Jack D'Aurora: Gun fetish making America more dangerous than war zones

·4 min read
A sedan with multiple bullet holes in the front windshield sits behind crime scene tape at the back of a parking lot on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, at Bluff Gardens apartments in Columbus' Northland neighborhood. One man was killed, another wounded in a shooting there.
A sedan with multiple bullet holes in the front windshield sits behind crime scene tape at the back of a parking lot on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, at Bluff Gardens apartments in Columbus' Northland neighborhood. One man was killed, another wounded in a shooting there.

There’s something wrong in America: we’ve come to accept as unavoidable a staggering number of gun deaths annually.

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State legislatures, either stymied by the thought of judicial review or fearful of political fallout, are doing nothing, and Republican dominated legislatures promote gun proliferation. Ohio’s General Assembly wants to do away with permits for concealed carry.

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Ponder this: in the last two decades 15,000 military members and civilian contractors died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, not that much higher than the number of gun homicides here in 2020 alone.

Did the framers intend that life in the United States should be more dangerous than serving in a war zone?

Jack D’Aurora is a partner with The Behal Law Group and produces a podcast, "Lawyer Up! Columbus." He is a frequent Dispatch contributor.
Jack D’Aurora is a partner with The Behal Law Group and produces a podcast, "Lawyer Up! Columbus." He is a frequent Dispatch contributor.

The Second Amendment is touted by gun advocates as sacred and without limit and cry— the extremists, anyway — that gun regulation unduly burdens “law-abiding” citizens.

But do those rights come at the expense of public safety?

The Constitution was created so as to “insure domestic Tranquility … promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves …”

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When over 43,000 Americans die annually from gun homicides and suicide, we are not enjoying tranquility, and the general welfare and our liberty are diminished.

Here’s a very small sampling on what our attitude on guns has given us:

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In debating the gun rights issue, courts have to start giving priority to public safety, and the dividing line should be simple. You want a long gun for hunting?

No problem.

A handgun for home defense. That’s fine. A gun for any other purpose or to carry on the street? Sorry, that’s outside the Second Amendment.

Oh, but that puts “law-abiding citizens” at risk.

Not if we get serious about universal background checks for all gun transfers, long prison sentences for anyone engaging in a straw man purchase or carrying a gun on the street, banning high-capacity magazines and semi-automatic long guns, and temporarily removing guns from domestic abusers.

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The U.S. Supreme Court held in the 2008 Heller decision that the “Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm … and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.” The court also held, “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.”

Last November, the court heard what will likely be a pivotal case, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association. v. Bruen. The issue is whether a New York law that severely restricts the right to carry guns outside the homes violates the Second Amendment.

When deciding the case, let’s hope the court meant what it said in Heller about the Second Amendment “not [being] a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

It’s easy for judges to get lost in the abstract arguments about constitutional rights. Judges decide gun cases in a vacuum of sorts, far removed from the gun violence that has become part of America. Sitting in the comfort of their secure courtrooms — the U.S. Supreme Court has its own police force — judges parse the meaning of words and phrases without having to deal with the reality of people dying from guns. And plenty of people are dying.

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The defining question should be, what does a proliferation of guns mean for the public welfare?

Jack D’Aurora is a partner with The Behal Law Group and produces a podcast, "Lawyer Up! Columbus." He is a frequent Dispatch contributor.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Opinion: Do Second Amendment rights come at expense of public safety?

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