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Gun Control

Most of the talk about gun control these days is focusing on child safety locks and background checks.  Well, that's all fine, but I think restrictions on gun ownership, possession, and use need to go much, much further. 

I'm hard pressed to come up with any legitimate reason why a private citizen needs a gun. 

The NRA and the other gun nuts frequently accuse those who favor gun control of chipping away at gun owner "rights," with the eventual goal of outlawing guns altogether.  Well, I can't speak for others, but as far as I'm concerned, they're right (and that's probably the only time I'll ever say that the NRA is right about anything).  For the most part, I do think that gun sales and gun possession should be prohibited.  As I said before, I can't think of any legitimate reasons for most people to own a gun.

At the very least, gun ownership should be very tightly controlled.  Buying and operating a gun should be subject to much more stringent regulation than buying and operating a car.  Cars can be dangerous, and can have negative side effects (pollution, congestion, etc.), but they have a legitimate and important primary purpose (transportation).  Guns are also dangerous, but their primary purpose (killing) is a bit less legitimate and important. 

To be able to drive a car, I need to pass a test (usually after taking a class), get licensed, and carry that license every time I operate the car.  Additionally, I need to pay for insurance in case my use of a car causes harm to another person or their property.  And when I purchase a car, I need to register that car with the state, and every year I need to renew that registration and pay a licensing fee.  In many states, regular safety inspections are required.  At least as much should be required to own or possess a gun.

But what about the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?  The Second Amendment is the only provision of the Bill of Rights that specifies a reason for the right.

"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." 

Is the first half of this clause superfluous?  Where the drafters of the Bill of Rights merely wanting to say, "By the way, did we mention that a well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state"?  Of course not.  This phrase is intended to qualify and explain the reason for the "right of the people to keep and bear arms."  Another way of saying exactly the same thing as the Second Amendment is: "The people have the right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of maintaining a well regulated militia."  Without a well regulated militia, there is no right to keep and bear arms.  (And we're talking about a "well regulated" militia, not these paranoid crazies who go out in the woods and train for the coming race war or the invasion by the United Nations, or whatever other imagined threat they perceive). 

Unlike in the late 1700's, we no longer depend on a well regulated militia to maintain the security of the state.  Instead, we have several modern equivalents - a standing military, the National Guard, the various state and local police agencies, etc.  I have no problem with the members of these entities having the right to keep and bear arms in the contexts of their jobs.  But I don't see anything in the Second Amendment that requires anything more than that in today's world.

Please note that the views expressed in these pages are mine, and mine alone.  They do not necessarily reflect the views other members of my family, past or present employers, or any other person or group with which I have been affiliated.
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Last Updated 22 July 2005
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