Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Engineering Professor Shares Thoughts on Constitutional Law, Calls for Handgun Ban

Friday, November 30, 2018

Engineering Professor Shares Thoughts on Constitutional Law, Calls for Handgun Ban

In a recent piece for the Bangor Daily News ironically titled, “Why banning handguns makes sense,” Associate University of Maine Electrical Engineering Professor George Elliott struggled to argue why the tools of self-defense have no place in civilized society and are unworthy of constitutional protection. Unsurprisingly, some of the academic’s own statements refute his thesis.

At the outset of his case, the professor lamented, “The U.S. is awash in handguns. Their numbers have been steadily increasing from an estimated 65 million in 1994 to about 111 million in 2015, an increase of around 71 percent.” Elliot is right, there has been a significant increase in the number of handguns owned by civilians since 1994. However, his implication that this has fueled violent crime is wrong.

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting data, from 1994 to 2017, the murder rate declined by more than 40 percent. Over the same time period, the violent crime rate has decreased more than 45 percent. So America is more awash in guns than 1994 and experiences just about half as much violent crime.

Elliott went on to ponder, “Why so many handguns? My best guess is that many people believe that handguns provide some self-protection and they are readily accessible.” The professor later dismisses any utility handguns might provide, stating, “people need to ignore the NRA’s “stand-your-ground” and ‘only-a-good-guy-with-a-gun-can-stop-a-bad-guy-with-a gun’ nonsense and realize that during a hostile confrontation with another person, remaining non-aggressive and removing oneself from the situation is a much better way to remain safe than using a gun.” The latter remark runs directly counter to the best evidence on the subject.

Many people believe that handguns provide some self-protection because they in fact do provide the means of self-protection. Earlier this year, Florida State University Professor of Criminology Gary Kleck analyzed the Centers for Disease Control’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data and found that Americans frequently use firearms for self-defense. The data shows that the number of defensive gun uses per year is about 1 million. The figure dwarves that of firearm homicides and suicides.

Moreover, Kleck’s earlier research on violent encounters shows that the most effective means of resisting criminal assault is armed self-defense. In his book Armed: New Perspectives on Gun Control, Kleck analyzed survey data to find that “Victims who used guns were less likely to be injured than crime victims who did not resist…”

After a few clumsy applications of the typical anti-gun talking points, our cocksure electrical engineering professor was confident enough to fancy himself a constitutional scholar. According to the would-be jurist, the Supreme Court “erred” in ruling against Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban in the landmark Second Amendment case District of Columbia v. Heller.

Rather than grapple with the finer points of Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion, Elliott exclaimed, “If it can be shown that handguns do not, in general, provide protection, then banning their private ownership is not a violation of the Second Amendment.”

As previously explained, it has not been shown that handguns do not provide protection “in general.” However, Elliott’s core misunderstanding seems to be with the nature of individual rights.

Of course, in Heller the Court found that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes and that the purpose of self-defense was at the core of the Second Amendment protection. The test for respecting an individual right has never been a mere public policy argument over whether on balance an exercise of a particular right accrues more societal benefits than costs (however such benefits and costs might be defined and measured).

Interpretation of our founding document isn’t a battlefield of social scientists with competing theories. It is a careful deliberation of the text and history of the document under which Americans provide their continuing consent to be governed. Elliott’s statement attacks a fundamental legal concept whereby the rights of the individual are placed paramount, even if respect for that right may impose some cost to society.

We kindly ask that the electrical engineering professor spare the world his further musings on gun control. Otherwise we might be forced to unleash our unconsidered thoughts on electron-spin-resonance transistors for quantum computing in silicon-germanium heterostructures.

 

IN THIS ARTICLE
Maine handgun ban
TRENDING NOW
Beto Going All-In on Confiscation

News  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Beto Going All-In on Confiscation

Democrat Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke continues to struggle to gain any sort of traction for his campaign. With some polls putting him in 10th place, and his average sitting around 7th, some might say that it is desperation ...

Tell Your Lawmakers: No Semi-Auto and Magazine Ban!

News  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Tell Your Lawmakers: No Semi-Auto and Magazine Ban!

The Democrat Party is now so aligned with gun control that every major candidate running for its 2020 presidential nomination recently appeared in a propaganda video produced by one of the nation’s most active firearm prohibition groups. ...

NRA Files Suit Against San Francisco for Violating First Amendment

News  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

NRA Files Suit Against San Francisco for Violating First Amendment

On September 3, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors smeared millions of law-abiding Americans by unanimously adopting a resolution that designated NRA a “domestic terrorist organization.” Less than one week later, on September 9, NRA filed a federal lawsuit ...

New Hampshire: House to Vote on Gov. Sununu's Vetoes of Anti-Gun Bills

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

New Hampshire: House to Vote on Gov. Sununu's Vetoes of Anti-Gun Bills

On Wednesday, September 18th, the New Hampshire House of Representatives will vote on Governor Chris Sununu's vetoes of three anti-gun bills sent to his desk by the General Court.  Anti-gun Representatives who remain stubbornly committed to ...

House Democrats Continue Unprecedented Push for More Gun Control

News  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

House Democrats Continue Unprecedented Push for More Gun Control

As was continually threatened while Congress was on its six-week Summer break, House Democrats hastily convened a hearing on Tuesday to promote their latest batch of anti-gun bills.  The House Judiciary Committee’s markup of three bills, ...

California: Carson City Council to Hear Unconstitutional Resolution Targeting Lawful Firearm Possession and Sales

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

California: Carson City Council to Hear Unconstitutional Resolution Targeting Lawful Firearm Possession and Sales

Today, September 17 at 5pm PST, the Carson City Council will be considering a late addition to this evening’s City Council meeting, Resolution 19-1693.  ​The resolution is being pushed by Mayor Albert Robles in an effort to prohibit firearm ...

NASCAR Takes a Hard Left

News  

Friday, August 30, 2019

NASCAR Takes a Hard Left

After decades of NASCAR drivers literally turning left for hours every race day (road course races excluded, of course), the governing body appears to be taking a figurative left turn, politically. K-Var, a retailer in outdoor and ...

Playing Games with Numbers

News  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Playing Games with Numbers

Stanford Law Professor John Donohue and Theodora Boulouta, a Stanford undergrad, wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times that claims their new research shows the 1994 “assault weapons” ban really did work.  Their finding is ...

Monday, August 19, 2019

Florida Alert! "Assault Weapons" Ban Amendment Bans ALL SEMIAUTOMATIC RIFLES AND SHOTGUNS

The so-called "assault weapons" ban that is proposed for a constitutional amendment to be on the 2020 Election Ballot bans the possession of: “any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun CAPABLE of holding more than ten (10) rounds ...

California: Carson City Council Fails to Pass Unconstitutional Resolution Targeting Lawful Firearm Possession and Sales

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

California: Carson City Council Fails to Pass Unconstitutional Resolution Targeting Lawful Firearm Possession and Sales

Yesterday, September 17, the Carson City Council failed to pass anti-gun Resolution 19-1693.  ​The resolution was being pushed by Mayor Albert Robles in an effort to prohibit firearm dealers and firearm possession in the City of Carson to the ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.