CHRIS FITZSIMON: Just What We Need: More Guns Showing Up in More Places
How would you feel if you found out your neighbor had a small nuclear bomb in his garage?
He might think he has a constitutional right. After all, the bomb simply means he is armed, and the Second Amendment doesn't make any exception to the right of the people to keep and bear arms. No infringement is allowed, what with the slippery slope and all.
What if your neighbor had a tank, or a bazooka, or a collection of sub-machine guns in the basement? Worried? Sorry, no infringement allowed. What about bringing a semi-automatic assault weapon to a contentious presidential town hall meeting? No problem.
That is one reading of the Constitution, that no infringement means no infringement, period. It's hard to believe that most Americans support that reading and believe in their neighbor's right to have weapons of mass destruction.
Some pro-gun activists believe the aim of gun-control advocates is to confiscate every gun and hunting rifle in the country, to completely ban the private ownership of any guns, though that's not what gun-control activists seek, or they would call themselves gun abolitionists, not gun-control groups. Almost every American would oppose a total ban on guns.
That means that arms will be regulated, infringed on, for safety and the overall public welfare. The questions are how much regulation, what kinds of weapons will be allowed, who will be allowed to have them, and how and where people can carry them.
The clear trend lately is to allow more people to have more guns in more places. The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled recently that the state's law banning felons from owning firearms unfairly denied a Garner man his right to buy a gun despite his felony conviction for drug sales.
The case prompted reactions from both sides of the gun debate. Gun-control advocates worried that it could lead to a repeal of the state's law keeping guns from felons, while pro-gun forces hailed it as another weakening of gun laws.
But it's not so black-and-white. Shouldn't a person who was convicted of a crime and served his sentence have his rights restored? A felon's right to vote is restored after their sentence is complete. And as worrisome as the ruling is for the fate of the Felony Firearm Act, the real questions are not just about the validity of that law.
Why are there so many guns in our society? Why is North Carolina among the top 10 states as a source of guns used in crimes outside its borders? A study proposed a few years ago to answer that question was shot down by the NRA before it ever started.
This session, state lawmakers passed legislation to allow magistrates to carry concealed weapons in the courthouse. A bill to allow district attorneys to carry them in the courthouse hallways passed the Senate and is eligible for consideration by the House next summer.
Lawmakers also considered legislation to allow concealed weapons in state parks and restaurants that serve alcohol. Whiskey and loaded handguns is always a wonderful mix.
Thankfully, neither bill passed, but unless things change soon, it is just a matter of time.
More people with more guns in more places. The laws are going backwards, and the laws still on the books that pro-gun advocates claim they want enforced rarely are.
There are not too many headlines about an undercover gun-buying operation or raids of places where people keep illegal guns.
Instead, we often see headlines like this recent one from WRAL.com: "Littleton girl in critical condition after accidental shooting."
The Littleton girl is 3 years old. She was in critical condition at last report. Every six days, a North Carolina child 17 or younger is killed by a gun in a homicide, suicide or unintentional shooting.
By all means, more guns for everybody.
Chris Fitzsimon is executive director of N.C. Policy Watch. Contact him at email@example.com.
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