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Guns and Roses

Conservatives say that because owning a gun is a protected right we should not restrict their sale in any way, no matter how much that restriction makes sense. Keep loopholes in background tests so that terrorists and the criminally insane can easily buy guns? Of course!

On the other hand, even though the Supreme Court says that abortion is a right, conservatives are more than happy to create a multitude of roadblocks to getting one.

For example, the state of Missouri has some of the strictest laws against abortion in the nation, ostensibly to save the lives of fetuses. At the same time, the rate of homicides in the state is 56% higher than the national average, making it one of the worst in the nation. In fact, more people die from guns in the state than die from car accidents.

The solution is obvious!

Missouri state Representative Stacey Newman recently introduced a bill that would take the same restrictions to getting an abortion, and apply them to getting a gun. For example, there would be a 72 hour waiting period for purchasing guns, and the buyer would have to watch a 30 minute video on firearm fatalities.

Some of the restrictions sound crazy. Like the one requiring a gun purchaser to visit an emergency room at an urban hospital “when gun violence victims are present”, and have a counseling session with two faith leaders who have presided over funerals in the last year of a child gun violence victim. But these restrictions were modeled on the ones already required of women seeking an abortion in the state.

It could have been worse. In a Facebook post, an anti-gun activist suggested that we treat young men who want to buy guns the same as we treat women who want an abortion:

Make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot to death, people who call him a murderer and beg him not to buy a gun. It makes more sense to do this with young men and guns than with women and health care, right? I mean, no woman getting an abortion has killed a room full of people in seconds, right?



  1. David Freeman wrote:

    As much as I appreciate this rant, I gotta say that on issues of faith/strong opinion people seem to have a hypocrisy diode between ear and brain.

    On the lighter side of data input errors, my aging eyes misread one sentence as, ‘more people die from guns in the state than die from accordions”. Reversing the accordion vs gun death ratio is certainly a worthy goal.

    Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 7:53 am | Permalink
  2. Michael wrote:

    The problem with comparing abortion and guns as rights is that their legalization text. The 2nd Amendment states, “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.” Although there is some debate over the “well regulated militia” clause, it is pretty clear that any attempt to restrict (i.e., “infringe” upon) gun ownership faces an uphill battle.

    On the other hand, here’s the relevant text of Roe v. Wade: “State criminal abortion laws, like those involved here, that except from criminality only a life-saving procedure on the mother’s behalf without regard to the stage of her pregnancy and other interests involved violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman’s qualified right to terminate her pregnancy. Though the State cannot override that right, it has legitimate interests in protecting both the pregnant woman’s health and the potentiality of human life, each of which interests grows and reaches a ‘compelling’ point at various stages of the woman’s approach to term.”

    The language of Roe is self-contradictory regarding whether abortion is a right. It forbids the states from passing criminal laws that punish women for having abortions; at the same time, it gives states the rights to protect “the potentiality of life” (i.e., restrict women’s rights), and declares that those states’ interests grow and reach a “compelling point.” That is, Roe is very ambivalent and nothing like, “The dignity and control of parenthood, being necessary to the full civic participation of women, the right to seek and have an abortion, shall not be infringed.”

    It’s also worth noting the lineage of the rights. The foundation of gun rights lies in the Constitution itself, which essentially just codified existing rights and practices. Abortion rights are new rights that are effects of contraceptive rights (Griswold v. Connecticut), which are derived from privacy rights, which are vaguely considered to be part of the “unenumerated rights” mentioned in the 10th Amendment. It took 200 years of interpretation to determine that abortion rights should follow.

    Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 8:37 am | Permalink
  3. ebdoug wrote:

    Thank you Michael on the “well regulated militia” So many of these loners who commit these mass murders could be stopped if when they applied for guns, they had to state their “well regulated militia” and then prove that they attend training with a militia each year. All our military and retired military would qualify unless they were disproved by mental duress.

    I have been against abortion all my life, but I’m more against an unwanted child being born then tortured to death. Bush/Cheney might believe in torture, I don’t.

    Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 10:51 am | Permalink
  4. jonah wrote:

    According to Gallup, more people favor stricter gun control.

    I’ll admit that i’m perplexed why stricter gun control laws haven’t been passed yet given this poll. While the amount of money by the pro-gun is probably very persuasive, surely the amount of money for those favoring stricter gun laws must be higher or at least has the potential to be higher. Gun’s have the potential to harm businesses in multiple ways. Will consumers at shopping malls be more at ease if they know there are stricter gun laws or less at ease? To me it makes no sense that the anti-gun lobby is so weak.

    I am also disappointed that Obama hasn’t been able to use polls like the above to pass stricter gun controls yet. It makes a mockery of the US democratic system. A small amount of people have so much power over the majority of us.

    Sunday, December 13, 2015 at 4:42 am | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    Yes, it is all about money. Most people want to do something about climate change, are pro-choice, and long before the Supreme Court acted most were in favor of gay marriage.

    In some ways, this is intentional. The constitution was written to protect minorities against majority tyranny. The problem is that with mass media, money has become far more influential and can basically get Congress to do anything. So if anyone with money (including corporations, churches, unions, etc.) wants something bad enough, they can get it. And for pretty cheap actually.

    Sunday, December 13, 2015 at 9:32 am | Permalink
  6. paradoctor wrote:

    The Second Amendment contradicts itself. On the one hand, well-regulated militia; on the other hand, uninfringed bearing of arms. But to regulate is by definition to infringe.

    Shall guns be controlled? For instance shall they be kept out of the hands of children, criminals, traitors and the insane? If not then the militia is not well-regulated; if yes then arms-bearing may be infringed.

    So the Second Amendment takes both sides of the gun control debate; therefore it can be quoted by both sides. How convenient! From this I predict that the big federal gun-control law, when it comes, will be titled, “The Second Amendment Enforcement Act”.

    Monday, December 14, 2015 at 1:42 am | Permalink
  7. Jonah wrote:

    Regarding the constitution, I understand that we are a nation of laws but a forward thinking nation should be able to modify its laws or clarify its laws as it sees fit.

    Why isn’t it possible for Obama to ask every state to vote on stricter gun control and set a minimum criteria to vote on? The states that want it can implement it. People who want stricter gun laws can then move to an appropriate state.

    Monday, December 14, 2015 at 3:37 am | Permalink
  8. Michael wrote:

    “a forward thinking nation should be able to modify its laws or clarify its laws as it sees fit.”

    While many people (especially politicians) like to hail the Constitution as the greatest document ever written, it really is quite flawed and has not aged well. It took a blatant power grab (Marbury v. Madison) by SCOTUS just to determine that courts should be able to review whether or not laws were Constitutional. The amendment process is essentially an impossible joke. We had to fight a horribly bloody war just to get basic human rights for a significant part of the population. It provided no mechanism for scaling with population growth (the ratio of people to Congressperson has gone from about 1:30,000 to 1:650,000). It provides state legislatures far too much power to manipulate the will of the people through gerrymandering (a couple years ago, PA Democrats got 6 out of 15 House seats, despite capturing almost 60% of the votes statewide).

    Despite all that, for almost 200 years, we were a (somewhat) forward-thinking nation, and Congress and the Courts did a better job of modifying and clarifying laws. Over the past 30-50 years or so, though, there has been a very organized and growing movement to push for maintaining the “original interpretation” of the Constitution, thus crippling the ability of the government to function. The original interpretation just does not work given modern demographics and scale of our society.

    Monday, December 14, 2015 at 10:10 am | Permalink
  9. David Freeman wrote:

    Well and concisely said Michael.

    However, I suspect that ‘crippling the government’ is the actual goal and that the ‘push for maintaining the “original interpretation”‘ is just the means to reverse progress rather than an unfortunate side effect of strict adherence to original intent.

    Monday, December 14, 2015 at 1:09 pm | Permalink
  10. Iron Knee wrote:

    Paradoctor, I don’t believe that “to regulate is by definition to infringe”. In particular, when one right conflicts with another right, it is very important to define carefully which right wins out in which situations. For example, if someone yells “Fire!” in a crowded theater, the right of free speech is trumped. Another example, people have a right to freedom, and to vote, but those can be taken away if they commit a crime. There are also plenty of rights that seem to vanish in time of war.

    The bottom line is that with freedom and rights comes responsibility. I can’t think of any right that is absolute.

    David Freeman, bingo! I don’t think very many of the people who argue for strict interpretation of the constitution actually care about the constitution, as evidenced by their willingness to ignore the constitution entirely when it disagrees with their agenda.

    Monday, December 14, 2015 at 1:42 pm | Permalink
  11. Mark wrote:

    It always seems that there are double standards when it comes to moral or faith issues surrounding these two issues. Although it is (oddly) rarely stated as such, it would seem that those opposed to abortion are against it because they consider any fertilized egg as “life” and taking a life is a sin. Even though it is someone else’s sin, they want to do everything they can to prevent that from happening. However when it comes to gun violence, these opponents are not concerned about the sin of murder which is enabled by the use of firearms. I have not been able to find statistics on it, but I would bet that gun deaths as a result of self defense are dwarfed by those related to 1st or 2nd degree murder.

    Monday, December 14, 2015 at 7:07 pm | Permalink