Rounding Up the Guns
What not to do


Lopez: Where should Congress go from here?

Lott: Sen. John Thune’s proposal for right-to-carry reciprocity, to make concealed-carry licenses more like driver’s licenses, would be helpful. Congress should also try undoing many new regulations and treaties that the Obama administration is pushing through. The Obama administration has enacted a ban on the importation of semiautomatic guns because: “The U.S. insisted that imports of the aging rifles could cause problems such as firearm accidents.” They have also imposed much more extensive reporting requirements on sales of long guns. However, possibly the biggest threat is Obama’s nomination of Andrew Traver to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. There is also the Obama administration’s push for the U.N.’s Arms Trade Treaty and its continual inaccurate statements about the source of Mexico’s crime guns.

Lopez: Where can the Second Amendment go from here?

Lott: What happens with the Second Amendment depends a lot on what happens with the Supreme Court and the lower-court appointments. The two recent Supreme Court decisions that affirmed that there was an individual right to self-defense were 5-to-4 decisions, and just because the court says that a complete ban on an entire category of guns goes too far doesn’t mean that they will decide that high fees or other restrictions that effectively prevent many from owning guns are unacceptable. President Obama’s appointments to the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, are adamantly against any protection for individual ownership of guns. If one of the five justices in the majority of the Heller or McDonald cases were to die or retire, not only would further gains be prevented, but even those two precedents would be threatened.

Striking down Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban and gun-lock law and Chicago’s handgun ban has been met with new costly restrictions that would-be gun owners must meet. In D.C., the restrictions are so extensive that after two years, only around a thousand people have obtained permits to own handguns in their home. Those regulations are being challenged, but it will take a few years to see whether the Supreme Court will take those cases. Another prominent issue will involve what it means for people to be able to “bear,” in other words carry, guns.

Lopez: Do Jason Chaffetz and Heath Shuler — two congressmen who are planning on arming themselves when they are in their districts — have the right idea? Is that necessary?

Lott: Congressmen can be victims of violent crime, and not just because of their prominent political position. In 1997, when Colorado senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell was asked by the Denver Post “how it looks for a senator to be packing heat,” he responded, “You’d be surprised how many senators have guns.” Campbell said that “he needed the gun back in the days when he exhibited his Native American jewelry and traveled long distances between craft shows.” I just wish that more people in Tucson, Arizona, were carrying a concealed handgun with them when the attack occurred on Saturday.

John R. Lott Jr. is a contributor, an economist, and the author of More Guns, Less Crime, the third edition of which was recently published by the University of Chicago Press.

—Kathryn Jean Lopez is an editor-at-large of National Review Online.