Are mass shootings really senseless?

Or is everyone ignoring the elephant in the room?

In my  Freedom is not being held at gunpoint post I pointed out that the US has the highest number of assassinations and attempted assassinations and it also leads in the amount of mass shootings. The US also has the highest amount of civilian gun ownership per capita. The correlation between the guns in circulation and victims from gun violence is undeniable.

So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that there is a multiple assassination in Arizona this past weekend given that Arizona leads the US in gun deaths per capita, coming in second after Mississippi.

#2, Arizona
Gun deaths per 100,000: 15
Permissive gun laws: 1st out of 50

Oddly enough, the States with strict gun laws come in at the lower end of the pile:

#40, California
Gun deaths per 100,000: 9
Permissive gun laws: 50th out of 50

#41, New Hampshire
Gun deaths per 100,000: 5.9
Permissive gun laws: 26th out of 50

#42, Minnesota
Gun deaths per 100,000: 6.6
Permissive gun laws: 36th out of 50

#43, Illinois
Gun deaths per 100,000: 8
Permissive gun laws: 45th out of 50

#44, Iowa
Gun deaths per 100,000: 5.3
Permissive gun laws: 38th out of 50

#45, New York
Gun deaths per 100,000: 5.1
Permissive gun laws: 43rd out of 50

#46, New Jersey
Gun deaths per 100,000: 5.2
Permissive gun laws: 49th out of 50

#47, Connecticut
Gun deaths per 100,000: 4.3
Permissive gun laws: 46th out of 50

#48, Rhode Island
Gun deaths per 100,000: 3.5
Permissive gun laws: 42nd out of 50

#49, Massachusetts
Gun deaths per 100,000: 3.6
Permissive gun laws: 48th out of 50

#50, Hawaii
Gun deaths per 100,000: 2.8
Permissive gun laws: 47th out of 50

Of course, the standard line is that the assailant could have used another weapon, but how many mass stabbings are there?  Short of using explosives, which are highly regulated, the weapon of choice for mass killers is a firearm.  This is undeniable–firearms are the weapon of choice in mass killings.

The problem is that we have seen that the mass killers in the US such as the Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, and the latest from Tucson bought their firearms legally. This was despite the fact that there were warning signs which would have led to these people being prohibited persons in other jurisdictions (e.g., Australia and Great Britain).

The NRA is keeping silent since it knows that nothing will be done. The American people are happy to die in the name of “freedom”. This is because the Second Amendment has been misconstrued to include a concept of “gun rights” which exists in no other jurisdiction with a common law heritage. Prior supreme Court Justices have called this view a fraud. Justice William O. Douglas, who was on the Court at the time of US v. Miller said:

A powerful lobby dins into the ears of our citizenry that these gun purchases are constitutional rights protected by the Second Amendment, which reads, “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.”

There is under our decisions no reason why stiff state laws governing the purchase and possession of pistols may not be enacted. There is no reason why pistols may not be barred from anyone with a police record. There is no reason why a State may not require a purchaser of a pistol to pass a psychiatric test. There is no reason why all pistols should not be barred to everyone except the police.

The leading case is United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, upholding a federal law making criminal the shipment in interstate commerce of a sawed-off shotgun. The law was upheld, there being no evidence that a sawed-off shotgun had “some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.” Id., at 178. The Second Amendment, it was held, “must be interpreted and applied” with the view of maintaining a “militia.”

“The Militia which the States were expected to maintain and train is set in contrast with Troops which they were forbidden to keep without the consent of Congress. The sentiment of the time strongly disfavored standing armies; the common view was that adequate defense of country and laws could besecured through the Militia – civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion.” Id., at 178-179.

Critics say that proposals like this water down the Second Amendment. Our decisions belie that argument, for the Second Amendment, as noted, was designed to keep alive the militia. But if watering-down is the mood of the day, I would prefer to water down the Second rather than the Fourth Amendment. Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S 143, 150 -51 (1972)

Even the Heller-McDonald Cases allow for some form of gun control:

Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. See, e.g., Sheldon, in 5 Blume 346; Rawle 123; Pomeroy 152–153; Abbott 333. For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues. See, e.g., State v. Chandler, 5 La. Ann., at 489–490; Nunn v. State, 1 Ga., at 251; see generally 2 Kent *340, n. 2; The American Students’ Blackstone 84, n. 11 (G. Chase ed. 1884). Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Heller at 54-5

Which has as a footnote (26):

We identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures only as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive.

Better yet:

But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home. Heller at 64

From McDonald:

It is important to keep in mind that Heller, while striking down a law that prohibited the possession of handguns in the home, recognized that the right to keep and bear arms is not “a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” 554 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 54). We made it clear in Heller that our holding did not cast doubt on such longstanding regulatory measures as “prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill,” “laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” Id., at ___–___ (slip op., at 54–55). We repeat those assurances here. Despite municipal respondents’ doomsday proclamations, incorporation does not imperil every law regulating firearms. McDonald at 39-40

Personally, I would take Justice Douglas’s opinion over that of Scalia’s since it is obvious that Scalia’s personal opinion taints his interpretation, thus creating bad law and precedent. Additionally, Justice Douglas was a member of the Court, which means that his opinion should be granted some weight in regard to the interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Despite those who claim that there exists no basis for gun control, there is even using the base line based upon Scalia’s biased opinion, the power for the regulation of firearms under the Second Amendment. In fact, there is strong reason to disregard the Heller-McDonald decisions given that there had been no Amendment of the Constitution or drastic change in circumstances which would cause a change in interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Despite the image, gun control has a solid basis in US culture with New York’s Sullivan Act now reaching the Century Mark.    Even Arizona’s Tombstone lawmakers in the 1880s did more to combat gun violence than the Arizona government does today. The “Wild West” was not the place of dime novels, but had stronger gun control than it does now. See also <a href=”http://historynewsservice.org/1999/07/gun-control-and-the-old-west/”historynewsservice.org/1999/07/gun-control-and-the-old-west/

Unfortunately, the massacres will carry on happening until individuals decide to say no to guns. The problem is will anyone ever get fed up with the bloodshed caused by the current trend to deregulate firearms so that they will say “no, there is no reason we need to put up with this”?

See also:  http://newtrajectory.blogspot.com/2011/01/important-data-trends-nra-doesnt-want.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/11/rachel-maddow-arizona-shooting_n_807212.html

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