Supreme Court says yes to guns


I find it interesting that the Supreme Court has given a big thumbs up to the 2nd amendment and a thumbs down to the 4th.

Amendment II

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.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court trashed a 32 year old DC law which banned handguns. The NYT described the law this way – Not only did the 1976 law make it practically impossible for an individual to legally possess a handgun in the district, but it also spelled out rules for the storage of rifles and shotguns. But the court did not articulate a specific standard of review for what might be a reasonable restraint on the right to possess a firearm.

I can and will go through this decision. But, it seems to me that, we need to make the 2nd amendment clear. We can argue for weeks on end how to read the 2nd amendment. How should the militia clause be read? Are “the people” part of the militia or are the frames talking about all citizens? There is no “right” answer. We need to amend it.

I think the exercise of trying to figure out what the framers meant more than 200 years ago is crazy. Our society is completely different than theirs. As a matter of fact, walking through East St. Louis today is very different than back in 1789. They had no idea what a drive by shooting is but that is a reality of our life or at least life in the inner city of Houston, Baltimore and several other of our big cities. The constitution needs to reflect today’s reality.

As a trauma surgeon, I see almost everything bad that can happen with a gun. I’ve seen accidental shootings which is left 10 year old boys paralyzed. I’ve seen the anguish of the parents as they are wondering how the kids got the gun. Unfortunately, the anguish and the sorrow simply don’t matter. The bottom line, we need to be more responsible with our firearms but, since we aren’t, we must have the ability to make laws that keep us safe. An ER physician from Emory University shares this sentiment in an OP-Ed in WaPO.

So, in my opinion, new constitutional amendments are needed. (Better yet we may need a new constitution but I’ll save that idea for another post.) We must be able to ban assault weapons. We need to be able to ban fully automatic weapons (machine guns). We need to be able to control handguns. We need to be able to keep guns from felons or the 0mentality disturbed. Safety locks are not unreasonable. Frequent gun registration is not an unnecessary burden. Finally, we should be able to ban armor piercing bullets.

I have no desire to ban all weapons. I have no desire to ban all handguns. Please don’t e-mail me with statistics. These statistics have been massaged by both sides of this debate so much that you can prove almost anything if you look at the right statistic. I’m sure there’s some advocates for guns who can show me a statistic in which having a gun makes you smarter, more attractive and more successful in life. I’m sure someone on the other side of the argument can show me statistics that banning weapons allows you to own two hybrids and increases the whale population.

Reasonable people should be able to sit down and come up with a reasonable laws. Keep the zealots from both sides in the closet. (Zealots would be those who think everyone should be able to have any gun that anyone wants. On the other side, a zealot would be someone who believes that all guns should be outlawed.)

3 Responses

  1. With the Supreme Court deciding this question, the NRA just lost a ton of cash for their organization. I wonder what they will be fighting for next to keep their enrollment up. Their main cause was just settled.

  2. Personal firearms: yes, but highly regulated – at least as much as automobiles are (license, registration, etc)—a privelege, not a right.

    Agree with you convicted felons, diagnosis of mental incapacity, and assault weapons would be grounds for automatic disqualification.

    Weapons violations should be uniform, harsh and predictable.

    From where you sit (trauma surgeon dealing w/ GSWs, urban experiences) I do understand your POV. However, guns are part of my heritage, so I am more liberal about this issue.

    Sadly, there will be incidents, but not if gun laws are extremely strict. We will never stop the crazies who go on a rampage. But I sure feel more secure when alone with my weapon. Take this responsibility very seriously, with regular practice, etc.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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