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Preventing Tragedies Through Gun Control Will be Tricky and Complex

Gun control is an interesting topic that has obviously picked up momentum with the news of the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut. Opinions range from complete elimination of guns to arming everyone in America, and there are those who want a happy medium.

Those who want guns to be completely eliminated from American society tend to believe that a drastic reduction in guns will lead to the end of gun violence in America and, as a result, the end of such tragedies that happened in Connecticut.  Those who want a significant increase in those who are armed, argue that a criminal will be less willing to use a gun on another in the fear that a victim or bystander will have a gun and can prevent tragedies like what happened in Connecticut.

In my opinion, neither opinion is correct. Those who want a drastic reduction in gun use in America, ignore the fact that guns are already prevalent in America. How would the pre-existing guns be eliminated? How would we even know if they’ve been eliminated? Those who are willing to shoot other people are surely willing to hide guns or go on the black market to buy guns. Plus, does the elimination of the guns constitute a taking by the government that requires compensation to the citizens? And I haven’t even mentioned the other obvious constitutional issues that will arise with such an attempt.

Those who want every citizen to be armed don’t take into proper account the increase in deaths caused by accidental gun use. Nor do they take into account the deaths that would come from the over exuberant citizen who shoots at a perpetrator only to hit the bystander by accident. Plus, who really knows how anyone is going to react if he/she has a gun and needs to shoot another human? I’ve explained before that it would take a lot for me to shoot another person. It would have to come to life or death. But for others who are carrying weapons, would they be more willing than me to shoot another person? Would they be willing to shoot another person at the mere threat of lost personal property? I’m guessing many would be willing to do just that.

Plus there are constitutional issues at play. The Second Amendment provides: “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.” Although many will argue that the Second Amendment doesn’t allow for people to have guns or that there is no longer a need for guns, the Supreme Court has already interpreted the Amendment and unless the Supreme Court is willing to completely reverse course, which isn’t going to happen, it will take an amendment to the constitution to enact gun eliminating legislation. Even enacting far stricter gun control laws will run into Second Amendment problems that might need to be resolved through an amendment as well.

Gun control isn’t going to be nearly as easy as many believe it to be, and shouting one’s own opinion of what the Second Amendment means isn’t going to change the meaning the Supreme Court has already given to the Amendment. And simply pretending that the Second Amendment does not exist or that it no longer holds the same purpose is not the answer either. The Bill of Rights gives we the people rights that cannot be taken away by the mere majority of society.

I don’t know what the answer is (although I’d start with the elimination of assault rifles if possible) and I don’t think anyone knows what the answer is, but here’s what I do know. Too many tragedies have happened and something needs to change. I have no clue what that change is, but I do know that elementary aged children should never be involved in these mass shootings.

Photo credit: Flickr

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