A Well Regulated Right To Bear Arms

arsenalWith Senate Republicans threatening to filibuster a vote on any sort of gun reform, I felt the need to throw out a quick piece to cover what I think about some of the issues revolving around the “gun debate.”

First, let me explain what a filibuster does.  See, just because you vote on something in the Senate, does not mean it will pass.  What a vote on an issue does do is allow the American people to know who voted which way on any particular issue.  What a filibuster does is prohibit the Senate from voting on a bill, thus denying the American people the right to know where each Senator stands on any given issue.  So, on an issue such as universal background checks, supported by over 90% of Americans, a filibuster denies Americans the right to know which Senators would vote “nay” on the issue.

So the question you need to ask yourself is, “If 90% of Americans support something, why are there politicians (Republican politicians) threatening to block it from even going to a vote?”

But moving on…

It’s ridiculous to believe that the Second Amendment guarantees access to any and all “arms.”  Just as our First Amendment doesn’t give people the right to say whatever, whenever, they want.

Doubt me?  Please, I invite you to go scream “fire” in a movie theater or “bomb” in an airport.  Tell me how that works out for you—that is, once you’re out of jail.

So let me break down a few arguments I’ve heard from those who oppose gun regulations.

One argument made by many is that passing laws against certain “military style” weapons doesn’t mean individuals (especially criminals) won’t gain access to them anyway.  My response to that is, then why pass laws against rape or murder?  Hell, why pass any laws period?  If crimes are going to happen anyway, why even have laws that seek to deter them?

Another argument being made is that labeling certain guns illegal just means only the murderers and the psychopaths will have them.  Then why, in most of the countries with much stricter gun regulations, aren’t armed psychopaths taking over these nations—since the civilians are unarmed?

A third argument I often hear is that a killer will kill no matter what.  Then tell me,  why aren’t there mass stranglings?  Mass murders by rock? Mass death by baseball bat?  Mass sporkings?

It would seem logic dictates that mental health, mixed with an ease of access to dangerous weapons, is the difference between an American suffering from some kind of mental illness and a killer.

Not everyone with access to a gun will kill, nor is everyone who suffers from mental health issues a killer, but when you mix the two, it increases the odds.  Again, if I’m wrong, why are over 10,000 Americans dying each year from gun violence and not rock violence?

Then an issue I rarely ever see mentioned is the very strict regulations we have on fully automatic gun ownership.  How these weapons are bought, sold and owned are strictly  regulated.

For example, to buy a fully automatic weapon, first you’re required to submit a photo and fingerprints to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives—before going through an FBI background check.  You’re then required to pay a $200 tax.  Then, only guns manufactured and registered with the government (yes—I said registered with the government) can be bought, owned or sold.  There are a few others, but you get the picture.

Then it occurred to me—most gun violence, and most every mass shooting I’ve been made aware of, has been committed with semi-automatic weapons.  So, you’re telling me semi-automatic weapons are more effective than fully automatic?  Or is it that these extremely tight regulations on buying, owning and selling fully automatic weapons have done a pretty good job at keeping them out of the hands of most criminals and mentally ill individuals?

Most Americans, myself and President Obama included, are not advocating a ban on handguns or hunting rifles.  But if you feel civilians need access to military-style weapons, and easy access to these kinds of weapons has nothing to do with mass murders and gun violence in general, well—you’re insane.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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  • Carma West

    I agree 100% with your comments……have been saying it for months and have called both of my senators. I want to know how they vote. I sure of one of them but not the other.

  • Mary G.

    AMEN

  • Chuck Nielson

    Please read this. From our one FBI. How many rifles were used to kill people? http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/table-20 http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/01/18/fox-news-poll-twice-as-many-favor-more-guns-over-banning-guns-to-reduce-violent/ Try some of these and see what you think. I don’t know if you have a wife and children but if you do and some one breaks into your home, may be just one person or five what are you going to do to protect you family? Do you own a weapon? If not you’ll wait on average 20 to 30 minutes for the police to show up. So what do you do now? Try to reason with them? Give them your positions with the hope they won’t harm you or your family? Or if you have a weapon shoot them? Common sense. It would seem logic dictates that you have to to protect your family. I’m I wrong? As far as I know no one is asking to have access to any and all “arms.” “But if you feel civilians need access to military-style weapons, and easy access to these kinds of weapons has nothing to do with mass murders and gun violence in general, well—you’re insane.” So it looks like a military-style weapon, it does not fire that way. I hope to hear a reply from you. Also remember http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonestown no gun’s. Worst Mass Murders in US History (any weapon):
    By no coincidence all of the worst mass murders in US history have been non-gun.

    Worst School Massacre in US history: Bath, Michigan School Massacre. 1927. Murder accomplished with explosives. 44 victims (equal to the Columbine and Virginia Tech massacres combined).

    Worst Domestic Terrorist Attack in US History: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing. 4/19/95. Murder accomplished with a rental truck full of fertilizer based explosives. 168 dead (including many children in an onsite day care).

    Worst Foreign based Terrorist Attack in US History: September 11, 2001 attacks on NYC, PA, Pentagon. Murder accomplished with box cutters and commerical airliners. 3,000 people dead.

    no guns needed. You can always find a way to kill people. So shall we say, no more fertilizer,box cutters or commerical airliners? Read this. http://stephenewright.com/fromthebluff/2008/10/23/the-butcher%E2%80%99s-bill-%E2%80%93-non-gun-mass-murders/

  • jim mcdowell

    I must be insane then. I’ve owned Ar-15 rifles since age 21. Not once did any of these firearms jump up from the table or run out of the gun safe and shoot someone. We should concentrate on the mental health issue. Recently in Cypress Texas 14 people were hurt by someone with a knife. What do we do, Call for a ban on cutlery.

    • Jim, you really need to read the article, as you are sounding like the regular NRA wingnut. No, your guns haven’t killed anyone. But others HAVE. That’s the point. THOUSANDS killed in gun violence every year. Look at the stats.
      Yes, people COULD attempt to use other means to kill people, but when was the last time you heard of two dozen innocent children DYING for a nut with a knife? 14 people HURT by someone with a knife. HURT, not killed. Had the perpetrator used a gun, you would be looking at 14 people DEAD. Can’t you see the difference?

  • Annie

    I think it’s time for a compromise.. Even though I’m conservative and most conservatives vote republican, I think my party is wrong here.

    What is the harm in background checks? I fear there’s more to it than that. GOP members don’t want background checks. My feeling on this, which may echo their thoughts, is that they have NO indication that if they ‘give’ on background checks, Dianne Feinstein and and anti-gun-lobbies won’t begin with other demands and they’ll rue the day that they ever gave in on background checks.

    But, I think they’re shooting themselves in the foot on this one. People have died and we must do something. So, lets take baby steps until we feel comfortable that we’ve reached a solution and a true compromise.

  • Ken Forsythe

    Allen,

    You’re ignoring Supreme Court decisions on this issue.

    In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that the 2nd Amendment was a right of individuals, no membership in a federally or state controlled militia (“well regulated” or otherwise) is required. The word “regulated” in this context has nothing to do with government “regulation.” That’s just a language peculiarity between the 18th century and the 21st century.

    Your example about First Amendment limitations (screaming “fire” in a crowded theater) is an invalid one. In 2009, when striking down a Congressional law prohibiting depictions of animal cruelty (not the cruelty itself, just depictions of it) the Supreme Court explained in detail that exceptions to enumerated constitutional rights were strictly limited to a very narrow set of exceptions recognized at the time an amendment was ratified. Your “screaming fire in a crowded theater” example falls within that extremely narrow set of exceptions.

    Per both of these rulings, the Supreme Court made it clear that Congress (and through another 2010 ruling the same applies to state and local government) is denied the authority under the U.S. Constitution to engage in after the fact interest balancing of enumerated constitutional rights.

    It’s not a matter of what arms people feel they need to have. It’s not a matter of being for or against violence.

    It’s a matter of Congress and state and local governments exceeding the authority that the citizens of this country have granted them under our U.S. Constitution.

    For those who disagree with a constitutional right, or feel that its time has passed, the constitutional amendment process is available to all.

    But it is not permissible for Congress or state/local politicians to legislate our guaranteed rights and freedoms away. They must follow the law like everybody else.

    • Dave

      Well put, Ken.

  • Dave

    First, your logic of “why have any laws at all if only criminals break them” is sophomoric, at best. Second, I don’t know where you are getting your statistics, but in areas of stricter gun control, violent crimes in which guns are used is higher. If you don’t agree, then I have one word for you: Chicago. Also, by blaming everything on one party, you’re just proving that you drink the Kool-Aid. I’m sure you have a lot of liberal/socialist Obama-loving readers who will continue to shower you with praise and my comments will fall into the dust bin, but seriously, in this age of information, the dissemination of such flawed “facts” is unacceptable. FYI, I am neither a democrat nor a republican.

    • Rick

      Lets look outside the US…
      Austrailia: Firearm laws in Australia are enforced at a Federal and State level. Gun ownership is accessible to the civilian population, and those persons must comply with ‘genuine reasons’ to obtain a ‘Permit to Acquire’ from their State government. ‘Genuine Reasons’ focus on either hunting and/or sport/target shooting (for Rifles), and do not include ‘personal protection.’Handgun licenses are also available, and applied for separately. In New South Wales (and similar in other States), firearm ownership is widely prohibited for convicted offenders or those with a history of mental illness. Gun licenses must be renewed either annually or every 5 years, and expire automatically (if not renewed prior).
      The rate of homicides involving firearms per 100,000 population in 2009 was 0.1, as compared with 3.3 in the United States.

      Canada: The stated intent of Canadian firearms laws is to control firearms so as to improve public safety. Canadians have a somewhat limited access to firearms, but are still able to purchase them with relative ease. Licensing provisions of the Firearms Act endeavours to ensure proper training and safe storage. Users must possess a licence, called a “possession and acquisition licence (PAL)”. A firearms safety course must be passed prior to applying for a PAL. A non-resident (i.e., non-Canadian) can have a “non-resident firearms declaration” confirmed by a customs officer, which provides for a temporary 60-day authorization to have a firearm in Canada. There are three categories of firearms for purposes of Canadian law: non-restricted, restricted, and prohibited. Restricted and prohibited weapons may actually be owned and used in limited circumstances.
      The rate of homicide involving firearms per 100,000 population in 2009 was 0.5 as compared with 3.3 in the United States.

  • Zac

    “Then it occurred to me—most gun violence, and most every mass shooting I’ve been made aware of, has been committed with semi-automatic weapons.”
    “Most Americans, myself and President Obama included, are not advocating a ban on handguns or hunting rifles.”

    Here we have a problem… Handguns and hunting rifles ARE semi-automatic weapons. In fact the majority of mass shootings in America, to include VA Tech, Ft Hood, and Kathy Gifford were all perpetrated with handguns. Only a few mass shootings have involved what you call “military-style” weapons.

    And the difference between a “military-style” weapon and a hunting rifle is merely cosmetic. Adding a pistol grip and an adjustable stock (so-called military features) make the weapon in no way more deadly. In fact, these are safety features for people smaller of stature. So, by advocating the banning of assault rifles, you are actually advocating the ban of a large number of hunting rifles, albeit accidentally.

    If you look up FBI statistics, rifles account for less murders than handguns, knives, or even fists. Handguns make up for more than 70% of firearm deaths in the US. Rifles make up only 3%. Why are we so focused on the wrong weapons? What exactly is our point with this idea?

    Stats here. Recommended reading them for yourself and see what conclusions you draw… http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-11

    • BH

      We are not talking about semi-automatic weapons here. We are talking about fully-automatic weapons.

      You cannot tell me that there is no difference other than cosmetic between a hunting rifle and a machine gun.

      • Zac

        Actually, if you read the bill we are talking about SEMI-automatic rifles here. Automatic rifles, as stated in the article above are already highly regulated and have been since 1934.

        This conversation is about weapons like the AR-15, which are no more powerful than other hunting rifles of the same caliber and in most cases are LESS POWERFUL than common big-game hunting cartridges like the 30-06 Springfield and .300 Win. Mag.

        For your reference, I will post the definition directly from senator Feinstein’s proposal. As you can see we are talking about hunting rifles with certain “military-style” cosmetic features.

        21 ‘‘(A) A semiautomatic rifle that has the capac
        22 ity to accept a detachable magazine and any 1 of the
        23 following:
        24 ‘‘(i) A pistol grip.
        25 ‘‘(ii) A forward grip.
        1 ‘‘(iii) A folding, telescoping, or detachable
        2 stock.
        3 ‘‘(iv) A grenade launcher or rocket launch
        4 er.
        5 ‘‘(v) A barrel shroud.
        6 ‘‘(vi) A threaded barrel.

  • Dan Long

    Allen, since you’re such a logical person, please name the proposed gun laws that would have prevented the Sandy Hook tragedy.