July 24, 2012 By scotmcknight 27 Comments
Sandy Levinson, at Balkinization:
Some of this blog’s readers will know that I am against our gun laws — we are a violent society and our violence is magnified by the 2d Amendment’s right to bear arms, a right taken far too liberally in our culture. The issue for me, however, is not simply repealing the 2d Amendment or drastically reducing what constitutes the right to “bear” arms, but how Christians participate.
The GOP is in bed with the NRA; the Dems learned from Al Gore’s opposition to gun laws, which many Dems supported, that they can’t win elections with that platform. So today no party is willing to re-examine our gun laws.
The reality is similar with regard to firearms, including the ones used in Aurora. For better or worse–and it seems hard to argue that it is not “for worse”–Americans are simply unwilling to accept the possibility of significant constraints on gun ownership. Events like the one in Aurora are, therefore, simply the price we willingly pay for “taking rights seriously,” as Ronald Dworkin would put it (though surely not with regard to the Second Amendment), just as the slaughter of innocent victims of drunk drivers is the price we similarly pay for the only minimally-regulated sale of alcohol. (We could also talk about the price paid for honoring the First Amendment, which on occasion can certainly increase the probability of murder, as with incitement to kill abortion providers).In any case, let me suggest that something along these lines is what a truly honest discussion of Aurora might look like, but we have no national leaders, in either party, willing to conduct it.
Michael Bloomerg has shown, once again, why he has no prospect at all for national political office, by noting the pathetic inadequacy of both the Obama and Romney responses. The inability to have an honest discussion about guns (or alcohol or drugs) is simply a mirror of our equal inability to have an honest discussion about so many other issues in contemporary American life. The only difference is that we actually pay some attention, for at least a couple of days, to massacres carried out by (presumed) lunatics with guns and not to the deaths that are just as equally caused by presumed “non-lunatics” in other aspects of American poliltics and culture. Perhaps Mitt Romney will suggest hugging one’s child as one explains why there is no way to cover expensive medical care for a parent or the tot him/herself.