Since the Orlando shooting, I have been engaged in a few debates on Facebook with opponents of stricter gun control laws, some of whom seem to oppose any gun laws at all, claiming that they have an unfettered Second Amendment right to own guns. Although I disagree with the current interpretation of the law, as set forth by the late and unlamented Justice Scalia in District of Columbia v. Heller, even Scalia recognized:
nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. (Emphasis added)
And just the other day, Clarence Thomas, arguably one of the the worst Justices in history, even admitted, in his dissent in Voisine v. United States:
The protections enumerated in the Second Amendment, no less than those enumerated in the First, are not absolute prohibitions against government regulation. (Emphasis added)
So, let’s ignore the Second Amendment absolutists, since they are just wrong. But beyond that, I have heard most of the arguments that you would expect–the need for people to protect themselves and their families, the “good guy with a gun” argument (which I, and many others, think is a myth), and the unreasonable fear that gun control is just a precursor to the government taking away even more rights.
Of course, in the absence of the rule of law, it is likely that more people will need guns to protect themselves. Is that the end game of the NRA and its allies?
I’d also like to make a brief reference to the success of Brexit (and not only to tie this piece to the song), which was apparently based on two concerns–irrational xenophobia (which I won’t address here) and a desire to be free from EU laws. Again, we see how easy sound bites can trump (pun intended) logic. Certainly, leaving the EU won’t mean that Parliament will simply allow for anarchy. To the extent that Britain decides to negotiate treaties to retain access to the EU market it would almost certainly have to accept, like Norway, the bulk of the EU rules that Brexit will allegedly free it from. And where EU rules lapse, Parliament will have to either pass new laws to fill the gap (or not, presumably), or simply continue the EU ones.
So, how about it? If you don’t think that gun laws should be strengthened, to include more protections to try to stop not only mass killings, but all gun deaths, because “then only criminals will have guns,” feel free to use the comments to explain why this doesn’t make you an anarchist, who would be fine making heroin legal, allowing 5 year olds to drive cars, and let food companies put sawdust in your food.