In the two-plus weeks since the mayhem in Las Vegas, some gun control advocates have raised questions about the number of guns owned by the shooter, leading to discussions about whether there should be a limit on the number of guns someone can own.
That was at the heart of a piece in Slate by Doug Pennington several days ago.
But nobody has offered a magic number, probably because there isn’t one. Once a limit of, say, ten guns is established, it is virtually guaranteed that some anti-gunner will demand to know why five isn’t enough.
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“Perhaps the most startling fact about the Las Vegas shooter’s means of mass murder is that he stockpiled 33 firearms in 12 months, “most of which were rifles.” Why is this legal? I’m not talking about why we don’t require reporting multiple sales of long guns to federal authorities (which we don’t). I’m not talking about the bump stocks the shooter used to make his semi-automatic weapons fire like machine guns. I’m talking about why people are allowed to own more than, say, two firearms without a really good reason.”
Perhaps the answer is that one shouldn’t need a reason to exercise a right. How much land should someone own? How many neckties, pairs of shoes, cars, boats, houses and so forth should someone have “without a really good reason?” How much money should someone be allowed to earn?
Although the Second Amendment is not about hunting, perhaps a look at an active hunter’s gun locker might be instructive. A well-rounded hunter might need the following: Two or three shotguns including one for upland game and the other for waterfowl and wild turkeys. He/she might need three or four rifles in different calibers for varmints and predators, big game and big, dangerous game.
The same hunter might own a couple of muzzleloaders for the black powder seasons.
And then throw in handguns for small game and big game.
Say that individual also is a competitor in all the sports, so a couple more shotguns, for trap and skeet, and clays, plus the 3-gun matches. That person will want one or two additional semi-auto modern sporting rifles, and one or two decent sidearms.
And in the off season, that individual is a reenactor who might need a musket and revolver for Civil War activities, a flintlock or two for the Revolutionary War/French & Indian War period, and still another caplock or flintlock Hawken reproduction for Mountain Man turnouts?
Pretty soon one begins losing count, and we haven’t begun talking about personal protection, or the firearms someone inherited from a parent, grandparent or uncle, for example.
But what if this idea gains traction and momentum? Suppose Congress or a state legislature takes up this issue, after having read a recent article in Salon, which discussed a Saturday Night Live skit in which host Colin Jost stated, “No one should own 47 of anything,” referring to the number of guns the Las Vegas killer apparently owned.
What about the collector? Some people collect art, some collect cars and others collect firearms. Who is going to tell the Colt or Ruger collector that he/she must dispose of the bulk of their collection in the name of political correctness? Who is going to tell someone they must get rid of grandpa’s prized lever-action Winchester or Model 99 Savage?
It is invariably easy for someone to suggest limits on someone else’s rights. That quickly can become a circular debate.