The body’s still cold, Scalia’s body that is, but Gun Nation and its sycophantic noisemakers aren’t wasting any time getting the word out that the 2nd Amendment will be the first thing harmed if Obama actually gets the chance to put a new face on the Supreme Court. Now much of this is just stupid posturing because if anyone actually believes that a sitting President can be denied his lawful opportunity (indeed his responsibility) to nominate a justice to SCOTUS, well, there are crazier things being said in this year’s political campaign, but not that many when all is said and done.
The crazy sweepstakes already have a possible winner in Ted Cruz, who immediately shot off a tweet that Scalia’s death means that “we are one Justice away from a Supreme Court that would harm our Second Amendment rights.” And while the NRA hasn’t yet figured out how to use Scalia’s death to promote their fundraising agenda, you can get a preview of where they will be going with the tweet they posted thanking Scalia for his “unwavering” defense of the Constitution, which means protecting 2nd-Amendment rights.
All of which made me start thinking about how and why the NRA really promotes the utility of the 2nd Amendment, i.e., why is it so important that Americans have access to guns? Because in case you haven’t noticed, a majority of Americans don’t own guns, and the number of gun-owning folks, relatively speaking, keeps going down. Which means that maybe, just maybe, the Supreme Court really is just one vote away from rolling back all those pro-gun decisions. Which made me start thinking: What would be the result if, in fact, free access to guns currently guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment came to an end?
What I think it comes down to is the unwavering belief on the part of Gun Nation that owning a gun is a basic protection against danger and crime. The idea that owning guns makes us ‘free’ is all well and good, but it’s really too abstract a concept to be applied in everyday affairs, and nobody really believes that all those half-baked militia idiots arrested at Malheur Refuge could protect themselves or anyone else from the slightest degree of armed threat. So it gets down to the notion that having a gun is a simple and tangible way to express the natural desire to be safe. And as John Lott is quick to remind us, there must be some truth to this idea because otherwise how do you explain the fact that more than 12 million Americans have now taken the trouble to secure the legal right to walk around with a gun?
Which brings me to a bit of research that I did earlier today on the CDC website which gives very detailed data on the five categories that comprise every different way in which a gun can cause an injury – unintentional death, unintentional injury, homicide, suicide and aggravated assault. And it turns out that in the period since 2001, during which time the size of the civilian arsenal and the number of people with concealed-carry licenses probably doubled, the number of people killed or injured by guns has also increased by 27 percent! In 2001 the total number of gun injury victims was 109,223. Of this number, homicides were 26%, suicides were 15% and assaults were 42%. In 2013, the total for gun violence was 138,787, of which homicides were 24%, suicides were 15% and assaults were 48%. This remarkable increase in gun violence was not because a particular category went up; it was because every significant category of gun violence increased.
The next time you find yourself in a discussion with someone who tells you that Scalia’s death could jeopardize the 2nd-Amendment, you might refer to the numbers above and point out how they have changed in the recent years. Which as far as I am concerned is the real legacy of Scalia’s stalwart defense of Constitutional rights.