Why Can’t a “Law-Abiding Citizen” Carry Ricin?
By Elliot Fineman
Part of the IT’S THE GUNS, STUPID Series
“Law-abiding” citizens have the right to carry guns to defend themselves” is the meme that drives our gun laws. Relying on this meme, laws have been passed that allow concealed and open-carried guns in public places ranging from restaurants, bars and movies, to churches and offices. Georgia’s “Guns Everywhere” law is the most extreme law a state has ever passed, ironically after one of the nation’s biggest gun violence incidents, at Sandy Hook elementary school in late 2012.
Here in Illinois, Circuit Judge Richard Posner cited the rights of law-abiding citizens to self-defense in overturning Illinois’ ban on concealed weapons–yet the Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller decision never mentions the individual’s right to carry a gun for self-defense–only to have it in the home. Nor does the Second Amendment mention “self-defense” or even “firearms.” Clearly, judges themselves have bought the “meme.”
The insanity of our guns laws is demonstrated by a conversation I had with someone after a talk I gave who did not agree that we need better gun laws. I asked him if he were familiar with ricin, a substance that is so poisonous that a dose the size of a few grains of table salt can kill an adult human. He said yes he was.
Well, I said, I am a law-abiding citizen and under the Second Amendment I have the right to carry ricin to defend myself and my family. The Second Amendment doesn’t say anything about guns or firearms–it just mentions “arms” and, according to the United Nations, there are at least 33 different types of arms. What do you think about me carrying ricin for self-defense, I asked.
The gun advocate said he did not feel too good about it because it was “pretty dangerous and you could kill a lot of people.”
In point of fact, in the U.S., ricin is so controlled that scientists must register with Health and Human Services before they can possess it to use for their research. A Mississippi man was recently sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for mailing ricin-tainted letters. Would anyone in the U.S. tolerate “law-abiding citizens” carrying ricin–even if there were a lucrative ricin lobby pushing universal ricin carrying like there is for guns? Would anyone tolerate citizens carrying ricin if it were responsible for 30,000 U.S. deaths a year?
I often end my talks about the need for sane gun laws in the U.S. by saying there is one country where the government imposes no gun regulations. People can have all the weapons they want and take them anywhere whether they are criminals, mentally ill, have vendettas, have no training or are children. The government never gets in the way of their “gun rights” or imposes gun laws or restrictions. That country is Somalia.
NGVAC’s 90 minute, bi-monthly radio show, IT’S THE GUNS, STUPID, airs every other Thursday at 6 PM Eastern Time on 1480 WPWC in Washington, D.C., an AM station that also covers northern Virginia and southern Maryland and reaches nearly 600,000 social media members. The show may be viewed live on the YouTube We Act Radio channel and heard on WeActRadio.com (“Listen Live”), and on Androids or IOS smartphones (TuneIn>Search>”We Act Radio”). Highlights of the show, the complete show and previous shows are posted on the NGVAC website.