There is no a better illustration of the cultural divide as far as firearms is concerned than a photograph of a skeet shooting president in the Whitehouse. The president’s gun is a ground level while clay pigeons are launched into the air. This is an impression of a man who is not comfortable with gun. This perspective goes an extra mile towards explaining the agenda of gun control. The informed leadership aside, a gulf exist between those American who regard gun control as subversive and hopelessly archaic, and those who view the concept as an invaluable tool for self defense, both against a potentially tyrannical government and private wrongdoers. For these people, gun ownership should be restricted only to weapons suited for that purpose, and hunting is the only legitimate use of guns. While the degree of policy discourse leaves much to be desired, its legitimate dimensions are more dimly recognized and less seriously engaged. As it is the case with many contentious issues in American history, debate over guns cannot be intelligently pursued without considering its constitutional dimensions in America. For instance, the decision by the Supreme Court in 2008 in the District of Colombia v. Heller confirmed that 2nd Amendment means what is says "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" (Cothran, 42). After a follow up case by Heller, McDonald v. Chicago, while applying the 2nd Amendment rights to the states, concluded that a government cannot deny individuals the right to self-defense. The debate was settled, as far as legal matter is concerned.
President Obama and his allies appear to have missed the message, as shown by his persistence that majority of Americans, hunters included, support his gun control campaign. Even if his assertions are true, constitutionally protected rights are safe-guarded with certain vigor when public opinion turns against them. At the same time, the continued appeals to emotion by the president, taking advantage of a series of tragic mass shootings, also ill-fit what should be considered as dispassionate and serious discussion about gun control (Cothran, 55). While implications of Heller’s case are being sorted out by the courts in the country, politicians should not presume that they have the power to restrict gun ownership in America.
Decades of case laws applying and interpreting the other provisions of the Bill of Rights demonstrate that there are fast and hard limits on gun control (Robert, 78). The all-purpose is straight forward and well known to people who have studied the constitutional law. The government has no mandate to bridge the constitutionally protected rights of the people for the purposes of simply making a symbolic point. A legitimate government interest must justify any measure that is compelling. Meanwhile, any regulation should be tailored narrowly towards achieving such interest.
In a recent case, on that basis, the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban regarding depictions of animal cruelty. The court rejected the argument by the government that in banning videos and pictures associated with crime, it had legitimate interests, and finding that the statute swept up the freedom of speech-even assuming the government’s interest. In this regard, judicial balancing requires careful weighing of individual interests and government’s, with thumb on scale in favor of the individuals. However, this is not the case with the current debate on gun-control (Cothran, 56). A number of states are considering gun-insurance mandates designed in the same way as automobile insurance. Certainly, there is lack of conceivable public-safety benefit; insurance policies do not cover intentional crimes rather they insure persons against accidents, and criminals with illegal guns are likely to evade the requirement. The main objective of this proposal is to make firearm less affordable for law abiding citizens, which will ultimately reduce gun ownership.
Another avenue that the government is pursuing is taxing the sale of bullets at exaggerated rates. However, it certain that the courts will not allow government to undermine constitutionally protected rights (Cothran, 56). It is wrong for a state to circumvent the right to a free press by requiring unfriendly press pay a thousand-dollar tax on barrels of ink or carry millions in libel insurance-in either case, the real motive would be transparent. How could the outcome be any different for the right to bear and keep arms?
The same infirmity of the constitution plagues the plan by the president. Considering his proposal for a ban on a new “assault weapons”, which targets a class of weapons, such as threaded barrel or pistol grip, distinguished by their cosmetic features. These weapons do not differ from other common guns in any relevant respect – ammunition, firing mechanism, magazine size-and hence present no greater threat to public safety, although they may seem sinister. The government, needless to say, has no legitimate interest to ban guns, which seem not to be appealing to gun-controllers (Henderson, 12).
At the bottom, the constitution requires effective and sensible regulation of guns, which upholds and respects this most fundamental right. Policies motivated by discomfort with firearms are born of a lack of experience, fall far short. While there is no questions that procedural obligation, such as background checks are permissible, it does not imply that the government may place undue burden on the right of self-defense of the law abiding citizens. Excessive registration fees and waiting periods are all subject to scrutiny, lest they infringe on right of law abiding citizens (Henderson, 23). The constitution of America provides the rights to all and not to a certain group of people. It also does not give more power to others like the politicians to decide issues of national interest for other law abiding citizens. Thus any decision that will be reached by states on gun control should include the voices of all Americans and not politicians only.