DALLAS, August 6th, 2012 - After the Aurora, Colorado tragedy law-makers, gun control advocates and media pundits predictably called for tougher federal laws. This reactionary process is reliable: a horrific crime sparks circular blame and the disarmament agenda is exalted.
Within days of the shooting, Rupert Murdoch was tweeting, Michael Moore appealed to emotion and Bill O’Reilly called for federal oversight of “heavy weapons”. The establishment cannot resist exploiting opportunities to promote an anti-firearm platform.
Despite media hysteria, however, the national mood shifted against new federal restrictions. According to Pew, 72% of Republicans, 55% of independents and 27% of Democrats feel protecting gun ownership trumps “controlling guns”.
As American gun ownership hits record highs awareness that “gun control laws” do not keep guns from criminals grows. Sensing this shift, most politicians sprinted from post-Aurora gun control discussions, knowing it was election season poison.
Without national debate or discussion, an extreme gun control amendment was quietly attached to the controversial Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (S. 3414) or CIPSA. What does gun control have to do with “cybersecurity”? Nothing, but politicians habitually subvert political processes by attaching unrelated measures to avoid alerting constituents.
This “assault weapon ban” would have criminalized popular semi-automatic ammunition magazines and feeding devices exceeding a mere 10 rounds. Hastily written and dangerously vague, the amendment also banned 184 popular firearm models, as well as any new guns with certain features. Millions of America’s 270 million guns used for protection, hunting and recreation would have become illegal to buy, sell and perhaps own.
It was unclear whether citizens would have been forced to surrender private property, which federal agency would enforce the ban or whether losses would be compensated. In response to this brazen rights infringement, citizens bombarded the Capitol Hill call center urging their senators to vote “no” on the Schumer amendment. Last week, CISPA and the attached amendment were defeated in the Senate.
Second Amendment organizations are relieved, but remain vigilant. Federal gun control initiatives are a legislative zombie; regardless how often they are killed, they keep coming back.
A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Part of the problem is that many in the American left-wing and gun-control advocates believe these bans are reasonable compromises, angering gun owners.
As reported by ThinkProgress.org, “In a floor speech supporting the new amendment, Chuck Schumer attempted to find common ground with gun rights advocates […] Schumer stressed the need to disprove the misconception that “The Chuck Schumers of the world want to take away your gun, even if it’s the hunting rifle your uncle Willy gave you when you were 14.”
Firearm owners scoff at the Senator’s condescension and characterization that this ban was “common ground”.
“Politicians don’t get it,” Patrick, a Texas police officer explained. “Multiple studies showed the 1994 assault weapons ban failed to reduce crime. Since then, thousands purchased semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines for peaceful use. I shoot recreationally twice per week with my high-capacity stock. If this passed, would $5,000 worth of equipment become illegal because of one madman? Our national crime is dropping, so this extremism is unwarranted.”
His strong opinions are echoed among gun owners in the law enforcement, military and veteran community, many of which are avid private firearm collectors.
“I’m growing tired of these elitists that I subsidize talking down to us like we’re children. As if, “you can’t all play nice, we’re taking away your toys”. If we applied that same principle to them, they would all be impeached,” says Chuck, an avid gun collector and Army veteran.
“I’m a responsible, tax-paying, law-abiding adult with rights and politicians exist to protect those rights. Americans are good people. They should be able to buy guns and magazines for sport, recreation, hunting or collection; for whatever they want.”
Schumer is not the only politician capitalizing on tragedy. To solve the daily slaughter in Chicago, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn called to “ban assault rifles” last week.
Currently, Chicago is a gun-control advocates dream: citizens with a felony or certain minor misdemeanors are prohibited from ownership. Democratic leaders in the state consistently praise “tough” laws and the need for even more. In the last six months, more Americans were killed in Chicago than in Kabul, Afghanistan; a war zone.
In contrast, after the Supreme Court struck down Chicago’s handgun ban, the city enjoyed the largest drop in murder since the 1982 law was enacted. Violent crime plummeted. Though DC Mayor Adrian Fenty warned that legalizing firearms would create devastating violence, gun robberies dropped 25% and assaults fell 37% after the ban was lifted.
To date, Washington DC has record gun ownership and more peaceful streets now that people can defend themselves against criminals.
WORDS HAVE MEANING
“What does any American need with an assault rifle?” Heidi Tate, a gun control proponent posted online. “There is no need for them except to kill massive amounts of people.” CNN’s Charles Garcia agreed, “Arguing that you need an assault rifle to protect your family is like saying you need a blowtorch to light a cigarette”
Americans like Heidi and pundits like Garcia frustrate gun owners most. At the core of the gun control debate is the fact that many Americans do not research terms they use or understand that data contradicts their opinion.
As scholar Thomas Sowell put it, “The real problem, both in discussions of mass shootings and in discussions of gun control, is that too many people are too committed to a vision to allow mere facts to interfere with their beliefs, and the sense of superiority that those beliefs give them.”
Rifles with heavy hardware attached can be aesthetically frightening, but they are no more lethal than millions of firearms that would remain legal after an “assault weapons ban”. They fire at the same bullet-per-trigger-pull rate and speed as the average semi-automatic and revolver, while many hunting rifles are more dangerous.
Of gun crimes, assault weapons are used .20% in all violent crimes and in 1% of gun crimes. Estimates state that 1-7% of all homicides are committed with assault weapons while rifles of any type are involved in 3-4% of all homicides. One-third of murders are committed without a firearm.
A “high-capacity” magazine is essentially a metal box with a spring. Even if they were “illegal”, they are easy to make and nearly impossible to police. Should a ban on “high capacity” magazines or “assault rifles” proceed with any seriousness, a dangerous new black market would be created, further perpetuating more crime.
These measures are akin to outlawing certain duffel bag sizes because bombs are placed in them .20% of the time. Just like the Clinton administration’s failed “ban”, these measures would change nothing while giving the appearance of action at the expense of private property.
WHAT ABOUT EUROPE?
With 315 million citizens and 90 out of 100 with guns, America should be the most violent country in the world, but the top 10 nations for homicide do not include the US, where crime is currently at an historic low and dropping.
In the United States, firearms are used self-defensively 2.5 million times annually, or about 6,850 daily. Each year, guns protect citizens 80 times more against violence than they take a life. Many in the international community envy the US for their ability protect themselves.
Crime in Europe is out of control as thousands submit to the whim of violent criminals acting without fear of resistance. Since enacting draconian gun laws, violent crime in England has skyrocketed while gun use among criminals has doubled. Britain has the highest crime in Europe, more so than the United States or South Africa. Scotland, a nation with strict gun control policies, is now the most violent country in the world.
In contrast, Switzerland has the highest firearm ownership rate per capita in Europe. All males age 20 to 42 are required to keep rifles or pistols at home. Their homicide rate is 1.2 per 100,000. To date, there has never been a schoolyard massacre in Switzerland.
If post-ban crime in the United States has dropped and international data supports that gun control perpetuates violence, why are American legislators discussing re-enacting ineffective laws? Shouldn’t societal evolution be our goal, not regression?
THE SECOND AMENDMENT
President Obama joined others in calls for “assault rifle” bans last week.
“I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals; that they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities. We recognize the traditions of gun ownership that passed on from generation to generation, that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage.”
Most gun owners do not agree that these popular firearms belong exclusively in the hands of soldiers or police officers. AK-47’s, or the Kalashnikov rifle, is the most popular gun in the world and law-abiding Americans own them more than criminals. If “assault rifles” are rarely associated with crimes and are less dangerous than firearms remaining legal, what is the purpose of allowing them only in the hands of public servants?
As modern philosopher Roderick Long wrote, “Forbidding private citizens to own [common] guns while allowing police and soldiers to carry them is a violation of moral equality – a reserving of weapons to the powerful while denying them to the powerless.”
For an administration determined to “equal the playing field” and “promote fairness”, is it a contradiction to advocate removing beloved, legally-acquired firearms from citizens while civil servants are allowed to own them?
Additionally, the Second Amendment does not safeguard sport or hunting. The intention of the Second Amendment was to provide the people with means to protect their rights against individual and organized aggressors both foreign and domestic. The Second Amendment is not a grant to the people, but a restriction on the federal government. To Americans familiar with history and the Constitution, suggestions otherwise are blasphemous.
Naturally, some say the Second Amendment is irrelevant today because Americans have evolved past the eternal threat of government oppression. They claim the Founders did not intend the Bill of Rights to protect individual firearm ownership because they didn’t know a centralized army would protect us or the “the widespread violence guns cause”.
Most classical liberals, students of history and scholars disagree, explaining that the Founding Fathers unquestionably believed in a universal right to bear arms. Considering their intellectual, political and philosophical influences, it is fair to assume they understood human nature, historical precedent and the duality of self-defense, i.e. an individual, free citizen must protect themselves against the evil will of the man, the mob and the state.
Otherwise, if all control boils fundamentally to force, how can one resist aggression without equal force? How can a truly “free” state exist if the individual citizen is enslaved to the forceful will of others? It cannot. This right to self-protection is a cornerstone principle essential to the American experiment and critical to maintaining life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
While Senator Dianne Feinstein stated to 60-minutes, “If I thought I could get the votes, I’d have taken them all”, Thomas Jefferson, primary author of the Declaration of Independence said, “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
Though many Americans are lulled into illusions of safety and are generally unaware of human history, 56-million people have perished because of gun control in the last century alone. Should some future tyrant desire to use force against Americans, without the means of self-defense, what prevents Omaha, Nebraska from resembling Pol Pot’s Killing Fields?
If such oppression ever came home, would we experience the horrors the rest of world suffered because we relinquished our natural rights to self-defense? It is the responsibility of every American to maintain societal protections against the possibility of future tyranny, whether they enjoy the recreation of firearms or not.
As citizens of this great nation, we should take time to nurture the wounded and grieve the lost. When it is time to discuss policy, advocates on both sides should take ownership and organize locally. If the people decide reform is necessary, we should analyze with civility and patience the data, diverse opinions, our unique gun culture and the role firearms play in promoting safety.
We should decide if gun dealers are properly regulated and evaluate reporting methods for psychological professionals. Do gun show loopholes help criminals? Should states encourage responsible gun ownership with tax-breaks for concealed-carry permits? Are local and state laws disarming upstanding citizens? Would welcoming concealed-carry holders deter crime in local businesses?
Regardless of past debates or passionate rhetoric, Americans cannot ignore facts while power-grabbers play loose-and-fast with natural rights. We must realize the establishment is incapable of refraining from exploiting tragedy for an agenda. Challenging ourselves to evolve past partisan demagoguery will help us evaluate what is best for our communities, not what is best for distant federal legislators.
Crazy people will always get guns, but if further reducing our crime rate is the desired result, local communities and states have much to discuss. Let us begin listening to one another, communicating with our state legislators and innovating creative, progressive solutions to these problems logically and reasonably. In the meantime, federal bureaucrats have a $15 trillion dollar deficit to fix.
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