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Editorial: Gun rule reflects modern pragmatism in Voisine

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Editorial: Gun rule reflects modern pragmatism in Voisine


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In a 6-2 vote on Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that unintentional or “reckless” domestic-assault charges will count as a misdemeanor triggering the federal ban on firearm ownership in the state of Maine. The plaintiffs in Voisine v. United States that both men were guilty of “reckless conduct” and thus felt that the lack of intention in their actions should free from the federal ban for domestic abusers. However, the Supreme Court’s ruling did not support the differentiation, citing the similar outcome when one “carries out that same action knowingly or intentionally,” which is wholly correct.

    As most Supreme Court cases tend to do, this ruling will have far-reaching implications for the culture and legislature surrounding firearm possession and ownership. The Lautenberg Amendment (1996) added to the Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits individuals guilty of misdemeanor domestic-violence offenses to buy or own firearms, and 34 other states, along with the District of Columbia, have laws similar to the one in Maine. In Iowa, an individual found guilty of a misdemeanor domestic-abuse charge or has a restraining order filed against them cannot legally buy or own a firearm.

    Gun control has become a serious point of contention in the weeks following the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, and it has never been more important to question who should and should not be able to buy and own firearms. The Second Amendment has a fixed place in this society, for better or for worse, but it is important to keep in mind the context of its inception in contrast to the unprecedented levels of gun violence in this country. The right to bear arms is a right guaranteed by the Constitution, but that does not mean that there is no need for clarification and reinterpretation to fit the current conditions of society.

    The Constitution is intrinsic to the legislative foundation of this country, but that does not make it ineffable or inarguable simply because it was written in time well before the issues this country currently faces. It would be convenient if we could ask the drafters of the Constitution about the meaning of their words and how they could be best applied to modern-day issues, but that is a luxury we do not have. It is up to the American people to look to their words for the solutions to our problems, but a mentality closed off to adaptation and revision ultimately hinders change and by extension progress.

    The words of dead men carry wisdom, but it is hard to say if they should be the final authority on the affairs of the living. We cannot rely solely on the words of the Constitution to guide us to the best outcome because the world is different now. It is that simple. We cannot say for certain that at the time the Constitution was written the Founding Fathers could have predicted the rampant gun violence that plagues our society, and for that reason, we must be open to flexibility in terms of legislation when it serves to better the functioning of society. The goal should not be to ignore the Constitution but rather to use its insight in the best possible way. In order to do that at times, we must look up from the paper and to the world we actually live in.

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