A few months ago I mentioned in this space that I don't think that guns, by themselves, are the problem. But I don't agree with groups like the National Rifle Association and their asinine "guns don't kill people" mantra either.
The problem is that people think that guns are magic wands that can solve their problems. Some people try to "solve" their problems - real or imaginary - by shooting up schools, malls, and offices.
To the NRA, the solution is, of course, more magic wands, to "solve" the mass shooting issue by shooting the shooters.
miss It goes without saying that, although many, many people in the United States have guns, this has only happened a tiny number of times. More shooters have been arrested, shot by police, or simply tackled by bystanders than have been gunned down by vigilantes.
Here in Canada, we have had remarkably few rampage-style shootings over the past few decades. The slaughter by a deranged misogynist at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique was followed by stricter gun laws, and a general revulsion towards gun violence.
But in Canada, while politicians may argue about what gun controls are appropriate, there are no constitutional barriers to trying out various laws.
In the U.S., there's that pesky Second Amendment, which says something about a militia and "right to bear arms."
In fact, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia seems to take an admirably literal view of this passage. Scalia is an "originalist" who believes that the founding fathers were pretty darn near perfect, and that their words shouldn't be interpreted as if they contained any pesky metaphors.
So this is what he said when asked about whether bazookas would count as "bearing arms."
"We'll see. Obviously the amendment does not apply to arms that cannot be hand-carried - it's to keep and 'bear,' so it doesn't apply to cannons - but I suppose here are hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes, that will have to be decided."
So that's a solid maybe on the surface-to-air missile front.
If I can, I'll make a suggestion to Scalia and his buddies on the top court. I know I'm a lefty Canadian, suckled at the teat of socialist medicine and multiculturalism, but frankly, I think I can go one better.
Americans have the right to bear any and all arms - which were in circulation at the time the Second Amendment was written.
The amendment was adopted in 1791, so the following would be acceptable weapons:
. Smoothbore muskets
. Muzzle-loading rifles
. Single-shot muzzle-loading pistols
. Cavalry swords
Put that in your originalist pipe and smoke it, Scalia!
You know what? I'll be generous and throw in muzzle-loading black powder cannons. But no shortcuts! You'll have to push it into place yourself on an authentic wooden gun carriage!
I suppose we could allow for the vast diversity of pre-1791 weapons as well, which will give weapons collectors a crazy smorgasboard including spadroons, bardiches, zweihanders, flamberges, mambele, odachi. the list is basically endless.
There are a few downsides to using these weapons. Most of them take a lot more skill and training than a laser-sighted semi-automatic assault rifle. This makes them less efficient at murdering large groups of people.
What a shame that would be.