Saturday, December 15, 2012

Newtown-ian Physics

So what happens now in the wake of Friday's mind-numbing tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut?

A heavily armed gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children from 5 to 10 years old, in a rampage at a Connecticut elementary school on Friday, one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.

The gunman - who according to a media report carried four weapons and wore a bulletproof vest - was dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, state police Lieutenant Paul Vance told a news conference.

Vance said authorities found 18 children and seven adults, including the gunman, dead at the school, and two children were pronounced dead later after being take to a hospital. Another adult was found dead at a related crime scene in Newtown, he said, bringing the toll to 28.

President Obama's response to a wounded nation was excellent:

A visibly emotional President Obama offered his condolences to the victims and families of an elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn. at the White House on Friday.

"We’ve endured too many of these tragedies these past few years," Obama said, appearing to wipe away tears from his eyes.

"We're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics," he added.

So what can be done?  As Dave von Ebers reminds us in the wake of two vitally important SCOTUS cases decided in the last few years,  any new gun control legislation will be difficult to create, much less pass a GOP-led House.

For what it’s worth, I’d like to see a comprehensive federal gun control statute that encompasses all those principles, too, although the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, popularly referred to as the “Brady Bill,” contains some of those provisions.

But, of course, as my fellow liberals should know (and if you don’t know … why don’t you know?!), the Supreme Court has made that difficult to accomplish. In two recent cases – District of Columbia v. Heller, No. 07-290 (June 26, 2008), and McDonald v. City of Chicago, No. 08-1521 (June 28, 2010) – Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution creates an individual right to keep and bear arms, which, although not unlimited, prevents both the federal government (Heller), and state and municipal governments (McDonald), from imposing the most direct (and perhaps draconian) form of gun control: Outright bans on handgun ownership.

Indeed, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down earlier this month Oak Park, Illinois' anti concealed carry gun control law as a direct violation of the precedent set by Heller.

“The Supreme Court has decided that the amendment confers a right to bear arms for self-defense, which is as important outside the home as inside,” Judge Richard Posner wrote in the court’s majority opinion. “The theoretical and empirical evidence (which overall is inconclusive) is consistent with concluding that a right to carry firearms in public may promote self-defense.” 

So, given that the Executive cannot simply mandate gun control, the Legislative will not pass gun control, and  the Judicial has said gun control violates the Second Amendment, exactly what should Obama do to magically fix this problem?

I'm all ears.  If you want to stop guns, go after the manufacturers and the lobbyists.  Period.  Guns are a product, sold in the US.  They have arguably the most powerful product lobby on Earth.  You're going to need to start with them.

That time has come.

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