Monday, May 24, 2010
Pontiac Man Challenges City on Right to Carry Handgun
In a Responsible Community we did not give up the right to own weapons. But, if the community has a compelling reason to restrict gun possession and use, then it has the responsibility to act in a reasonable and limited manner to protect the community. This means, with some exceptions, it can act unilaterally from any higher governmental body. It could require a permit to even carry the weapon in the open as Shattuck does, or make it illegal to carry a weapon anywhere in public.
This is where the responsible community parts with the constitution. But since we live in a community that has an excellent constitution, we must stand by its standards. That doesn’t mean that the understanding of the document can be clear at all times or that we can all agree with that understanding. We must search for middle ground.
The Second Amendment has wide interpretation across the political spectrum. One viewpoint says that individuals have the right to bear arms in a limited way because of the statement about a well regulated militia. Others believe in a more open understanding, that individuals have the right to bear arms regardless of their membership in a well regulated militia. In either extreme, it is clear that individuals have at least some right to own and bear arms. So Ben Shattuck does have the right to own firearms in his home and on his person with reasonable restrictions.
But, no right is absolute even in an open interpretation. The Constitution never meant to guarantee any right beyond the point of safety. Government, with compelling reasons, can and should restrict ownership and use of firearms. Some examples might be requiring training on use and safety, surrendering the weapon when requested by a police officer or proper holstering.
The current interpretation of the Constitution does allow Mr. Shattuck to own a weapon and carry his weapon around with him. The City of Pontiac can’t stop him from owning but it should be able to restrict its use for compelling reasons.