Thursday, June 26, 2008

Supreme Court Loves the 2nd amendment

I find it interesting that the Supreme Court has given a big thumbs up to the 2nd amendment and a thumbs down to the 4th.

Amendment II

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.

Today the Supreme Court trashed a 32 year old DC law which banned handguns. The NYT described the law this way - Not only did the 1976 law make it practically impossible for an individual to legally possess a handgun in the district, but it also spelled out rules for the storage of rifles and shotguns. But the court did not articulate a specific standard of review for what might be a reasonable restraint on the right to possess a firearm.

I can and will go through this decision. But, it seems to me that we need to make the 2nd amendment clear. We need to amend it. As a matter of fact, walking through East St. Louis today is very different than back in 1789. This amendment needs to reflect today's reality. You should be able to own a gun if you aren't a felon or mentality disturbed.

As a trauma surgeon, I see almost everything bad that can happen with a gun. I've seen accidental shootings which is left 10 year old boys paralyzed. I've seen the anguish of the parents as they are wondering how the kids got into the guns. Unfortunately, by the time I see them, the anguish and the sorrow simply don't matter. The bottom line, we need to be more responsible with our firearms but, since we aren't, we must have the ability to make laws that keep us safe.

Therefore, Constitutional Amendments are needed. We must be able to ban assault weapons. We need to be able to ban fully automatic weapons (machine guns). We need to be able to control handguns. Safety locks are not unreasonable. Frequent gun registration is not an unnecessary burden. We should be able to ban armor piercing bullets.

I have no desire to ban all weapons. I have no desire to ban all handguns. Please don't e-mail me with statistics. The statistics have been massaged by both sides so much that you can prove almost anything if you look at the right statistic. I'm sure there are some advocates for guns who can show me a statistic in which having a gun makes you smarter, more attractive and more successful in life. I'm sure someone on the other side of the argument can show me statistics that banning weapons allows you to own two hybrids and increases the whale population.

Reasonable people should be able to sit down and come up with reasonable laws. Keep the zealots from both sides in the closet.


Anonymous said...

two words jury nullification , if you dont like a law, or don't believe in the case you are sitting thru jury duty on, vote not guilty, this is your greatest power and you do not have to explain yourself to no one for the way you vote

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to send any statistics, but I feel that you are misinformed on a few key points here.

1) "Assault weapons" is a term of art, generally a made-up category, typically describing certain semi-automatic rifles, pistols, and sometimes shotguns that have few features in common, and are usually functionally indistinguishable from non-"assault weapons". Their only common thread is that they often look like full-automatic military weapons.
2) Machine guns are already strictly controlled by the federal government. They are all registered. It takes months to pass the background checks to get one and a $200 tax stamp. You can be randomly inspected by the feds if you own one. You can't take it across state lines without permission.
3) "Armor-piercing bullets", at least from handguns, are already illegal, and generally not manufactured for civilian sale in any case. Rifle-caliber bullets, including most types used for hunting, often are able to pierce many types of body armor, but that is because most body armor is not designed to stop these types of bullets, not because of anything different about the bullets themselves (most of which were designed before body armor was invented).
4) The concerns about registration mostly have emerged over concerns about potential future bans or harassment of owners, whose names and inventories would be known to anti-gun authorities. With this ruling, we may be playing in an entirely new ball court. We'll see.

Otherwise, if you want to amend the Constitution, we can have that debate, and if you convince 2/3 of the Congress and 3/4 of the states, then there you are. At the very least, it's established that the Constitution means what it says, so no one can play the old games anymore about trying to just ignore or forget about one of the Bill of Rights, which was a pretty scary and dumb thing to try to do in the first place.

Brian said...

I agree, there needs to be some middle ground. I'm in favor of reasonable restrictions for the purpose of public safety, such as background checks (including mental health records), waiting periods, quantity limits, etc.

Although, as a pro-gun person, i'm not crazy about a ban on "assault weapons"...although there should be a ban on fully auto weapons and restrictions on magazine capacity. The issue here is that local and State governments can use this to ban whatever rifles they want...simply by calling it an "assault rifle".

These local bans are ridiculous and have done little to protect citizens. I don't have an issue with gun control... the issue is having the right kind of gun control. Gun control didn't stop the Virginia Tech killer from obtaining his weapons...not having the right kind of gun control did.

Local governments want a monopoly on weapons...wanting the citizens to be fully dependent on the police for help. But you cannot rely on State and local governments to protect you...your home or family. There are just too many situations where local police cannot help you.

I also support CCW laws. Most States allow CCW as long as you go through some sort of training. only a few States prohibit CCW. In the States that have allowed CCW... the sky has not fallen. It is simply a tool for citizens that can allow them to have a fighting chance if they find themselves in the midst of a Virginia tech, or Luby's Cafateria situation, or a carjacking, etc.