Interesting Article on Heller

I read this paper that Dave Hardy linked to.  I agree with Dave that it’s a very good read, in the sense that they outline a lot of the racial overtones that have been part of the history of gun regulation and the gun culture.  But I can’t agree with the conclusion, which is that the courts and legislatures should defer greatly to local concerns about restrictiong weapons in urban environments in response to the overwheliming problem of black-on-black violence.

It’s either an individual right, or it isn’t.  If it is, we don’t restrict that right in local jurisdictions because inner city communities can’t control their own problems with gangs and violence.  Urban blacks, who are not criminals, and who live in these communities that are affected by violence, have every bit as much right to have a firearm to protect themselves from criminals as I do.  In fact, their need is more dire than mine.  Even if 70% of blacks in inner cities would like to see guns banned, the nature of a right is that the 70% does not have the power to tell the othe 30% they may not have the means to protect themselves.

Maybe it is because I was born after the Civil Rights Movement, it’s difficult for me to view the modern gun rights movement in any way related to the antebellum “gun rights” movement in the south, the racist Jim Crow laws, or the 1967 California law, that pretty clearly had racial motivations.  Ultimately, I find the conclusion offered in this paper no better than others that prescribe magic pills, because I think they misunderstand the most important cultural issue that the gun debate is a metaphor for, which is the individual vs. the collective society.

The gun rights proponent ultimately views that his individual right to protect home and hearth trumps any community illusion that security is a collective rather than individual function.  At this point in our history, I think it’s time to put these racially tinged debates behind us and get to the root of the issue, which is that every human being has the right to defend home and hearth, regardless of the desires of the political elites to collectivise security.  Certainly there’s been enough of that on all sides of the racial debate at this point.