Poor Elijah’s Almanack: Guns, Glass, and Grievance

Mike Carnevale places his hand on the back of Mark Hennesey while instructing him at the American Tactical Systems’ indoor range in Green Island, New York. AP Photo/ Fifty thousand incidents of gun-related violence so far this year. The United States has a gun problem. I’m not saying guns are our only gun-related violence problem, but pretending guns are irrelevant makes as little sense as arguing that alcohol isn’t a factor in drunk driving. Alcohol, like guns, is abundant. While most Americans abuse neither, some of us harbor unhealthy attitudes toward one or both. Those attitudes, coupled with the abundance, lead to staggering episodes of heartbreak and chaos. The dangers associated with drinking explain why we’ve enacted laws governing how we sell and use alcohol. Those laws don’t, and can’t, prevent all the destruction, but presumably, they reduce how often it visits us. The application of preventive gun laws is complicated by the Second Amendment. The Supreme Court’s most recent ruling confirms an individual right to own guns but makes clear that “right is not unlimited, not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” No right is unlimited. The proverb that my right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins, attributed variously to Mr. Lincoln and Justice Holmes, applies equally to all our dearly held liberties. The Second Amendment’s guaranty that the right to keep and bear arms “shall not be infringed” is no less absolute in […]

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