Why pit bulls should go the way of the Supreme Court's recent ruling on gun control
At the outset let me state that I am largely in favor of gun control measures. Like you, like nearly everyone, I favor legislation that would keep guns out of the paws of my country’s criminal elements.
With that in mind, it seems reasonable to assume I'd be disappointed by yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling essentially supportive of less restrictive gun control measures. But considering my predisposition for constitutional conservatism (in spite of what most would consider a socially liberal outlook), I can’t exactly cry foul.
Not unless my argument against guns favored the first phrase of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." and ignored the rest of this mixed message-ridden bit of legislation.
Ultimately, however, I do side more towards individual rights—grudgingly, even as it applies to the individual right to bear arms.
After hearing the arguments put forth by both assenters and dissenters of the court’s ruling, I couldn’t help thinking that this sort of decision favors the individual rights of citizens to keep dogs…as pets and as weapons, regardless of their breed designation.
Sure, the problem with the second amendment is that our forefathers never foresaw a nation of AK-47 wielding street thugs terrorizing common citizens with their drive-bys. Sure I’d like an amendment to our amendment but am I willing to accept the consequences of such a revision? Nope. And that’s OK with me—as long as we use the rest of our laws to appropriately punish the guilty.
Does this argument not put you in a mind to reflect on the plight of pit bulls? It does me. As with pit bull bans (and spay/neuter mandates, for that matter), what we need is not more laws like this to protect society from itself. Instead, what we need is the political will to enforce the laws as they stand.
If we enforced gun crime as we do drug crimes, for example, even when it comes to simple illegal possession or failure to secure guns in one’s own home, we would greatly improve the security of our streets through gun attrition. Sure, drug crimes are often unfairly punished so maybe that’s not the best example, but the link to pits, for me, is nonetheless unmistakable: Punish the criminal, not his choice of weapons.
Now don’t condemn me for equating pit bulls with guns. As a former pit bull owner (and a defender of dogs in general), I don’t see them in this light at all. But that doesn’t alter the fact that those who would ban them do. And with that recognition comes the obvious conclusion given yesterday’s decision:
If you respect an individual’s right to bear arms, whether for protection, sport or collector’s obsession, then any censure of an individual breed of dog (ostensibly for its inherent danger to the population at large) deserves the same broad protections—along with the kind of enhanced enforcement of crimes that result from their abuse.