Opinion

Gun owners abuse constitutional right

It is ironic that Batman is perhaps America’s most popular super hero.

Gotham city’s Dark Knight refuses to use guns to subdue his adversaries. Conversely, us Americans are so “gun-ho” that we are the world’s leader in gun-related deaths, and there are roughly 270 million guns in the hands of civilians.

In recent months, there has been a shooting at a Colorado movie theater, a shooting by a fashion designer near the Empire State Building and a shooting at a New Jersey supermarket, among other incidents.

The media are not to blame for our gun obsession. Other countries enjoy our violent movies, video games, music and television shows. Rather, it is the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms clause that creates our “it’s my right,” pro-gun pistol packing mentality.

We have abused this right, and it should be taken away.

We have strayed away from the purpose of the Second Amendment. Our founders afforded the right to bear arms to citizens for the purpose of a “well-regulated militia” and to insure the following: locals could organize and defend themselves in the event of an English invasion, and citizens could protect themselves from government officials illegally entering their homes and taking property as the English government had done.

Guns were far less dangerous at the time the Second Amendment was drafted. Semi-automatic rifles, uzis and 12-gauge shotguns did not exist. As Michael Moore told Piers Morgan, “There were only one-shot, long rifles back then. Guns couldn’t spray hoards of people like they can today.”

We arm ourselves out of fear that another guy with a gun will be a threat, but don’t we subsequently become the threat we fear by arming ourselves?

A study by the Harvard School of Public Health concluded that there tend to be more gun deaths in states and regions where guns are more populous and accessible.

Gun ownership allows the antsy Zimmermans of the world to shoot people when the altercation could be solved without deadly force. It allows the young child to take daddy’s gun to school to scare the kid that has been picking on him or her. It allows the jealous boyfriend to threaten his girlfriend.

There is logic in the argument that legal gun ownership protects against criminals. However, that we would always have to be armed to be prepared to defend ourselves against criminal activity – bad idea.

As for the protection of our homes, we are safer via alarm systems that trigger lights, sirens and immediately alert local authorities upon a break-in, as opposed to criminal hunting in the dark while panicking under ill-advised, adrenaline inspired judgment.

In 2008, the Supreme Court struck down a Washington D.C. law that banned handgun possession. The court said that lawful handgun possession was constitutionally protected. In disagreement with the majority, Justice Breyer stated that the Second Amendment protects militia-related interests, not self-defense-related interests.

This case set the precedent that gun bans in any state or municipality will likely be struck down. Sadly, this means the Second Amendment will probably not be overturned anytime soon, or ever.

But regardless of what the law says, the proof is in the pudding. Maybe Batman will teach us how to not use guns because we have proved incapable of doing so ourselves.

 

Christopher Ivory is a second year law student.

October 21, 2012

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Christopher Ivory


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