So, yes, another article on guns. But, this one is little different. Lets talk about “liberty.” I just got done reading an article on Obama’s potential executive orders, and the more interesting comments that followed. It was more of the same stuff that everybody says when talking about guns. “It’s our constitutional right!” followed by: “The constitution didn’t say anything about fully automatic weaponry!” It gets old. I know. But what does the constitution say?
Well, it’s not altogether clear. That’s why we argue about it. It DOES give a right to bear arms, but that sentence IS preceded by the clause “A well regulated militia.” Curious, isn’t it? But as clear (or not) as it may seem, the law WAS explicitly applied to the general public in 2005. The court case was “District of Columbia v. Heller.” It seems to go contrary to the way that I personally read the second amendment, saying that the clause :”A well regualted militia,” does not restrict the rest of the sentence, but nonetheless grants the right to bear arms to the general public. And, in fact, the second amendment ends with the saying ” the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Now we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. As the law now stands, we cannot infringe on the “right” to bear arms, and it doesn’t say what kinds of arms either. So, the argument that nobody really “needs” a fully automatic weapon doesn’t hold any water whatsoever. And, as a matter of fact, we already have laws in effect that break the second amendment. It may be surprising to hear that. Which ones? The 1930’s gun ban, banning fully automatic weapons, short barreled rifles and shotguns, and destructive devices such as hand grenades and grenade launchers. This is more commonly known as the “Gangster Gun Ban.” Now, I would agree that people don’t really need grenade launchers. But, because the constitution does not make an effort to clarify what types of weapons should not be restricted, or “infringed,” any restriction on any weapon should be unconstitutional if we are to apply the second amendment to the general population, instead of just a well regulated militia.
The argument based on “need” doesn’t really begin to make sense though. While I agree that there is no “practical sense” in owning fully automatic weapons or grenade launchers, that shouldn’t mean that people shouldn’t have the “right” to own them. People don’t “need” high performance muscle cars. They have way to much power for any “practical” use, but anyone that owned one would be quick to say that they could take it to the track to use it to its full potential. The same can be said of fully automatic weapons. That is the exact reason that shooting ranges exist. It is a place gun enthusiasts or hobbyists to shoot their guns because they can’t shoot them anywhere else. Muscle cars are not practical, but that isn’t enough reason to ban them. People don’t “need” ice cream. I mean really, sugar is not good for us, and it is filled with saturated fats. There is no “practical sense” in eating a bowl of ice cream. It is nothing more than wasted, empty, bad-for-you calories. But, that isn’t enough to ban ice cream. This is the exact argument that many are trying to use to ban assault rifles today.
Liberty is a tricky thing. We are quick to defend our own liberties, but almost numb to the liberties of others. While I think that it would be fine for me to own a muscle car that has a useless amount of power for any practical (or legal) use of the car, and guzzles gas putting endless amounts of pollutants into the air that you, and I, breathe, I (being the average American) wouldn’t mind taking something from you that I have deemed you do not “need.”
We do not “need” a lot of the things that we do on a daily basis, and it would be dangerous to start basing our laws on what we actually “need.” Sure, it may not impact your life today (guns), but next year it could be something that you do or enjoy (muscle cars/ice cream).