Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Other Extreme

I wrote about the NRA as the extreme on gun safety's right but what about the left.  There is not one organization with the voice of the NRA which I can really point to that's on the left.  If I search for extreme gun control on the left, I end up with a listing of right wing reports on the evil left.  But I promised to look at extremists on both sides, so I had to go back a bit.  With the events of Newtown, people are listening to what the gun safety groups a bit more carefully these days.  That said, it has not always been the case.  As recently as last year, there were even politicians who said that the "gun control issue" was a dead issue and then along came Newtown and everything changed.

There have been to strong proponents on "gun control" over the years, and it is those voices I will look at.

The first is Senator Diane Feinstein. This has been her personal crusade since she became a senator in the early 90's.  She was one of the people primarily responsible for the original assault weapons ban.  Her newest proposed ban is very broad.  Her most recent proposed ban would cover about 157 assault riffles, shotguns and pistols from continued sale.  Her stance on weapons has always been a strong one despite her reputation as a fairly moderate Democrat.  I would also point out that she does not want to ban all weapons. Her current proposal would exempt some 2,258 weapons.  While the NRA and other groups maintain that this is a violation of the second amendment, those on the gun banning side are not quite so sure.  The Supreme Court has made it clear that individuals have the right to own guns.  They stop short, however, of saying what kind of guns.  Even the most conservative of Justices, the Honorable Justice Scalia, told Fox News that the while the second amendment protects individual rights, it also clearly does not prohibit restrictions on some firearms and the carrying of some firearms.  So while some on the left may like to ban all weapons, which they cannot do, it does not mean that some limitations cannot be placed on them.  In his brief, Scalia wrote:

Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not 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. [United States v.] Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.

So where does that leave the Feinstein ban.  While it may be extreme to include semiautomatics shotguns and pistols, it is still a very difficult battle.  There is also the little problem of what the Supreme Court will hold as "dangerous and unusual weapons."

There have been some other voices that have had some extreme points of view or even names. One is  the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.  Like the NRA, the Brady Campaign was started with noble intentions following the shooting of Reagan Press Secretary, James Brady.  There original mission statement is  "to enact and enforce sensible gun laws, regulations, and public policies through grassroots activism, electing public officials who support gun laws, and increasing public awareness of gun violence."  That said it was once known as Handgun Control, Inc.  In 2001, the Violence Policy Center's executive director published a book titled Every Handgun Is Aimed at You: The Case for Banning Handguns. Not semi-automatic but all handguns.  This is fairly extreme.

The banning of all guns or, as is usually the case on the extreme left, the banning of all handguns would be a clear violation of the second amendment no matter how it is framed.  Even the banning of many weapons is an uphill battle. Again, if we are going to get control on gun safety, we cannot just pick "evil" weapons without doing something about their owners. If you'll excuse the pun, a shotgun approach isn't going to work either.