Michael Luo’s report in The Times does much to expose how the sensible case for ordinary gun ownership can so easily go astray. In general, a strong case can be made for allowing ordinary citizens to carry guns after a modest background check. These guns could be used defensively and thus in some cases could easily prevent crimes that lawless individuals might otherwise commit.
Even the most modest background check, however, would normally rule out allowing individuals with unstable personal histories, let alone criminal records, from carrying guns, given the added risk that they pose to society. Why some jurisdictions restore felons’ rights to carry guns is unclear, given the manifest risks that they pose on everyone else.