Letter to the Editor: We’re Living in Deadwood or Tombstone Again

When I was in law school, one of the topics we learned about was the criminal or tort liability of individuals who had rigged “spring guns” to fire automatically at trespassers on their property. 

It would seem to be a no-brain-necessary situation to hold such individuals liable for the wrongful death or injury of someone who had suffered as a result of such an unthinking use of firearms, but the spate of property owners firing at anyone they only believe poses a threat now has achieved a “spring gun effect” equivalence.

With so many available weapons in the hands of so many untrained and unstable people, it means that too many situations like the recent shootings of innocent people will occur, but current Second Amendment law, and the gun lobby’s influence in the public-policy realm, mean that the very real public-health problem of gun violence in our society will probably not be addressed anytime soon. 

There is still, however, that “well-regulated militia” clause of the Second Amendment that Justice Scalia thought remained available to protect society’s interests in public safety. Scalia was the author of the Supreme Court’s Heller opinion [District of Columbia v. Heller], which, for the first time, recognized a right of individual gun ownership as opposed to a collective one.

Unfortunately, we apparently lack the political will to protect our children, ourselves and even our civil society from increasing gun violence by regulating this ad hoc militia of fearful, shoot-first gun owners, and frankly, it’s beginning to feel like we’re living in Deadwood or Tombstone again.

David R. Clowers

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin