Sandy Hook Shootings Prompt Gun Control Law Change

Sandy Hook Shooting Prompts Gun Control Change

Since the Sandy Hook shootings, the first major push for tighter gun controls in years has swept the nation. Numerous polls have shown significant majorities in favor of stricter background checks for gun purchases. Unfortunately, these efforts have sparked a backlash from pro-gun advocates, resulting in the defeat of a Senate bill that would expand background checks and close existing loopholes in current law. While the gun lobby claims they are standing up for their Second Amendment rights, they actually are trampling the rights of others.

Nothing in the Constitution explicitly states that citizens have the right not to be shot down in the streets, but several passages clearly imply this right. The first sentence of the document charges the government to “ensure domestic tranquility” and “promote the general welfare.” Neither of these laudable goals are promoted by an unrestricted right to purchase a gun. Furthermore, Article IV, Section 4 guarantees every state protection against “domestic violence.” The federal government has an indisputable mandate to protect citizens against gun violence.

Seemingly at conflict with government power to implement gun restrictions, the Second Amendment states that “the right to bear arms shall not be infringed.” Many pro-gun advocates claim this right is unrestricted, and any law that limits gun ownership is unconstitutional. However, when the Bill of Rights is viewed as a whole the fallacy of such claims become clear. Numerous limitations of fundamental rights have been recognized. Child pornography laws rightly limit the freedom of speech and the press. Some warrantless searches are allowable, as are changes of venue in criminal cases. The language of the Third and Seventh Amendments clearly state that exceptions can be made to their provisions as long as they are prescribed by law. Limitations of individual rights are not only allowable, they are necessary for public safety and the protection of society as a whole.

In addition, the Ninth Amendment declares that enumerated Constitutional rights “…shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” The right to bear arms cannot supersede the right to life, security, or any other. The Second Amendment itself implies limitation in the use of the word “regulated.” Taken as a whole, the amendment demonstrates the wise and wonderful balance evident throughout the Constitution. The Framers obviously understood the dangers of absolutes. The rash of mass shootings and the tens of thousands who die each year from gun violence make evident the need for this generation to strike a similar balance between gun ownership and public safety.

No law can completely eliminate gun violence. Even a total ban of firearms would not solve the problem. Evil-doers with intent to harm others will always seek the means to circumvent the law. Also, other issues must be addressed, such as mental illness and the violence inherent in our society. But people who claim we must do nothing and attempt to derail any effort to mitigate gun violence are declaring that their individual rights are superior to the rights of others, and above the rights of society as a whole. Universal background checks do not violate any rights. The insistence that no restrictions be placed on gun ownership violates the rights of everyone.

Written By: Kenneth Barnes

7 Responses to "Sandy Hook Shootings Prompt Gun Control Law Change"

  1. John Jones   July 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    I think Ken Barnes is a great parliamentry debater, who I saw in Minnesotta. He has a great point. Way to tell them Mr. Barnes.

  2. Kenneth Barnes   May 12, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Of course implied rights rise to the level of enumerated ones. The Ninth Amendment (unlike the Second) is unambiguous. The Framers knew that an exhaustive list of rights was impossible, and some feared that the very act of enumeration would be construed as a denial of rights not specifically mentioned in the Constitution. Therefore they included an amendment that clearly states that no implied or inherent right can be superseded by enumerated ones.

    On the subject of “expressed” and “implied” rights, the expressed claim of a right to “unfettered access” to firearms implies that criminals and terrorists have a right to buy a gun anywhere, at any time. Advocates of totally unrestricted gun ownership are either saying they are in favor of criminals with guns or, if they would prevent such people from buying guns, they are claiming a right they would deny to others. Or maybe they haven’t followed their argument to its logical conclusion.

    The truth is that some people should not be allowed to own guns. While an armed populace may be essential for the protection of democracy, people with a history of violence should not have access to firearms. Universal background checks are the only means we have to distinguish the good guys from the bad, short of waiting until they open fire.

    Finally, if a would-be gun purchaser undergoes a background check and then obtains a firearm, exactly how has his or her rights been violated? Inconvenience does not rise to the level of infringement.

  3. Larry Arnold   May 11, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    [ Numerous polls have shown significant majorities in favor of stricter background checks for gun purchases.]

    So when 86,000 NRA members showed up for their convention in Houston (a blue city) why is it the gun control folks couldn’t scrounge up even 86 protestors?

  4. TSgt B   May 11, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Bob G – VERY well written and considered reply. I would add on that the Second Amendment, and the current and proposed “background checks”, place the burden of proving one’s innocence BEFORE BEING “ALLOWED” to exercise a Right which specifically states “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED”.

    The author of this “article” is guilty, like so many of his cohorts, of “cherrypicking” data to find that which suits his own likes and supports his agenda. Critical thinking is definitely NOT his strong suit.

  5. BHirsh   May 11, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Implied rights don’t rise to the level of enumerated ones. Implied is subjective; enumerated is objective. When a right is enumerated, there is no reason to “prove” that it exists; it is presumed to exist by its very enumeration.

  6. Bob G   May 11, 2013 at 7:10 am

    While the 3rd and 7th Amendments in the Bill of Rights may contain phrases which allow modification by law, and others give the government ‘wiggle room’ such as the 4th’s prohibiting “unreasonable searches and seizures” without a warrant (thus allowing ‘reasonable’ ones), the 2nd does not. It, like the 1st, is a categorical denial of power to the government to enact restrictions on the Peoples’ rights. That such restrictions have been enacted regardless only illustrates how far we as a country have strayed from the Constitutional ideal, and the right response to the situation is not to go even farther afield but to return to the correct path.

    The Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution, raises the concept of the right to Life, Liberty (not, note well, ‘security’) and the Pursuit of Happiness (originally Property). An effective, well-equipped militia (in the lexicon of the time of the founding, a ‘well regulated’ one) is essential to maintaining those rights, and that is why the Peoples’ ability to obtain and maintain arms is supposed to be unrestricted.

    Societies do not have rights, only individuals do. If those rights are specifically addressed in the Constitution, then they do supercede vague ‘conceptual’ rights. Indeed, as in the case of the 2nd amendment, they may guarantee those other rights even if you don’t see it that way.

    Since a universal background check is an infringement on my ability to obtain firearms it does indeed violate my right to keep and bear arms, and insisting on unfettered access to guns does not in any way violate my rights. Therefore, the final two statements in this piece are ludicrous.


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