a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Kicking the can down the road

Posted by Thomas Nephew on October 9th, 2002

From William Burton’s much-linked post* on gun policy:

Once we’ve affirmed that the 2nd Amendment does confer the individual right to keep and bear arms, we will have taken a gun ban off the table. Once this is done, the majority of gun owners, knowing that their rights are safe, won’t object to reasonable gun control measures. A few will, but they’ll be much easier to overcome when their hysterical ravings are ignored by the majority of gun owners.

I’m not against seeking middle ground in the gun control debate. But this just kicks the can down the road. How exactly do you affirm the 2d Amendment does anything other than what it already says it does? Anything less than a constitutional amendment — a campaign pledge, an act of Congress — is ephemeral. But say you pass an “2.b Amendment” with the “Well regulated militia” part removed, like the NRA misstatement on their home page dreams of? Do you really believe a expanded guarantee to the right to bear arms would result in gun-lobby concessions to the state to effectively regulate ownership of those arms? Life doesn’t work that way.

Burton is wrong. We already have the Constitutional tool to both guarantee the individual right to keep and bear arms, and to effectively regulate gun ownership. We just don’t have the political will or talent to do it on the one side, or the will to civilly seek meaningful middle ground on the other.

*via Glenn Reynolds, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Jim Henley.
UPDATE, 10/10: “effectively regulate” link to article below.

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