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 see 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:
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.