09 January 2011

Gun Violence: Enough of a Reason to Restrict Gun Ownership?

The Constitution of the United States of America provides in the Second Amendment the right of her citizens to "keep and bear arms". The US Supreme Court has addressed the issue a number of times and has affirmed that the right extends beyond guns being kept solely for use in a militia (see District of Columbia v. Heller). I do not claim to be a US constitutional law expert, or even a constitutional law expert.

What follows is commentary in light of the recent shooting deaths of six people in Tuscon Arizona recently. The attack occurred at a "meet & greet" the constituents event being held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

I am anti-guns. I do not see the use of them. I have fired the odd gun in the past, but it is just not my thing. I do not enjoy guns. I know many people who do enjoy guns and who make a good case for owning one or two or more. I am not anti-guns in the sense of law enforcement having them. Perhaps I am anti-guns in terms of how easy they are to acquire and how devastating they can be when used for illegal purposes.

I cannot imagine that the founding fathers or the early political masters of the US had in mind the sort of gun violence that afflicts the US now. I am almost certain that the founding fathers did not envisage that the right to own guns would become a right to wreak havoc, despair and death on innocents; men, women and children.

My condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones in this tragedy: U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63; Christina Greene, 9; Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman, 30; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; and Phyllis Scheck, 79.U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63; Christina Greene, 9; Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman, 30; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; and Phyllis Scheck, 79. I also offer my best wishes for a speedy and full recovery to all those who were injured in this instance of madness and senseless violence.

I have been reading with interest that there are connections being made to the "vitriol" and over-the-top rhetoric, which includes references to gun violence, in the political debate. In my mind this is an associated, but secondary issue. The focus must remain on guns and the ease of access to them.

I wonder if there would be a significant drop in gun-related violence if the rules governing gun ownership were further tightened to a degree that they became incredibly onerous? Or, would this just serve to promote a black market for weapons allowing gun violence to persist?

I would be happy to live in a world without guns. Yet, I am a realist. If we did not have guns then we would kill ourselves with whatever weapons were available. yet, it would probably take a lot longer to kill six people with a bow and arrow in comparison to getting off 20 rounds from an automatic handgun.

Hopefully, this tragedy will spur some debate about guns and gun ownership that will generate a whole lot of bipartisan support that will ultimately see the rules tightened even further. Maybe, it is time that politicians and others stopped trying to hide behind some universal and blanket right allegedly secured by the founding fathers and had a little bit of a think about what the founding fathers were really concerned about when it came to the right to keep and bear arms.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I submit that the founding fathers and the early political statesmen of the Republic did not have the attempted murder of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in mind when confirming the Second Amendment as part of a "Bill of Rights".


Anonymous said...

A sad day here in az,if the guy had drove his car through the crowd and killed many would we ask for car control?The gun is an inanimate object,it dosent jump up and kill by itself.Sad how many jumped at this tragedy to use it for political gain or to try and curtail others freedoms.RW

Rob Baiton said...

@ Anonymous (RW?)...

This is a good point. A car can be a weapon of considerable killing power as well.

Nevertheless, I wonder whether a car's primary purpose is to kill? I appreciate that guns can be used for legitimate endeavours such as target sports. The point of this post was not to suggest that hunting was evil and should be outlawed.

The point was that the primary purpose of guns is to kill, is it not? Police have guns for protection, self-defense, and to wound and / or kill if necessary. Hunters use guns to kill animals for sport and to take their heads as trophies.

There is a pretty clear difference between the primary purpose of a gun and the primary purpose of a car, at least in my mind.