Scott Wedel: Categorizing opinions
March 27, 2013
The opinions on Sheriff Garrett Wiggins' position on Colorado's recently approved gun control measures broadly fall into three categories. These differences are based upon fundamentally different views, and it is unlikely anything will change most people's opinions. These differences will be decided locally in next year's election for sheriff.
There are those who support Sheriff Wiggins by partially quoting the Second Amendment: "… the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." With that, there can be no gun control, and those who think that is how to properly read the Constitution support Wiggins' position.
There are those who think Sheriff Wiggins has the responsibility to uphold the laws and leave legal interpretations to the judicial system. As the National Sheriffs' Association states in a recent resolution: "Now, therefore, be it resolved the National Sheriffs' Association supports the rights conferred by the Second Amendment and further recognizes the ultimate authority of the courts in interpreting the scope of those constitutional rights."
There are those who think Sheriff Wiggins is taking a legal viewpoint that is rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. A recent and clear reason to doubt the theory that the Second Amendment is an absolute protection of gun rights is the District of Columbia v. Heller decision, in which Justice Antonin Scalia wrote:
"Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court's opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller's holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those 'in common use at the time' finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons."