University of Maine Engineering Professor Utters Stupidity: Banning Handguns Doesn’t Violate 2nd Amendment If They Don’t Provide Protection
Some university professors are actually a special kind of stupid. Take for instance a University of Maine electrical engineering professor who wrote an article for Bangor Daily News titled, “Why banning handguns makes sense,” in which he pontificated on why banning handguns doesn’t violate the Second Amendment.
Apparently, Associate University of Maine Electrical Engineering Professor George Elliott does not understand either the word “arms” nor the phrase “shall not be infringed that are contained in the Second Amendment. Furthermore, he does not understand the difference between permission and a God-given right, as outlined in our Declaration of Independence.
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Gun violence statistics for the U.S. reveal that the handgun is, by far, the type of firearm most used to kill someone. Handguns are used in about 70 percent of all gun homicides with rifles and shotguns used in 7 percent and unknown firearms in about 25 percent. There were approximately 7,150 handgun homicides in 2016.
The U.S. is awash in handguns. Their numbers have been steadily increasing from an estimated 65 million in 1994 to about 111 million in 2015, an increase of around 71 percent.
Why so many handguns? My best guess is that many people believe that handguns provide some self-protection and they are readily accessible. It also seems that for many people handguns are just another adult, albeit dangerous, toy.
Several things here.
In roughly the same time frame, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting data documents that from 1994 to 2017 the murder rate declined by more than 40 percent. During that same period of time, the violent crime rate decreased by more than 45 percent.
What does that tell us? The more guns that America has been “awash” in, the less crime drops, by nearly half!
Banning guns, even handguns will not reduce crime. It will only increase it as the only ones with guns are the criminals. See my report from a few years ago about where the real gun violence takes place in America here.
Furthermore, while yes, some of us do actually enjoy shooting guns, we don’t consider them a toy, but a tool. Are they fun to shoot? Absolutely, but that doesn’t mean we take them lightly and handle them in an unsafe manner. I’m sure though, there are such people in the world though.
Elliott went on to write:
The right of individual Americans to possess firearms for their personal use was established by the Supreme Court in 2008 when it ruled (5 to 4) in its District of Columbia v. Heller case that a Washington, D.C., handgun ban was unconstitutional.
I’m sorry, that’s way too late. The right of individuals to possess arms was understood long before Heller. That’s why there is a Second Amendment. The court didn’t establish anything. They simply made a ruling in recognition on what was already established in the law, namely the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
Guns In The News comments on this aspect of Elliott’s writing, affirming my position:
Many people believe that handguns provide some self-protection because they, in fact, do provide the means of self-protection. Earlier this year, Florida State University Professor of Criminology Gary Kleck analyzed the Centers for Disease Control’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data and found that Americans frequently use firearms for self-defense. The data shows that the number of defensive gun uses per year is about 1 million. The figure dwarves that of firearm homicides and suicides.
Moreover, Kleck’s earlier research on violent encounters shows that the most effective means of resisting criminal assault is armed self-defense. In his book Armed: New Perspectives on Gun Control, Kleck analyzed survey data to find that “Victims who used guns were less likely to be injured than crime victims who did not resist…”
After a few clumsy applications of the typical anti-gun talking points, our cocksure electrical engineering professor was confident enough to fancy himself a constitutional scholar. According to the would-be jurist, the Supreme Court “erred” in ruling against Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban in the landmark Second Amendment case District of Columbia v. Heller.
Rather than grapple with the finer points of Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion, Elliott exclaimed, “If it can be shown that handguns do not, in general, provide protection, then banning their private ownership is not a violation of the Second Amendment.”
As previously explained, it has not been shown that handguns do not provide protection “in general.” However, Elliott’s core misunderstanding seems to be with the nature of individual rights.
Of course, in Heller, the Court found that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes and that the purpose of self-defense was at the core of the Second Amendment protection. The test for respecting an individual right has never been a mere public policy argument over whether on balance an exercise of a particular right accrues more societal benefits than costs (however such benefits and costs might be defined and measured).
Interpretation of our founding document isn’t a battlefield of social scientists with competing theories. It is a careful deliberation of the text and history of the document under which Americans provide their continuing consent to be governed. Elliott’s statement attacks a fundamental legal concept whereby the rights of the individual are placed paramount, even if respect for that right may impose some cost to society. (emphasis mine)
In the end, perhaps Mr. Elliott would do well to stick to what he actually knows, electrical engineering if that is what he knows at all. In either case, he would do well to have a little civics lesson, a few history lessons and perhaps understand what a God-given right is. After all, the right to keep and bear arms was among the rights our founders had in mind when they signed the Declaration of Independence that read:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,…
Government was not instituted to ban our rights, they were instituted to secure them. People like Mr. Elliott fall into one of two categories here and never forget this: 1) They are ignorant, which can be cured by teaching or, 2) They know exactly what they are doing, and they are domestic enemies.