Americans of all political and philosophical convictions have grieved over the killing of innocent schoolchildren and adults in Newtown, Connecticut. In responding to this attack, we must consider with great care how to proceed to protect precious lives in a way that is consistent with our laws and traditions.
“The serious work to make society safer and stronger after events like the December 2012 Newtown massacre requires that constitutional and complex cultural factors be taken into consideration and that policy be based on a serious study of all of the evidence,” write two Heritage experts in a new Backgrounder.
John Malcolm, a senior legal fellow in the Center for Legal & Judicial Studies, and Jennifer Marshall, director of domestic policy studies and director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, raise issues to guide that serious study, with key principles regarding the following:
- The constitutional importance of the Second Amendment and evidence on the effectiveness of gun laws
- School safety
- Risks of violence related to serious mental illness
- The significance of cultural factors and the roles of families and communities
- Media production, consumption, and the First Amendment
Malcolm and Marshall remind us that “The constitutional right to keep and bear arms is an individual right that is fundamental to a free society, which depends, ultimately, on personal responsibility.” They write:
Americans must implement appropriate solutions in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution, including the Second Amendment guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms, the traditional role of the states in our federal system, and the central significance of family.