Now that our friends in Gun-control Nation have helped Joe Biden become the 46th President of the United States, it’s time to get back to figuring out how to reduce the deaths and injuries caused by the misuse of guns.
Of course, the moment that groups like Everytown and Brady start making noise about gun violence, the other side will ramp up its campaign to defend 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ And first and foremost, in the arsenal of pro-gun narratives will be the phrase, ‘the right to bear arms.’
Once Gun-control Nation begins reminding everyone that the 2nd Amendment and the ‘right to bear arms’ is just as important as anything else in the Bill of Rights, the gun-control organizations and public health researchers will fall all over themselves pledging total and unquestioned fealty to gun ‘rights,’ as long as some way can be found to reduce the deaths and injuries caused by all those guns.
There’s only one little problem, however, which is that for all the attempts to explain how and why the 2nd Amendment came to give Constitutional protection to personally owned guns, the discussion invariably talks about the legal and historic meanings and precedents of the words ‘keep’ and ‘bear,’ while the word ‘arms’ gets no attention at all.
My late friend Antonin Scalia’s 2008 Heller opinion which redefined 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ runs toughly 20,000 words. Know how many words are devoted to the issue of ‘arms?’ Try less than two hundred. And what Scalia says is that the 2nd Amendment refers to handguns that are traditionally found in the home, not the guns designed for the military, i.e., ‘weapons of war.’
What Scalia doesn’t say, nor is it ever mentioned by anyone who has contributed verbal or written hot air to the gun debate on either side, is that the guns whose use is responsible for at least 80% of all gun violence, maybe more, happen to be weapons of war. Try Glock, try Beretta, try Sig, try Colt, – these are all guns that were designed for military use and are carried by troops everywhere.
Now the fact that we are the only country which lets civilians have free access to those weapons of war doesn’t mean that such guns should be covered by Constitutional protection just because they happen to be in the home. You can also buy and keep a full-auto machine gun in your home, except you need to go through a much more intensive and expensive licensing process, which is why the last time someone was murdered with a full-auto gun was 1947 or so.
Not only did Scalia totally misunderstand and mis-state this issue, but the other side, the Gun-control Nation side, gets it wrong too. Why do we have so much gun violence? Because according to our friend David Hemenway, we own so many guns, perhaps as many as 300 million, perhaps even more.
But if David would take the trouble to do a slight amount of research into what kind of guns actually are used in fatal and non-fatal assaults, he would quickly realize that most of the guns sitting in the American civilian arsenal have nothing to do with gun violence at all. I own a Remington 700 bolt-action rifle chambered in .270 Winchester caliber, the Remington factory has probably produced and sold more than 20 million of these guns over the years.
How many Remington 700 rifles mow someone down in the street? None. Ditto the fabled Winchester Model 70 rifle or the Browning Auto-5 shotgun which has taken millions of high-flyers out of the sky. The only person who ever got injured with a semi-auto shotgun was the guy that Dick Cheney shot by accident, okay?
If my friends in Gun-control Nation would stop obsessing about the 2nd Amendment and learn a few quick facts about how guns are designed and used, maybe just maybe they could sit down and come up with a strategy that would have a real impact on how many Americans are killed and injured each year with guns.