31 August 2009

The Bill of Rights - Part II

Okay folks, I promised you in a few days I would write about the Second Amendment. I should have done this earlier but "life" got in the way. It never ceases to amaze me how easily distracted I can get with other mundane events in the boring saga that is my life. Alright, enough of that, let us move on to the Second Amendment, shall we?

The Second Amendment is arguably the most contentious of the original 10 amendments that make up the Bill of Rights. Never have I seen one sentence cause so much discord. "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." To me, this one sentence is perfectly clear; the Founding Fathers realized that without an armed populace, the British Government would easily take us over and revert us back to a bunch of colonies. Hence the popular adage, "A democracy is two lions and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch, a republic is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote"

The Left, specifically The Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence, consistently argue that the first part of the Second Amendment, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State..." means the only people who should have guns are the military and law enforcement agents and therefore is the only part we should abide by. (It may be worthwhile at this point to bring up the fact the the Posse Comitatus would be violated and nullified if this belief were to be fulfilled, if you don't understand this, Google Posse Comitatus). The Right argues consistently that the latter half of the Second Amendment, "...the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." means that all law-abiding citizens have the right to own weapons. Notice I did not say "GUNS", specifically, we will get to that.

The ongoing discussion of the intent of the Second Amendment shows historically that neither the Left nor the Right is 100% accurate. I can say this because if you look at each side, you will see each side conveniently leaves out the part that may contradict their intent. The Left does not want to admit that the People (i.e. - you & me) have the basic right to own weapons. The Right does not want to let the first half of the amendment confuse the people during this ongoing debate. The distressing part, to me, is neither side wants to give any ground or even sit down to discuss the possibility of reaching an agreement.

So, who is the Left? Are they covert agents sent by foreign governments to aid in the takeover and destruction of the United States? (Some may argue this is a definite possibility and to them I have to say put on your foil hats and crawl back under your rocks) Let's examine the Brady Campaign, the biggest voice of the anti-gun crowd, shall we? If you don't remember the early '80s, you may not know who James Brady is. James Brady was an assistant to the White House Press Secretary and President of the United States Ronald Reagan. In 1981, John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate President Reagan; Brady was nearly killed and permanently disabled by bullets from Hinckley's gun. Brady and his wife then founded The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a group whose only mission was to take ALL guns away from all citizens of the United States.

This is where the logic gets a little fuzzy. The Brady group has argued time and time again that their Act passed by Congress has contributed significantly to a reduction in violent crime. That, my friends, is a fallacy. You can click the link I provided to read for yourself the true results of the Brady Bill. The National Rifle Association has consistently fought the Brady Bill and consistently argues it is every law abiding citizen's right to own guns...and, to a point, they are right. I say "to a point" because some NRA supporters think this means a right to own any type of gun without having to accept any responsibility at all for prudent ownership.

So what is "prudent ownership"? Simply put, it is MY OWN definition that means law-abiding gun owners with small children should do everything within their means to protect their kids; education on guns and what they can do is a good start, keeping guns somewhere where the kids can't get them is another. The government shouldn't have to regulate how to handle this issue, it should be and most likely is a common-sense issue for the majority of gun owners in the US.

With that said, we are ignoring the elephant in the room. Why are we only talking about GUNS when the Second Amendments says ARMS? Arms means weapons which means ANY weapons, including swords, crossbows, knives and just about anything else that can be used as a weapon. Why are we focusing solely on guns? Why are guns the only hot button topic in this debate? The answer is very simple, my friends; guns are the weapon of choice for most violent criminals. Guns provide them with an opportunity other weapons don't; think about it, you are walking down a street when a gun is shoved in your face and you hear, "Give me your wallet." Much more intimidating than a guy with a pocket-knife saying the same thing, isn't it? This is the issue the Left has seized upon and wants to drive home. Guns invoke fear and fear is bad, hence their argument guns only belong to military and law enforcement.

The Left is WRONG, plain and simple. Sure, the Brady Bill brought us the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) which has done much to prevent criminals from legally purchasing firearms. Yes, I will concede that point. The problem is, it only prevents LEGAL purchases. Folks, when is the last time you heard of a criminal doing anything legally? Does any reasonable person believe criminals are going to actually ABIDE BY the law? THAT is the fundamental flaw in the Brady Campaign's argument! Gun control measures only inhibit us, the law-abiding citizens!

Another point I want to make is this, the "gun-show loophole" you hear about does not exist! I can prove that point! My wife and I attended a gun show here in Jackson, MS a while back because my wife was interested in purchasing a lightweight pistol she could easily handle. We found exactly what she wanted so we proceeded to purchase the gun. So, did you think the vendor just took our money and gave us the gun? If you believe there is a loop-hole in the gun laws, you would say yes...and you would be dead wrong. What happened was my wife filled out an application form and the vendor then called in her social security number and full name for the Instant Background Check and she came back clean so we were allowed to purchase the gun. See, the instant background check worked! Now, how many crooks do you think would have jumped through that hoop?

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." It is our RIGHT to keep and bear arms to insure our security and freedom. It is our RIGHT to protect our lives and property from criminals who would deprive us of either or both. To me, it's pretty straightforward. I hope it now is for you, too.


  1. A pretty good summation of the issues, but I would argue a few points.

    First, few gun rights advocates "ignore" the prefatory clause of the Second Amendment, we simply argue that a prefatory clause does not and can not limit the scope of the operative clause.

    It just so happens that the US Supreme Court has consistently agreed with this position. From District Of Columbia v Heller:

    "That requirement of logical connection may
    cause a prefatory clause to resolve an ambiguity in the operative clause (“The separation of church and state being an important objective, the teachings of canons shall have no place in our jurisprudence.” The preface makes clear that the operative clause refers not to canons of interpretation but to clergymen.) But apart from that clarifying function, a prefatory clause does not limit or expand the scope of the operative clause. See F. Dwarris, A General Treatise on Statutes 268–269 (P. Potter ed. 1871) (hereinafter Dwarris); T. Sedgwick, The Interpretation and Construction of Statutory and Constitutional Law 42–45 (2d ed. 1874)."

    The prefatory clause is a statement of (one possible among many) purpose for the operative right, not a limitation upon its scope...and, therefore, is irrelevant in any discussion regarding the scope of the right protected.

    Secondly, a very minor point, but one that bears on the tactics and evolution of the gun control movement in the US...When Sarah Brady joined the gun control movement, the organization she joined and of which she was appointed chair, was called "Handgun Control Incorporated". Prior to that it was called the National Council to Control Handguns and after she joined, it became the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence before reaching its current incarnation as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

    The reason that this is important is because the current iterations of gun control advocacy groups attempt to mask their agenda behind cloaks of "violence prevention" or "safety". The true agendas of these organizations have never changed, they've only changed their names in an effort to mask that agenda as it has become increasingly obvious that Americans have little interest in relinquishing control of a Constitutionally protected right.

    The Million Mom March, the Brady Campaign, the Violence Policy Center (who remains curiously uninterested in any violence that does not involve guns), etc etc etc are patently NOT "anti-violence" organizations as they purport to be, or even anti-GUN violence...they are anti-gun ownership, pure and simple.

    Thirdly, I do not accept your contention that "some NRA supporters think this means a right to own any type of gun without having to accept any responsibility at all for prudent ownership."

    One of the primary missions of the NRA is gun safety education and training. I am an NRA gun safety instructor and there are tens of thousands of other instructors across the country who teach hundreds of thousands of gun safety classes every year.

    I believe that you would be very hard pressed to identify an NRA supporter who advocates gun ownership without responsibility and accountability...they only oppose governmental mandates that could easily be exploited as a roadblock to lawful gun ownership.

    The use of any potentially dangerous tool demands responsibility and accountability; but, as you yourself admitted, exactly what specific requirements constitute "prudent" use of those dangerous tools is a very subjective standard and should not be the rationalization for prior restraints on the exercise of a Constitutionally protected right.

    -to be continued

  2. -continued


    Why are we focusing solely on guns? Why are guns the only hot button topic in this debate? The answer is very simple, my friends; guns are the weapon of choice for most violent criminals.

    While ostensibly true, you miss the point.

    The very characteristics that make guns the most efficient tools for criminal assault, also make them the most efficient tools for self-defense...and the most effective deterrent against governmental tyranny.

    Of all of the potential weapons you mentioned, only firearms can be employed equally effectively by the young, fit and strong, as by the elderly, inform or weak...not to mention the fact that firearms can equalize a confrontation between unequal forces. Two, or three or four criminal attackers can be thwarted by a single armed victim.

    You don't see many "crossbow" rights organizations because they simply are not the most effective tool with which to provide for the defense of oneself or one's family. Firearms are.

    Finally: You are absolutely correct about the Faux "gun show loophole". Every federal law that applies outside gun shows apply equally inside gun shows. There is no such loophole in federal law and I am unaware of any such loophole in any individual state's laws.

    Overall, I agree wholeheartedly with your points and conclusions, I only differ on a few of the minor details.

    Thank you for contributing your insights into this important issue.

  3. Wow, I thought I was making an effective, profound argument and you came along and made it even more effective and profound! Thank you for your insight! On the NRA members statement I made; I made that statement based not on conjecture but on past experiences I have had as a member of the NRA with other members of the NRA. Yes, the NRA does stress responsible gun ownership and safety...but it cannot, I repeat canNOT police its entire membership...otherwise there are at least a few fellow NRA members who think it fun to drink beer and later shoot the cans who would be in trouble...I am not saying this is the majority of the NRA membership, no, it is a distinct minority of the membership...unfortunately it is this minority that usually makes it to the evening news.

    Believe me when I tell you, I fully understand the intentions of the anti-gun "ownership" crowd (I like how you said that, may I use it in future conversations?)...my father used to say this when I was a boy, "You know, millions of legal gun owners did not commit a crime today." Very true.

    I will let you know one thing though; there is indeed a crossbow rights group, http://www.horizontalbowhunter.com/, you can see them at this link. I tell you this not to antagonize you but to inform...fair winds and following seas shipmate...Chief Bulldog out!

  4. Points well made and taken.

    Generalizations are always dangerous because there are always the outliers. If you'd have said "some gun owners" rather than "some NRA members" it wouldn't have struck me so harshly. Using the "NRA members' title implied, at least in my mind, that you were inferring that the NRA condoned such irresponsible behavior. It does not.

    But you are absolutely right that there are some, among the 4 million+ members of the NRA, that act irresponsibly regardless of the NRA's position.

    I had no idea there was a crossbow rights organization, thanks for that one. Maybe I'll join.

    BTW: As well as also being a retired Chief, I'm a lifelong biker too.

    Keep the shiny side up my brother.

  5. You know, you're right, I could have termed that better.

    Tryin very hard to keep the shiny side up and handle my withdrawal symptoms from the active CPO mess during this special time of year!

    Would love to meet ya one day and go for a long ride...and a coupla "adult beverages" at the end of the day...ride safe, brother!