What is it about the issue of gun control that turns otherwise sane people into, well, blithering idiots? You would think that the Second Amendment to the Constitution was the 11th commandment! In that vein, I am tempted to ask “what would Jesus do? But that would make the argument too easy.
I believe that each of us is entitled to a gun for self-protection, regardless of the Constitution, and I value the right to hunt and own guns. But let’s not pretend that the meaning of the amendment is clear or that there is or has been anything like a consensus on its original intent: “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.” For now, the Supreme Court has spoken – by a margin of a single vote – and that decision is unquestionably the law. But it hardly supports the bizarre idea that any restriction on gun ownership or use, such as background checks or limits on firepower, are ipso facto unconstitutional. In fact, justice Antonin Scalia (of all people) wrote that “like most rights, the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”
Finally, the idea that county sheriffs should be allowed to decide whether a law is constitutional is just laughable. Their job is to enforce existing law, not to second-guess it. Few sheriffs have any legal training at all, and their jobs are subject to the vagaries of political opinion; they are hardly free of political bias. On the whole, local police, who are actually in the trenches and are often outgunned by criminals, are in strong support of reasonable restrictions on gun ownership, and it is not difficult to see why.