‘Living with Guns’ urges for compromise between gun control advocates and opponents

by SCPR.org  |  published on December 15, 2012

Living with Guns

The issue of gun control is again on the minds of Americans in the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. With at least 27 reported dead so far, including 18 children, some are saying it could be the worst mass shooting in American history.

But despite this tragedy and others that have occurred recently in Oregon and Colorado, there has been a lack of cooperation between gun control supporters and opponents when it comes to an open discussion of what could be done to prevent mass shootings.

Former New York Times reporter Craig R. Whitney’s new book “Living with Guns: A Liberal’s Case for the Second Amendment,” delves deep into the history of guns in America, their important role in establishing the United States, but also the need for an effective discussion about how to modify current laws to help prevent the tragic misuse and abuse of the Second Amendment.

On why gun control supporters and opponents absolutely need to have an open discussion about gun control:
“It’s an attempt to break the polarization by encouraging both sides to talk to each other about the real problem we have of gun violence, and it shouldn’t be true that there’s nothing we can do about that. We could if people who support gun rights and people who support gun control would talk to each other about reasonable ways to compromise … If we do nothing to try to cope with things like these mass shootings that occur periodically they’re just going to keep happening. How long can we go on just shrugging and saying, ‘Well there’s nothing we can do?’ There is something we can do, we can start by talking to each other about it.”

On his view that the Second Amendment is common-law right, subject to regulation:
“When I set out to write the book I didn’t have any preconceived idea about whether the Second Amendment was a good thing or a bad thing … but in doing the research about how it came about and what the history of guns was in the United States before it was the United States, I determined that the NRA is right in one respect, it is an individual right, always has been in the United States and in the colonies before that. A common law right though, one that was subject to regulation in those days and has been since. And I think that’s all the Second Amendment did was recognize that and protect it to some extent.”

On how the Second Amendment as written is out of date:
“A British friend of mine asked me recently when I explained that we’d always had guns in America because we needed them to defend ourselves against indians and against them, the British. He said, ‘Well you don’t have to worry about indian attack anymore do you, or attacks by Britain?’ and I said no. But just because that was the purpose of the Second Amendment and the context of it doesn’t mean that’s the only thing its good for, the Second Amendment doesn’t limit the right to people who belong to a militia, it simply says the right that existed before the Second Amendment was written or adopted will not be infringed or eliminated. The law obviously changes over time, what the Second Amendment meant back then is not limiting on what it means to us today in very different circumstance.”

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