Regulating the Right to Keep and Bear Assault Weapons
Back after a week of vacation in Europe, I returned home to find disturbing and increasingly more frequent news: a Philadelphia police officer was fatally shot by suspected robbers. It is a sad commentary on today’s society when such criminals could take the life of a police officer in a cold blooded and calculated manner. The only solace has been that the triggerman was later gunned down, and the other two perpetrators were also apprehended.
This recent tragedy has renewed focus again on the issue of gun control. The city recently passed a series of gun control laws, which include the limitation of handgun purchases to one a month, requiring lost firearms to be reported within 24 hours and outlawing the possession and sale of certain assault weapons. Now, in the wake of Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski’s death, the mayor, the governor and the police chief have called for the renewal of a federal assault weapons ban. The weapon used by the criminals was a Chinese SKS assault rifle.
It’s a particularly thorny issue. Almost everybody acknolwedges that the new city laws directly contravene state law and are unconstitutional (the Second Amendment bars only Congressional action, not state bans on firearms or private interference with the ownership or use of guns). Additionally, there has always been an issue of how well the laws can really be enforced. And perhaps most notably, even if the city laws and federal assault weapon ban would have been in place, it is probable that the criminals still would have had access to the weapon through illicit means. As the argument goes, gun control laws prevent only law abiding citizens from owning guns. Still, the weapon used here was powerful enough to penetrate through bullet proof vests. Most people would agree that civilians have no business possessing these types of weapons.
The city should be applauded for its efforts (whether unconstitutional or not) to try to address a major problem, and Congress should take note of what the mayor and governor are advocating. Perhaps some day, the disturbing trend of Philadelpha police officer deaths in the line of duty will cease.