Ever since the landmark Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v. Dick Anthony Heller on June 26, 2008 in which Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion left open the door to open to some restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, both sides – gun rights activists and gun prohibitionists – have been battling over just what might be considered a “reasonable” gun control statute or ordinance.
On one side, constitutional absolutists insist that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is absolute, that there may be no restrictions on the individual right to own any kind of firearm one wants.
On the other side, gun prohibitionists – perhaps clinging to some shred of denial that the Scalia opinion was wrong and that there truly is no individual right protected by the Second Amendment – argue that all manner of restrictions are acceptable.
So the question now, as the country waits to see whether the high court will take a case that may determine whether the Second Amendment is incorporated to the states as a limit on the authority of state and local governments to regulate arms, what is “reasonable” in terms of gun regulations?
1) Should we require background checks on all firearms transfers, whether at a gun shop, a gun show, or between friends, neighbors and even family members?
2) Should gun owners be licensed and every one of their firearms registered? How frequently should these licenses be renewed (annually, every five years, or should they be lifetime licenses)?
3) Should private citizens be allowed to carry concealed handguns for personal protection? Barack Obama is on record opposing concealed carry, arguing that it could lead to more violence, not less.
4) Open carry is legal in many states, and there is a small but gradually expanding Open Carry movement. Should legislatures pass laws banning open carry, or keep their hands off our guns?
5) Should laws prohibiting private citizens from carrying guns in certain places including restaurants, cocktail lounges and taverns, courthouses, public buildings including federal buildings, public parks (city, state, national), public and private schools, colleges and universities be repealed?
6) Should we expand laws prohibiting concealed or openly-carried handguns in certain venues to include all public property?
7) Should we renew and expand the ban on so-called “assault weapons?”
8) Should restoration of voting rights for convicted felons be tied to restoration of firearms rights for the same individuals?
9) Should gun owners be required to store their guns unloaded and locked at home?
10) Should citizens be limited to one gun purchase per month, or should there be no limit on the number of guns a private citizen can buy and sell.
11) Should the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives be given added authority to inspect the homes of gun owners, or should the agency be abolished and the practices of its agents investigated by independent prosecutors?
12) Last and not least, which statement best describes you:
a) I own guns for protection, target shooting, hunting and for no reason at all; it’s none of your business or the government’s business why I own guns, what kinds of guns, how many or where I keep them.
b) I do not own guns, and will not allow one in my home for any reason. They are dangerous, only the police and military should have guns, and private handgun ownership should be strictly regulated or banned altogether.
What is “reasonable” to one person may be outrageous to another. How you answered the questions above may determine whether you should join the National Rifle Association or send a contribution to the Violence Policy Center.