by Jonathan Turley
Below is my column in The Hill on the call for bans and limits on guns like the AR-15 since the massacre in Texas. Both President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama have blamed the gun lobby for the violence in calling for new major gun controls. However, the barrier to banning weapons like the AR-15 rests more with the Second Amendment than the gun lobby. Any effort to reach some “commonsense” solutions will depend on the willings to end the sweeping rhetoric and deal with the realities of the constitutional limits on gun control.
Here is the column:
As the nation mourns another massacre of children, we again try to make sense of the senseless. It is unimaginable and yet all too familiar. Within minutes of the killing of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, a familiar cycle has emerged — grief coupled with angry demands for gun reforms.
President Biden used his initial remarks to denounce the gun lobby and demand gun control. The president spoke passionately and movingly on this loss but, after roughly a dozen lines, he turned to the politics of gun control, asking: “When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?”
It is a virtual mantra after massacres, as politicians pledge to stop gun violence while denouncing their opponents as facilitating the carnage.
The gun lobby, backed by millions of gun owners, is indeed a powerful political force. But it is not the gun lobby but the Constitution that is the greatest obstacle to some of these calls for gun bans or limits. If we want to get something done, we will need to be honest and nonpartisan, a challenge that previously has proven too much for our leaders. There is a limited range of movement for legislation, given the constitutional right to bear arms and controlling constitutional precedent.
In discussing “common sense gun laws,” the president once again denounced the availability of what he collectively called “assault weapons,” a common reference to such popular models as the AR-15. “What in God’s name do you need an assault weapon for, except to kill someone?” the president asked. “Deer aren’t running through the forest with Kevlar vests on, for God’s sake. It’s just sick.”
The call for “common sense” responses to this plague of violence is welcomed, but common sense also requires a common understanding of the realities of gun ownership and gun control.
Take the AR-15. Efforts to ban this model already have failed in the courts on constitutional grounds, though litigation is continuing on that issue. In 2008, the Supreme Court handed down a landmark ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, recognizing the Second Amendment as encompassing an individual right to bear arms. Clearly many have good-faith disagreements with the constitutional interpretations behind Heller. However, that is currently the controlling precedent.
The AR-15 is the most popular gun in America and the number is continuing to rise rapidly, with one AR-15 purchased in every five new firearms sales. These AR-15s clearly are not being purchased for armored deer. Many are purchased for personal and home protection; it also is popular for target shooting and hunting. Many gun owners like the AR-15 because it is modular; depending on the model, you can swap out barrels, bolts and high-capacity magazines, or add a variety of accessories. While it does more damage than a typical handgun, it is not the most powerful gun sold in terms of caliber; many guns have equal or greater calibre.
That is why laws to ban or curtail sales of the AR-15 run into constitutional barriers. Most recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down a California ban on adults under 21 purchasing semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15. And the Supreme Court has a pending Second Amendment case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, that is likely to further strengthen gun rights this term.
After past tragedies, some of us have cautioned that there is a limited range of options for gun bans, given constitutional protections. There also are practical barriers, with an estimated 393 million guns in the United States and an estimated 72 million gun owners; three out of ten Americans say they have guns. Indeed, gun ownership rose during the pandemic. When former Texas congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke declared, “Hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15,” he was widely celebrated on the left. However, even seizing that one type of gun would require confiscation of as many as 15 million weapons.
If the president truly wants a “common sense” response to this tragedy, it needs to be based on reality, not rhetoric. In the past, massacres have been weaponized for political purposes, with measures that are either clearly unconstitutional or largely ineffectual.
The NRA pushes for training, responsibility and harsher penalties for crimes committed with guns. Democrats push for no-bail release of criminals, no prosecution of crimes, early release for violent criminals and the acceptance of political violence.
Now, which seems to be the greater part of the problem?
The common .22 can do as much, or worse damage in a situation like these mass shootings. The small, low power bullet can enter a body and just bounce around, destroying organs and arteries. If someone decides to do evil, you aren’t going to ban any specific tool for the task; an alternative WILL be found.
We need people without a predetermined agenda (that is NOT public safety) to deal with. Were those people to exist and a meeting held, it would be determined that there are PLENTY of rules and laws aimed at the inanimate object that has no motive, agenda, goal, emotion or psychosis. ALL the attention needs to be directed at how to determine WHO (not WHAT) the threat is and how to stop them.
I’m not. I’m sick of these lying, corrupt, incompetent cowards that strip law enforcement of their ability to protect the public, want to strip civilians of their right to self defense, release dangerous criminals from jail, refuse to prosecute violent crimes but have their own personal armed security detail. All they want to do is grandstand, pass a restriction that not only doesn’t address the problem but assures MORE incidents that will “demand” further restrictions. I’m more inclined to dig in my heels and oppose this tooth and nail.
You should do a Google Image Search on “AR-15 wounds” just to see if what you think you know is accurate. I’m guessing it might not be.
You should Google “putz” and see if your picture shows up. The small .22 round enters the body and instead of exiting, just bounces around. A gut shot is almost terminal. The amount of internal injury that can be caused is difficult to treat.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be returning to TODAY’S topics and continuing to expose your leftist ignorance.
Do today’s topics include 20 teens injured and 4 shot dead at an Alabama birthday party?
There is no strict gun control. Republican state legislatures have rolled it back across the nation, and gun violence has rapidly escalated across the nation as they’ve done so. The more guns, the more gun violence.
In Chicago? Are you high?
Northwest Indiana gun sales supply Chicago.
More laws will do nothing to stop shootings. If guns are taken away from law abiding citizens only criminals will have guns. That is the definition of Chicago
Restriction opponents love to say that, but nothing backs the claim up but endless repetition. The fact-based truth is just the opposite:
Fact Sheet: Weak Gun Laws Are Driving Increases in Violent Crime – States that have recently weakened their gun laws are seeing increases in violent crime.
Cherrypicked nonsense, I can cite more guns equals less crime studies. One out of GASP! Harvard.
You seem to have forgotten the link.
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.
Greggie I know you have no children or know any kids, but ask someone to go into an office and see all the prescription bottles for children
Have you heard of a mass shooter that was not being seen by a shrink?
If that’s so, why do pro-gun lobbyists oppose the inclusion of mental health databases into background checks?
What they’re actually concerned about are marketing restrictions. They just happen to support a product that kills people. The tobacco industry did the same thing.
Marketing? I have not seen gun commercial, I have heard them on talk radio.
Best advertising comes right out of hollyweird movies that blast everything that moves gangstars living the high life off drugs.
Your pets would be upset.
Murder is against the law why would passing another gun law work? What gun law would you like? No guns for kids, already done.
But, the guns are illegally in Chicago and illegally carried by criminals. Can you at least admit this and admit how little criminals respect your stupid, idiotic, theatrical “sensible gun control laws”?
Oh, and you didn’t answer my question. How has relaxing ownership been carried out? We have background checks; do you think those who lie on federal background checks should go to jail? Is there some reason you refuse to answer that?
I live outside of Chicago, the punks doing all the shooting are not legally purchasing guns from Indiana. Since Pritzker, gun laws have become even stricter but you certainly can’t tell that by what’s going on in Chicago. It’s obvious that people who shoot and kill people ignore gun laws.
Nah, just denying every truth he gets slapped upside the head with.
My husband gave up on his concealed carry because of the cost to renew and having to retake the classes. You used to be able to renew your gun card online. He had to go to our Illinois State rep to renew it this time. To sell a gun you have to do it at a State Police headquarters. The gun shop he has used for many years is giving up and shutting down because of the new restrictions.
We all know that your weapon of choice for children is a Metzenbaum scissors.
The Democrats rallying cry “Get ’em while their young.”
Yeah, but what does that have to do with law abiding gun owners? Get back with us when you find out how many of the shooters were CHL holders or NRA members. Maybe of leftist prosecutors and judges would put criminals in jail instead of rewarding them, there can be fewer of these tragedies. But then, what would the left have to expolit?
Im going out on a limb and going to guess all there names lol La’Tavia
The usial Useful idiots protesting against the NRA they will get the big time coverage from the M.S. Media bottom dwellers as they always do from liberal rags like the NYT’s and WP and the talking heads from Today,GMA,CBS MORNING AND EVENING NEWS,CBS SUNDAY MORNING and 60 MINUTES to
Here’s where flooding the country with guns and relaxing ownership and carry restrictions has got us:
You spent too much time on the internet, Comrade.
That’s just fine.
We all know what taking the guns and only letting the government have them will give us:
Genocide and totalitarianism.
How has relaxing ownership been carried out? We have background checks; do you think those who lie on federal background checks should go to jail?
What has happened is that leftist prosecutors and DA’s, soft on crime, refuse to prosecute violent criminals and let violent criminals out of jail. People caught with illegal guns are just released and not prosecuted. Why would you care about law abiding citizens carrying a weapon when you DON’T care if criminals carry a weapon?
Also, did you know that the CCP controls TikTok? Are you OK with being manipulated by the CCP?
We had fire drills, tornado drills and rifle teams, kids were not on prescription mind drugs.
04/25/23 – WA bans sale of AR-15s and other semiautomatic rifles, effective immediately
Yeah, AR-15’s are a major problem there, where leftists take over city blocks, burn businesses, riot, loot, murder, assault and no one prosecutes them. Like Democrats everywhere, they ignore the real problems, many of their own making, and attack the personal liberties of the law abiding.
If that were true, would you want them all to be equipped with assault rifles? Because that is how a nation descends into the insanity of civil war.
Putin armed and trained one of the factions in Sudan, you know.
Well, since assault rifles are not available to anyone without a special, expensive license, I reckon that’s what they call a moot point.
Any law abiding citizen should be able to own an AR if they want to. In fact, in the collapsing law enforcement environment the Democrats are generating, they are a necessity.