Even Justice Scalia, who in DC v. Heller greatly expanded the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, recognized that the right to bear arms is not absolute. In that decision, he noted that no one can question that the government has the power to regulate firearm possession, as through longstanding regulations preventing felons and the mentally ill from possessing dangerous weapons.
As a NY Times editorial pointed out today, while the problem of predicting the next terrorist or mass killer bedevils law enforcement, there is one thing that we should be able to agree will reduce the number of innocent lives lost. That is: better gun control. While it is not the only answer, it is a necessary step, and it is certainly about time.
Many states ban military-style assault weapons. Many states also ban high-capacity extended magazines. Such laws should be uniform. There should be no loopholes. They should be enforced federally. Unless you are in the military, you have no business with an assault weapon. They are designed only for mass killing, not self defense, not defense of your home, and not hunting.
Secondly, there needs to be better and smarter empirically-based rules preventing dangerous weapons from falling into the hands of the wrong people. Felons should not have them. The mentally ill should not have them. Drug addicts should not have them. And, yes, as President Obama presciently pointed out, why on earth should the FBI be able to place somebody on a terrorist-watch-list on a “no-fly list” but not a “no gun list”?
There will be plenty of time for finger-pointing, blaming and politics. But can’t we all come together to pass gun-control legislation that will save lives?