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Constitutional rights are not unrestricted

In his letter opposing reasonable gun control, Doug McNeil asserts that the government cannot require a license or fingerprints as a condition of gun ownership because gun ownership is a constitutional right ("Gun licensing won't reduce crime," March 3). But both requirements are routinely imposed on the exercise of other constitutional rights.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that marriage is a fundamental right. Yet, as everyone who has ever been married in this country knows, every state requires that couples obtain a marriage license before they can marry. Similarly, the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that there is a fundamental right to have and raise children. As an adoptive parent, I can tell you that the state requires couples to be fingerprinted and submit to an FBI background check before they are approved for adoption.

Opponents of gun control are entitled to their opinions and to their arguments. They are not, however, entitled to their own facts. Let us put to rest the falsehood that the government can place no restrictions on the exercise of a constitutional right. If the government can do so for marriage and having children, there is no sound reason why it cannot do so for gun ownership. Indeed, the Supreme Court, in affirming that the Second Amendment creates an individual right to own guns, explicitly stated that the government can indeed impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of that right.

Sheldon H. Laskin

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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