perilous during an assault.

It found that those possessing a gun in an assault situation were 4 1/2 times more likely to be shot than those not possessing one, according to the study’s author, Charles C. Branas, associate professor of epidemiology.

“I don’t think this study is the end,” Branas said. “I think it should help begin to raise awareness about gun possession and begin to question whether an individual is absolutely safe in possession of a firearm or whether it’s promoting a false sense of security.”

Interesting, right?

The study may not matter all that much. The Second Amendment is the Second Amendment, and this particular Supreme Court seems determined to read it in a fashion that gives the maximum latitude to firearms owners. Typically, this is the approach I’d prefer the court to take when it comes to the Bill of Rights. And you can call me a hypocrite for feeling somewhat differently in this case. But the Second Amendment is not always and everywhere a good thing.

  1. Joel Says: Oct 2 10:47 AM

    To my gun-owning friends: I’m not that interested in taking away YOUR guns. But I stand prepared to accept your opprobrium on this matter.

  2. Rosci Texeira Says: Oct 2 12:23 PM

    In Phoenix recently, a woman was killed with a screwdriver. The man was not allowed to own a gun. Anecdotal? Yes. Point is, it is never about the weapon. The perp will find a way to do what he/she wants to do. Focusing on the tool does not change the fact that we are a violent, stressed, angry society. There were guns in almost every household in the 50’s and 60’s when I was growing up. And we didn’t have this kind of violence. In cities with a total gun ban, there has not been a marked decrease in gun crime, in fact, in some cities there has been an increase – because the perps know they have a guarantee of an unarmed mark.

    Mexico has strict gun laws. So, cartels, criminals, and corrupt officials have guns. Perhaps if the people could legally have weapons, Mexico might be in better shape. As it is now, Mexican criminals are spilling into the US through the border states at an alarming rate. Since I’m a few hours from the border, I’ll keep my gun, thank you.

    And don’t forget, the 2nd amendment gives us the right to defend against a tyrannical government — those fellows in your home state were the ones who thought this up (are they spinning in their graves as you dismantle it?) They had a clear idea of the King Georges, Hitlers, Mussolinis, and Maos that can weasel their way into power and take away rights almost overnight. (Go read Wild Swan) Throughout history, the first thing despots took away was the right to be armed. One of the ways they did it was by instilling fear in the people and promising they would “protect” the people… so “in these modern times, you don’t need to be armed like a savage.” And the sheep walked themselves willingly to the slaughter.

    I have a Conceal and Carry permit so I can practice. I know how to use my weapon. The people who get hurt are the ones who have a gun, but don’t practice. That’s as stupid as having a vehicle in the driveway you can’t drive. We should all be able to use all the tools we have at our disposal.
    HAVING a gun and not practicing with is is like buying vitamins and leaving them in the bottle. Not helpful. And, I question the kinds of studies you quote. They “helpfully” come out from the anti-gun crowd when legislation is pending.

    Shall we also do away with that pesky First amendment? Heck, people are saying they don’t agree with our Leaders. The First amendment “is not always and everywhere a good thing.” People saying rude things, telling the truth about Politicians’ lives and lies; putting the truth on YouTube so the world can see their hypocrisy. Heck – that’s just danged inconvenient to be called on your prevarications. And people having differing opinions on things? Public Debate? Can’t have discourse! Good Lord! What would we do? So, Off with the 1st Amendment. Now – about that danged amendment that gave women the vote…, oh, and of course, right to due process. That’s a pesky one, too, and “is not always and everywhere a good thing.”

    I think the boys from Philadelphia knew what they were doing. Let’s not make the Bill of Rights a Multiple Choice item, OK? Instead, how about gun safety classes. How about toning down the histrionics and telling the truth? (BTW – the stories about guns pouring into Mexico from Arizona and Texas are BS. 90% of the guns Mexico CHOSE to run serial numbers on WERE from the US, but 83% of the guns in Mexico are NOT from the US. Remember, Venezuela has some interest in destabilizing Mexico, and many of those guns are not available anywhere in the US. They came from Russia… But, hey, there’s that pesky First Amendment thing again. The truth…)

    I have yet to see one good argument for dismantling any of the Bill of Rights. Solve the real underlying societal problems instead.

  3. Infinite Monkeys Says: Aug 31 2:31 PM

    ‘Officers’ safety comes first, and not infringing on rights comes second.’…

    I’m pretty much on record that I find gun ownership the most ambiguous of all the civil rights. It’s not that I dispute the meaning of the Second Amendment — that debate, I think, is for all intents and purposes over — but, let’s be frank: Guns ar…

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