Friday, June 11, 2004

Dated June 11, 2004 at 2:30 am; revised June 12 at 12:45 pm

Jack, Barack, Guns and the 2nd Amendment. Did the Founding Fathers (and Mothers?) and Jack Ryan get it right? Are Wilmette's, Chicago's and Archpundit's shots wide of the mark? Do they need more target practice?

Larry Handlin ( and I have been discussing in our respective blogs during the last few days our understanding of Jack Ryan’s views on gun control and the 2nd Amendment. If you missed it, you can get up to speed by taking a look at my blog entry, immediately below the instant entry, and by looking at Larry’s response to my blog entry (ninth item under June 9 at Of perhaps greater importance than the details of our discussion is my impression that both Barack Obama and Jack Ryan, the Democratic and Republican Candidates for the
U. S. Senate, respectively, both believe in the 2nd Amendment and reasonable gun control.

However, there is a difference in emphasis on gun issues between Jack and Barack, and that perhaps will be illuminated during the Campaign. But as to the issues raised by Mr. Handlin, it is always good to keep in mind what the 2nd Amendment of the U. S. Constitution actually says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed." Although the 2nd Amendment is cast, sort of, in absolutist terms, it seems to me, if not to my libertarian friends, that a threshold issue, as legislators consider laws that would infringe on the right to bear arms (even if ever so slightly), is whether the infringement is reasonable. If we want to impose background checks prior to gun purchases, it seems appropriate to ask what is the most efficient and effective way to do the checks. Jack Ryan concludes, in general, we have access to an efficient and effective instant check technology, so we ought to use it.

Archpundit takes exception, arguing-- how could a 24/72 hour waiting period infringe on the 2nd Amendment? Well, it could if it is not necessary to perform the background check. That is, it would not be a reasonable infringement. Archpundit argues, “it is hard to imagine that anyone looking to protect themselves have been [sic] impaired by the hand gun waiting period…” Well, imagine it. Imagine a battered woman who called the police in Chicago to enforce a protective order and to protect herself form her battering husband, but police arrived a gunshot too late. So much for the efficacy of Protective Orders. A Women's issue, perhaps?

A small gun, for defensive uses, might have saved the woman. Of course, the woman, in Chicago, would have been violating a Chicago "gun control," law by possessing a handgun in the City limits, unless she happened to have possessed it prior to 1992. The same is true for the People's Republic of Wilmette and a few other villages in Cook County whose village trustees don't seem to think much of the defensive use of guns. Although, under the recent legislation that was passed (but has not yet been signed by Blago?) in reaction to the Wilmette resident's defensive use of his gun to protect his home and family, the battered woman could not be prosecuted for possessing and using a gun to defend herself in her home against an intruder-- had she in fact possessed a gun so that she would be alive today to deal with prosecutors.

In short, Archpundit should be asking is the 24/72 hour Illinois waiting period a reasonable infringement. That is the central question for public policy that legislators should be asking. Under the old technology for background checks, perhaps it was. Under the new technology, it does not seem so reasonable. More significantly, that seems to be Jack Ryan’s view and in all likelihood, the view of the great majority of people throughout the State of Illinois, even on the North Shore-- where many residents view gun control as the neighborhood religion, to be worshipped 24/7, if not 24/72.

As to Barack's views on these issues of gun control, we hope to find out more about them, as well as many others, when we tape him for "Public Affairs," on his scheduled date to appear on our show in mid-July.

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of "Public Affairs," can be reached at