Saturday, June 28, 2008



The recent Supreme Court decision that the Second Amendment grants a personal right to own a firearm contains some reasoning that I regard as specious. Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion, repeated the plaintiff’s argument who asserted that he needed a hand gun for protection against the criminals and murderers who infest Washington, DC. Justice Scalia, who does not find a “right of privacy” in the constitution, does find a “right of self-defense” there. Further, ownership of firearms provides individuals with this right of defending themselves.

All of this heavy thinking leads me to express another of my opinions. Remember that the title of this blog is “Al’s Opinions.” In my opinion, the ownership of a hand gun does not provide a sure defense against a thief, mugger, or murderer. Here’s a typical scenario: I am walking on a busy street in a city. I have my handgun in my pocket, concealed, and I feel somewhat safe against any criminal who decides to rob me. I pass many people on the street; it is busy and there are many people. I decide that most of them are not criminals, but just ordinary citizens like me. I also know that I am carrying a lethal weapon and I feel safe and complacent.

A stranger approaches me from behind. He walks a bit faster than I do. When he is just behind me, I feel something pressed against my back. He tells me it is a gun and that he will shoot me if I try to turn or reach in my pocket for my own gun. He has the drop on me and I am helpless. I go with him into an alley, where he empties my pockets. He takes my money and my handgun. He then gags and binds me and runs away. Eventually I free myself and am able to call for help.
In my opinion, the previous scenario is much more likely than one in which I am able to extract my weapon from my pocket, turn on my attacker, and shoot him before he can shoot me. Therefore, I argue, the mere ability to own and carry a loaded handgun is not very good protection against a determined and clever criminal. I would say, based only on my opinion, that ninety percent of the time the victim who tries to confront the criminal ends up getting shot and perhaps killed. The plaintiff’s (and Justice Scalia’s) argument in the recent Washington, DC case does not convince me.

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