Guns, like many other issues of the day, have two distinct and opposing views with many people in the middle or undecided. Even following the tragic events of December 7, 1993, when unemployed handyman Colin Ferguson boarded the LIR’s 5:33 out of Penn Station. Ferguson waited until the train, filled with local commuters on their way home, pulled out of the Hicksville station before drawing a 9mm pistol. Ferguson then opened fire walking up and down the aisle shooting passangers indiscriminately, stopping only to reload, twice.
When he was finished six were dead and 19 were injured. Gun control advocates think that outlawing guns would have stopped the killings from ever happening. While gun rights advocates believe just as strongly that it could have been stopped by one innocent person being armed and fighting back. In order for an issue to even be at hand, both sides must agree that there is a problem with guns and gun control. Both gun control and pro gun advocates do agree that there is a problem. Pro gunners say it is too hard to own a gun and the gun controllers say it is too easy to get a gun.
Gun control advocates would argue that gun ownership is not a right and is not protected by the second amendment. They further believe guns are harmful to society. Gun control advocates also believe guns are not needed for self-defense. Gun-controllers use points such as, the constitution, specifically the second amendment, hunting and gun related assaults to try to prove their point; however most of their arguments are based in emotions and only have merit in the specific case they are trying to illustrate.
For when you strip away the emotional rhetoric and examine issues logically, so called gun control laws fail to accomplish any of their stated goals. A lawyer once said, “If the facts are with you, argue the facts. If the facts are against you, argue the law. ” Now gun control advocates have added, “If the facts and the law are against you, argue the emotions! ” Let us start this discussion with the simplest and strongest argument for gun rights. This argument comes to us from the very foundation of our great nation, the Constitution.
On December 15, 1791, the new United States of America adopted the Bill of Rights the first ten amendments to the U. S. Constitution, affirming the fundamental rights of its citizens. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, speech, and the press, and the rights of peaceful assembly and petition. The second amendment says, “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. ”
The importance of this right to the framers of the constitution and the founding fathers could not be clearer, as it spells out in the foundation document of their new nation that they hold this right to be no less important than the freedom of speech. Much has been made by the gun control advocates of the phrase “a well-regulated militia”, as it appears in the second amendment; arguing that the true intent of the framers was to guarantee this right to state militias and not the individual.
I believe the flaw in this argument comes from their ignorance at best and selective interpretation or outright lying at worst, of the historical facts surrounding the original intent of this amendment. The framers of the constitution were purposefully vague in the wording of many articles throughout the constitution. As a significant portion of the constitution’s framers were themselves lawyers, I believe this deliberate vagueness was an effort to prevent the spirit of the document from becoming lost in the semantics of verbatim analysis so often favored by barristers and politicians.
This necessitates that we look at other works of the time to help us in interpreting the framers intent. To these ends constitutional scholars, the federal courts and laymen alike have relied heavily on the Federalist Papers for additional insight to our constitution. In the Federalist Paper: No. 29, Alexander Hamilton defines the characteristics of the “militia” in its context of the second amendment, as a collection of the individually armed members of the citizenry, and not a standing army.
Of this collection of everyday friends and neighbors Hamilton says, “Little more can reasonably be aimed at, with respect to the people at large, than to have them properly armed and equipped; and in order to see that this be not neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in the course of a year. ” Mr. Hamilton seems to be going as far as to imply that the “people at large” should periodically get together to ensure they stay properly armed and equipped for the times and the possible threats of the day.
James Madison incontrovertibly posits the notion that an armed citizenry is an absolute deterrent to the ambitions of a tyrannical government. On January 29, 1788, the Revolutionary War fresh in everyone’s memories, Madison wrote to the people of New York in Federalist Papers: No. 46. Speaking of how the minutemen and militia faced down the whole of the renowned British army:1 It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops.
Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it. Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. The United States of America was emerging as the world’s first democracy.
Madison illustrates in details how armed citizens are required to protect it, then and now, as we have been doing for over 200 years. Having established a constitutional base for the argument that the right to keep and bear arms to be an individual right, lets us now look at the legal precedents set down by our courts. The United States Supreme Court listed the second amendment as a pre-existing individual right in 1875, when Chief Justice Waite delivered the courts opinion in U. S. v Cruikshank stating, “This is not a right granted by the Constitution.
Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. ” In April 1999, Judge Cummings of the United States District Court wrote in his opinion in U. S. v Emerson, “A textual analysis of the second amendment supports an individual right to bear arms. ” The government not agreeing with Judge Cummings findings appealed to the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Thanks to an overzealous U. S. Attorney, in 2001 the judges of the 5th Circuit spelled out the rights of Americans in no uncertain terms in the courts decision, Judge Garwood wrote: All of the evidence indicates that the Second
Amendment, like other parts of the Bill of Rights, applies to and protects individual Americans. We find that the history of the Second Amendment reinforces the plain meaning of its text, namely that it protects individual Americans in their right to keep and bear arms whether or not they are a member of a select militia or performing active military service or training. The U. S. Constitution, a Federal District Court, the 5th Circuit Courts of Appeals, and the U. S. Supreme Court all seem to agree that we as Americans have an individual right to “keep and bear arms.
Even in our own beloved “Constitution State” the people who brought you the first written constitution also saw the need to spell out the people’s rights to the state government. In our present state constitution Connecticut’s declaration of rights, under Article One says, “That the great and essential principles of liberty and free government may be recognized and established, we declare: Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state. ” It would appear the state of Connecticut is on my side also.
Gun control advocates who concede the point that we have a constitutional right to own guns then retort that the government has a right to register and license firearms. Claiming that registration has proven successful in preventing crime in other countries, why not here? Simple, gun registration in fact has failed throughout the world! The statistic are clear. In Canada one of the most restrictive countries in the world, Chief Julian Fantino of the Toronto Police says, “We have an ongoing gun crisis, including firearm related homicides in Toronto, and a law registering firearms has neither deterred these crimes nor helped solve any.
In Australia Chief Inspector Newgreen of the State of Victoria Police had similar words for Australia’s new very restrictive registration laws saying, “Previous experience in New Zealand and South Australia, and now indeed in the state of Victoria, indicates that firearms registration in the way in which it is implemented is costly, ineffective, and achieves little. In my view, it does not repress or control the criminal misuse of, or irresponsible use of firearms. ” He then concludes his report, “I would therefore recommend that Firearms Registration be forthwith abolished.
It is these kinds of facts sheds the light of truth on the fallacy that gun registration prevents crime. On the other hand the prime concern of gun rights advocates to extensive registration of firearms is that the use of such information could lead to the confiscation of legally owned guns and the disarming of the American public. Philosopher, poet, literary and cultural critic, George Santayana once told us, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Those who would have us believe that the licensing and registration of our firearms is a harmless way of controlling who gets their hands on guns are simply ignoring history. In 1928, pre-Nazi Germany the “Law on Firearms and Ammunition” required all firearms to be registered. When Hitler came to power, half his job was done. Using the meticulously kept German records, Hitler simply had his loyal Sturmabteilung go around and collect all the weapons along with any chance for the German people to stand up to the Nazis. 2 Critics of this argument scoff, “That was 1928, in Nazi Germany.
This is America, that could never happen here. ” Wrong! In 1967, New York City passed an ordinance requiring everybody to register their rifles and shotguns and obtain a license to own what was already their property. Then in 1991 the city passed a ban on the private ownership of semiautomatic rifles and shotguns and the registered owners were told that their firearms had to be “surrendered, rendered inoperable, or taken out of the city. ” History would bare me out; the use of registration in the disarming of the public at large, at the whim of the government is not an abstract idea.
All that said, let’s put it aside for the moment and hear the argument of gun critics that we live in a modern civil society with skilled and dedicated police and law enforcement agencies of every type to protect us; we simply do not need guns anymore. In a national study conducted by Dr. Gary Kleck, a Florida State University criminologist, concluded guns prevent an estimated 2. 5 million crimes a year, or 6,849 each day. According to the U. S. Department of Justice, every day 550 rapes, 1,100 murders and 5,200 other violent crimes are prevented just by showing a gun; and in less then 1% of these cases are the guns actually fired.
These statistics do not include law enforcement use of firearms; that is to say that at least 2. 5 million crimes each year are aborted by ordinary citizen like you and me. In the year 2000 our courageous men and women of law enforcement were unable to prevent 1,566,778 violent crimes in the United States; including over 90,000 forcible rapes and 15,000 murders. No one is saying we need to institute vigilantism, but it’s clear that our local constabulary could use the help. If you do not believe me then ask the criminals themselves.
In their book Armed and Considered Dangerous, sociologists James Wright and Peter Rossi explore the minds of convicted violent felons and make some sagacious revelations. They found over 60% of convicted felons admitted that they avoided committing crimes when they thought their intended victim was armed. Most convicted burglars, over 80%, reported that they avoided entering homes where people were home out of fear of being shot. As a point for comparison; in Britain where private gun ownership is all but banned, 59% of burglaries occur with the residence occupied while in the United Sates the percentage is 13%.
It would seem British burglars do not share this fear. Even right here within our own country the contrast is clear. Washington D. C. has banned gun ownership; and the city has a murder rate of 56. 9 per 100,000 citizens. Right across the river in Arlington, Virginia, where gun ownership is not regulated at all, the murder rate is 1. 6 per 100,000. The Department of Justice’s own study in 1997 found that 57% of felons “are more worried about meeting an armed victim than they are about running into the police. ” Reasonable people considering these facts would find it hard to make the case that guns do not deter crime.