Charlton Heston's most famous quote is only 5 words long.
People have used that on both sides of the gun debate to prove either Heston was a madman or a prophet to see the coming 2nd amendment fight coming.
Just to make sure we're all on the same page here is what the 2nd amendment says. 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. That's not a whole lot and can be easily manipulated to mean a lot of different things.
After the events of Friday the President has made it clear that the nation is going to have a discussion about guns. Dianne Feinstein says she has a bill ready to propose the first day government is back in session in 2013. "We've tried to take my assault weapon bill that was law from '94 to 2004 and perfect it". One of the main problems with the old law was there were so many loopholes including "what is an assault rifle"?
The Supreme Court wrote in their opinion for their 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller that "the Second Amendment protects a personal right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense within the home." How much self defense are we talking about? Justice Scalia told Chris Wallace on his Fox News show "Obviously the amendment does not apply to arms that cannot be hand-carried—it’s to keep and “bear”, so it doesn’t apply to cannons—but I suppose there are hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes, that will have to be decided." Oh jeez! But then Scalia seems to say that the original intent of the 2nd amendment may be outdated by today's advances in weaponry. It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment ’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.
I would tend to agree with Scalia's position. So we can interpret the 2nd ammendment through the prism of today. Clearly some amendment's need more work. Remember the 18th amendment? We had to pass the 21st amendment to repeal the 18th! That's the only time that has happened but all laws need to be viewed in the now. If our government became a tyranical government with access to bombs, tanks, and fighter jets the rest of us could have all the assault rifles in the world and would be unable to last a day. So let's just look at guns for self defense against criminals, and hunting. In that light can we do anything to make our country safer? After all that is the goal on both sides of the debate.
Last year there were over 12,000 murders in the US and only 300 or so so came from assault rifles. Of course if your loved one was one of the 300 that isn't any comfort. And people always want some sort of response to tragedy. The original assault ban went in after the Long Island train shooting. That nut job didn't even use an assault rifle but rather a 9mm handgun to walk down the aisle shooting people. But people wanted action so one of the victims wives won election as a congresswoman on a platform of gun control and Carolyn McCarthy entered the House and worked with Feinstein on the 1994 Federal Assault Weapon ban, which we now know was pretty much useless. I hope Feinstein and crew really do have an idea on how to help save lives. But I'm reminded of another Charlton Heston quote. "There are no "good guns". There are no "bad guns". Any gun in the hands of a bad man is a bad thing. Any gun in the hands of a decent person is no threat to anybody — except bad people.