It may not be welcome news to some gun enthusiasts, the ones who think there are no restrictions on their right to bear arms, but there are.
None of our rights come without limits. The First Amendment says we have freedom of speech. But we can’t falsely yell fire in a crowded theater, without getting charged with a crime. We can’t libel someone we don’t like, without paying a price. We can’t take to the streets to incite violence.
There’s no question that the Second Amendment gives us the right to bear arms. But we can’t buy surface to air missiles and claim the Second Amendment gives us that right. With rights come limits.
But here’s what the other side, the anti-gun side, either is incapable of understanding or simply doesn’t want to understand: In certain situations, the only force that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
I know it sounds like the kind of thing that belongs on a bumper sticker, the kind of shallow nonsense that no serious person can actually believe. But it’s true. If someone is shooting up a college campus, we better hope there’s a good guy with a gun nearby to stop the carnage.
Here’s the crazy part: While even anti-gun liberals have no problem when guards in banks carry guns to protect … money, they have a big problem with the concept of guards at schools carrying guns to protect … students. Does this make sense?
If there were laws that would eliminate, or just cut down, on mass murders at schools and churches or anyplace else, I’d be for those laws – as long as they were constitutional. So, let’s close the so-called gun show loophole, and let’s pass reasonable legislation on magazines that hold a hundred rounds of ammunition, and if there are other ways to stop the madness, and they don’t violate the Constitution, count me in.
So I’m with President Obama when he says the carnage has to stop, that something is terribly wrong when mass murder in America becomes routine. But what the president doesn’t acknowledge is that none of the laws he favors would have stopped the gunman in Oregon – or almost anyplace else.
Time and again, the killer turns out to be a young man who feels alienated, who knows he doesn’t fit in and doesn’t like it, who can’t get a date and who is perpetually angry over that in particular or his lot in life in general. What law is going to deal with that? We can’t lock people up for being angry. And how do we make it illegal to sell guns to angry, alienated young men who can’t find female companionship – if they haven’t been committed and never broke the law?
The problem is a lot tougher than President Obama and other liberals make it out to be. I suspect if the president could simply snap his fingers, he would issue an executive order to erase the Second Amendment and outlaw all guns in the hands of the American people. He’ll never admit this, of course, but it’s what a lot of liberals really want. But they know that won’t happen, so what to do?
After the Oregon shootings, a forensic psychologist wrote to me with an idea. He said not only should the killer’s name not be mentioned in the media as a way to prevent copycats, but also the shooting itself should be kept from the public — because “attention is their goal.” He later reconsidered and backed off his prescription for a total news blackout, writing that “it would be nice if some responsible middle ground between coverage and obsessive coverage could be found.”
I agree. Wall-to-wall coverage that goes on for hours and hours, I suspect, is more likely to influence copycats than simply mentioning the killer’s name.
But it’s a safe bet that some Americans (who blame the media for just about everything that goes wrong in our culture) would like a total news blackout — no news on mass murders because they don’t want to give the gunman the attention he supposedly craves.
While a news blackout may in some instances prevent copycat murders, it’s just not how we operate in a free country. What other bad news should we keep secret from the American people — for the good of the American people?
So, I freely acknowledge that I don’t have a solution to the problem of mass murders. It’s too complicated for me. But I’m pretty sure about this: If we can employ guards with guns to protect money, we can and should employ guards with guns to protect people. This isn’t an argument for guns in the hands of kids on campus. And it isn’t an argument for armed vigilantes on every street corner. It’s simply an argument for a more thoughtful approach to gun-free zones that don’t save lives and very often do the opposite.
That’s a start.