Supreme Court promotes gun law

The US Supreme Court has, according to the BBC, ruled by a 5-4 majority that the US Constitution

protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home

and therefore that it is unconstitutional not to allow people to keep guns in their homes. While not allowing these guns to be used in anger, the ruling apparently implies that the state is not allowed to stop irresponsible people acquiring and keeping guns, which they can then use for all kinds of criminal purposes for which the only protection is a greater fire power of other guns. In other words, the Supreme Court has ruled that America must be governed by gun law, and state governments are powerless to stop it.

As I wrote last year, the result of this is that the rate of “intentional homicides committed with a firearm” in the USA in 2001 was about 20 times higher than in England and Wales. The striking down of the limited laws restricting guns which have been in force can only mean further increases.

Perhaps (although the slim majority implies that the legal arguments are ambiguous) the Supreme Court should not be blamed for their interpretation of the Second Amendment, passed at a time when the USA had only just broken away from the mother country and there may have been a need for citizens to defend themselves with guns. But in these times there can be no justification for proliferation of murderous weapons.

I call on the presidential candidates to announce their intention to amend the Constitution, to repeal or greatly modify the Second Amendment and introduce tight controls on hand guns. Only in this way can the USA become a safe place for future generations.

23 thoughts on “Supreme Court promotes gun law

  1. What are the statistics on crimes involving knives?

    Guns don’t commit the crime…criminals do. If you abolish handguns, criminals switch to knives.

  2. Whatever your stance on gun control, here in America you can’t avoid the suspicion that criminals will always have guns. There are truckloads of guns in this country. And laws against them will work as well as the war on drugs and your mom policing your room for those Playboys.

  3. Passing tough gun control laws only prevents law abiding good people access to guns. However the criminals have no such problem. How many lives in all our school shootings could have been saved if ANY of the security people had a gun. I myself don’t own a gun and probably wouldn’t ever, but I’m glad the Supreme Court ruled the way it did. Repealing the second amendment is an amazingly, ridiculous idea and I can’t see that happening in my lifetime thankfully.

  4. Whatever your stance on gun control, here in America you can’t avoid the suspicion that criminals will always have guns

    I would put it: you can’t avoid the FACT that criminals will always have guns.

    Assault weapons are illegal, but they come in from other countries. And only criminals have them.

    If criminals don’t have a problem breaking laws against theft and assault, what makes anybody think they will have a problem breaking laws against having handguns?

  5. Ellen, knives are a lot less dangerous. And sale and carrying of them should also be controlled, as it is here.

    Chuck, all I can say is that restricting handguns has worked here, in greatly reducing the number in circulation and in cutting gun crime. I accept that in many places in the USA the situation is so far out of control that it will be difficult to pull it back. Of course now it will get even more out of control. But that is no excuse for not trying.

    James, it may just mean that criminals get more powerful guns and use them more readily. But let’s see!

    Kyle, I support security guards having guns where necessary, under strict conditions. I don’t support the right of mentally unstable people like the school gunmen to have guns. Of course we don’t know in advance who they are, but proper checks on gun holders should help to weed them out.

  6. Ellen, I can’t find the data you want. But I note that in the USA in 2001 (latest full statistics I can find) there were 16037 homicides of which 8890 involved firearms (5.62/3.12 per 100,000 population), whereas in the UK there were 1039 homicides of which 112 involved firearms (1.76/0.19 per 100,000). So the great majority of UK homicides (not of US ones) do not involve firearms, but there are still more non-firearm homicides per population in the USA. So the general UK homicide statistics can more or less give an answer to your question, and these show a slight fall from 2002 to 2006 after an gradual increase before that. I have no idea how these trends relate to changes in gun laws.

    I understand you all wanting to work against the nanny state. We have had enough of it here in the UK. However, when I see your homicide rate, by a long way the highest reported in the western world, and I consider that the role of governments as defined in the Bible includes “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives” (2 Timothy 2:2), I would consider it the duty of your government to take appropriate steps to deal with this problem.

  7. Lol…I can’t help but laugh, Peter. No matter WHO gets elected this fall, there’s no way that the new President will try to amend that part of the Constitution. Amending the Constitution is serious business here…

    I also think that some of your assumptions about what the Supreme Court means by their ruling are incorrect, but I suspect that some of that is simply because you are English, and I presume, have never lived in the USA. I definitely do not interpret their ruling the same way that you do.

  8. It is hardly a surprise that McCain has not responded positively to my call. But I must say I am shocked by his response, as reported and so well commented on by Doug Chaplin. I am glad that at least one American, Jim West, agrees with us.

  9. Rhea, I am indeed not entirely familiar with the background. I have never lived in the USA. I wouldn’t want to live in such a dangerous place – well, I accept that not every part is dangerous! I’m sure there will be a lot of different interpretations of this ruling, which will keep lawyers busy for more decades.

    As for amending the Constitution, I am aware that this is a big deal, but at least a President can try. I don’t know why it is considered quite so difficult. It was quite common in the early 20th century, when there were nearly as many states as today, but the last successful proposal for an amendment was in 1971. Two more recent proposed amendments have failed. Is this why there been no new amendment proposals for 30 years?

  10. What is interesting…

    In North Dakota, which does NOT require a permit to purchase rifles, shotguns or handguns, does NO require registration of rifles, shotguns or handguns, does NOT require licensing of rifles, shotguns or handguns (other than federal requirements), DOES require a permit to carry a concealed weapon (but not, evidently if you carry it on your hip) has a murder rate of 1.4/100,000 (yes, less than 2).

    In New Hampshire, a person is also not required to register firearms and is not required to have a license to purchase from a license gun seller. Murder rate 1.4/100,000.

    Maine: exactly the same as North Dakota. No permit to carry a handgun on hip, no registration, no license. Murder rate, 1.4/100,000

    UK: 1.4/100,000 and you know the gun laws there.

    It seems that here in the States, the states with the lowest murder rates are the ones that have the laxest gun laws.

    The states where citizens have the easiest time owning and carrying a handgun have the same murder rate as the UK.

    The area with the highest murder rate in the country has a handgun ban (Washington DC has a handgun ban. The murder rate is roughly 35/100000.)

    I think that it is not the guns that are the problem…

    By the way…this website says that the first 2008 UK fatal stabbing happened within hours of the new year, with at least 3 more within the first week.

    As a gun owner…don’t try to take them away.

  11. Ellen, there is another factor that North Dakota, New Hampshire and Maine are all rural states, and Washington DC is a big city. It is of course in big cities, worldwide, that gun crime is a big problem. The DC authorities tried to do something about it, and now their attempts have been undermined. I am not calling for a constitutional amendment to ban hand guns throughout the USA! I am calling for one to allow states etc to restrict them where they consider that to help them in their duty to protect public safety and order.

  12. I think that the idea of amending the Constitution is BIG deal to Americans. I mean, we’re basically tinkering with our foundation as a nation. This is serious business for us, and as of late, we haven’t been able to do it. I think that we’re in a place where most only want to amend the Constitution if they find it ABSOLUTELY necessary as a nation. I just can’t think of any issue like that now where Americans can really all “agree.”

    As far as America being dangerous…it really all depends on where you live. I live in rural Kentucky, I see no problem with leaving my front door unlocked, and I know many people who leave their car doors unlocked. It’s a very safe area. On the other hand, my mother was born and raised in Edinburgh, and I can assure you that when I visit, we always lock the doors 🙂 Perhaps overall the US has higher crime rates, but again, I think that you need to break it down more and look at specific areas versus other specific areas. Certainly there are dangerous places in America, just as there are in the UK.

  13. I am calling for one to allow states etc to restrict them where they consider that to help them in their duty to protect public safety and order.

    Washington DC has the highest murder rate in the county. Can you please explain how the gun ban has helped? The DC gun ban is a couple of decades old and is currently in effect.

  14. Well, Ellen, if the problem is not the guns but the urban areas, let’s ban urban areas and make everyone live out in the country. That might not even be unconstitutional. 😉

  15. People in every country make laws and such in an attempt to improve crime rates, employment and so on. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Laws don’t work where they don’t change people.

    People are the problem (but no, we can’t ban people. Or… can we??).

    Criminals will always have access to the tools of their trade, regardless. It might be made harder or easier through several means but never impossible.

    So rather than saying whether or not a law is good, bad, right or wrong let’s find ways of helping each other on in ways that are good.

  16. Well, Ellen, if the problem is not the guns but the urban areas, let’s ban urban areas and make everyone live out in the country. That might not even be unconstitutional.

    – We can enforce the laws that we have.
    – We can do away with the “3 strikes and you’re out” law – what better way to make a twice convicted felon desperate not to get caught a 3rd time?
    – We can let the bad guys know that the good guys are serious about protecting themselves.
    – and we can stop pussyfooting around what sorts of people are committing the crime and who they are (largely) committing it against.

    I’m at the point where if a gang-banger has killed another gang-banger in retaliation for killing another gang-banger…and the circle goes on…I’m willing to face the possibility that could be a reason for the higher statistics in the murder rate in urban areas. I live in a fairly small city and we see that sort of retaliation here.

    – See the death penalty as a valid tool for making sure a murderer does not kill again.
    – crack down HARD on gang-members. I don’t care which demographic they come from.

    IF there needs to be a change in the Constitution, it does not involve restricting law-abiding citizens the means to defend themselves and their families.

    It might need to involve reassessing what the Constitution says about interstate crime and applying it to gangs that extend across state lines.

  17. Well, I guess I must be a little too American. They can have my gun when they pry it from cold dead hands. (Don’t take that too seriously) seriously though the more important part of the ruling is that the Court stood up for the rights of the governed over the government (not to give more power to criminals).

    That’s the important part – the Constitution empowers the people and limits the government – the signers of the Constitution lived under tyrannical governments and wanted to avoid that in the New World. The Constitution ensured that was the case.

    Seems to me, as an American, this aspect of the Constitution is even more important today than ever (empowerment of the people over the rulers). Especially with the Democrat Party becoming more and more liberal and crying out for more Socialistic style governing (which won’t happen with the 2nd Amendment upheld and affirmed by the Supreme Court of the Land). More than the fact of owning a gun, the 2nd Amendment empowers the people to be sure they live in a Free State.

    So all that to say the Supreme Court Ruling is less about dealing with Criminals and more about ensuring the rights of the governed over and above the rights of the government.

    As Ellen pointed out – we have PLENTY of Gun laws already in place to effectively maintain control. The problem is, they are NOT ENFORCED properly if at all.

    I personally feel the reason many want to ban guns and make everyone turn them in is not so much to reduce crime (even though they say this is it) as much as it is to give the Government more power – if the people don’t have guns the Government thinks they’ll be better able to control the people.

    It is how we are here in America, we value our freedom – sadly, we are not even near as free now as we were 20 years ago. Near continuous negative publicity by the liberal media has caused people to become willing to give up more of their freedoms to feel safe – soon there will be very little freedom and we’ll all be in a jam.

    At least, this is how I see it.

  18. Brian, sorry your comment was held in moderation for so long. I appreciate your comment about the importance of freedom from excessive government interference. However, I also see the biblical functions of government, and that for these to be effective in the modern world some kind of gun control is necessary. If there are effective and constitutional measures in place, then indeed let them be enforced, but I don’t see enforcing any measure is more consistent with freedom than banning the guns in the first place.

    I’m not sure why you think the Second Amendment protects you from socialism – not if the socialists, who may become the majority, manage to buy more guns! I hope you are not advocating armed rebellion against the decisions of a democratic Democratic administration, which I am sure is even less constitutional than restricting hand guns.

  19. Peter, there’s nothing in this decision that prevents states or cities from preventing irresponsible people from getting guns. Background checks are not invalidated. What the decision overturns is the D.C. law that didn’t allow anyone to get a privately-owned gun for any reason, and that does indeed violate a constitutional right. This decision simply recognizes that. It’s perfectly compatible with gun control laws that require a waiting period, a background check, some limits on which kinds of guns can be owned privately, and lots of other things. Some of the details will have to be worked out in the courts, but a lot of gun control laws remain in effect. There’s absolutely no question about that. Justice Scalia’s opinion is even explicit about saying that. I’m not sure where you got the idea that all gun control laws were overturned by this decision, but that’s not even close to true.

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