Thomas Sowell on Gun Control

Whether you are for or against gun control, Thomas Sowell lays out a good case for how the debate should take place in his column this week, Gun Control Laws.

When you stop and think about it, there is no obvious reason why issues like gun control should be ideological issues in the first place. It is ultimately an empirical question whether allowing ordinary citizens to have firearms will increase or decrease the amount of violence.

…while the Supreme Court must make the Second Amendment the basis of its rulings on gun control laws, there is no reason why the Second Amendment should be the last word for the voting public.

If the end of gun control leads to a bloodbath of runaway shootings, then the Second Amendment can be repealed, just as other Constitutional Amendments have been repealed. Laws exist for people, not people for laws.

There is no point arguing, as many people do, that it is difficult to amend the Constitution. The fact that it doesn’t happen very often doesn’t mean that it is difficult. The people may not want it to happen, even if the intelligentsia are itching to change it.

He also calls out Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer for not knowing his job:

What all this means is that judges and the voting public have different roles. There is no reason why judges should “consider the basic values that underlie a constitutional provision and their contemporary significance,” as Justice Stephen Breyer said in his dissent against the Supreme Court’s gun control decision.

But, as the great Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, his job was “to see that the game is played according to the rules whether I like them or not.”

If the public doesn’t like the rules, or the consequences to which the rules lead, then the public can change the rules via the ballot box. But that is very different from judges changing the rules by verbal sleight of hand, or by talking about “weighing of the constitutional right to bear arms” against other considerations, as Justice Breyer puts it. That’s not his job. Not if “we the people” are to govern ourselves, as the Constitution says.


8 thoughts on “Thomas Sowell on Gun Control

  1. I don’t know if you read my post on it, but I really liked what Justice Thomas did. I really like that he is trying to bring back the Privileges clause.
    Sowell’s words should always be heeded. It’s interesting that over 90% of the people calling Al Sharpton, support the ruling…maybe the gun fight was finally won?

    • I’m about half way through. It’s interesting and helpful. I don’t know why I’ve never spent much time with Amendment 14 in the past. But, we live and learn (and watch the Tour de France).

      It’s certainly making me think more deeply about rights. Seems like the quintessential chicken or the egg argument. For example, I assumed Amendment 2 was designed as a control against a tyrannical government. I didn’t consider that it was considered a natural right that was simply codified in the Constitution.

      Good stuff. I’ll be in touch once I’ve finished and feel like I understand it better. Thanks for sharing.


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