Skip to comments.NRA-ILA Firearm Facts 2003
Posted on 01/14/2003 4:26:25 PM PST by sergiod
The right to keep and bear arms is derived from and inseparably linked to the right of self-defense. Thus, by nature it is an individually possessed right, as are all rights protected in our Constitution.
The Founding Fathers, the Framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and those whom the Supreme Court (U.S. v. Miller, 1939) referred to as "approved commentators" could not have been more clear about the nature of the right and the purpose of the Second Amendment.
Thomas Jefferson said, "No free man shall be debarred the use of arms." Patrick Henry said, "The great object is, that every man be armed." Richard Henry Lee wrote, "To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms." Thomas Paine noted, "(A)rms . . . discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property."
Prominent Federalist Tench Coxe asked, "Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves?. . . Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American. . . . (T)he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people."
In introducing the Bill of Rights in the House of Representatives, James Madison noted that the amendments "relate first to private rights." Sen. William Grayson observed that they "altogether respected personal liberty." Tench Coxe wrote, "(T)he people are confirmed by the next article (of amendment) in their right to keep and bear their private arms."
Constitutional scholars have noted that there is no historical basis for the claim that the Second Amendment protects a so-called "collective right" of the states. Stephen P. Halbrook writes, "If anyone entertained this notion in the period during which the Constitution and Bill of Rights were debated and ratified, it remains one of the most closely guarded secrets of the eighteenth century, for no known writing surviving from the period between 1787 and 1791 states such a thesis." (That Every Man Be Armed, Univ. of N.M. Press, 1984)
Historian Joyce Lee Malcolm, testifying before Congress in 1995, told Rep. John Conyers, "It is very hard, sir, to find a historian who now believes it is only a 'collective right.' . . (T)here is a general consensus that in fact it is an individual right."
The Supreme Court recognized that the right to arms is an individual right in U.S. v. Cruikshank (1876), Presser v. Illinois (1886), Miller v. Texas (1894), U.S. v. Miller (1939) and U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez (1990). In U.S. v. Cruikshank, the Court also recognized that the right preexisted the Constitution.
In U.S. v. Emerson, on Oct. 16, 2001, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, subject only to "limited, narrowly tailored specific exceptions" that "are not inconsistent with the right of Americans generally to individually keep and bear their private arms as historically understood in this country. . . . All of the evidence indicates that the Second Amendment, like other parts of the Bill of Rights, applies to and protects individual Americans." Other federal court decisions have been divided on whether the right is individual or "collective."
The National Guard, established in 1903, is not the militia referred to in the Second Amendment. For more than 400 years, the term "well regulated militia" has meant the people, with privately owned weapons, led by officers chosen by themselves. Tench Coxe said that the militia "are in fact the effective part of the people at large." Richard Henry Lee said that the militia "are in fact the people themselves." George Mason said that the militia consist "of the whole people."
The Guard is subject to absolute federal control (Perpich v. Dept. of Defense, 1990) and thus is not the "well regulated militia" referred to in the Second Amendment. "The Militia of the United States" is defined under federal law to include all able-bodied males of age and some other males and females (10 U.S.C., Sec. 311; 32 U.S.C., sec. 313), with the Guard established as only its "organized" element.
Survey research during the early 1990s by criminologist Gary Kleck found as many as 2.5 million protective uses of firearms each year in the U.S. "(T)he best available evidence indicates that guns were used about three to five times as often for defensive purposes as for criminal purposes," Kleck writes. Analyzing National Crime Victimization Survey data, he found "robbery and assault victims who used a gun to resist were less likely to be attacked or to suffer an injury than those who used any other methods of self-protection or those who did not resist at all." (Targeting Guns, Aldine de Gruyter, 1997)
Most protective firearm uses do not involve discharge of a firearm. In only 1% of protective uses are criminals wounded and in only 0.1% are criminals killed.
A Dept. of Justice survey found that 40% of felons chose not to commit at least some crimes for fear their victims were armed, and 34% admitted having been scared off or shot at by armed victims. (James D. Wright and Peter H. Rossi, Armed and Considered Dangerous, Aldine de Gruyter, 1986)
Thirty-two states now have Right-to-Carry (RTC) laws providing for law-abiding citizens to carry firearms for protection against criminals. Twenty-two states have adopted RTC laws in the last 15 years. Half of Americans, including 60% of handgun owners, live in RTC states.
Professor John R. Lott, Jr., and David B. Mustard, in the most comprehensive study to date of RTC laws' effectiveness concluded, "When state concealed-handgun laws went into effect in a county, murders fell about 8 percent, rapes fell by 5 percent, and aggravated assaults fell by 7 percent. . . . Will allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns save lives? The answer is yes, it will." (Lott, More Guns, Less Crime, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1998)
RTC states have lower violent crime rates on average: 24% lower total violent crime, 22% lower murder, 37% lower robbery, and 20% lower aggravated assault. The five states with the lowest violent crime rates are RTC states. (FBI) People who carry legally are by far more law-abiding than the rest of the public. In Florida, for example, only a fraction of 1% of carry licenses have been revoked because of gun-related crimes committed by license holders. (Florida Dept. of State)
Because focus group research has shown that the public reacts unfavorably to the term "gun control," the anti-gun lobby has begun calling its legislative proposals by the euphemistic term "gun safety." (Handgun Control, Inc., now calls itself the "Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence.")
True gun safety depends on education and personal responsibility, not government regulation. NRA's 39,000 Certified Instructors and Coaches reach 700,000 Americans each year. NRA's award-winning Eddie Eagle® GunSafe Program has been used by more than 22,000 schools, law enforcement agencies and civic groups to reach more than 16 million children since 1988. Accidental deaths with firearms have been decreasing for decades and are now at an all-time annual low among the U.S. population on the whole and among children in particular. Since 1930, the annual number of such accidents has decreased 74%, while the U.S. population has more than doubled and the number of privately owned guns has quintupled. Among children, fatal firearm accidents have decreased 84% since 1975. (National Center for Health Statistics and National Safety Council)
The per capita rate of accidental deaths with firearms is also at an all-time low, having decreased 91% since the all-time high in 1904. Firearm accidents account for 0.8% of accidental deaths and 0.03% of all deaths in the U.S. Among children, firearm accidents account for 1.5% of accidental deaths and 0.2% of all deaths. Most accidental deaths involve motor vehicles or are due to drowning, falls, fires, poisoning, medical mistakes, choking on ingested objects and environmental factors.
The federal Gun Control Act was imposed in 1968, yet violent crime increased until 1991. Washington, D.C., banned handguns in 1976 and by 1991 its homicide rate had tripled, while the U.S. rate had risen 12%. Chicago, the only other city to ban handguns, has more murders than any city. Despite having some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, Maryland's robbery rate remains the highest among the states, and Baltimore's murder rate has nearly overtaken D.C.'s.
States that delay firearm sales with waiting periods, licensing and purchase permits have historically had higher crime rates. For many years after California imposed a 15-day waiting period on firearm sales in 1975 (reduced to 10 days in 1997), its violent crime rate was 50% higher each year, on average, compared to the rest of the country. States that prohibit or severely restrict the right to carry have higher crime rates, on average.
A Library of Congress study concluded, "it is difficult to find a correlation between the existence of strict firearms regulations and a lower incidence of gun-related crimes." (Report for Congress: Firearms Regulations in Various Foreign Countries, May 1998)
A study for the Department of Justice concluded, "(A)dvocates of stricter weapons regulations sometimes assert that the United States is virtually the only advanced civilized nation in the world that exercises no controls over the civilian ownership, possession, or use of firearms. In fact, there are about 20,000 firearms laws of one sort or another already on the books." (James D. Wright, Peter H. Rossi and Kathleen Daly, Under the Gun, Aldine de Gruyter, 1983)
There are more guns, gun owners, RTC states and carry permit holders than ever before. And the nation's violent crime rate is at a 23-year low. The violent crime rate has decreased every year since 1991. Most criminologists, sociologists and law enforcement professionals, including the FBI, attribute the decrease to factors unrelated to restrictions on firearms, such as increased imprisonment rates, mandatory sentencing requirements, the hiring of additional police officers, "community policing," improved policing methods and equipment, the aging of gang populations, the decline in the crack cocaine trade, and the improved economy during the 1990s. Notably, less than one-fourth of violent crimes are committed with firearms. (FBI)
"Gun control" advocates instead credit the federal Brady Act and "assault weapon" law. However, both laws were imposed in 1994, three years after violent crime began declining, and independent studies have found no evidence that either has affected crime levels. (The Urban Institute, cited above, and Ludwig and Cook, "Homicide and Suicide Rates Associated with Implementation of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act," Journal of the American Medical Association, 8/2/00)
"Gun control" advocates allege that federal restrictions on firearms have reduced crime by reducing gun sales -- an extension of their slogan, "more guns means more crime." To the contrary, privately owned firearms increased in the U.S. by an average of 5.3 million per year during the 1990s. (BATF)
Rather than imposing additional laws that restrict the rights of law-abiding people, existing laws should be strictly enforced against violent armed criminals. "Project Exile," launched in 1997 by U.S. Attorneys working with state and local law enforcement authorities in Richmond, Va., cracks down on illegal possession of firearms by felons. In a year, the city's homicides were cut 41% from their 1994 high. Crimes committed with firearms decreased 65%. In the first three years of the program, several hundred felons were returned to prison with sentences averaging 56 months. Six states--Virginia, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana and Colorado--have instituted similar programs, as have several major cities, including New Orleans, Birmingham, Philadelphia, Oakland, Rochester and Buffalo.
Eighty-five percent of Americans believe people have the right to use firearms to defend themselves in their homes, 64% favor allowing law-abiding citizens to carry firearms for protection outside their homes, and 72% prefer stiffer sentences for criminals who use guns in crime, rather than more gun laws. (Lawrence Research, National Survey of Registered Voters, 1998)
Anyone who sells firearms in any way that might even remotely be construed as "making a business of it" is already required to either have a dealer's license or conduct the sale through a licensed dealer.
The reason most people selling stuff at gun shows don't have dealer's licenses is that most people selling stuff at gun shows aren't selling guns. They're selling camping equipment, clothing, foodstuffs, optics, knives, books, magazines, cleaning supplies and equipment, protective gear (goggles, etc.), flashlights, radios, or other such items.
Those folks come into a state and cut all sorts of backroom deals with the gungrabbing crowd and then go out and claim "we wuz robbed"!
Don't fall for it. It is your money AND your State.
If they can't put up, tell them to shut up and go away.
I had to watch (by law) a stupid 15 minute video on "handgun gun saftey" how the state of Maryland can throw you in jail for using it in self defense before purchasing a handgun last weekend. Now I have to wait 10 days before I can pick it up. The big thing in Maryland is to buy your gun NOW before they are out of guns manufactured before Jan 1, 2003. Guns agfter that have to have built in saftey standards met, etc.