Just posted this response on the CBS site
The NRA is not the only roadblock to a gun ban. There are more than thirty million guns in the hands of law abiding citizens in the US, and there are many powerful gun rights organizations besides the NRA. And remember, the Supreme Court's 2008 landmark ruling on the Second Amendment was not funded by the NRA but privately funded by Robert Levy of the CATO institute, with his own money.
Because these rifles have a menacing appearance, they make excellent targets of proposed gun bans, a fact which anti-gun folks use to propose laws which are cynical, incremental, and disingenuous infringements on our right to keep and bear arms. This point leaves aside the fact that one of the many reasons our founders saw fit to include the Second Amendment in our Bill of Rights, was as a safeguard against future tyranny, both foreign and domestic. That's why the first clause of the amendment states a militia, or military purpose.
Let's be perfectly clear. The problem isn't that the Second Amendment isn't working. It's just that it doesn't work well enough in states that infringe on the right. The nutcase in Binghamton, NY somehow had a pistol permit, but in NY that's rare and arbitrary.
If Binghamton, NY were located an hour South in "shall issue" Pennsylvania, the chance that an ordinary law abiding citizen could have shut down this miscreant's rampage would have been exponentially greater.
No gun restriction is ever going to prevent a person, who is bent on evil, from accomplishing his ill will. Anyone capable of brutal murder is so far beyond having any concern for a weapons law as to make the point mute. We are wasting valuable time and energy proposing laws which a criminal is in the business of ignoring. These futile efforts amount to re-arranging the deck chairs on the titanic. We ought to be looking at the real causes of violence, hate, anger, disenfranchisement, poverty, ignorance and the empathy and compassion that too many in this generation seem to lack.
The Second Amendment is, first and foremost, an insurance policy for Americans to prevent the possibility of future tyranny. There is the argument that no handguns, rifles or shotguns are going to keep a government from becoming tyrannical. The Supreme Court weighed in on this in June 2008.
As Justice Scalia put it recently in the Heller vs. D.C. decision: "It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right. "
The government has clearly shown that over time, it develops a greater willingness to infringe on 1st (Speech), 2nd (Bearing Arms) and 4th (Search and Seizure), but it's doubtful that our government may have the stomach to infringe on these rights, when doing so requires them to turn their arms against a law abiding, armed populace.
In short, so-called assault weapons in the hands of law abiding folks (and yes, there are millions of them) act as the final gatekeeper which secures and protects the rest of the guarantees enumerated in the Bill of Right for our great-grandchildren.
There is reassuring irony in the fact that the exercise of the right virtually guarantees that it will never be needed for one of it's most important purposes, to prevent the future tyranny of government.