Gun Violence, Again

2017-10-10T08:25:31+00:00 October 7th, 2017|Gun Regulation|

59 killed and near 500 injured in Las Vegas massacre.

How many sentences are in the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? You’d think a whole bunch. But the answer is one. It says: “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.”

Webster’s definition of the word ‘sentence’ is longer: “a word, clause, or phrase or a group of clauses or phrases forming a syntactic unit which expresses an assertion, a question, a command, a wish, an exclamation, or the performance of an action, that in writing usually begins with a capital letter and concludes with appropriate end punctuation, and that in speaking is distinguished by characteristic patterns of stress, pitch, and pauses.”

My point is a simple one. Webster’s uses the singular, “an assertion,” stipulating a “syntactic unit.” Some might say a complete thought.

So you just cannot say, “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be abridged.” That is an incomplete sentence. The right to bear arms must be considered in the context of the rest of the sentence, that is, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of the state.”

Indeed, we already regulate the right to bear arms. Citizens cannot own a nuclear weapon, for example. Based on the statistics on the top of the page, our regulation of arms is inconsistent with the Founding Fathers’ written words.

Ideas from Australia. Australians, following Las Vegas-like massacres in their country, approved much stronger regulations for firearms in 1996 with apparent positive effects. (see for details and references).

Between 1991 and 2001, the number of firearm-related deaths in Australia declined 47%. In 2014, 35 people were victims of firearms homicide, compared to 98 people in 1996. Suicide deaths using firearms more than halved over the ten years, from 389 deaths in 1995, to 147 deaths in 2005. This is equal to 7% of all suicides in 2005. If you visit the Wikipedia site you will see some argument about the effectiveness of the laws. For example, one researcher reports: “The implemented [possession] restrictions may not be responsible for the observed reductions in firearms suicide. Data suggest that a change in social and cultural attitudes could have contributed to the shift in method preference.” Yes, causation is hard to prove. But the coincidence of the regulations and the declines in gun deaths still recommend the policy change. I recommend following the Australians’ lead on gun regulation, as mandated in the “entire sentence” of the 2nd Amendment.

Finally, as I said on my home page (, “What we need to do in the short-run is keep the peace and keep from killing each other.”