Hi Allison,

Here’s a very important topic that I think you could do a thoughtful job of discussing for your readers:

About every 4 minutes, an American is killed or injured by a firearm. Instead of making us safer, the states with the highest gun ownership percent have the highest homicide, gun accidents in the home and suicide by gun rates. Of course, rational discussion of gun control is difficult when some gun owners claim they need military-style weapons in order to shoot down the black helicopters that the Trilateral Commission will send to impose the one-world government. But why do we allow the nutcases to control the discussion?

Here’s a suggestion: The 2nd Amendment does not define the word “arms.” Could we pass a constitutional amendment that defines the word arms in a way that does not deprive legitimate sportsmen of firearms needed for hunting and homeowners for defense, yet reduces the ability of every unstable moron with a grudge to buy a weapon that can kill a classroom of children in a couple minutes?

For example, we could define permitted arms to: 1) have bolt action only; no semi-automatic actions 2) have minimum barrel length (to reduce concealability, which would also ban handguns as Australia has done) 3) be unable to accept detachable magazines 4) have a maximum caliber and other relevant provisions that balance the right of gun ownership against the right of citizens not to be murdered. What do you think?

—More guns don’t make us safer

Dear MGDMS,

First of all, I think it would be obvious to state but I’ll state it nevertheless: I agree wholeheartedly with the assertion that more guns don’t make us safer, particularly in a country with some of the most messed up and conflicting social values, with a side helping of not-enough-affordable-mental-health-services.

I would love it if the solution to our gun addiction/problem/malady was as simple as tossing in a new constitutional amendment defining what exact “arms” we have the “right to bear” and in precisely what circumstances, however, the way terms in constitutional amendments generally get defined is through case law.

For example, the 14th Amendment of the Constitution — arguably the most important — in its first section states the following verbatim: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

According to Wikipedia and my con law professor, the above section is the most oft litigated section in all of the Constitution.

The reason this is the case (pun intended?) is because almost every word has required multiple cases to appear before the highest court in the land in order to figure out what those words mean legally.

So … what exactly does “deprivation” of “liberty” mean?

Who the hell is actually a citizen and therefore even guaranteed protection from state actors by this amendment?

What does “reside” mean?

The 2nd Amendment reads as follows: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

What does “keep and bear arms” mean and, more importantly, what is the definition of “infringement?”

I would argue a timely case could open the door for the Supremes to elaborate a test defining, not only what “infringement” means — i.e. the state passing a law banning guns altogether except for law enforcement and military — but when, precisely and under what circumstances a state would be allowed to infringe upon this right — oh, say, when guns in that state pose a significant public health risk.

I would also think any scholar of law, or, really, any idiot on Earth, could simply read this Amendment and at least wonder whether that whole caveat of a “well regulated militia BEING NECESSARY TO THE SECURITY OF THE FREE STATE” might have had something to do with how the framers of the Bill of Rights wanted this amendment implied and interpreted.

Pretty sure a militia these days, necessary or not, wouldn’t do diddly squat to stop the actual army from doing whatever they want. In fact, I think the only people who really need fear that something akin to a militia might try to bust into their homes and take over are minorities. But I digress.

I think case law defining arms will always, particularly with a Republican heavy court that now includes Brett Kavanaugh, be interpreted too broadly to actually limit who can have those arms and who the state cannot infringe upon. Anyone with an urge to open fire on a group of children could feasibly hold it together long enough to claim they need to defend their homes or go bring down a 10-point buck for dinner.

I think you’re on the right track, but the way in would be an attempt to get cases to the Supreme Court that could then drive them to define infringement as something the state can do in certain circumstances, and then, following, that permitted infringement could be banning guns, banning certain kinds of guns, limiting who can buy guns, what kind of modifications can be made, etc.

Unfortunately, with this bench, any gun cases brought up the chain will likely be interpreted in a manner wholly inconsistent with stopping gun violence and more consistent with letting the NRA continue their death grip on the American populace and our shameful government.

Allison can be reached at blaire.perry@gmail.com.