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The Second Amendment

Responding to Parents readers concerned about the Second Amendment, Vice President Joe Biden asserts that the government may still regulate guns and ammunition.

Mon, 25 Feb 2013|

-Let's talk for a minute about the Second Amendment. We got a lot of questions about that and Laura Garza posted an opinion that was echoed by a lot of people who wrote to us. I wanted to ask you to respond to what she said. She writes, "The banning of any type of gun is an infringement on the Second Amendment. Criminals obviously don't abide by laws and can illegally purchase assault rifles. I want to keep my right to purchase and own such weaponry if I choose to do so." What would you say to her? -Well, I think-- How can I say this politely? The law does, the constitution does allow the government to conclude that there are certain types of weapons that no one can legally own. Now, if that were not the case, then you should be able to go buy a flamethrower that the military has. You should be able to go, if you're a billionaire, buy an F-15 with-- loaded with ordnance. You should be able to buy an M1 tank. You should be able to buy a machine gun. You should be able to buy a grenade launcher. And you can't do those things. If you acknowledge that within the scope of the government for the public safety under the Second Amendment to limit certain types of weapons you cannot possess, then the question comes down to what is the effect on your individual right to own a weapon if you-- if the government says there are certain weapons that are characterized-- and the police are concerned about them-- called assault weapons that can fire 30 rounds of high-caliber bullets and have the features of folding stock. They have the features of an assault weapon used by the military. If there isn't any question that this constitutionally the federal government and state government can outlaw certain types of weapons, now the question is what is the balance between you being able to have the right to defend yourself, and the right to engage in sporting activities that in fact are totally legitimate and legal, and the kind of weapon that is outlawed? The fact of the matter is that those AR-15s-- for example, like the weapon used by a young man up in-- killing those 20 innocent, beautiful, little babies up in Newtown-- that weapon is not necessary for your self defense. You could defend yourself as easily if you had a weapon that had 10 rounds in it instead of 20 or 30, whatever number is quite-- that-- it's not been made public yet, but multiple, multiple, multiple rounds. You can also defend yourself and you-- and nobody goes out-- and most sportsmen don't have a magazine with 30 rounds in it when they go deer hunting. As one sportsman said to me, if you can't get the deer in the second or third shot, you shouldn't be out there. You shouldn't be-- Excuse me-- hunting deer. So, the question is what's the balance? What can we do that would not prevent you from having exercising every right you have to defend yourself and at the same time, engage in recreation, or hunting, or sporting activities that would not be limited by the elimination of that particular weapon? That's the balance. We can argue about where that balance is, but there isn't any argument that the government can in fact impact on that balance. -On the other hand, Rob-- -Excuse me. -Floyd asks, "Is there some way we can amend the Second Amendment to bring it into modern times? These assault weapons and oversized ammo clips have only one purpose, rapid fire killing." -You don't have to amend the Second Amendment to be able to eliminate assault weapons and limit the number of shells, bullets-- excuse me-- in a magazine, a clip as it's called. -Okay. -And I don't think we should amend the Second Amendment.