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Sticks & Stones May Break My Bones, But Guns Can Always Kill Me: Rhetoric & Violence in Tucson January 11, 2011

Posted by legalethicsemporium in Criminal law, Gun Control, Law, Ethics & Society, U.S. Constitution.
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There is little to be said that has not already been said about the tragic shooting in Tucson that killed 6 and wounded many others including Representative Gabrielle Giffords.  The media and internet is inundated with analysis attempting to explain/blame the impact of the vitriolic, hyperbolic political rhetoric that has become the mainstay of many politicians, bloggers, and media coverage.

However, regardless of the sociological debate about the ability of words to incite violence in an already unbalanced human being, one simple, bare fact remains true.  If it weren’t so easy to purchase a semi-automatic pistol that holds 30 rounds of ammunition then maybe 20 people would not have been shot instantaneously.

As Robert Dallek writes, “Only one thing seems certain in trying to understand the gap between rhetoric and action in our national discussions about violence in America: the ease with which perpetrators can acquire the means to commit mass murder. However often we lament the horrors committed by deranged killers, we seem incapable of reining in the capacity of the murders’ ability to acquire the handguns, automatic weapons, and rifles they use to create such mayhem.”

In fact, the New York Times reports that, “Arizona’s gun laws stand out as among the most permissive in the country. Last year, Arizona became only the third state that does not require a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The state also enacted another measure that allowed workers to take their guns to work, even if their workplaces banned firearms, as long as they kept them in their locked vehicles. In 2009, a law went into effect allowing people with concealed-weapons permits to take their guns into restaurants and bars…

In the last two weeks, two bills were introduced relating to the right to carry guns on college campuses, one allowing professors to carry concealed weapons and one allowing anybody who can legally carry a gun to do so.”

Query: Even if the Founding Fathers envisioned that the Second Amendment would ultimately permit citizens to own hand guns for use beyond the needs of forming a state militia–which is the subject of vehement debate in our country–does any private citizen really need a concealed weapon that holds a 30 round magazine?



Bang Bang II— Want a Gun? Go West…No Just Look West July 6, 2010

Posted by legalethicsemporium in Law, Ethics & Society.
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An earlier Bang Bang post  reflected upon the Supreme Court’s recent decision that requires state and local governments to recognize an individual’s  2nd Amendment ‘s right to bear arms.   Bang Bang II is posted to  note the fact that anyone wanting  to carry a concealed firearm may be able to get licensed by the state of Utah without so much as ever learning how to shoot the deadly weapon.

That’s right, apparently 32 states recognize a gun license if it is issued by Utah and Utah will accommodate you in your  state—The proverbial “go west young man” is made unnecessary by a gun safety class that is  available for $62.25 in your own state  and does not require any shooting practice.  (To read the entire article from today’s New York Times just click here.)

 ‘Just kind of leaves you wondering… If the Founding Fathers could have imagined the state of Utah, what would they think?

Bang, Bang, The Supreme Court Rules that the 2nd Amendment is Sound June 29, 2010

Posted by legalethicsemporium in Law, Ethics & Society.
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So, this week the  U.S. Supreme Court  held that the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms is an individual right that cannot be impinged upon by  state and local governments.  It did not overturn Chicago’s gun control laws, but rather told the lower courts to reconsider the validity of those laws which appear to be invalid under the Court’s ruling.

 One really has to pause and wonder whether the Founding Fathers ever would have imagined that their need to be able to organize a state militia would translate into the wide spread misuse of hand guns  and a community’s inability to restrict gun ownership in the interest of safety.

‘“The reasons that motivated the framers to protect the ability of militiamen to keep muskets available for military use when our nation was in its infancy, or that motivated the Reconstruction Congress to extend full citizenship to freedmen in the wake of the Civil War, have only a limited bearing on the question that confronts the homeowner in a crime-infested metropolis today,” Justice Stevens wrote in his final dissent before retiring.

He said the court should have proceeded more cautiously in light of “the malleability and elusiveness of history” and because “firearms have a fundamentally ambivalent relationship to liberty.”’ (Entire quote is from the NYTimes article linked above.)

Stay tuned because there will be much more litigation concerning the “ambivalent relationship” between  gun control laws and liberty.   The Supreme Court has decided  that the Constitutional right to bear arms is an individual right that must be respected by the states, but has not provided specific guidance on which gun control laws may be able to pass Constitutional muster.  Predictions are that gun control opponents are loading their legal arsenal and ready to take a shot at the constitutionality of existing gun control laws in communities throughout the country.

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