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|06-23-2003, 10:42 PM||#1|
Join Date: May 2003
Gun Rights for the Gun Shy
Gun Rights for the Gun Shy
Gun Rights for the Gun Shy
VIEW FROM THE RIGHT
By Adam Sparks, Special to SF Gate
"The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government. No free man shall be debarred the use of arms."
I grew up in New York City's rough-and-tumble Spanish Harlem in the 1960s. My highschool English teacher, who was then a gray-haired grandma, doubled as our coach - the rifle team's coach. The range was in the school's basement, where we practiced twice a week.
Our school was in a gritty neighborhood, replete with five-story walk-up tenements - it could have been a set for "West Side Story." When the teen gangs weren't breaking into cars, they were snapping their fingers and harmonizing their "doo-wa-diddie"s on the street corners under the moonlight. It was there that our high school supported a rifle team.
My experience was not all that unique. It was just like that in cities across the country: Even San Francisco had high schools, from Lowell to Lincoln, that had basement firing ranges. That was in the decades before the politically correct gun-a-phobic peaceniks took control over our schools. That was before the self-esteem, whole-language, peace-and-love crowd commandeered our youth and turned their brains into mush.
Ironically, during those days, the nation never had a single school shooting and certainly no such thing as killing your teacher for notoriety or a better grade. Guns were readily available back then; it was a time that even teens could buy them in stores - and with no waiting period. Fast-forward to the gun-a-phobic 21st century: Now - even though there are some 2,000 restrictive state and federal gun laws and our kids all know guns are bad - our nation's violence, both with and without guns, has skyrocketed, with record numbers of shootings at schools.
Nowadays, schools in most cities, particularly liberal cities, have "violence-free zones" (that's kind of like nuclear-free zones), and many, sadly, have metal detectors. School violence, and the nature of the violence, are now so horrific that single school shootings are so commonplace, they're barely newsworthy.
Children are now taught to fear guns as the enemy, rather to respect them. Educators would rather have elementary school boys play with Barbie dolls than enact a pretend shootout at the OK Corral. Showing any signs of testosterone is now punishable as a hate crime. In San Francisco, the school board even went so far as to propose a ban that would have prevented cops - yes, cops - from coming into the schools with guns even when called in to make an arrest.
That would have been San Francisco school policy today if the police hadn't actually threatened not to show up at all. Not many police are foolish enough to come into a violence-prone school without arms, but the local gun-a-phobic politicians are. This must have been a policy driven by a leftover residue of their drug-induced halcyon days, when flowers were still the roughest things of all. Drugs, body piercings, ripped pants hanging lower than your butt and condoms are OK in our schools, but the Pledge of Allegiance, God and rifle ranges? Not OK. Verboten. Connect the dots.
I can understand the knee-jerk reaction of many on the Left to guns. After all, it was on April 20, 1999, that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire on fellow students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. They left 12 classmates and a teacher dead, and 23 more seriously wounded. Harris and Klebold then committed suicide. The Left's predictable reaction: "Guns did it - get rid of 'em."
Politicians are compelled to react and pass even more gun laws. They have to look busy.
However, these new laws may actually be exacerbating the problem. According to University of Chicago researchers John Lott and William Landes, deaths and injuries from mass public shootings fall dramatically after laws upholding the right to carry concealed handguns are enacted. States from Alaska to Florida give concealed-gun permits liberally, and some states, such as Vermont, don't require a permit at all. The researchers' analysis of data from an 18-year period, from 1977 to 1995, shows that the average death rate from mass shootings plummeted by up to 91 percent after such laws went into effect, and injuries dropped by more than 80 percent! Ironically, Colorado was in the midst of considering just such a law at the time of the massacre at Littleton.
"People who engage in mass public shootings are deterred by the possibility that law-abiding citizens may be carrying guns," Lott concluded. "Such people may be deranged, but they still appear to care whether they will themselves be shot as they attempt to kill others."
Think about it. There are far fewer children today who have legal access to, or familiarity with, guns, and yet the violence is out of control. Maybe that conundrum offers a solution. A July 1993 U.S. Department of Justice study, which received scant publicity at the time it was released, found that "boys who own legal firearms ... have much lower rates of delinquency and drug use [than those who obtained them illegally] and are even slightly less delinquent than nonowners of guns." It concluded, "For legal gun owners, socialization appears to take place in the family; for illegal gun owners, it appears to take place 'on the street.'"
The debate over the real meaning of the Second Amendment to the Constitution is a relatively new one. The amendment reads as follows: "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 argument over its interpretation is largely held in the minds of liberals, and the pursuit of this conflict has been an outlet for their angst-ridden gestalt.
To liberals, "gun control" really means "gun confiscation." To a conservative, proper gun control means knowing how and when to gently squeeze the trigger while holding your breath. (That is not totally fair, of course, as many sincere liberals are gun owners, and many understand the true meaning of this amendment, though they are in the minority.)
THE AMERICAN CRISIS II
How bad do most liberals hate guns and gun owners? You know it's serious when Mayor Willie Brown is reduced to saying, "I will accept money from anyone and any group ... except Gun Owners of California." It may come as a surprise to gun-grabbing politicians such as New York's Charles Schumer or California's Barbara Boxer, but 35 states now have concealed-weapons laws mandating that the state "shall issue" a concealed-firearms permit, unless it can show a compelling reason not to -- mental disorder, criminal conviction, and so on. And in all these states, "studies show crime has plummeted. After all, an armed society is a polite society. Israel mandates that each family be armed and, notwithstanding the terrorist violence, has a lower crime rate than any European nation except Switzerland - which, not so coincidentally, also has a similar law mandating gun ownership.
To historians and constitutionalists, the meaning of the Second Amendment is as plain as the nose on your face. Even the courts, from our nation's founding until as recently as some 20 years ago, have been clear. They consistently interpreted the amendment as one that granted individual rights to citizens, much like the other nine amendments, which, with the one in question, have collectively come to be known as the Bill of Rights. And, fortunately, the courts have stated how "Militia," as used in the Second Amendment, should be interpreted.
More than 100 years after the passage of the Bill of Rights, the U.S. Supreme Court proclaimed its decision in PRESSER v. STATE OF ILLINOIS (1886). Justice William B. Woods reaffirmed, "It is undoubtedly true that all citizens capable of bearing arms constitute the reserved military force or reserve militia of the United States, as well as that of the states; and in view of this prerogative of the general government as well as of its general powers, the states cannot, even laying the constitutional provisions in question out of view, prohibit the people from keeping and bearing arms, so as to deprive the United States of their rightful resource for maintaining the public security, and disable the people from performing their duty to the general government."
More recently, in the last century, the court's decisions continued with this interpretation in U.S. vs. Miller (1939). The majority opinion echoed the earlier conclusion, saying, "The signification attributed to the term Militia appears from the debates in the Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These show plainly enough that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense."
The amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights granted rights to citizens, individual citizens, to protect them against a new, worrisome and meddling power, the federal government. No states had gun-control laws when the Constitution was passed. Gun-grabbing liberals and their revisionist allies in black robes who sit on many of the courts have now mangled the Second Amendment. They see the need for prohibitions of and restrictions to guns, when the Founding Fathers did not. Some courts today believe the Bill of Rights offered protection not to individuals, but to the states themselves.
Anyone who has ever understood the history of the birth of our nation and has made a unbiased attempt at understanding the intent of the framers of our Constitution will not have to go far to decipher the meaning of the text. America was a rural nation, and every family had a gun for hunting, recreation and the protection of family and country.
It's quite clear that the intent of the Founders were to both respect and protect the rights of Americans to bear arms. The only ones currently confused as to the meaning of the 2nd Amendement are those wacky liberals sitting on the Federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. They ruled last week that citizens have no particular rights under the 2nd Amendment. This is in direct conflict with the previous Supreme Court decisions. But hey, what do you expect from the most overruled circuit court in the nation?
NOTE: Additional commentary on Silveira v. Lockyer by Carl F. Worden
The Founding Fathers would never have undermined the farmer/hunter/warrior's right to own a gun. As Samuel Adams wrote in 1789, "And that the said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the Press, or the rights of Conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms."
One year earlier, George Mason had written, "I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials. To disarm the people [is] the best and most effectual way to enslave them."
Most people know about Patrick Henry's 1775 > speech, but few are aware of the riveting introduction, which included, "They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house?"
No, Patrick, we shall never be stronger if the gun-grabbing Democrats control the nation, led by the likes of Boxer, Hillary Clinton and Dianne Feinstein. Then, everyone will be disarmed. Everyone, except of course, the tyrants themselves.
Adam Sparks is a San Francisco conservative writer
The Second Amendment IS Homeland Security !