Skip to comments.Pro-Gun Advocates Say Gun Control Group Proves Their Point
Posted on 09/02/2003 3:08:49 AM PDT by kattracks
Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - A Second Amendment rights group said Thursday that information publicized by a gun control group proves the pro-gun argument that regulating the behavior of law-abiding citizens does little or nothing to prevent crimes committed by outlaws using firearms.
Americans for Gun Safety (AGS), a pro-gun control group that promotes itself as the voice of moderation in the Second Amendment debate, issued several press releases in mid-August decrying the "Nation's Leading Gun Trafficking States" and listing the 10 worst offenders.
"Illegal gun traffickers have figured out that the feds simply don't enforce the gun laws on the books," said AGS Policy and Research Director Jim Kessler in one such press release. "When you combine shoddy federal enforcement and lax firearms laws, it makes Mississippi a gun runner's paradise."
Mississippi ranked at the top of the list, per capita, as the source of guns used by criminals in other states, but only sixth on the overall list. According to AGS, of the 109,870 crime guns traced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in 2001, 36,828 (33.5 percent) were originally purchased in one state and used in crimes in another.
In 2001, the top 10 states from which criminals obtained guns they then used in other states were:
- Virginia - 2,489;
- Georgia - 2,428;
- California - 2,228;
- Florida - 2,048;
- Texas - 1,851;
- Mississippi - 1,772;
- Ohio - 1,697;
- Indiana - 1,684;
- North Carolina - 1,454; and
- Alabama - 1,301.
AGS complained that lax law enforcement is partially to blame for the number of guns originating from one state and being used by criminals in another.
"The federal government has done a fairly poor job of enforcing the gun laws generally, and particularly the guns laws that are relevant to gun trafficking," said Matt Bennett, AGS communications director.
But some federal prosecutors immediately criticized the report for not including prosecutions of gun traffickers and criminals illegally in possession of guns for crimes other than those relating to the firearms, which yielded longer sentences for the perpetrators.
"There's a thousand things you can criticize us for," Tim Morrison, assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, told the Associated Press after the report's release. "But I'd like to have accurate data."
The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), a pro-gun group that advocates the Second Amendment's protection of a citizen's right to own and carry firearms, also commented on the AGS report.
Joe Waldron, CCRKBA executive director, noted that at least three of the states on the AGS list have restrictive gun laws identical to those promoted by anti-gun groups as legislative remedies to keep criminals from getting guns.
"The solutions that they offer today and in the past are, in fact, the law in some of these states," Waldron told CNSNews.com. "Yet it doesn't appear to have had any impact on stopping the gun trafficking."
Waldron noted that many anti-Second Amendment groups have promoted so-called "one gun a month" legislation as the most effective tool to keep traffickers from buying guns in states with less restrictive gun laws and then transporting them to states that practice virtual gun prohibition.
"Virginia has had this law on the books since 1996, yet it doesn't appear to have stopped the gun traffickers at all," Waldron noted.
AGS also cited the failure of states to prohibit unregistered sales between private citizens at gun shows, the so-called "gun show loophole," as another fault leading to gun trafficking.
"Most of the states on the list, save I believe California - there may be one other - have not closed the 'gun show loophole,'" Bennett said. "At least in our view, a lot of guns being trafficked that end up being used in crime may have come from traffickers purchasing them at gun shows."
But Bennett acknowledged that criminals, and by extension the traffickers who supply them, would not necessarily want to share the company of either the small number of on-duty law enforcement officers present at gun shows to provide security or the usually large contingent of off-duty law enforcement officers who attend the shows, legally armed, as firearms enthusiasts.
"California, right there near the top of the list of their top 10, already has the 'gun show loophole' closed," Waldron explained. "In fact, they have closed the 'gun show loophole,' and they have closed the 'private sale loophole.'"
No citizen of the State of California may sell a firearm to another citizen of the state without both the seller and the purchaser going to a federally licensed gun dealer and undergoing a Brady Instant Background Check, which creates a de facto registry of the gun purchase.
"There is no gun 'loophole' of any kind in California, and yet it appears that California still is at or near the top of this gun trafficking list," Waldron noted.
Bennett argued that California would not be on the top 10 list if it were based on per-capita data, but Waldron said that misses the point, which is that the state with the laws gun control groups seek most is one of the top states supplying guns to criminals.
"The bottom line here is that the solutions they are offering have, in fact, been tried in other states. They're not solutions," Waldron concluded. "The solution is to focus on the people who are misusing the guns, not to pass more and more restrictive gun laws that apply to the general population.
"Ninety-nine percent of the gun owners out there are never involved in criminal activity," Waldron added. "Why waste finite resources on those people when we should be focusing on the criminals?"
E-mail a news tip to Jeff Johnson.
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Why don't we ever see a statistic like "what % of crime involving guns is perpetrated by the lawful owner of the gun?"
Because they don't have room on the page for all of those zeroes that it would take between the decimal point and the first significant digit indicating the fraction of a percent.
Totally useless, incomplete statistic. Why don't they include a figure citing how many of these firearms were originally SOTLEN from their rightful owners?
If they believe in control, they should use that word.
They figured out that the word "control" wasn't selling, so they chose a term that would sell to the sucker moms. After all, who could be opposed to gun "safety"? Just more Cintonesque word semantics, preying on peoples' emotions by renaming some vile idea in order to keep pursuing the same vile agenda.
| The modern debate over the wording of the Second Amendment could be quickly resolved if the Amendment was read through the preamble to the Bill of Rights. A preamble to the Bill of Rights? What are you talking about? You mean the preamble to the Constitution don't you? No Senators Kennedy, Feinstein, Schumer, Lautenberg and your fellow gun-grabbing buddies, we mean the preamble to the Bill of Rights. Next to Hillary Clinton's billing records from the Rose Law Firm, this little known text might be the most closely guarded secret in American History.
Following the Federal Convention of 1787 and the subsequent ratification of the Constitution, the several States began submitting amendments to Congress for consideration. By September of 1789 Congress had reduced 210 separate amendments to 12. The amendments were inserted into a congressional resolution and submitted to the several States for consideration. Of these, numbers 2-12 were adopted and became the so-called Bill of Rights.
A little known fact about this resolution is that it contained a preamble declaring the purpose of the proposed amendments. Most modern editions of the Bill of Rights either do not contain the preamble or only include the last paragraph. The complete preamble, which is still part of the Bill of Rights, is printed below as it appeared in the 1789 resolution:
Congress of the United States,
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.t
ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.
As stated in the preamble, the only purpose of the proposed amendments was to prevent the federal government from "misconstruing or abusing its powers." To accomplish this, "further declaratory and restrictive clauses" were being proposed. The amendments, when adopted, placed additional restraints or limitations on the powers of the federal government. Thus, every clause of the Bill of Rights, without exception, is either a declaratory statement or a restrictive provision.
A declaratory clause, pursuant to English language dictionaries, is a simple statement or assertion. A restrictive clause is a statement that restricts or limits. If the Second Amendment is read through the preamble, it reads as follows:
Article II. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, (declaratory clause) the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. (restrictive clause)
The first part of the Amendment is declaratory, not restrictive, because it is merely an assertion or statement that a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free State. It does not grant the States or the people any rights. It also does not restrict the federal government from exercising any power. Thus, the first part of the Amendment has no effect on the right to keep and bear arms, "collective [State] or individual."
The second clause, like the first, does not grant the States or the people any rights. Therefore, any assertion that the Second Amendment grants rights, "collective or individual," is constitutionally inaccurate. In addition, since the Amendment did not create any rights, then the right enumerated, whether it be collective or individual, had to be an existing right.
This leaves us with only one option concerning the second part of the Amendment. It is restrictive, not declaratory, because it specifically places a restraint on the exercise of power by the federal government.
Those groups and individuals opposed to the private ownership of firearms claim this restraint pertains to the State militias. According to the Brady Campaign, the Second Amendment was adopted "to prevent the federal government from disarming the State militias."
The U.S. Constitution established a permanent professional army, controlled by the federal government. With the memory of King George III's troops fresh in their minds, many of the "anti-federalists" feared a standing army as an instrument of oppression. State militias were viewed as a counterbalance to the federal army and the Second Amendment was written to prevent the federal government from disarming the state militias.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence claims the Amendment was adopted to "ensure the right of the states to maintain their own militias."
The Second Amendment was adopted to ensure the right of states to maintain their own militia to protect themselves against foreign and federal encroachment.
The Second Amendment, as shown by the preamble, does not place any restraint on the powers federal government concerning the States or their militias. Consequently, any assertion the Second Amendment restricts the powers of the federal government concerning the State militias is patently false.
There is another way to use the preamble to prove this fact. In a sentence, a non-restrictive clause gives information that is not essential to the meaning of a sentence. This information can be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence. A restrictive clause gives information that is critical to the meaning of a sentence and cannot be removed without changing the meaning of a sentence. If the Second Amendment is read through this sentence structure, the declaratory clause in the first part of the Amendment is the non-restrictive clause because it does not restrain the exercise of power. Thus, the Amendment reads as follows:
Article II. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, (non-restrictive clause) the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. (restrictive clause)
This sentence structure triggers a question. Is the existence of a State militia essential to a people's right to keep and bear arms? The answer is no because people can have a right to keep and bear arms without the existence of a State militia. In the alternative, since the word militia, as used in the Second Amendment refers to an armed citizenry, not a State organized army, you cannot have a State militia unless that same people has the right to keep and bear arms. From a constitutional standpoint, State militias exist because the individual citizens who make-up those militias have the right to keep and bear arms. Thus, the individual right to keep and bear arms is essential to the existence of a State militia--not visa versa.
Since the phrase--"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State," is the non-restrictive or non-essential part of the Amendment, then, as stated above, it can be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence. In addition, this phrase is an incomplete thought and cannot stand alone as a sentence. Thus, it needs addition information to give it meaning.
Conversely, the phrase--"the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed," is the restrictive or essential part of the Amendment. It cannot be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence. This phrase is a complete thought and can stand alone as a sentence because it does not need additional information to give it meaning.
If the non-restrictive part is removed and the Amendment is read in a manner that allows the verbiage to stand alone as a complete thought, then the Second Amendment can be reduced to the following sentence:
[T]he right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
Those groups and individuals who advance the militia interpretation of the Second Amendment have failed to grasp the significance of this verbiage. If the purpose of the Second Amendment was to prevent the federal government from disarming the State militias as organizations like the Brady Campaign claim, then this sentence structure accomplishes that goal. By denying the federal government the power to infringe the existing right of the people right to keep and bear arms, the State militias could never be constitutionally disarmed because the people of the individual States are the militia referenced in the Amendment. Thus, the States would retain the so-called right to maintain armed militias. Irrespective of how organizations like the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence attempt to twist the sentence structure of the Second Amendment, it is the right of individual citizens to keep and bear arms that ensures the existence of the State militias contemplated by the Founders.
In conclusion, the preamble to the Bill of Rights shows that the purpose of the Amendments was to prevent the federal government from abusing its delegated powers. To accomplish this, further declaratory and restrictive clauses were being added to restrain the exercise of power by the federal government. Thus, the preamble negates any assertion that the purpose of the Second Amendment was to grant the States the right to maintain armed militias. It also negates the claim that the Amendment granted the people an individual right to keep and bear arms. The sole purpose of the Second Amendment was to place an enumerated restraint on the powers of the federal government concerning the existing right of the people to keep and bear arms.
Robert Greenslade focuses his writing on issues surrounding the federal government and the Constitution. He believes politicians at the federal level, through ignorance or design, are systematically dismantling the Constitution in an effort to expand their power and consolidate control over the American people. He has dedicated himself to resurrecting the true intent of the Constitution in the hope that the information will contribute, in some small way, to restoring the system of limited government established by the Constitution.
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