Fred Galves, my faculty colleague at the McGeorge School of Law, asked that I post this column for him. He invites replies in the form of comments to the blog, to which he promises to reply.
2nd Amendment Quiz: Ten Questions
There was a recent report that flight attendants in the US are upset about the new TSA rule allowing airline passengers to carry small knives with them on flights (repealing the previous post-9/11 ban on all knives). This repeal raises the issue of whether that original knife ban interfered with airline passengers’ 2nd Amendment rights. Specifically, I am wondering how a pro-gun, NRA supporter would answer the following ten questions about that former airplane knife-ban. I realize that the airplane context of the ban is very different, but it is still helpful to think about the answers an NRA supporter would provide.
1. Do airline passengers have a 2nd Amendment right to bring any type of knife with them on airplanes, or would it be a reasonable restriction to ban certain kinds of knives on airplanes, such as machetes, swords, switchblades, hunting knives, and, of course, box-cutter knives used by the 9/11 terrorists—why or why not?
2. Should airline passengers be allowed to bring any knife with them on board a flight, because “knives don’t kill people, people kill people”?
3. If we banned all knives on airplanes, would criminals or terrorists then be the only ones on board with knives, because law-abiding airline passengers would not smuggle knives on board; and therefore, a knife ban would mean only that law-abiding passengers would not have knives and, as a result, they would be in even danger than without the knife ban?
4. Should there be a background check on all airline passengers to make sure that felons, suspected terrorists, or people with a history of violent mental disorders, are not allowed to bring knives on airplanes—OR would such a background check be a 2nd Amendment violation?
5. Should all airline passengers be allowed to bring a knife on board, because “the only protection from a bad guy with a knife… is a good guy with a knife”?
6. Should airline passengers be allowed to bring knives on airplanes because even if there is a federal air marshal on the flight, that air marshal, perhaps sitting up in first class, may not be quick enough to protect all passengers from all persons sitting next to them who might stab them—and so more knives on board would make it safer because law enforcement cannot always adequately protect us?
7. Should we allow all airline passengers to bring knives on board, and not at all be worried about it, because as long as we limit graphic violence depicted and glorified in movies and in computer games—which is the true underlying cause of knife violence in society—airline passengers would be safe?
8. Even if we allow knives to be brought on board airplanes, should we not allow GUNS to be brought on board airplanes, because someone could shoot a hole in the cabin with a gun, which would depressurize the airplane, and kill many people all at once—OR, is the relative ease of killing many people all at once not a good reason to ban an airlines passenger from bringing a gun on board an airplane?
9. Even if we allow airline passengers to bring one knife, and maybe even one gun, with them on board an airplane, would it be a 2nd Amendment violation to limit the overall number of MULTIPLE guns, knives, and ammunition that any one passenger could bring, OR should passengers being able to bring on board an unlimited number of guns and ammunition be considered an absolute 2nd Amendment right?
10. Finally, should we only ban weapons when people are on airplanes—because that would not be a 2nd Amendment violation); but not ban weapons, even military assault weapons, when people are on the ground—because that would be a 2nd Amendment violation? Is the difference in these two situations all really just a matter of the different physical context involved—“You can’t run away from a gun used on an airplane” … but you can run away from a gun used on the ground???
• Thank you for thinking seriously about the answers a pro-gun supporter would provide to these questions.