Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Second Amendment Conundrum



“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.”


The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution is held sacred by many in this country. In some circles, it’s held in the highest esteem of all the Amendments in the Bill of Rights.

To some, it means that I can keep a gun in order to defend myself, my home, and my family. Even though I’m a Democrat, I can support the Second Amendment. I don’t want your guns, and I don’t want to stop law-abiding citizens from being able to get one.

If you’ve been following the news of the last 24 hours, I’m sure that you have heard about the mass shooting early this morning at 32nd and Elmira Ave. It was a mass shooting and not a mass stabbing. It was not a mass baseball batting. It was not a mass grenading, and it certainly wasn’t a mass blunt force objecting. It was a mass shooting, and the second mass shooting in Indianapolis in less than a month.

This time, according to media reports, a masked gunman pulled up to a birthday party and fired an assault rifle multiple times. Eight people were left wounded, and two of those people are dead today.

Now, we can sit here and debate all day long about what we need to do as a community to stop these horrifying crimes. The fact is that we can’t stop a crazed gunman from making the decision to kill unless we get his gun first. If we do that, the person is crazed, but there is no gun to shoot people with in his hands.

It's not that simple, though. We cannot just take the guns. It’s the double-edged sword that our Constitution sometimes presents to us. On one hand, we want to protect our freedoms, but sometimes protecting those freedoms has unwanted consequences.

I don’t know the answers. I’m not saying that we should be taking all the guns off the streets or asking for you to hand over your lawfully-purchased gun. I believe in the rights of the property owner to protect his or her home or family or person. I guess I just don’t understand why we need assault weapons on our streets. I guess I just don't see how protecting assault weapons is something we should honor and maintain. Granted, it’s not going to make a hill of beans difference if someone gets a gun illegally as probably this individual gunman likely did. I don’t know if that’s true, but I think it's at least a safe bet.

Maybe we just need to put things on the table without being knee-jerk about it. Just talking about more common sense regulation isn’t necessarily going to infringe on your right to carry a gun. What some today would call “activist judges” over time at the state and federal level have broadly interpreted the Second Amendment giving you the right to have a gun in your home.

That’s the law of the land, and I’m not in favor of overturning it. I just wonder how true the “guns aren’t the problem; the people behind the guns are the problem” argument is anymore. It seems to me that if bad people didn’t get guns then we likely wouldn’t have the kinds of headlines that we have had here in Indianapolis over the last month.

If you can figure out how to walk that tightrope, you should be running for Congress.

4 comments:

Paul K. Ogden said...

"It seems to me that if bad people didn’t get guns then we likely wouldn’t have the kinds of headlines that we have had here in Indianapolis over the last month."

And therein lies the problem. Gun laws never stop the "bad people" from getting the guns. You only stop law-abiding people from getting them.

Andrew Troemner said...

"The fact is that we can’t stop a crazed gunman from making the decision to kill unless we get his gun first. If we do that, the person is crazed, but there is no gun to shoot people with in his hands."

I have a couple of issues with this statement:

1) The vast majority of people with guns actually have no intention whatsoever of having to use it. However, if they need to, they'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

2) The use of "crazed." Although your use was presumably not meant to be offensive, the mentally ill have problems enough than to be associated with people driving up with assault rifles.

3) In most cases, murders aren't random, and I would hazard a guess that a specific target was in mind in this case, not just a vague objective to shoot up the place. Obscuring your identity and withdrawing after the initial "shock and awe" indicates a measure of rationality.

We may not know exactly what the shooter was after at the moment, but if it was gang or other crime-related targeting, the issue at hand is less one of someone going crazy and shooting up the place, but rather one of costs and benefits. People will do what they have to do to make ends meet. And, when legal prospects are so terrible, there will be at least some people who engage in heinous crimes for profit.

Having been trained in the economics profession, I'm somewhat biased towards trying to solve all issues using economics. But certainly, if there were better job opportunities for young poor men (not just young black men), then there would be less crime overall.

Indy Student said...

I personally would like to know what the city law enforcement is doing to stop those that sell illegal guns. It isn't likely that the criminals who have committed these recent shootings went into a sporting goods store or gun store, but purchased it through a re-seller or the black market.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Paul, I would argue that you have absolutely no proof that gun laws have not been successful in preventing 'bad people' from getting guns. Respectfully, it strikes me as a generalization without merit.

Certainly, guns in the hands of untrained, unregistered, mentally ill, children, criminals etc. etc., are in fact used to kill innocent people, in a much more deadly irrecoverable manner. (The recent tragic incident of the 3 year old girl shot in the head by a 4 year old playmate comes immediately to mind. In my mind, that little girl would be alive today if not for the availability of that gun.)

I would see like to see laws enacted that would effectively regulate the making, importing, selling, purchasing of ammunition.

FishersDem