Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

The Real Obstacles to Gun Control ; Theyre Big Ones: Our Constitution and Our Culture

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

The Real Obstacles to Gun Control ; Theyre Big Ones: Our Constitution and Our Culture

Article excerpt

After recent shootings in South Carolina, Tennessee, and Louisiana, weve seen the same familiar ritual: gun-control advocates calling for more anti-gun laws, and gun-rights advocates responding that we already have such laws and they didnt prevent the tragedy. Often, the gun-rights people are right. There is no more poignant depiction of futility than the photographs of a door in Chattanooga with a Gun-Free Zone sign, riddled with bullet holes.

Intelligent gun-control activists realize that at some point, background checks and licensing requirements are just nibbling around the edges of gun violence. They understand that the Holy Grail the easiest way to keep firearms out of the hands of people who are determined to get them is a dramatic reduction in the number of guns in America.

Theyd like us to be France or Japan places where gun ownership is rare. But there are two problems with that.

The first is the Second Amendment. In its 2008 Heller decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the right to bear arms in the Bill of Rights is an individual right that takes certain policy choices off the table, including a ban on handguns held and used for self- defense in the home.

It was gratifying to watch liberals in that case develop an intense and painstaking interest in the Constitutions text and the original intent of the Framers, things that normally dont capture their imagination.

But Justice Scalia has devoted a career to thinking about exactly those things, and his textual analysis carried the day. The Second Amendment lives, and it applies to individuals not merely militias, as liberals wanted.

The Constitution could, in theory, be amended. But thats not a course activists are pursuing, for obvious reasons. Americans consistently support private gun ownership by wide margins.

The second obstacle for gun restrictionists is the sheer number of firearms in this country. Reputable estimates put the number around 310 million, and some believe it to be much higher.

Americas frontier history, its military and hunting traditions, its wide-open, sparsely populated spaces they all contribute to our uniquely gun-loving culture. …

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