The gun control debate will be with us for some time

Besides abortion, the right to bear arms may be the most polarizing issue in the United States.

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared up the question of whether a U.S. citizen has the constitutional right to keep a handgun in the home when it struck down the District of Columbia’s blanket prohibition of handgun possession in 2008. That ruling by the high court made it clear that the right to bear arms as spelled out in the Second Amendment is a right of the individual.

That, however, doesn’t mean that people have changed their minds on the subject, There are those who still believe that every American should be disarmed, just as there are those who believe everyone should be armed to the teeth with the latest technology if they want. Others of us fall into an area of varying degrees where we see the merits of finding ways to prevent mass killings such as the ones last year in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., along with the protection of the right to possession firearms for self-defense and sport.

The Newtown shootings were particularly disturbing because they involved the deaths of innocent children and heroic school personnel who tried to save them. The deaths have given Americans on all sides of the gun rights issue reason to take pause and consider the course in which America appears to be headed.

Obviously, what we would all like to see is a situation in which we have the best of all possible worlds — safe schools and streets and no infringement on constitutionally guaranteed rights.

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama gave his take on what he said he can do by executive order and what he wants Congress to do to combat the problem. Some of his suggestions have merit, while others raise concerns. For instance, we agree that laws are needed to make the “straw purchase” of guns a punishable crime with serious consequences. In those cases, a criminal has someone with a clean background buy the weapon for him, with the middle-man purchaser’s only risk being fines from paperwork violations. Also, we can’t see a need for armor-piercing ammunition, and there should be better communication between various state and federal agencies on individuals who can’t pass background checks.

We also agree that mental health care and access to that care should be improved in our country. But one aspect that Obama broached is particularly concerning — the references to doctors and mental health professionals reporting “direct and credible threats of violence to authorities.” First, the doctor-patient relationship only works if the patient has faith that conversations with the doctor are confidential. Second, who will define “direct and credible?” The doctor? The government? Will doctors feel compelled to report patients just to protect their practice? The effect could well be one in which patients, afraid that they’ll be reported to “authorities,” don’t openly discuss their feelings and concerns with their doctor, which could prevent the physician from being able to fully help the patient with proper therapy or medication. Mental health care needs to be improved in America, not hindered by a fear that the patient’s communications with the doctor will get him or her added to a government watch list.

Meanwhile, calling for a renewed ban on assault-style weapons and ammunition clips that exceed 10 rounds are likely non-starters in the conversation. Most observers don’t believe there are enough votes in Congress to get those measures passed.

Obviously, Obama, who has no more elections to worry about, figures this is the opportune time to go for stronger gun control measures. In the end, he will likely get some of his program passed and is a near guarantee that there will be legal challenges to some of his executive actions. But he also has sparked what is known in legislative circles as an “unintended consequence.” In this case, it’s the long lines that are forming in stores that sell guns.

The facts are that guns are not going away in America, nor are those who support and oppose gun ownership rights. Whatever occurs in Washington, it should focus on two things — protecting the right of law-abiding citizens to possess firearms and keeping weapons out of the hands of criminals.


MGYSGTUSMC 1 year, 3 months ago

Obama has a KING complex, not to be confused with Dr.Martin Luther King either. Executive orders are "limited" in power to CEO type instrutions to his staff in the Executive Branch. Why America allows this debate to focus on an inantimate object is beyond me. A true definition of an assualt weapon is the brick I just smacked you in the head with. Assualt is an action VERB, inantimate objects have no "will", no "conscience", and no "evil character''. Dangerious weapons are a myth, only dangerious minds. It is the individual that caused every mass murder since 1929, not the weapon of choise. Obama and his cronies in Washington are looking for CONTROL, not safety. They have taken a phrase that Mao frequently used: "Power comes from the barrel of a gun."; and they want all of the power.


RedEric 1 year, 3 months ago

Exactly right. Obama is a progressive. Freedom is to chaotic for Progressives. Someone is liable to invent a new energy source at any time and that would really mess up the organization. Progressives believe that we, the common people, would be much happier if our lives were totally controlled by the Elite.


waltspecht 1 year, 3 months ago

You forgot to add Slavery follows disarmament because the people no longer have a recourse.


Sister_Ruby 1 year, 3 months ago

His Royal Highness BHO is doing what Rahm Emmanual taught him back in Chicago, namely "Don't let a crisis go to waste".


Sister_Ruby 1 year, 3 months ago

"Besides abortion, the right to bear arms may be the most polarizing issue in the United States."

Could you imagine in your wildest dreams George Bush's White House lining up a bunch of kids who had written letters to him, saying "We are so thankful, Mr. President, for being born. We know that every year there are a million children aborted who never have the same chance to be born that we did. Please, Mr. President, we want the other children to have a chance to be born rather than die in abortion. Please, Mr. President, we know that you should have to wait for Congress to do something but we are asking you to do what you can do to help these children be born."

Then George Bush signs 23 Executive Acts making abortion more unlawful, more difficult, assigns various agencies of government to act to prevent abortions.......can you imagine what the LEFT and the LIBERAL MEDIA would do with THAT!!!


URWrongAgain 1 year, 2 months ago

Please read the entire post before you attribute this an argument against the Herald's editorial.

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared up the question of whether a U.S. citizen has the constitutional right to keep a handgun in the home when it struck down the District of Columbia’s blanket prohibition of handgun possession in 2008. That ruling by the high court made it clear that the right to bear arms as spelled out in the Second Amendment is a right of the individual.

True, but the Herald left out Scalia's (one of if not the most conservative judges and a strict interpreter of Constitution) contention that there is a limitation on weapon ownership. He went on to say ""We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of 'dangerous and unusual weapons',"

He also wrote for the majority that nothing in that ruling should "cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons or the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings."

Remember Scalia said all that during the same handgun ban ruling that this editorial cites as definitive right of an individual to bear arms. The example this paper cites was a very narrow law that banned handguns. It had nothing to do with rifles or shotguns, which were allowed by Washington DC law, abeit with certain restrictions.

That being said, I actually agree with the premise of this editorial and like the Herald find myself as one of those who fall somewhere in between the extremes on both sides of this argument. However, I don't think that discussion of assault weapon bans and gun clip restrictions are a non-starter. Every idea, even the ones I consider dumb as postulated by NRA LEADERSHIP (I recently realized that there NRA Leadership and NRA Membership don't necessarily jibe with each other), ARE and SHOULD BE on the table.


RedEric 1 year, 2 months ago

Obama is setting a lot of precedence, no budgets, liberal use of executive orders etc. these same actions can be used by future presidents. Someone who disrespects the constitution even more than the Obama progressives. Even someone who would use those practices against liberals and progressives. The Federalist papers can be considered the owners manual for the constitution. They will tell you the intent of sections of the constitution. Our government is supposed to follow the constitution. Only the people can change it.


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