Friday, December 21, 2012

A good question for the high court

In an otherwise unremarkable column by Nicholas Kristof, a commenter named "Ken" asks a remarkable question:
What I would like to know is why it is illegal to carry a firearm into the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court justices don't seem to have any issues with the rest of us being fodder for automatic weapons, whether we are in schools or universities. Since they believe so strong [sic] in the right to bear arms, maybe they should feel like the rest of us for a change.
Justice Roberts, do you and your colleagues have an answer for the rest of us?

I must disagree with a couple of Kristof's points.

And if you need to enter a code to operate your cellphone, why not to fire your gun?
I'm not a gun rights advocate, but this is an absurd comparison. Unlocking your cell phone is an operation that takes virtually no time relative to using it, no matter what you want to do with the phone. Unlocking a gun, on the other hand, would take an order of magnitude longer than using it. While a lot of people will argue that that's the whole point, it makes a gun useless. For a lot of well-meaning people, a gun is a tool for a crisis: if it cannot be used quickly and without a lot of conscious effort, they might as well not have it. If you're going to go down that route, Mr. Kristof, just admit that you want guns to disappear altogether.
Gun suicides (nearly 19,000 a year in the U.S.) outnumber gun murders (more than 11,000), and a gun in the home increases the risk that someone in the home will commit suicide. The reason is that suicide attempts with pills or razors often fail; with guns, they succeed.
To me, throwing suicide into the discussion muddies the waters. Suicide physically harms only yourself. A shooting spree hurts others. The emotional trauma in either case can be immeasurable, but the emotional trauma isn't the issue, just as suicide isn't the issue (if Adam Lanza had committed suicide, the nation wouldn't be talking about him). I support increased restrictions on gun capability and ownership because of the appalling toll they can take on people other than the shooter.

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