I am an advocate for gun control because, as I expounded in my previous post, of my inherent belief in the incompetence of all humans. A major impediment to gun control in the US is the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution, which 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.” The two key phrases of the 2nd Amendment are “well regulated Militia” and “right … to bear arms” and there has always been constant tension over what they exactly mean. The current Supreme Court, prior to Antonin Scalia’s death, held that the 2nd Amendment means that people can bear arms under any circumstance and this has led to the overturning of many gun control measures in cities like Washington DC and Chicago. However, this has not always been the case. Previous courts have put more weight into the “well regulated” part and allowed for some gun restrictions.
Although the right to bear arms is considered to be the conservative position, I actually think there is an equally compelling conservative argument for gun control. One of the things that conservatives argue for is that government should be less centralized and that individual states should be able to set their own laws, as long as they don’t violate the Constitution. Hence, gun control advocates should use a “States’ Rights” argument that communities should be able to establish their own interpretation for how “well regulated” and “right to bear arms” should be balanced. Instead of trying to fight for uniform federal gun control laws, they should argue that local laws should be allowed to stand, provided that they do not completely outlaw guns. So if Washington DC wants an assault weapons ban, that should be fine. If Chicago wants to limit magazine sizes in hand guns, that should also be okay. People in gun ravaged cities like Baltimore should not have to have gun laws that might be popular in states like Idaho be forced upon them. Depending on who fills the vacant position on the next Supreme Court this line or argument could be moot but I think it is one that gun control advocates should perhaps pursue.
3 thoughts on “A conservative legal argument for gun control”
A bit off-topic, but the PBS Frontline documentary “Gunned Down,” does a decent job showing how the leaders of the NRA were able to play some brilliant political chess over the past few decades against gun control advocates. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/gunned-down/ The NRA leaders have done a pretty good job whipping up a subset of gun owners into a frenzy with appeals to conspiracies and emotions. They have capably mitigated friction within the organization by alluding to the specter of a government ready to go tyrannical at any moment. A point the documentary touches on is that grassroots support for gun access is driven by hobbyists who think about guns and their availability all the time (and are making sure to let their conservative congressmen know about it), whereas public interest in gun control wanes in between tragedies. It is still too politically costly for representatives hailing from conservative districts to go for gun control — that is asking to be killed in their primary. The states’ rights argument could work for more moderate conservatives, but I think the diehards would remain unmoved.
@wally. It’s meant to protect gun control measures that are already popular in places like DC and Bloomington IN. Currently outside parties are then suing and overturning. The argument only needs to pursue 9 people and at this point maybe just 1
I was living in west Virginia (mountain part) when bush was running for president. W Va used to be a ‘democratic state’ but it went ‘republican’. All the people I talked to said the democrats were going to take their guns. At that time, people actually hunted year round for deer and such. (a few people still make moonshine). there do seem to be a lot of guns around. The problem with places like DC or Chicago is even if they aren’t sold locally, people just go the Virginia or across the city line and buy them there and sell them here. (someone got shot down the street from me recently —- I saw the activity and asked the police what was up—they told me to go inside. this was at a nice playground too—5 years ago it was a dump but now is fixed up quite nicely and well used mostly by families and teens, tho up the street it can be hazardous to walk).