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Make buying a gun as difficult as driving a car | READER COMMENTARY

Sarah O'Keefe and Maura Kieft pay their respects to Officer Eric Talley, who was killed after a gunman opened fire at a King Sooper's grocery store on March 23, 2021 in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Chet Strange/Getty Images)
Sarah O'Keefe and Maura Kieft pay their respects to Officer Eric Talley, who was killed after a gunman opened fire at a King Sooper's grocery store on March 23, 2021 in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Chet Strange/Getty Images) (Chet Strange / Getty Images)

Spot on was the point made in The Baltimore Sun editorial on reckless gun laws, those in Georgia specifically, as a factor in the mass shooting at several Atlanta-area spas killing eight on March 16 (“Atlanta murders: Reckless gun laws may have played a role,” March 18). That factor mentioned being the lack of a waiting period in Georgia between purchasing and possessing a handgun — just walk into the store, do an instant background check, lay down the money and walk out immediately with a gun to do whatever.

I remember well a commentary in The Baltimore Sun by a Maryland gun owner after the mass murdering of over 50 individuals in Las Vegas in 2017. He wrote how he thought “it should be more difficult to buy a gun than to drive a car, yet there’s a lot more hardship involved in getting a driver’s license.”

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Maybe part of the issue is that in the discourse over gun rights and gun control in everyday conversations and in the rhetoric in legislative debates, gun rights are seldom defined — often an unfettered abstraction with no concrete referent. That way gun rights are opened-ended and beyond reproach.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller decision, however, is a concrete referent — the constitutional referent. The Heller decision only stipulates possession of a handgun within the home for self-defense as a constitutional right under the Second Amendment. Writing the majority opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia explicitly stated “the Second Amendment right… is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

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Since Heller and the related 2010 McDonald decision, the Supreme Court has let stand state laws banning assault-styled rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines and laws mandating waiting periods for gun purchases. And the Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling in the case brought by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association changed none of that. It simply sent that case back to the lower court.

Many gun owners supporting reforms in gun laws, like the gentleman writing in The Baltimore Sun mentioned, don’t see gun reforms hindering their role in defending their home — nor, for that matter, hindering hunting where with good marksmanship only a few bullets are needed to bring down game.

The Second Amendment right stipulated in Heller can be respected alongside comprehensive gun safety legislation.

Frederic H. Decker, Bowie

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