The Second Amendment is not absolute. Citizens are not allowed to own chemical weapons, for example, even though they fall under the extremely broad category of “arms.” So our national debate is not over whether Americans may own guns but over what kind of weapons have a justifiable civilian use. Even the First Amendment is not absolute. It does not protect defamatory speech or, famously, yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Why should we consider the Second Amendment absolute?
Assault rifles are designed by the military to effectively wound and kill human beings. After all, they are not called “hunting rifles” or “self-defense rifles.” Self-defense is one thing, but why does any law-abiding gun owner need armor-piercing bullets? One study, reported in the Southern Medical Journal in 2010, found that a gun is 12 times more likely to result in the death of a household member or guest than in the death of an intruder.
President Obama has not advocated the confiscation of assault weapons or even universal registration. Gun-rights proponents who claim otherwise are misrepresenting the president’s position. The president has made the case for limiting only the future sale of assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.
Also, like guns, cars are responsible for a staggering number of deaths each year. That is why cars are subject to strict controls and may only be driven by registered citizens of a certain age. Why, when we have such a sickening number of gun deaths each year, do we not have similar regulations?
Gun-rights advocates are correct in saying these measures will not solve the problem of gun violence in America. But if commonsense legislation is passed simply to reduce gun violence, then we will be saving lives.