Post by Randall Ryder
Through the Supreme Court and state laws, gun rights continue to increase. Will this result in more problems with accidental shootings and violence as a result?
The Second Amendment states that "a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Exactly what rights that provides has never been clear and is a constant source of debate within the country. The Supreme Court, charged with interpreting the Constitution, has never strayed too far from the basic premise that the 2nd Amendment gives individuals the right to bear arms. What seems to be in flux, however, is exactly what that right encompasses.
In a recent decision, the Supreme Court ruled that individuals have the right, as an individual, to maintain a loaded handgun for home defense. This decision was met with much criticism from opponents to gun rights, as handguns are responsible for a large percentage of shooting deaths in the United States. Notably, many of those deaths are not from incidents involving home defense, but incidents outside of the home.
In the past year, four states have passed laws that expressly provide for carrying a loaded handgun into a bar. Under the law, individuals are allowed to carry a loaded gun into a bar, but they are not supposed to drink. Proponents of gun rights say this offers another protection for when individuals are out and about—allowing for greater personal protection. Opponents, on the other hand, are criticizing the law for the new dangers it presents, and the possibility of giving people the right " . . . to be Wyatt Earp."
Supposedly, the new rights are part of an overlying effort by the gun lobby to increase gun rights state by state. Notably, the state representative who helped pass the measure in Tennessee admitted that he had received assistance from the National Rifle Association (NRA), widely considered one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the country.
Perhaps the most obvious criticism is that mixing guns and booze seems like a tremendously terrible idea. There is certainly a demarcation between home defense and bar defense. Most scuffles at bars involve lots of shoving and perhaps a punch or two. Most bars have bouncers who will quickly remove the individuals from the bar. For the most part, bystanders in these situations are not in danger of being seriously harmed by the scuffle.
Introducing guns into bar scuffles, however, drastically changes the equation. The danger of injuring or killing someone who is not involved in the situation becomes a severe problem. Not only that, but how would bouncers be expected to control the situation—carry bigger guns? It seems as if this creates a dangerous snowball effect that may not be worth the risks involved.
What do you think—should individuals be allowed to carry guns in bars?