Guns Without Roses

According to a New Yorker Article, there are 300 million privately owned firearms in the United States. That includes, 106 million handguns, 105 million rifles and 83 million shotguns. Although it’s less than the number of cars or the number of phones, it roughly works out to one per person. While only tragedies such as the killing of young Trayvon Martin or the Oikos University shootings shortly after make headlines, there are in an average year about 100,000 Americans killed or wounded with guns. Gun control issues really began after JFK’s assassination and by the time Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinkley, the NRA had flourished and the notion of gun ownership part of conservative political discourse. In 2008 in District of Columbia v. Heller the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the 1975 Firearms Control Regulations Act and in the 5-4 decision Justice Scalia wrote, “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia.” To some that was a rather liberal interpretation of the Constitution. Nevertheless, 2 years later in another case, McDonald v. Chicago, in another 5-4 decision the Court extended the Heller rights to the states. Nothing less than another Supreme Court decision could undo the status quo, which is why the issues of gun ownership and gun control are already part of the Presidential campaign. Each side hopes that the justices appointed by the next president will seal the issue to conform to their point of view. The French may have some advice, to quote La Marseillaise, “Aux armes, citoyens!”