In an opinion piece, published by the Huffington Post, Professor Alex Glashausser attacked the position that banning so-called ‘assault weapons’ would infringe the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms. The professor points out that while “Prisoners have a right to food… the menu options… are meager,” so as to illustrate how “it is not unusual… for a right to be confined.” The Professor goes on to assert that “a citizen has no greater claim to a machete than a prisoner has to spaghetti.”
The problem with this analogy, of course, is that law-abiding citizens are not prisoners.
The professor then accuses the pro-gun lobby of defacing the Constitution in order to claim an unfettered right to keep and bear any kind of weapon they please, asking “Do ‘Arms’ include AR-15s? ICBMs? How about grenades…?” Glashausser finally asserts that the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms would remain in tact “as long as people are permitted some weapons — say, simple pistols, or maybe even stun guns.” Stun guns? Really?
Look, no one is saying that citizens should be allowed to walk the streets with a nuclear trigger in hand – that would be crazy. Gun owners simply want the freedom to own firearms that are within the scope of reason.
No, our first Amendment rights do not extend to the protection of slanderous statements, because slanderous statements can cause serious, sometimes irreparable injury. So the question becomes: What injury to innocent persons justifies the ban of an entire class of firearms from the homes and hands of law-abiding citizens? Now, before readers start screaming about mass shootings, let me point out that in 2011 (the most recent statistics available), rifles in general were only used in 323 of the 8,583 firearm homicides. That’s .03%. In fact, more than double that number (728) were punched and kicked to death in that same year. American citizens rightfully have a hard time believing that the motivations of gun control advocates are anything other than scoring political points, and gaining control over another aspect of civilian life. If loss of innocent life were truly the motivation of gun control advocates, they’d go after handguns, seeing as how they are used in the overwhelming majority of firearm homicides. But, that would be unconstitutional. In fact, the Supreme Court indicated in the Heller case that weapons “in common use” for the purposes of self, and home-defense may very well be outside the scope of what Congress can prohibit. The fact is that the likelihood an innocent person will be injured or killed with a so-called ‘assault weapon’ is slim by any standard – let alone the standard that should be met before interfering with the freedoms of American citizens. Given the numbers, it would be quite hard to see how an ‘assault weapons’ ban could have a significant impact on gun crime and homicides. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported in 2002 that its task force on Community Preventive Services found “insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws (including the 1994 assault weapons ban) or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes.”
There’s no denying that gun violence is a problem. But an ‘assault weapons’ ban won’t fix it. More aggressive prosecution and mandatory minimum sentences, however, would certainly be a step in the right direction.