The Politics of Guns and Fun


My earlier post discusses the constitutional basis for gun rights.   The important thing to remember about that is that the Second Amendment responded to a clear, historical need.

In fact, I think one can make the same argument about all of the Bill of Rights.  A democratic society needs free speech and freedom of religion. Members of a democratic society need the protections of the other amendments to shelter us from governments that may go astray in their desire to protect society at the expense of individual rights.

But, what we have today with the 2nd Amendment is the idea that it is about what people “want.”  People want military style rifles;  they want high capacity magazines; they want to carry concealed handguns; they want open carry of handguns.

No one other than a soldier or  a member of law enforcement needs a military style rifle with a high-capacity magazine.  Look thru the  gun magazines for lists of the best rifles for hunting.  What you see are hunting rifles and shotguns developed to help hunters.  Even home defense gurus say that you are really better off with a shotgun.

Military-style rifles like the AR-15 or a Sig Sauer MCX, like that used in Orlando are built with one purpose—to spread death and destruction as widely and quickly as possible.

Mother Jones recently noted:  “Sig  Sauer bills the MCX as ‘an innovative weapon system built around a battle-proven core.’ The company says it ‘stands as the first rifle to be silenced from the ground up. It also accepts a broad array of accessories, enabling you to build a complete weapon system for any scenario or environment.’  It has a military-spec trigger and a magazine capacity of 30 rounds. According to the book Guns of Special Forces 2001-2015, the MCX is known in military circles as the ‘Black Mamba’ and was developed at the request of the US Army’s special operations forces.” 

And, often these semi-automatic rifles can be relatively easily converted to much more rapid-fire.  The videos on Slate from a 2013 article by Justin Peters that show what a “legal” conversion can do to an AR-15’s rate of fire.  It goes to maybe 100 rounds per minute.  Why?  As the videos embedded in the article demonstrate, it’s great fun for the shooters.  For most of us,  it is simply scary as hell.

The recent SCOTUS decision to decline ruling on a challenge to Connecticut’s “assault weapons” ban is a small step in the direction of differentiating a right from a want.  The Ninth Circuit’s recent ruling that citizens have no right to concealed carry is another step in that direction. A simple desire to carry concealed doesn’t rise to the level of a constitutional right. Such rulings remind us of the true origins of the 2nd Amendment.  

Conservative often talk about an originalist position on constitutional issues.  I can think of nothing more in line with that style of interpretation than to bring the Second Amendment back into what it originally was—a need for an armed militia to protect the nation and the population. 

Heller may live on, but it can be viewed in the future as simply a modern statement of the common law right to protect your home, not a blanket under which you can hide a Bushmaster or a 100 round clip for your Glock pistol (yes, they have those for sale on the Internet).

But, gun nuts fear not, where the US Constitution “fails” you.  Most state legislatures fulfill your every wish.  

Kansans soon can carry concealed weapons without permits or training under a bill signed by Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday.

The new law, which kicks in July 1, makes Kansas the sixth state to allow “constitutional carry.” It will allow Kansans 21 and older to carry concealed firearms regardless of whether they have obtained a permit.

That’s right, folks.  Anybody over 21 can carry concealed in Kansas without a permit.  This is a major step toward the NRA’s heaven of “any gun, anywhere, for anyone.”
Though one sees some significant (well, they are significant largely because they are all we have to cheer about) and sensible gun laws at the State level. The Hawaii Leg, for example, just passed a law, first in the nation, putting its gun owners into what should be a national database so gun owners and guns can be tracked across state lines.  They also passed laws prohibiting persons convicted of stalkings or sexual assault from having guns.  Finally, another piece of legislation required that folks diagnosed with significant behavioral health problems must turn in their guns, or the authorities will come get them.
The last two efforts are not that controversial.  However, the right wing gun nuts will go bananas over the first.  That is, they are sure, all part of the the government’s plan to identify gun owners so that their guns can be confiscated when the UN black helicopters arrive to keep Obama in office.  In reality, anyone who thinks that probably falls within the purview of the last of those new laws–significant behavioral health problems.
So, the saga continues.  The bodies pile up, and progress is two steps forward, one to three steps back.  But, that is the politics of guns and fun.
At times I think we should follow Chris Rock’s suggestion.  Anybody can have any gun they want, we just make every bullet cost one hundred dollars.  It worked with cigarettes (higher prices lowered consumption); who can say what might happen?

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