Several of the policy initiatives being considered by Vice President Biden’s working group [“Broad strategy on guns weighed,” front page, Jan. 6] appear to be plainly unconstitutional (e.g., to “stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools” and to ban “ammunition magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds”). In 1995 the Supreme Court held in U.S. v. Lopez that the federal government did not have the power to ban people from carrying a gun near a school, and in 2008 the Supreme Court held in District of Columbia v. Heller that the federal government did not have the power to ban possession of a handgun that held 12 rounds. Biden’s working group should focus on options that are within the power of the federal government.
Mike Stollenwerk, Alexandria
The writer is co-founder of OpenCarry.org.
Non-lethal weapons should be considered as a major alternative to firearms. If non-lethal weapons such as Tasers and pepper sprays were easily obtainable and widely legal, the objective need for guns would be much reduced. Exchange programs should be instituted to let people exchange their guns for non-lethal variants. Major research efforts should be directed toward developing effective and accessible alternatives to lethal firearms.
I understand people’s need for self-defense and their reluctance to rely on police for protection. But if there is some reason that non-lethal weapons cannot meet this need, I have not yet heard it.
Ilya Shlyakhter, Cambridge, Mass.