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Saturday, March 08, 2008

In Arizona, not Oklahoma, what does it matter

Well, it was in the New York Times, and now I heard a story about it on NPR, so I guess everyone has heard that the Arizona legislature is considering a measure to allow people with concealed weapons permits to carry their guns on college campuses.

On the one hand, this is a really stupid bill. The stated purpose is to prevent things like the NIU and Virginia Tech shootings from being so bad because students, staff & faculty would act as a line of defense against the shooters before police arrive. Unless we are going to require one to trained to be a state trooper to carry a concealed weapon, I doubt very much Joe Public will have the clear-headeness, let alone accuracy, to "take out" a mentally ill student shooting up the school. It could obviously exacerbate the situation and prolong the tragedy, maybe even resulting in the citizen hero being killed by police. But also, these things happen very seldom.

This is my question: Isn't it a civil liberty to be allowed to carry a gun?

As a liberal, I'm happy to have the government regulate buying and selling. Ditto for public safety: for example, I'm okay with the government making sure guns don't blow up in people's hands. But why should I want hand guns limited at all?

Oh, and for the record, Arizona is the only state to have defeated an anti-gay marriage ballot measure. Just FYI.

5 comments:

Matt Dick said...

I do not think the Constitution states: "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, except on College Campuses."

So if there isn't an exemption for campuses, why is this an issue?

For the record, encouraging 18-22 year-old males to carry firearms hidden on their person at all times is insane.

JimII said...

You know, for all the noise, I don't think the Second Amendment has ever been read by the U.S. Supreme Court to guarantee a right of personal gun ownership. I think they've always read the first phrase along with the second.

However, Arizona's constitution does provide a right of personal gun ownership.

And, as a living constitution guy, I think that the right in the Second Amendment includes the notion that individuals should be allowed to own and carry weapons, even though it wasn't much of an issue during the drafting of the constitution, and thus the right should be found there today.

Matt Dick said...

It's a fascinating issue.

What is very likely true is that the framers of the Constitution probably had no reason to think that a "well regulated militia" would ever mean anything but the right to bear arms personally. Sure they knew about canons, but even a government employing canons couldn't hold out long against a majority of the populace using their hunting muskets.

Tanks and missiles and aircraft reducing the hand gun and rifle to insignificance was not in their thinking. Clearly.

So what does it mean to us, who have to decide if assault rifles are okay for people to own? I don't know. On one hand I just want all guns to be reduced in prevalence. On the other hand, when you start seriously abridging the Big Ten, regardless of how reasonable you can make your argument sound about "clearly the framers didn't mean...", well, I get scared. The Big Ten are pretty important.

The truth is that at the close of the 18th century, militias implied personal gun ownership. Today that's silly. In order to really maintain a well-regulated militia that has any hope of being an army, we'd need to allow a private group of citizens to own medium-range missiles. Even I'm against that.

So it means that the 2nd Amendment is a hopeless relic. That disturbs me.

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