Michael Tabman

Another Mass Shooting, The Right to Bear Arms and Be Careful What You Ask For

In Crime and Security on August 7, 2012 at 11:23 am

We all have our opinions as to what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the 2nd Amendment.  Those differing opinions have led to spirited and even hostile debate.  But, there is only one opinion that matters.

While the 2nd Amendment argument was not necessarily settled, the Supreme Court made a bold statement in its October 2010 decision in the McDonald v. Chicago case when Justice Samuel Alito Jr. wrote, “It is clear that the Framers . . . counted the right to keep and bear arms among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty.”  The decision did not address all issues of state versus federal rights and the reality that no right is without limits.  We often cite the prohibition of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater as a reasonable limit on free speech.  If we can limit free speech, we should be able to limit the right to bear arms.

Having grown up in New York City, I was accustomed to an environment where nobody I knew owned a gun.  Despite the high crime rates, I was comfortable with those strict gun laws as were almost all people I knew.  When I became a police officer in Fairfax County, VA, I began to change my mind a bit; I felt people should be allowed to maintain guns in their homes for self defense.  However, there is a clear line separating the right to have a gun in your home for self defense or hunting as opposed to stockpiling automatic weapons and high capacity magazines.

With two mass shootings occurring in a short time period, the gun law debates will heat up.  As I stated in my blog following the Aurora, Colorado shooting, I still believe the debate will dissipate and the gun laws will not change.  The strength of the gun lobby and the NRA, the lack of political will and the fleeting public resolve render the argument for gun control impotent.

I admire and strongly believe in the basic tenets of our Constitution.  Yet, we cannot lose sight that the Constitution was written in an era that accepted slavery and hung a man for stealing a horse – so legend has it.  Times change and the Constitution allows for change while still protecting our civil rights.

If we do not take a strong stance now, we will get what we ask for.

  1. I never used to be one of those people who said certain behaviors were symptomatic of society but I have a different take on what is happening with the mass shootings and that is that we live in a predatory age.


  2. I wrote my first book about women and guns, so spent a lot of time interviewing people on both sides of the issue — gunners and those who dislike/hate them. It is really complicated trying to explain to some people that rights also carry responsibilities.

  3. Reblogged this on walkingphilly and commented:
    Some sensible thoughts on gun control in the aftermath of Colorado. See Mr. Tabman’s follow-post after the recent accidental police shooting in New York too. A cool and clear head.

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