(Bang, Bang, Shoot, Shoot)
Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision established for the fist time in our history an individual’s right to own a gun. The history of the second amendment has been clouded in the language of
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”
That original wording, notes Cass Sunstein, a professor at Harvard Law School in today’s Boston Globe led even conservatives such as Chief Justice Warren Burger to say,
“the Second Amendment doesn’t guarantee the right to have firearms at all.”
And Sunstein comments that
“until 2007, not a single federal court had invoked the Second Amendment to strike down a restriction on gun ownership.”
I think the Supreme Court was wrong on this one. I think the intent of the second amendment did have much to do with making sure that we the people did not have our right to bear arms taken away so that our government and its agents were the only ones in possession of weapons, should we ever need to take up arms against our own government, perish the thought (although with warrant-less wiretapping, and the growing all-powerful executive an almost pacifist like myself bets folks sitting around in 1769 thought they’d never see an armed revolution either).
Don’t misunderstand me, however. I am not one who wants to take away a hunter’s rifle. Yet I am firmly convinced that our nation is too violent and there is no need for anyone to personally own a military assault weapon. There is nothing wrong with waiting periods and background checks on all gun purchases.
I am big believer in the cohesion of means and ends. Peace is not just an end we seek, it must also be the chief means by which we travel to that destination.
Two years ago the Children’s Defense Fund release a report on gun violence and against Children called “Protect Children, Not Guns.” Some of the highlights:
— In 2003, 56 preschoolers were killed by firearms, compared to 52 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
— More 10- to 19-year-olds die from gunshot wounds than from any other cause except motor vehicle accidents.
— Almost 90 percent of the children and teens killed by firearms in 2003 were boys.
— Boys ages 15 to 19 are nearly nine times as likely as girls of the same age to be killed by a firearm.
— In 2003, there were more than nine times as many suicides by guns among white children and teens as among black children and teens.
— The firearm death rate for black males ages 15 to 19 is more than four times that of white males the same age.
— The seven states that recorded the most deaths among children and teens by firearms in 2003 were California, Texas, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina. The state with the fewest child gun deaths was Hawaii with one.
Whatever you think of the Supreme Court Ruling yesterday, today 80 people will die gun related deaths in this country. Isn’t that 80 too many?
Just abolishing guns will not make human beings less violent, like a magic spell or a prescription medicine. So I don’t think that is the issue or the solution. Taking serious gun control measures will help tremendously, however, towards reducing the number of people who die everyday in this country from guns, especially the children. Even Justice Scalia wrote that nothing in yesterday’s ruling should
“cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons or the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.” http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/06/26/america/Scotus-Guns-Optional.php
As usual, see the Supreme Court’s Scotus Blog for more.