January 28, 2013

Guns & Security
By Brett Joshpe
Exclusive to The National Security Roundtable

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I have written in several publications of late that as a conservative Republican, I would support sensible new gun laws. The question, of course, becomes “what is sensible,” the answer to which depends on what is the goal. The goal of gun rights and regulations in society should be to promote security and safety in a way that is consistent with Second Amendment jurisprudence. We should ask ourselves constantly whether we are furthering our ultimate goal through various proposals. 

Naturally, in promoting that goal, there will be — as there always are — tradeoffs. A limitation on magazine sizes very well could save lives in the context of mass shootings. As has often been stated in the wake of these horrible massacres, “every second counts.” To the extent that smaller magazines buy us seconds, these limitations are worth considering. It may seem a trivial difference for a shooter to shoot 90 bullets, rather than 100, in the course of minutes, but not if your child was killed by bullet number 91.  

We must also be honest about the fact that such limitations can result in tragedies in other instances. For instance, one can envision a scenario in which several intruders invade one’s home, gunfire erupts, and the innocent homeowner needs another shot he does not have to neutralize the threat. In limiting the features of the gun and the ammunition, any solution will be imperfect because the gun can either be a life safer or a life taker.

Of course, this is only one part of the equation and only part of what legislatures around the country are considering. Enhanced background checks are the most obvious area where we could further our goal of being more secure in a regime where gun ownership is a constitutional right. For those who say the answer to addressing gun violence is dealing with mental health, enhanced background checks seems like the ideal place to beef up regulations. 

Then there is the question of banning assault weapons, which Senator Dianne Feinstein has proposed. The definition of assault weapon fundamentally hinges on aesthetic characteristics, rather than how the weapon actually functions or shoots, or how fast it does so. The effort to bans these weapons is essentially rooted in the fact that they look scary and militaristic and not like the kind of guns we think citizens should have. Personally, I think we glorify guns and violence too much in this society, and there is nothing wrong with trying to make them “less cool.” But is that the job of the federal government? Does banning a weapon because of how it looks really make sense and does it further the ultimate goal of making us more secure? 

I have reservations about whether it does, although, in light of the latest tragedy in Connecticut, I believe adamantly that we have failed so far to find those regulations that would best promote our end goal. I believe we can do better and still be true to our Second Amendment tradition. I concede that finding the ideal balance is complicated, but we should keep common sense in mind as we search for it.   

Brett Joshpe is an attorney in New York City and runs the law firm Joshpe Law Group LLP. He is co-author of the book "Why You’re Wrong About the Right"; a regular commentator on political, legal and economic issues; and a member of The National Security Roundtable.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of The National Security Roundtable, Inc.


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