Gun control

8728 Words35 Pages
Many of us assume we must either oppose or support gun control. Not so. We have a range of alternatives. Even this way of speaking oversimplifies our choices since there are two distinct scales on which to place alternatives. One scale concerns the degree (if at all) to which guns should be abolished. This scale moves from those who want no abolition (NA) of any guns, through those who want moderate abolition (MA) - to forbid access to some subclasses of guns - to those who want absolute abolition (AA). The second scale concerns the restrictions (if any) on those guns that are available to private citizens. This scale moves from those who want absolute restrictions (AR) through those who want moderate restrictions (MR) to those who want no…show more content…
Is the purported right to bear arms like this paradigmatic fundamental right? Even if it were, that would not straightforwardly establish that it is impermissible to abolish or restrict private ownership of guns. After all, fundamental rights standardly have conditions, boundaries, or restrictions on them. Some rights, like the right to vote, are conditional upon reaching a specified age, and they can be forfeited by emigrants and imprisoned felons. Additionally, most right tokens can be restricted or overridden when the exercise of that right harms others. For example, my right to free religious expression gives me wide discretion in how I exercise my religion. I can remove my kids from high school and exclude them from selected school activities (Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 [1972]; Moody v. Cronin, 484 F. Supp. 270 [1979]). I can sacrifice animals (Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 [1993]). Nonetheless, it does not permit me to sacrifice humans. Nor does my right to free speech permit me to slander someone or to preach outside her window at 2:00 a.m. Tokens of fundamental rights may be restricted to protect others from serious harms arising from the exercise of those rights. Of course rights would not be worth much if they were straightforwardly subject to the wishes of the
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