I have to admit that I'm a Clint Eastwood fan -- though I never got into the Dirty Harry movies from which I took the title of this post. Yesterday the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, struck down Chicago's 28 year old handgun ban. In this decision, they extended an earlier decision to strike down the District of Columbia's ban to all jurisdictions. Though leaving room for regulation, outright bans will not be permitted. Now, it's important to note that Chicago's ban really hasn't worked well. Handgun-related homicides remain extremely high in that city, but of course when you have a patchwork set of regulations that cover the nation, it's pretty hard to regulate gun ownership and use in a city the size of Chicago.
What is disturbing about yesterday's decision, to me, is not just the reasoning behind the decision, which props up even more the idea that the 2nd Amendment grants every American the right "to keep and bear arms," but the ongoing love affair that a considerable portion of America has with guns.
Before I address that love affair that is celebrated in the Westerns of yesteryear, including those of Eastwood, let me note the reasoning given by the majority, that gun ownership is a fundamental right. Even though they leave room for regulation, the NRA is adamant that they oppose most if not all forms of regulation. Thus, this isn't the end of the debate, and with the current makeup of the Supreme Court, which not just leans right, but is firmly on the right (Anthony Kennedy doesn't seem to be swinging left very often these days).
The question that I want to raise at the end of this concerns the American Gun Fetish, the one pictured in those classic westerns. A goodly number of Americans seem to long for the days when everyone strapped on their six-shooter and walked around town, fully loaded. Don't get me wrong, for some reason I like all those old movies and shows, but I don't long for the days of the old west when the quickest draw won the day. I don't see the need to ban guns entirely -- many of my friends are hunters -- but I think we need sensible gun laws that first of all keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn't have them, that require instruction and licensure to use them, and that cross state lines so that one state's or city's regulations are not undermined by the laxity of laws in nearby jurisdictions.
So, go ahead and make my day by making sensible laws that protect the populace from runaway gun violence. And most of all, let's let go of this gun fetish! You know, that fetish that led to one state recently legalizing the carrying of guns in churches -- like we need that -- or even more bizarre the churches that bless the guns of members. No need for such things.