The following is from a long time LYS’er.
Gun control is the “go to” response for many after a shooting. Well, let’s talk about gun control, the 2nd Amendment, and outcomes. First, the 2nd Amendment is likely the most controlled right in the U.S. Before you say something like the 1st Amendment doesn’t kill, you might want to rethink that. Of course, the 1st Amendment costs lives. As many as the 2nd Amendment? I don’t know, but the number is not zero on the 1st Amendment.
The general argument is there is unfettered access to firearms unprecedented in the history of our country. Walter Williams points out that in the early 1900’s there were over 30 pages of guns for sale in the Sears catalog. Send money, they mailed you a gun. That’s pretty unfettered. And before you say those guns were not as powerful as todays guns, look the Winchester Model 97 and Model 12. The Ithaca Model 37. These guns were used as mass clearing weapons during WW1, WW2, and even into Vietnam. Assault rifles you ask. Check out the Winchester Model 1908. It was semi-automatic and used by the militaries of several countries as early as WW1. It went on to have parts used in the legendary M1 carbine of WW2 and even into Vietnam. In fact, the M1 carbine is still used around the world. The truth is access to firearms is now more controlled than any time in the history of the U.S. Access to firearms has not changed, society has changed to something much uglier than it was 100 years ago.
Let’s move on to gun laws. The problem is federal laws are supposed to be based in some authority granted to Congress via the Constitution. Gun laws have typically been enforced not through the 2nd Amendment, but with the authority of the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution Article 1. The thinking was a gun made in Connecticut could be transported and sold in Texas; interstate commerce. A sale between two private parties residing in the same state clearly does not involve interstate commerce and is exempt from federal laws. That is what the media and some politicians call a “loophole.” That pesky loophole is the U.S. Constitution. The Congress tried to enact “gun-free zones” for schools back in the 90’s using the argument of interstate commerce clause. SCOTUS struck the law as unconstitutional in the case of U.S. v. Lopez in 1995, yet most people think schools are still gun free zones under federal law.
This brings us to banning guns such as AR-15’s, addressed in the D.C. v. Heller case penned by Scalia. Referring back to the original intent of the Constitution, Heller declared the 2nd Amendment is an individual right. Continuing, Heller held that people had the right to possess and use weapons in common circulation during current times. Many subsequent court cases have held the AR-15 is ubiquitous, in common use, and protected by the 2nd Amendment via Heller.
Finally, I will talk about purchase vs. possession. Just because federal laws restrict purchase of firearms from federal FFL dealers, that has nothing to do with possession. In many states, including Texas, there is nothing prohibiting the possession of handguns by an 18-year old. The 18-year old can’t purchase from a federal FFL holder, but that is back to the interstate commerce clause. There is nothing to keep an 18-year old to be given a handgun and certainly state law allows that.
Again, I think there are solutions, but I think there is a serious limit to what laws can accomplish, and I think that limit was reached over 50 years ago.
I agree that gun control has been a broken record for a long time. And back when individual shooters were picking off individual victims, I would look at the overwhelming stats; either the victims knew their killers or were engaged in seedy behavior themselves. I would chalk it up to bad luck and/or bad actors. No reason to do anything rash that would inconvenience all the rest of us law abiding gun owners.
But the ground has shifted. Be it Chicago where an over-abundance of cheap and/or illegal guns have turned some neighborhoods into shooting galleries; or mass shooting of innocents by lunatics armed like a member of a Seal Team.
50 years ago, gun laws were championed by the right and pilloried by the left. I remember the bad joke that the motto of the ACLU was “Free Them All and Give Them Guns.” Now it is reversed with the left championing gun laws and the right doing the pillorying.
Because I’m a pragmatist, I believe there’s an answer to be found in the middle. And I want responsible gun owners to lead that discussion and drown out the political talking points on both sides.
Think. Work. Achieve.
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