The recent spree of shootings – in particular, the tragedy at Sandy Hook – has revitalized the debate on gun control across the United States and provoked a number of measures both in the aim of more firmly regulating guns and in maintaining the right to bear arms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. However, the recent passage of a Louisiana amendment allowing gun-control regulations to be challenged does nothing but complicate the issue further. Gun violence presents a complex and difficult problem and will take time to solve, to the satisfaction of both our constitution and our security, and we at The Maroon condemn the recent passage of the amendment as threatening to private rights and the debate on gun control as a whole.
The new amendment offers an opportunity for citizens to challenge gun-control regulations – be they privately instituted or publicly maintained – and allow an official to make the decision as to whether these regulations violate the second amendment. While there is much debate on the merits and detriments of gun control, most people are in agreement that those who own property get to decide whether or not weapons are allowed on that property. Under the new amendment, it is possible for such private regulations to be challenged – for instance, it is possible for students to challenge Loyola for the right to bring their firearms onto campus. Tommy Screen, Loyola’s director of government relations, said this likely will not happen at Loyola, but the potential is there, as is the larger threat to private rights. Private property is supposed to be the owner’s to do with as they please provided they do not act in such a way that jeopardizes the public good, but the new amendment offers a chance for the owners of guns to infringe upon the rights of those who desire not to have weapons on their property.
The threat to private rights is significant, but it is not the sole issue presented with this amendment. The members of the Polish parliament in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries had the power to end their session and veto all legislation at will, which meant the government rarely accomplished anything. This new amendment may likewise make it impossible for any meaningful decisions to be made about gun control because it will offer anyone who disagrees with them the opportunity to challenge these decisions, even if these decisions were the product of great effort and reflect the will of the majority of citizens in the United States. The voice of the minority should never be ignored, but it should be treated as just that – the voice of a minority, not a majority.
Gun violence is a knotty problem, which will require great effort to untangle, and the new amendment passed here in Louisiana threatens to make this effort impossible. It threatens the rights of citizens and institutions and will make further discourse a trial. This amendment will inevitably prove more harmful than beneficial, and we at the Maroon condemn its passage.