Law professor asserts U.S. has right to control gun sales

By Mike Nunes

Staff Writer

It has been over three months since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which sparked a national uproar over gun control.

Nationwide, gun control advocates and Second Amendment defenders have debated back and forth over whether or not there should be restrictions on certain types of guns.

John Jacobi talks about the constitutionality of gun laws. (Warren Fields)

Professor John Jacobi of Seton Hall Law School visited the College to talk about the reality and the legality of gun control.

In 2011, 32,163 people died in the United States due to guns, almost topping the 34,677 people killed that same year by cars.

In the controversial 2008 case, D.C. v. Heller, the Supreme Court upheld the right to bear arms with the stipulation that there has to be some kind of regulation.

The Obama administration has been in favor of universal background checks as well as a ban on assault style weapons. The federal government has the ability, under the commerce clause in the constitution, to regulate the sale and distribution of hand guns.

“The United States could, if the United States wanted to, assert the power to assert all of these provisions,” Jacobi said.

The political repercussions of a move like this, however, would be brutal.  The safer route, politically, is to run these regulations through Congress.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed into law last week a bill that would ban the sale of assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Universal background checks are also in the new law, regulating the practice of private gun sales.

“I think assault riffles should be highly regulated. I think people have the right to hand guns and shot guns because it’s used for protection and for hunting, but I don’t see how assault weapons can be used for sport,” said  senior international studies major Lucas Pifano.

At the federal level, on the other hand, the momentum for gun control has been subsiding.

“It appears that the United States Congress is less eager to enact gun legislation than it was right after the New Town shooting,” Jacobi said. “I think this is one of those issues where the country is sharply divided and I think that the problem of gun violence is more than one problem.”

Among the 32,163 victims of gun related deaths, over 19,000 are attributed to suicide and 11,101 are attributed to homicide.  The majority of the 11,101 homicides, over 6,000, are committed using hand guns.

“Simply saying ‘I want to engage in extensive regulation in order to protect people’ isn’t a good enough argument unless you can show that the specific regulations that you’re advocating will protect people,” Jacobi said.