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A hunter takes aim in the snowy Black Hills. S.D. Tourism photo.
A hunter takes aim in the snowy Black Hills. S.D. Tourism photo.

The Right to Bear Arms

Jan 2, 2013


I don’t hunt. It’s not that I have any objections, moral or otherwise, to hunting. A friend of mine who is a vegetarian for health reasons once informed a waiter that he didn’t eat anything with a face. I eat things with faces. There are three reasons I don’t hunt. One is that several of my friends hunt and, much as I love these guys, when they are abroad with firearms my instinct is to stay home and clean up the basement. Another reason is that I just don’t have any desire to kill animals. Finally, I am just plain scared of guns.

When I was a kid, pretty much every TV show I watched involved people getting shot on a regular basis. The violence was about as realistic as a roadrunner cartoon. The good guys got shot plenty, but always recovered in time for the next episode. The bad guys sometimes died, but they died without bleeding. Gun shots sounded like firecrackers.

Then I finally fired a real honest-to-Charlton-Heston shotgun outside the liquor store where I worked. The kick was powerful. What it did to the barrel I aimed at would be a crime if barrels had lawyers. It didn’t sound like a firecracker. It sounded like a bomb. That was reality. While I am grateful for the experience, I did not acquire a taste for it.

I have friends who like and own guns and friends who would abolish gun rights quicker than Wild Bill pulled the trigger, if only they could. They can’t. In the first place, there is an insurmountable obstacle to abolition in the Constitution. As the Supreme Court recently recognized, the Second Amendment says what it means and means what it says. The right of the people to keep and bear arms, like the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, is protected against government interference.

Some gun control advocates have imagined indirect ways of banning guns, such as prohibiting the sale of ammunition or laying prohibitive taxes on guns. Sorry, but constitutional rights do not allow for back door limitations. Just as you can’t prohibit the New York Times from advocating gun control, you can’t tax their ink to accomplish the same thing.

A second reason that gun rights can’t be abolished is that they are far too deeply embedded in American culture. Any attempt to prohibit handguns, let alone rifles, would trigger massive resistance. The mere possibility that real gun control might be on the horizon now has resulted in a spike in gun sales. I passed by a local gun shop several times recently and business was booming. This might be because it was almost Christmas, and it might be because the President promised real action on gun control.

I don’t like guns but I like a lot of people who do. I also like to see things the way they are. Guns and gun rights are not going away. 


Editor's Note: Ken Blanchard is our political columnist from the right. For a left-wing perspective on politics, please look for columns by Cory Heidelberger every other Wednesday on this site.

Dr. Ken Blanchard is a professor of Political Science at Northern State University and writes for the Aberdeen American News and the blog South Dakota Politics.


07:26 am - Wed, January 2 2013
Bernie said:
Actually, we do tax ink these days. Publishers either pay tax on the ink and paper, or if they are subscription-based they collect taxes on the subscription as the final product.

I agree, guns and gun rights aren't going away. But like Freedom of the Press, I'm not so sure they won't be infringed upon more so than in the past?

There'll be some interesting debates in Pierre, and appropriately so. Thanks, Ken, for all your thoughtful columns of 2012.
10:50 pm - Wed, January 2 2013
Thanks Bernie. Just for our reader's edification, it's one thing to tax ink or ammunition for purposes of tax collection. It's quite another to use such taxes to discourage the exercise of constitutional rights.

I am not certain of what the future of gun rights will be, but we seem to agree that guns in the US aren't going away.
11:05 am - Tue, January 8 2013
James Freeman said:
The Constitution does not protect us, nor does the Bill of Rights give us our rights. That magnificent document was meant to be the Crown Jewel of all world governments, it is a reminder of our rights given to us by our Creator, not the government and it means that we have to fight, if necessary to also remind a corrupt dictatorship that they work for us.
So in essence, the Constitution of the United States of America is a document for all people of the world to remind them to WAKE UP and remember who they are!!

The bigest perpertrator of mass murder of innocecent people is the military industrial complex under the command of our Imperialistic president and I never see a tear shed for those millions of innocent little ones killed by our government.

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