Kathleen Parker: Guns without roses

BY KATHLEEN PARKER Published: January 15, 2013
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Needless to say, conservatives, including then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, were suddenly very, very interested in gun control. That afternoon, Reagan told reporters there was “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.”

The degree of one's allegiance to principle apparently depends mainly on who is holding the gun.

Ruling clarifies debate

The Second Amendment debate about what the Founders intended was clarified in 2008 when the U.S. Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller determined that the right of the people to keep and bear arms included individuals, not just a “well-regulated militia.” However, as Winkler pointed out, Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion left wiggle room for exceptions, including prohibitions related to felons and the mentally ill. Scalia was not casting doubt, the justice wrote, on “laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

This still leaves open the loophole of private sales that do not require background checks, which President Obama wants to close. We will hear more about this in coming weeks, but the call meanwhile to ban assault weapons or limit magazines following the horrific mass murder of children and others at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut is hardly draconian. It won't solve the problem of mentally disturbed people exacting weird justice from innocents, but it might limit the toll. Having to stop one's rampage to reload rather breaks the spell, or so one would imagine.

One also imagines that the old Reagan would say there's no reason a citizen needs an assault weapon or a magazine that can destroy dozens of people in minutes. He would certainly be correct and, in a sane world, possibly even electable.

WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP

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