The Chronicle on Friday reported on a host of changes to current gun control policy that the Republican controlled NC General Assembly has put forth for debate including:
- Allowing concealed weapons in public parks and restaurants where alcohol is served
- Exempting any firearm, accessory, and ammunition made and kept in North Carolina from federal regulation
The Devil Dems blog will keep you updated on changes to gun control policy, an issue with huge implications for public health. We’re particularly troubled by the proposal that would allow the creation of distribution of even automatic weapons
But for now, we’ll discuss the troubling first paragraph of the article, and how it reflects a dangerous formulation of the firearms issue:
In control of the North Carolina General Assembly for the first time in more than a century, Republican lawmakers are moving forward on a host of legislation that would greatly expand gun rights.
What, exactly, does it mean to expand “rights?”
“Rights” are entitlements, and we hold rights (like the right to speak freely, or the right to due process), not because it is good or bad for society at large, but because we are entitled to as individuals.
There are lot of sometimes contradictory statistics out there for how different types of firearms laws impact crime and public health; some data sets suggest we should decrease some restrictions, other data sets suggest we should increase other restrictions. That logic is not “rights” logic.
The Supreme Court has very specifically stated that restrictions on carrying concealed weapons is not a violation of the 2nd amendment, and even in DC v. Heller, the majority and minority decisions both pointed to the fact that regulations prohibiting manufacture/ownership of certain extreme types of firearms would be justified.
When combined, the pieces of legislation the Chronicle was discussing would allow individuals to manufacture and own machine guns or sawed-off shotguns, and to conceal those weapons and take them into parks and bars.
If you have a right to that, it isn’t a right defended in the constitution, and calling it a “right” I think requires further argumentation.