Charges against Smith bring gun-control issue to forefront
California's tough gun laws, as well as charges against 49er, are justified
When San Francisco 49ers star linebacker Aldon Smith was charged Wednesday, Oct. 9, with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault rifle, many anti-gun control pundits must have cringed.
Their sour faces were not because an African-American sports star was arrested, however. Instead, the frowns likely arose from thoughts of California's gun laws.
Undoubtedly home to some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, California currently bans the sale of all assault rifles, including AK-47s and AR-15s. Individuals are prohibited from possessing such weapons, absent a valid permit, At the current time, permits cannot be obtained.
Therefore, if the allegations that Smith fired an assault weapon into the air during a party at his home in June 2012 are true, he clearly violated California law.
If convicted, Smith could face more than four years in prison.
As the case against Smith proceeds, there is little doubt that pundits throughout our nation will criticize California's gun laws. Arguments will be launched claiming the laws are draconian and unnecessary. The term “Second Amendment Rights” will be tossed around, the NRA will harshly rebuke California and the gun control battle will rage.
Before all of that happens, let me weigh in on why I believe that the charges against Smith, as well as California's gun control laws, are both constitutional and necessary.
Constitutionally speaking, I believe that the Second Amendment does not guarantee unfettered, unpermitted access to all firearms, and in fact, does not guarantee private access to firearms at all.
Records detailing debates preceding the drafting of the Second Amendment suggest that the Amendment was never intended to grant individuals the right to bear arms, but rather, was intended to allow state militias, run by state-appointed officers to bear arms.
While the Supreme Court turned a blind eye to such records in its seminal ruling in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, even the Court's most conservative justice, Antonin Scalia, admitted that the individual right to bear arms is not an unlimited one.
Thus, before blindly arguing that the Constitution guarantees Smith the right to carry assault rifles, consider the history surrounding the drafting of the Second Amendment, as well as recent Supreme Court jurisprudence dealing with the issue.
Practically speaking, there is absolutely no reason why anyone, including Smith, needs to own an assault rifle. I realize that many gun owners believe that owning a semi-automatic weapon such as an AR-15, which can fire up to 900 rounds per minute, is a necessity.
I beg to differ. Such a weapon is neither necessary nor practical for hunting or any other recreational use. Such weapons have been used in deadly mass shootings, most recently in Aurora, and certainly, the risk that such weapons could be used similarly in the future is high. Yes, all weapons kill, but not all weapons kill at such a high rate.
What this comes down to is that there is neither a Constitutional right, nor a practical reason, to own or carry assault rifles.
California has rightfully recognized this fact and has enacted laws reflecting that recognition.
Ultimately, Aldon Smith made a huge mistake when he decided to obtain, and subsequently fire off, an assault rifle.
If convicted, Smith will face harsh punishment, and surely, California's gun-control laws will face criticism.
In this case, the problem is not with California's laws, but with the perpetrator, however. I applaud California for cracking down on Smith and taking a hard line stance when it comes to gun control. firstname.lastname@example.org