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Columns

December 29, 2012

Dodging fire in no-man's-land on gun control

(Continued)

Such firepower is neither necessary for self-defense nor constitutional. The Second Amendment clearly states: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

In an era of hostile native tribes along the frontier and potential slave revolts far from the immediate reach of our halcyon national army, this made sense. But our founding fathers were also thinking in terms of flintlock muskets that took 90 seconds to reload.

The Bill of Rights does not afford individuals the right to a Browning .50 caliber machine gun or a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and a $2,000 assault rifle that can be converted to fully automatic fire with a $50 kit is in no meaningful way different.

The argument that AR-15s and high-capacity handguns are needed as a “defense against tyranny” is also untenable unless followed to its horrifyingly dystopian conclusion. If the Second Amendment is truly about fending off tyranny — based on a creative interpretation of the Bill of Rights — then logically, heavy machine guns, artillery and anti-aircraft weapons must be legal. Beating back 21st century federalist forces would necessitate nothing less. And handguns, with their limited combat capacity, would be the least of any patriot’s concerns.

Sadly, the United States has a much higher rate of violent crime — and I’m talking way higher, look it up — than nations such as Canada, the U.K., Australia, Japan, France and Germany, which also have much stricter laws on gun ownership. And none of which, for the record, are tyrannical despotisms preying on unarmed populaces.

These nations also have plenty of violent video games, gory movies and mentally ill people. The only variable here is the obstinacy of groups such as the National Rifle Association — which has long defended outdoorsmen’s rights with one hand while fighting tenaciously against efforts to restrict black-market gun traffic with the other.

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