US politics today is about as hyper-partisan as it’s ever been, but even in this climate, few topics cause as much heated debate as gun control. It’s a hot-button issue that goes to the heart of both Conservative and Liberal politics.
Are Liberals trying to disarm us in preparation for a dictatorship? Is the Republican Party just the political wing of the NRA? Among all of the hysterical claims, it’s easy to lose sight of the facts.
- The US Constitution acknowledges our right to bear arms. This isn’t open to debate, because it’s right there in the Second Amendment: “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.”
- In reality, it already is infringed. The question is how much more infringement is desirable.
- Gun control advocates have a list of things they want banned. Semi-automatic rifles are probably top of the list, along with “high-capacity” magazines. Liberals say these “high-powered assault rifles” are “weapons of war” that are responsible for the undeniable gun violence problem in our society.
- The reality is that gun controllers focus on these guns because they look like military assault rifles — and also because they’re among the most popular guns in America. Ban those, and you’ve banned a huge slice of the nation’s guns. What you haven’t done is achieve much against gun violence.
- In fact, all long guns — that’s shotguns and deer rifles as well as semi-automatic rifles — are responsible for just 4% of gun violence casualties. The vast majority are caused by handguns. A ban on semi-automatics would do little to improve the situation, and 2A advocates are right to oppose one.
- On the other hand, some gun control measures would make a big difference. Mental health and criminal record background checks, for example, can help to prevent tragedy. A waiting period as well can be very beneficial.
- The other thing to consider about gun control laws is that criminals are not big on following the law. Someone bent on hurting someone will not hesitate to break the law to get a gun — or use a knife or other weapon.
- Unfortunately, it’s currently difficult to have a sensible discussion about how to balance public safety and constitutional rights. Hard-liners on both sides of the argument are deeply entrenched, and won’t compromise an inch with their opponents.
As long as gun controllers keep demanding laws that wouldn’t solve anything and can’t get past congressional opposition, and gun rights supporters keep blocking ones that would and can, nothing will change. What we need is a sensible solution that upholds the rights of law-abiding Americans while keeping guns out the hands of the mad and the bad.
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