I have an essay for the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference due, so I have to keep it short. I just wanted to ponder the Supreme Court's 2nd Amendment decision on the individual's right to own guns.
Now gun ownership is one of those areas in which I agree with Chris Rock, "No normal decent person is one thing. OK!?! I got some shit I'm conservative about, I got some shit I'm liberal about. Crime - I'm conservative. Prostitution - I'm liberal."
Gun ownership is one of those areas that in spite of viewing Bowling for Columbine 1000 times, I'm "conservative" about, but for liberal reasons and with some caveats. First the caveats, I believe in the individual right to own guns, but there should be restrictions on the types of guns. I do not think semi-automatic or automatic weapons of any kind are valid weapons for hunting or home self-defense, and thus such be banned. I believe that every gun owner should have a license and have required training or be able to pass a "shooting" test in the way that you have to pass a driving test to get a drivers license.
Now the Constitutional issue of the 2nd Amendment hinges on whether gun ownership is permissible for those only part of a militia. The 5-4 split vote was that individuals could own guns without being part of a militia. I agree with this decision because of the underlying assumption behind the 2nd Amendment is that you cannot trust the government to protect you (i.e. Redcoats in your house), thus need to have means of self-defense of the home, community, etc. Granted this was before the standing army, but due to US history with the African-American community (and other communities as well), I do not think it is prudent to trust the government so much that you give up the means to defend your community against potential abuse of power.
The first action of any totalitarian regime is to disarm any oppositional factions. Yes, I might trust an Obama administration, but if for some reason it becomes a totalitarian regime, I want to be able to defend myself against the National Guard or US Military if it rolls tanks down my street.
But you might say, most of the weapons are being used to kill innocent children in drive by shootings. This is where the caveats become important from a policy perspective although I understand the reality of gun theft and running, so that requiring licenses and training does not help the situation. I get it. But, one of the important messages of Bowling for Columbine was that it was not the amount of guns on the streets that caused the rates of homicide in the US, but rather the culture of fear propagated by the media and unscrupulous politicians. Eliminating individual gun ownership may seem to be the most practical solution to gun-related violence, but I would want to approach things from a different perspective. I'd make policies that would require broadcasters to make sure that 50% of their content covered "positive" news. If the FCC can regulate sex, it should regulate violence in the media by saying "Okay, you can have your Murder/Death/Kill, but you have to give equal time to Compassion/Life/Alturism."
Now the irony of all this is that I do not own a gun, nor do I desire to own one.