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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Gun owners do not have a consummate right to own their weapons

In an opinion piece in the NY Times, Andrew Rosenthal said: “Even if you believe the Second Amendment grants each American an individual right to own a gun, which remains a matter of some debate, it does not follow logically, legally or constitutionally that this right is absolute. No right granted by the Constitution is totally exempt from limitations.”  The key word is absolute and refutes this claim by wacky Wayne LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Assn. (NRA).

Rosenthal continues by citing Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s 2008 comment that “offers to provide or requests to obtain child pornography are categorically excluded from the First Amendment.”  Rosenthal likens this thinking to the fact that it is also unreasonable to allow the purchase of semiautomatic rifles with 100-round magazines without even a background check.  Like at some gun shows by unlicensed dealers (the gun show loophole).

The carnage of this loophole is horrendous as evidenced by the recent mass shootings; see yesterday’s post.  Up to 40 percent of all private gun purchases at gun shows occur with no background check whatsoever, another absurd right the NRA protects like owning an assault rifle.  Bob Costas opened the media door to dialogue on this issue when he said emphatically that he believes we need more “comprehensive and more sensible gun control legislation.”  

But another gun rights activist wacko, David Kopel, said, following the murder-suicide by NFL player Jovan Belcher, that “there is no link between firearm availability and homicide.”  The conservative media followed suit with more false claims until Piers Morgan on CNN corrected this drivel with Harvard research stating, "states with higher levels of household gun ownership had higher rates of firearm homicide and overall homicide."

Morgan confronted Kopel that the United Kingdom has strong gun laws and a fraction of the gun homicides in the U.S.  Britain has 35 to 45 gun murders a year: America has 11 to 12 thousand.  Kopel wasn’t convinced.  The CNN host then cited Japan with the toughest gun control laws in the world and the fact that they have only 2 to 10 gun murders a year.  Harvard’s David Hemenway found firearm homicides in the U.S. 19.5 times higher than other high-income nations.

Kopel said Scotland was the most violent country in the world.  If this was supposed to relate to gun violence, the fact is that in 2009, there were two gun murders in Scotland, placing its rate at 0.04 per 100,000 people. In 2010, there were 11,078 gun homicides in the United States. Our per capita rate of 3.59 per 100,000 is nearly 90 times higher than Scotland's rate.  The numbers are stark yet the gun nuts continue to be completely clueless.

In an article in the New Yorker in early 2912, Jill Lepore says, “The modern gun debate began with a shooting. In 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald bought a bolt-action rifle—an Italian military-surplus weapon—for nineteen dollars and ninety-five cents by ordering it from an ad that he found in American Rifleman.”  Both junk mail and gun violence at their worst.  Legislation was introduced and passed to restrict mail-order sales of shotguns and rifles, agreeable then to the NRA.

That, of course, was before wacky Wayne LaPierre took over the NRA, after which it was downhill for gun control.  Until now.  LaPierre and his goons are on the run and it looks like there is no let up by the gun control advocates to push through new regulations on the ownership and use of guns.  The fiscal cliff issue has garnered the attention of the White House and Congress for now but that won’t last forever and then gun control will return to the forefront.

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