Commentary – Interpreting the Second Amendment

As a criminal defense attorney who has practiced for nearly four decades, I have had a firsthand view of human tragedies caused by firearms. Guilty or innocent, my clients have had regular access to an unlimited supply of firearms and ammunition, and as a society we continue to turn our heads and pretend that this doesn’t exist.

But it does, and the arrival of the NRA for their convention is a perfect time for our community to have a meaningful conversation. No, it doesn’t mean that we demean those in the NRA any more than they should tolerate the boisterous and cantankerous reaction of many of its members.

Let’s start with a civil conversation. If we believe that all Americans are guaranteed life and liberty, that doesn’t end when they are born. If we really care about quality of life, then how can we continue to stand still and do nothing when two pizza delivery men were gunned down in the past two weeks, a 16-year old Lawrence boy was shot and killed at a gas station and a Purdue student and professor were killed and wounded in Lafayette?

Furthermore, it is time that we recognize fundamental contradictions in our approach to expanded firearm regulations. For example, if you really need guns to be safe at home, then how do you explain the Police Chief in Connersville accidentally shooting himself in the leg at a gun establishment, not to mention the Purdue professor referred to above and her dog being shot at home by her estranged husband? What about the young man who suddenly killed two people for little or no explainable reason with an AK-47 in Johnson County?

And when it comes to the Second Amendment, aren’t average Americans entitled to the same protection that influential citizens and politicians provide to themselves at taxpayers’ expense. For example, if you can search anyone entering a Colts or Pacers game for weapons, why can’t major metropolitan cities apply that same rule to their urban boundaries? If all politicians, many of whom cater to the NRA, are able to have metal detectors set up before entering government facilities and buildings where their offices are maintained, then please do not tell me that the Second Amendment bans meaningful restrictions concerning firearms.

It seems that those who are championing an expanded interpretation of the Second Amendment only permit exceptions for themselves. Simply stated, we need a registration and licensing system set up to put an end to the deaths of pizza delivery boys who are only trying to make a living. The best way to honor them is to develop a system that both protects the right to bear arms and insures every American the chance to pursue happiness during a long, violence free life.