Real Second-Amendment remedies

Published 8:40 pm Wednesday, January 12, 2011

By Karl Frisch

When I was growing up, my father — now retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after 35 years of service — frequently took me shooting and to just about every gun show within a 100-mile radius of our Southern California home.

In fact, as I write this, several of the guns from his collection are on display at the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax.

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I may be a progressive, but I have absolutely no problem with private gun ownership.

If we are to learn anything from the tragedy in Arizona that claimed the lives of six and injured 14 others, it should be that law-abiding, mentally stable Americans should be allowed to own firearms, while people like Jared Lee Loughner should not.

We now know that Loughner legally purchased the Glock 19 used during his assassination attempt. Legal too was the once-banned 33-round magazine that allowed him to kill and injure so many before being tackled while attempting to reload.

In the aftermath of Arizona, we should be addressing the issue of gun ownership if we are to prevent something like this from happening again.

Some Second Amendment advocates contend that outlawing guns will mean that only outlaws will have them, because criminals don’t bother to purchase firearms through legal channels.

Talk about a red herring.

Yes, with enough effort, criminals and the mentally ill will always be able to find guns through questionable means, but that doesn’t mean we should make it any easier for them to make these purchases legally.

Such a response to gun violence would be accurate only if there was actually a serious push in Congress to amend the Constitution or pass a law banning gun ownership outright. There isn’t.

The issue here is not whether Americans should be allowed to own firearms or what types of guns they should be allowed to own, it is a question of the small number of Americans that should be restricted from owning guns.

For the better part of a decade, Democrats largely abandoned their long-standing support for gun control in an effort to win House and Senate races. Even more moderate approaches to the issue like strengthening background checks and closing the gun show loophole have fallen off the political radar.

Meanwhile, over in the GOP, I’m guessing it is more likely that Republicans would seek the repeal of today’s stripped down gun control laws rather than suggest sensible new ones.

Even so, members of the House of Representatives and Senate from both parties are now drafting gun control legislation to address issues raised by the shooting in Tucson.

Democrats like Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) announced new gun control legislation following the shooting that would limit the size of ammunition magazines. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has announced plans for legislation that would outlaw firearms within 1,000 feet of lawmakers.

But the real issue is gun ownership by those who have no business possessing a gun in the first place.

I do not pretend to have all of the answers. But this is America, land of freedom, liberty and innovation. Surely we can design a system that keeps the mentally deranged, those on no-fly lists, violent ex-cons and those who have used guns in the commission of a crime from being allowed to legally purchase firearms and munitions without infringing on the rights of other Americans.

Those in Congress who would stand in the way of such sensible reforms should quit hiding behind hollow Second Amendment rhetoric designed to stall change and admit that they are really fighting for the rights of lunatics like Loughner by neglecting to take action.

The Second Amendment reads, “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.”

I for one would prefer it if such a “well regulated militia” did not count violent criminals and the mentally disturbed among its membership.

Karl Frisch can be reached at