Thursday, July 26, 2012

Time, Place and Manner and the 2nd Amendment

I – like most Americans – believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms. I think we recognize the traditions of gun ownership passed on from generation to generation, that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage. But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers and not in the hands of crooks. They belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities."
. . . — President Barack Obama

Time, place and manner.

Good people can disagree on time, place and manner.

The NRA agrees that bearded fellows named Mohamed should not be allowed to carry bazookas in an airport.

Everyone is OK with a .22 down on the farm.

The real debate is in between.

And it's all about time, place and manner.

The fact that an AK-47 is (mostly) illegal while AR-15 is (mostly) legal goes to the heart of the matter.

What's the difference when you are standing in front of a movie theatre at midnight with a 100-round magazine and malice in your heart?

Should guns belong in the hands of crooks?  What's a crook?  Are we going to allow the heads of pharmaceutical companies to owns guns even as they steal billions through fraud, while we prevent someone with a felony arrest for shoplifting at age 17 from ever owning a gun?

Should guns belong in the hands of the crazy?  Who is crazy?  Is everyone who is bipolar to be banned from owning a gun?  How about all the neurotics who take Ambien to go to sleep?   How about Scientologists?  People who believe in aromatherapy? Where do you draw the line?

One thing everyone agrees on (even the NRA), is that the line has to be drawn somewhere.


Donald McCaig said...

Dear Patrick,

The NRA likes to argue that the 2nd amendment was designed, in large part, to make sure citizens would be able to overthrow a tyrannical government.

At present, Americans are allowed to own only those weapons which would be of little use against a tyrant. W/o Nato warplanes AK47 armed Libyans would have been defeated.

And, suppose some bold citizen offered on the internet to sell a few Stinger missiles? One hopes their life insurance was paid up.

Donald McCaig

Sean said...

The argument for decades on the pro-gun side was "we must oppose all restrictions" because we did not have a general recognition that the 2nd Amendment codified an individual right. Many argued that it was a right of the states expressed through militias. Under such circumstances, the individual should oppose all restrictions to avoid loosing the right entirely.

This argument no longer works. We have the Heller decision. The Heller decision and its progeny put gun rights on par with free speech rights. We are Ok with restrictions on shouting fire in a theater because we know that the Court will strike down laws which unreasonably restrict free speech.

We should take the same logical step when it comes to gun laws. We can be reasonably sure that the Courts will prevent congress from grabbing all of our guns. It is time to accept reasonable restrictions on gun purchases just as we accept reasonable restrictions on free speech.