Against the horrific backdrop of the Tucson, Arizona, tragedy, new gun control proposals are on the way. Some of our legislators will be tempted to apply Rahm Emanuel’s aphorism, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
For example, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-New York, wants to outlaw magazines with more than 10 rounds — even those already in circulation. She hasn’t explained how a ban on previously sold magazines would deter anyone but law-abiding citizens.
Still, the Supreme Court has suggested that sensible gun regulations may be constitutionally permissible. Sensible is not, however, what we have in Washington, Chicago, New York and other cities, where you can probably get a pizza delivery before a response from a 911 call. Police cannot be everywhere.
Selected proposals may nonetheless be constructive, with three important qualifications. First, government has the burden to show that a regulation will not unduly impede the use of firearms for self-defense. Second, ostensibly modest steps down a slippery slope must not compromise core Second Amendment rights. Third, a regulation must be effective in promoting public safety, when weighed against reliable evidence that past restrictions have not lessened the incidence of gun-related crimes.
Recall that Washington banned handguns for 33 years; during some of those years the city was known as the nation’s murder capital. Killers not deterred by laws against murder were not deterred by laws against owning guns. Moreover, anti-gun regulations did not address the deep-rooted causes of violent crime — illegitimacy, drugs, alcohol abuse and dysfunctional schools — much less mental instability.
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