The House of Representatives just passed a law that would allow gun-owners to carry their guns through other states based on the Constitutional right to bear arms (as opposed to the right to bear legs — once global warming kicks it up a notch expect to see this one on the floor soon).
As a native Illinoisan, I’m not sure how I should feel about this bill. Illinois is one of two states (not including Washington D.C.) that don’t have concealed carry provisions. This provision would allow Missourians and Michiganders and people from Indiana to waltz right through our state with their guns as they please. I see the merit and legality to the 2nd Amendment, yet at the same time, I recognize we have a gun violence problem in America.
Here’s how dialogue around gun control goes these days:
For: Guns kill people.
Against: Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.
For: People kill people using guns
Against: And the Second Amendment?
For: Shoot… No, wait!
We don’t do a good job of debating about gun-control (or lack there-of) in the United States.
There are fundamentally four types of people, as far as using and handling guns are concerned:
1. The people who know how to use a gun properly, and are willing to use a gun if necessary. My brother, Chris, is an Eagle Scout, and spent a summer teaching kids how to shoot a gun at a rifle range. He knows how to use a gun properly, so I can trust him that he will use it properly. When talking about gun control, this group is safe.
2. The people who know how to use a gun but choose not to. I picture a lot of ex-cops, ex-scouts and ex-soldiers in this category. Maybe they had a bad experience, but when it comes to guns, they aren’t dangerous to the general population.
3. The people who are willing to use a gun, but don’t know how to use one properly. (See, Anders Behring Breivik, et al) The right to bear arms was enacted for self-defense, not outward aggression. This is the group everyone should be concerned about when talking about gun control. It is because of this group that we need background checks and a crack-down on illegal arms deals.
4. I belong in the 4th group. Yes, I did go skeet shooting one time at summer camp, but by no means do I know how to use a gun properly, nor would I be willing to use a gun under normal circumstances (talk to me again when the zombie apocalypse hits, but by then I think we’ll have bigger issues to address than gun-control.) Granted, my group probably has many other problems, but the possibility of shooting someone is not one of them.
Using this as a starting place, how do we approach comprehensive national security using the Second Amendment? The law, as it stands, does not make us safer as a country as much as it makes is safer as individuals (who choose to carry guns. Unless you’re Plaxico Burress). How do we protect individual freedoms while also protecting collective security?
And when Jesus said, “Love your enemies,” is it possible he also could’ve meant, “Don’t shoot them”?
James Colten is a campaigns assistant at Sojourners.