Writing Friday at the Dallas Morning News, a former federal prosecutor reached what may have been an unpleasant realization by acknowledging, “More gun control laws would not have prevented what happened in Dallas, Atlanta or Boulder.”
Erin Nealy Cox, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, also stated a fact routinely lost or at least misunderstood by the press and public: “There’s no question that we need to limit access to weapons for these extremists, but contrary to the popular view that such limitations don’t exist, those of us in law enforcement know that they do.”
Translation, though Cox may not realize it, is that criminals—including people intent on doing great harm though they have no prior criminal record—do not obey gun laws.
The country does have background checks, even at gun shows. Unlike voting, gun buyers must show photo ID to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
Simultaneous to Cox’s Op-Ed in the Dallas Morning News, Rutgers political science Professor Ross K. Baker laments at USA Today that “gun control is a lost cause.”
“What kills (gun control) efforts in Congress,” Baker complains, “is the recognition in the minds of politicians that there are voters in their states and districts who are Second Amendment absolutists, whether they be the kind of people who shoot at targets for practice or those who might shoot at people because of malice or derangement.”
Many in the firearms community are definitely “absolutists,” and they base that position on the operative phrase in the Second Amendment: “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” They will argue all day and night that any gun control law is an “infringement.”
Baker further argues, “The once plausible argument that gun ownership was somehow connected to membership in state militias was cast aside by a Supreme Court dominated by ‘originalists’ who developed historical amnesia about the Founding Fathers’ dread of standing armies and preference for “a well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,” and declared that the only operative phrase in the Second Amendment was “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”.
If Baker would re-read pages 2-22 in the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, he would find Justice Antonin Scalia’s detailed explanation of the Amendment’s meaning, as originally intended and understood, so who better to decipher this than an “originalist?”
As noted by Scalia, “The Second Amendment is naturally divided into two parts: its prefatory clause and its operative clause. The former does not limit the latter grammatically, but rather announces a purpose. The Amendment could be rephrased, “Because a well regulated Militia is necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” See J. Tiffany, A Treatise on Government and Constitutional Law §585, p. 394 (1867); Brief for Professors of Linguistics and English as Amici Curiae 3 (hereinafter Linguists’ Brief). Although this structure of the Second Amendment is unique in our Constitution, other legal documents of the founding era, particularly individual-rights provisions of state constitutions, commonly included a prefatory statement of purpose.”
In her Op-Ed, Cox reminds readers, “the last administration wisely invested in federal resources around the country to prosecute gun crimes and violent extremism.”
The current administration appears far more eager to further infringe on the rights of honest citizens, requiring various hoops through which they just jump in order to own perfectly legal firearms, some of which Biden-Harris wish to make illegal by the stroke of a pen. Gun rights activists have long argued this cannot be the way it works in this country. “This is the United States,” they argue, “not a police state.”
The recent McLaughlin poll showing overwhelming support for the Second Amendment and majority support for enforcing existing laws rather than creating new ones appears to reinforce what Cox wrote in Dallas. The task now will be to convince Congress and state legislatures to take that approach and leave honest gun owners alone.