The Golden Mean in the Gun Debate

Howard Law Journal (002)Andrew Jay McClurg, In Search of the Golden Mean in the Gun Debate, 58 Howard Law Journal 779-809 (2015).

The American gun debate is stuck and has been for a long time. Both sides remain trapped by their own hyperbolic rhetoric and reasoning fallacies, with the result that partisans are being heard only by those who already agree with them. This essay asserts that there is such a thing as “reasonable middle ground” in the gun debate and seeks to prove it by analyzing five specific measures that have the potential to reduce gun violence without infringing legitimate Second Amendment rights:

(1) bolstering federal support for research into the causes and prevention of gun violence, which Congress has blocked since the 1990s;

(2) extending instant background checks, currently required only for sales by licensed firearms dealers, to all gun sales;

(3) requiring gun purchasers to demonstrate their knowledge of state gun laws and basic gun safety rules and also their ability to safely handle the gun they are purchasing;

(4) mandating security measures by retail gun sellers to prevent theft; and

(5) implementing microstamping technology that would enable law enforcement to trace crime guns and ammunition cartridges found at crime scenes, facilitating the apprehension and prosecution of violent criminals.

While more substantial measures would be more effective in combating gun deaths and injuries, this essay purposely selected limited measures with the hopeful goal of getting people to recognize that there may well be middle-ground or a “golden mean” in the gun debate.

2 comments to The Golden Mean in the Gun Debate

  • Andrew Miller

    I do not believe that guns will ever be controlled to a point where everyone will be happy.Guns are such a part of US culture that it will be like controlling wine in Italy. It will never work. All the govt can do is make the acquisition of these firearms as hard as possible.

    • Andrew J. McClurg

      What I’ve found in working with scholars on the other side of the issue than I am on is that we really aren’t that far apart in what we would consider to be “reasonable regulations” that would effective in reducing gun violence.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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