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
California: DOJ Issues “Notice of Modification” to Proposed Ammunition Background Check Regulations

Thursday, April 18, 2019

California: DOJ Issues “Notice of Modification” to Proposed Ammunition Background Check Regulations

Today, the California Department of Justice issued a “Notice of Modification” to their proposed regulations regarding the soon to be implemented ammunition background check procedures. As a result of these changes, a second 15-day public ...

Indiana: Important Self-Defense Bill Passes Legislature, On to Governor

Monday, April 22, 2019

Indiana: Important Self-Defense Bill Passes Legislature, On to Governor

On April 22nd, both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly voted to concur with the amendments made to House Bill 1284 during the conference committee process.  HB 1284 has been amended to now include many ...

New York Times Admits Privately-Funded “Gun Violence” Research is a Thing

News  

Friday, April 19, 2019

New York Times Admits Privately-Funded “Gun Violence” Research is a Thing

The New York Times – the “paper of record” – reports that “Gun Research is Suddenly Hot.” While we’re happy to see the Times has finally acknowledged that “gun research” can survive federal restrictions on taxpayer funded gun control ...

News  

Monday, April 22, 2019

With Proposed Federal Legislation, Anti-gun Advocates Seek to Impose May-Issue Gun Ownership

In 1987, only ten states had concealed carry laws that treated the Right-to-Carry in a manner consistent with our constitutional right to bear arms. Understanding that the whims and prejudices of government officials are incompatible ...

California: Legislature Returns from Spring Break

Sunday, April 21, 2019

California: Legislature Returns from Spring Break

The California Legislature returns from spring recess this week and seven different committees are considering bills that could impact your rights. 

Maine: Firearm Seizure Bill Heads To Judiciary Committee

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Maine: Firearm Seizure Bill Heads To Judiciary Committee

On April 22nd, the Maine Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Legislative Document 1312, which would allow for firearms to be seized and Second Amendment rights to be suspended without due process. 

Heeee’s Baaack: Bill Clinton Peddles Gun Control on a Wish and a Lie

News  

Friday, April 19, 2019

Heeee’s Baaack: Bill Clinton Peddles Gun Control on a Wish and a Lie

Proving there is no statute of limitations on political opportunism, this week former President Bill Clinton used the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the tragic school shooting in Littleton, Colo. to pen an op-ed pushing ...

Media Continues to Cause Distorted Fear of School Violence

News  

Friday, April 19, 2019

Media Continues to Cause Distorted Fear of School Violence

When it comes to the wellbeing of today’s youth, one would think that all could agree that provoking unnecessary fear should be avoided. That apparently is not the case, however, when it comes to pushing ...

President to Speak at 148th NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Indianapolis, Indiana on April 26

News  

Monday, April 22, 2019

President to Speak at 148th NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Indianapolis, Indiana on April 26

President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will address NRA members at the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) Leadership Forum on Friday, April 26, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The complete list of ...

Nevada: Gun Control Bills Pass Assembly

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Nevada: Gun Control Bills Pass Assembly

On April 23rd, the Nevada Assembly voted to pass Assembly Bill 291 and Assembly Bill 153.   AB 291 and AB 153 have been transmitted to the Senate and assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for ...

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.