Thursday 26 June 2008

Supreme Court quash Washington gun ban

I posted in January about the news that gun control was going before the US Supreme Court for the first time in 70 years. Whatever way the gun lobby choose to dress up the stats it's clear that more guns equal more people being shot. I'm not anti-gun per se, but I do think the ease with which they can be obtained in the US is a problem.
Justice Antonin Scalia said "Whatever the reason, handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defence in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid". This isn't a surprising ruling from a conservative bench.

I'm still not convinced though that the popularity of guns as a method self-defence is a good enough line coming from senior legal figures. Most people don't like wearing seat-belts or obeying speeding laws, so lets do away with them too (I know New Hampshire is an exception).
The constitutional reason behind the right to bear arms is murky at best. Common references are made to the 'as part of a regulated militia' part of the amendment and my personal favourite take on this comes from Toby in the West Wing, who suggests this doesn't include "three guys in a Dodge Durango".

Interestingly, both presidential candidates have agreed with the ruling. For McCain it's no surprise as he tries to secure the right which he has never been particularly favoured by. It's also a chance to jump on Obama's previous 'guns and religion' comment.
Obama's support is a surprise and, in my opinion, a risk. By flip-flopping on issues like this he is making himself vulnerable to GOP attacks. And many a past candidate (Dukakis springs to mind) will testify to the excellence with which the Republican party exploit such vulnerabilities.

For Washington however I don't know what this means. Once the US' most crime-ridden city, it has undergone somewhat of a renaissance over the past 10 or 15 years. It may not make any difference, but I'd be interested to see some gun crime/ deaths statistics in 5 years time. I'll be there in October myself and don't' expect it to make any difference to me.
Must admit though, I'd feel a little bit safer if it was still in place.