Second Amendment rights to life

This week’s cover story demonstrates how the political and legal stalemate surrounding gun control has impacted our region

My good friend Dan Baum, an enthusiastic gun-owner, author of the book Gun Guys and contributing editor at Harper’s, is proposing what he calls a “fiendishly clever” way to bring about sane gun laws. It’s based on the Second Amendment itself.

That Amendment reads: “A well-regulated militia, being essential to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The NRA usually excises the verbiage about the militia. Here’s Danny’s idea:

“If you don’t own a gun and want tougher gun restrictions, file a federal lawsuit arguing that your Second Amendment rights are being violated.

“‘The militia’ has been since colonial days understood as the community of armed citizens, so as an unarmed citizen, you have a Second Amendment right to live among a well-regulated militia. The current community of armed citizens is anything but.”

Although Dan is deeply critical of the NRA, he has long praised the organization’s gun-safety training program. “We’d all be better off if good training were required to own a gun,” he says.

Dan contends that an assault-weapons ban cannot work. In a 2013 cover story for Harper’s, he wrote: “[Assault-style rifles] are a collection of integrated components, which makes controlling their proliferation almost impossible.”

This week’s cover story by Scott Thomas Anderson reveals how this has impacted our region, from the nation’s first high-profile mass school shooting, which took place in Stockton in 1989, to last November’s bloody tragedy in Tehama. Both of those massacres were perpetrated by home-assembled ghost guns.