Letter: Right to bear arms specifically guaranteed in Constitution
In response to the Jan. 22 editorial, "Gun owners should be able to pass competency tests:"
The idea of gun competency tests seems remarkably logical on one level but is extraordinarily thorny upon examination. While many states (not all) require training before issuing a carry permit, requiring a test for mere purchase would be very complicated and probably unconstitutional.
Cars are not specifically singled out in the Constitution as a right citizens enjoy, while weapons are. The ability to navigate a car simply means one's ability to conform to a highly developed code of laws regulating traffic, and no such laws exist spelling out how handy one must be with a weapon to be considered allowable.
Supreme Court decisions over the past five years have established that pretty much every citizen non-felon is entitled to gun ownership, and even leading democrats no longer take a hard line on that front. Assuming it was constitutional at all to do so, what agency or body would determine what constitutes competence? Is competence the ability to put a six-shot grouping in a 10-inch circle at 35 yards in under 20 seconds? Could the state not simply institute standards only a Navy SEAL could hope to achieve, if it so chose? I seek neither to endorse or oppose the idea of increased firearm regulation, but thought it was worth pointing out that the special constitutional protection guns enjoy and the lack of even a basic legal framework on which to begin building a competency test makes the straightforward motor vehicle analogy problematic.
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