Guest opinion: Gun control measures are common sense, not a constitutional violation
Jerry Heck wrote in a guest editorial in the April 24-26 edition that: “Sadly, Joe Biden believes that ‘no amendment is absolute.’“ Actually, President Biden is on very strong ground here. No less a conservative stalwart than U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made it crystal clear in the District of Columbia v. Heller decision that the Second Amendment is not absolute. “(T)he right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. … (T)he right (is) not a right to keep and carry any weapons whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
To begin with, the crisis of death and injuries from gun violence must be addressed effectively at both the national and state levels. In Utah, the rate of gun deaths increased by almost 40% from 2008 to 2018. Mr. Heck offers no potential solutions to that horrific increase. These are real deaths. Real family tragedies. Yet the Utah Legislature seems bent on making Utah the most gun-friendly state in the Union regardless of the number of Utah lives that costs. Mr. Heck may be willing to pay that cost in human life, but we are not.
Mr. Heck’s assertion that President Biden’s proposals are “constitutional eviscerations” is unfortunately typical of all too many gun rights advocates whose interpretation of the Second Amendment goes far beyond Justice Scalia’s. Universal background checks are clearly permitted by the Second Amendment. Again, Justice Scalia stated that “conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms” are permitted by the Second Amendment. Nearly 90% of Utahns support background checks on all gun sales, as do the vast majority of all Americans.
Mr. Heck asserts that the “Red flag laws” (also known as extreme risk protective order laws) that are designed to take guns away from people who are a threat to themselves or others “usurp due process.” But again, Justice Scalia made it clear that the Second Amendment does not preclude the “longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill.” Sadly, Utah is in the top 10 states with the highest death rates from gun violence. Suicide and domestic violence predominate. “Red flag” laws have been proven to reduce suicides with guns — an indisputable fact that unfortunately is lost on the Utah Legislature, but not on Utah citizens. Two-thirds of Utahns support “red flag” laws.
Mr. Heck applauds Utah’s recent adoption of “permitless carry” (Justice Scalia also made it clear that there is no such thing as a “constitutional” right to conceal carry), but studies show an increase in gun violence in states that adopt permitless carry. (Fortunately, most Utahns who conceal carry won’t actually avail themselves of permitless carry because they will still need the Utah permit to take their gun out of state.)
Finally, Mr. Heck is certainly entitled to his view that “An armed citizenry is the militia which is necessary for the security of a free state and to prevent government transgression into illegitimacy and lawlessness…“ but we respectfully disagree. Guaranteeing that every eligible American can exercise their right to vote free of discriminatory restrictions is the best way to protect our democracy. The only voter fraud that occurred in the 2020 election is the claim that the outcome was affected by voter fraud.
We prefer the ballot to the gun.
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“Proponents should be honest about what they plan to put in a landfill,” writes Thomas Jacobson, “and everyone should understand the consequences if the geology and hydrology have not been properly studied.”