Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thoughts on McDonald v. Chicago

I am disappointed at the Supreme Court’s decision to expand gun ownership in Chicago and across the nation. The McDonald v. Chicago ruling calls into question the right of U.S. citizens to enact sensible gun regulation and may gut reasonable gun control. Supreme Court decisions always have broad application. We would do well to remember that the 2nd Amendment protects the right of the people to form militias, not vigilante squads.

Ironically, the ultimate losers may be gun owners, many of whom will lose their lives or the life of a loved one with the guns they cherish. Gun manufacturers win, funeral parlors win. Emergency rooms will be more crowded. Where are the limits to this sweeping ruling protecting the right to bear arms? Apparently assault weapons are now legal. What about a howitzer? It is more important now than ever before to do everything we can to prevent gun violence. Other nations without widespread gun ownership are safer and less violent than the U.S. Guns must be kept out of the hand of felons, gun traffickers, domestic violence offenders, mentally ill individuals, and youth.

In a weird turn, Justice Thomas traced the origins of gun control to post-Reconstruction terrorism in the South propped up by Black Codes prohibiting blacks from owning weapons. It was wrong for the Klan and other terrorists to intimidate blacks in 1880 and it is wrong now to assume that guns can make us safer in 2010. Now, the states and locales are free to enact legislation as mindless as the new Georgia statute permitting concealed weapons at airport check points and in churches. At a time when state and local budgets to hire and train police are constrained, the Court has authorized putting millions more guns on the nation’s streets. This is short-sighted, unwise public policy. For months, I have been calling for an urban policy. I had in mind jobs and education, not more guns and more violence.

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