Friday, June 27, 2008
Yesterday's Supreme Court decision on the Second Amendment made me relax a little, for I own a handgun.
It's not a Colt six-shooter or a Beretta automatic or even a Saturday Night Special. It's a muzzle-loading Kentucky flintlock pistol, .54 caliber, a fully working Italian-made replica I bought as research for a new mystery novel. Now and then I haul it out and go to a range and shoot it. It makes a glorious bang (when it does fire) and sometimes I hit the target.
For safety's sake I keep the weapon, the balls, and the bag of flints in separate cupboards, and store the black powder outside the house. If somebody wants to use my gun for nefarious purposes, he's going to have to work hard.
Yeah, I'm a liberal, and I used to be anti-gun. But years of interacting with thoughtful hunters and careful gun enthusiasts in rural Upper Michigan taught me that the Second Amendment should not be approached as an issue of absolutes, although the National Gun Nut Association and the Ban All Handguns No Matter What people would have you think otherwise.
Just as I believe every woman has the right to reproductive choice, I believe I have the right to own a handgun -- for research and, if it ever comes to that, for self-protection. Let's face it: Laws or no, bad guys will always be able to get their hands on guns, for there are so many out there. Good guys deserve the same opportunity.
But I also believe society has an obligation to protect itself by setting limits on gun rights, such as requiring screening and registration of firearms owners and banning private ownership of machine guns and automatic assault rifles.
Mr. Justice Scalia said essentially the same thing in his Second Amendment majority opinion yesterday. I never thought I'd agree with anything he handed down from the bench, but this time I do.