Let me be explicit: an “unrestricted right to gun ownership” is not a right. In fact, any “unrestricted right” is not a right. For rights to be genuine, for rights to be effective, for rights to be humane, for rights to be rights, they must be placed into social and political contexts — and that means regulation.Even Justice Scalia, who is no friend to gun control, said in the Heller decision that reasonable restrictions are acceptable. This makes the Second Amendment argument about non-infringement meaningless.
This view of rights emphasizes that they are one of the most important ways that we as a society have sought to honor and protect human dignity — in fact, the protection of human dignity is precisely what rights are for. A high view of dignity will pair rights with responsibilities, individual freedoms with the obligation to ensure that freedoms of others will be respected. If we believe that human dignity requires the right to bear arms, that same foundation of human dignity requires regulations to ensure that this right is appropriately related to all the other rights and responsibilities we bear. Our debate should not be whether regulation, but only which regulation.
What we're left with is a discussion about how much restriction is acceptable. Even my ideas about proper gun control, which have never come close to being implemented even in the most restrictive places, would allow for the preservation of the spirit of the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms. The difference would be that gun owners would be more qualified and more responsible.
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.