Beginning in 1994, the United States experienced a steady decline in firearm violence – until 2009, that is. A year earlier the U.S. Supreme Court perpetrated the greatest fraud in history when it essentially overruled the First Congress of the United States to bail the gun industry out of a 14-year slump. An erroneous self-defense argument created by the 2008 Court, falsely credited to the Founding Fathers, led to a flood of military grade weapons in the U.S., used ever since to massacre civilians. And American gun owners have been duped into believing owning firearms makes them safer. Expect massacres of police and civilians to continue until the Supreme Court’s horrendous 2008 blunder is reversed.
“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 Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is made up of just 27 words, but my-oh-my have those 27 words been dangerously misinterpreted in the 21st century.
The ever-growing number of mass shootings – Baton Rouge, Orlando, Connecticut, San Bernardino, Charleston, Dallas – are all a tragic, direct result of an erroneous Supreme Court Decision on gun ownership rights eight years ago – and the U.S. must act now to reverse this life-destroying epidemic of gun violence, one that shows no signs of slowing.
These massacres we’re seeing today are a direct fall-out of District of Columbia v. Heller, a landmark case that made its way to the Supreme Court in 2008. It stemmed from a complaint by Dick Anthony Heller, a licensed special police officer for the District of Columbia. Heller was allowed to carry a gun in federal office buildings as part of his job, but due to D.C.’s longstanding firearm ban he wasn’t allowed to have one in his home. He applied for a personal handgun permit but was denied. Heller argued that he needed a gun for protection because he lived near a Washington D.C. public housing complex that had transformed the neighborhood “from a child-friendly welfare complex to a drug haven.”
It was the first Supreme Court case to decide whether the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. The Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that the Second Amendment essentially provides for an individual’s right to possess a firearm for self-protection.
But even more importantly, the court inexplicably decided that the wording in the Second Amendment doesn’t mean what it explicitly states.
In fact, the 2008 Supreme Court hijacked the original meaning of the Second Amendment and, as a result of the increasing number of mass shootings that have resulted due to this decision, it’s now incumbent on Congress or the Court itself to restore it to the intended purpose of the Constitution’s framers.
Former Justice Antonin Scalia made the argument that the operative clause of the Second Amendment (“…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”) controls its meaning, while claiming the first part of the amendment (“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state…”) is simply an introduction of sorts to the true point of the amendment.
“The people,” Scalia determined, is an all-encompassing notion and not restricted to the members of a militia subset. The ruling presumed the reason why “the people” have arms bearing rights is the same as the reason why a subset of “the people,” i.e. the militia (replaced by present day law enforcement) has arms bearing rights.
Of course, U.S. citizens have always had the right to bear arms for self defense (and for hunting, etc.) as determined by the laws of each individual state. The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution allows states to make those determinations. (More on this in a minute.) But those state laws were jeopardized by the 2008 Court Decision. Now, whatever gun laws Nebraska or Idaho or Georgia or any of the other 47 states may have had on their books can be overruled.
Before the 2008 ruling, the feds only had jurisdiction over the types of guns militias (which morphed into modern day law and order entities) could use for common defense. And by “common defense,” the preamble of the constitution makes it clear that that means the American government will protect every state and every citizen in the nation.
But now, the federal government, per the Court decision, also gets to decide how each and every American can arm him or herself for self-defense. And per the ruling, pretty much anything goes. Almost any gun that might have once been limited for common defense can now be used by every Tom, Dick, and Mary for self-defense.
As a result, weapons being bought and sold today under the frequently mistaken pretense of self-defense are instead being used to indiscriminately slay Americans for whatever cause is just – at least in the minds of the shooters.
THE FOUNDING PRINCIPLE BEHIND THE SECOND AMENDMENT IS COMMON DEFENSE, NOT SELF-DEFENSE
Largely unaddressed in the 154 pages comprising both the Court’s 2008 opinion and its dissents was how the American Revolution shaped the wording and meaning of the Second Amendment.
In order to better understand why the Court made such a grievous error, we need to go back in time, to first understand the origins of the Second Amendment and then examine how it guided gun use throughout American history.
Our forefathers created the Second Amendment to allow members of a “well regulated Militia” to bear arms for common defense. And by well-regulated militia, they meant a military force formed from a population of civilians in order to supplement a regular army in an emergency.
Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution says the purpose of these militias is “to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.”
In 1792, Congress further clarified the Second Amendment by passing an act that established a “uniform” militia for the country. It read, in part:
“Each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years…shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia…provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch with a box therein to contain not less than twenty-four cartridges…and shall appear, so armed, accoutered and provided, when called out to exercise, or into service…”
Survival of the nation and states was wholly dependent on the founders’ limiting arms bearing rights in the Second Amendment solely to common defense. Self-defense, if the matter was debated at all, took a back seat to the notion that the nation’s security had to be provided through a plan for organized militias to bind together to protect communities and states from internal and external threats. The brilliance of the plan, to secure the blessings of liberty and freedom achieved in the American Revolution, was spelled out in the Second Amendment.
Providing a right to bear arms to individual members of the expanding population – approximating 3.9 million in 1790 – in the Second Amendment would have compromised the security of a free country. Included in that total were 500,000 former British loyalists/sympathizers, 600,000 non-free slaves, numerous indentured servants, and convicts shipped from England to serve time in the colonies. Domestic tranquility could not have been preserved by granting arms bearing rights to each and every person.
The term “well regulated Militia” should have prevented a future Supreme Court from extending a fundamental right of a domestic security force, formed from a subset of citizens, to all citizens. But the 2008 Court Decision overruled the Founding Fathers, using a presumption that the security of the “free State” would be provided by granting non-militia members the same arming rights as members of a militia.
THE COURT CONFUSES COLONIAL BRITISH LAW WITH OUR FOUNDING FATHERS’ INTENTIONS
The 2008 opinion includes this nugget: “The conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty.”
But this finding of the Court was only true prior to the American Revolution. It was wrongly based on British governance of the colonies, rather than American governance of the states. Under the 1689 English Bill of Rights, colonial subjects (before our country was our country) had arms bearing rights whether they served in British-controlled militias or not. This backfired on the British when, at the time of the Declaration of Independence, colonists used those same arms to turn on their rulers in the Revolution from 1775 to 1783.
Under the Constitution, colonial citizens in sovereign states retained arms bearing rights. After the Constitution was ratified in 1791, security of the free state resided in members of state militias. The Second Amendment provided members of the militias the right to bear arms. It’s as simple as that.
Yet the Supreme Court in 2008 decided to reinterpret these historical facts. And instead of confirming that arms bearing rights in the Second Amendment are limited to a subset of the people comprising militias for common defense, they re-set the clock and decided instead that the Second Amendment referred to individual defense rights, as set forth in the 1689 English Bill of Rights.
THE 2008 COURT DECISION TAKES AWAY STATES’ TENTH AMENDMENT POWER TO REGULATE CITIZENS’ RIGHTS TO POSSESS GUNS FOR SELF-DEFENSE
By 1789, all 13 original states had constitutions. Pennsylvania specifically included the former English common-law-right of citizens to bear arms to defend themselves. Citizens in the remaining twelve states had “default” arms bearing rights carried over from the 1689 English Bill of Rights. By 2008, a total of 45 states included the right to bear arms for individual defense in their respective constitutions.
Yet why, one might ask, were the states allowed to regulate arms for individual self-defense if the Second Amendment was established to only allow guns for the common defense of the nation? The answer can be found in Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
It expresses the principle that the federal government possesses only those powers delegated to it by the Constitution. All remaining powers are reserved for the states or the people – one of the checks and balances our Founding Fathers wanted to instill.
Therefore, the Second Amendment governs arms for the purpose of defending the nation; the Tenth Amendment gives regulation power over all other gun use, gun-related laws, guns allowable for use, etc. to the states. Conversely, states also impose limitations tied to evolving federal criteria such as mental illness, sensitive places, felons, and more.
Through the years, the different states have put different restrictions on the use and sale and type of guns allowable. There were limitations put on the general population that didn’t apply to militias, or law enforcement. The 2008 decision, however, essentially transferred regulatory power over all guns in the U.S. from the states to the federal government.
Deciding that the Second Amendment applies to all people, not just the people in governmental organizations that have been put into place to defend and protect the country, the Court’s ruling opened the floodgates for anyone and everyone to purchase pretty much any kind of gun they wanted. Guns that had been limited for militia use (law enforcement use) under the previous interpretation of the Second Amendment were now legally available for your next-door neighbors to stockpile as well.
District of Columbia v. Heller essentially ripped apart the checks and balances component between the states and the feds, a system the Tenth Amendment was designed to protect.
As a result, we’ve seen cases like the Supreme Court’s March 2016 ruling that wiped out a Massachusetts ban on stun guns by all but police officers. The state’s supreme court had upheld a woman’s conviction for illegally possessing a stun gun, ruling that Tasers weren’t the kind of weapon the Founding Fathers meant the Second Amendment to cover. Before the Supreme Court, the woman’s attorneys successfully argued that the ban violated her Second Amendment right to carry a weapon for self-defense.
Referring to its landmark 2008 ruling, the justices said the Second Amendment applies “to all instruments that constitute bearable arms,” even those not in existence at the time the country was founded.
To the contrary, however, in June 2016 the Supreme Court left standing Connecticut’s ban on assault weapons. The same held true in a December 2015 decision upholding an assault weapons ban in Highland Park, Ill. The decision simply means the Court put off the ruling to some future date.
The historic complementary roles of the Second and Tenth Amendments are often misunderstood. The majority ruling of the Supreme Court in 2008 and follow-on contradictory rulings are prime and troubling examples of that misunderstanding.
THE SECOND AMENDMENT INTERPRETATION EVOLVES, GUN LAWS CHANGE, AND GUN DEATHS INCREASE
Contrary to modern day popular belief, legend and myth, the Second Amendment had little impact on gun ownership until the Civil War. Official surveys of private gun ownership throughout the first half of the 19th century indicate that at no time prior to 1850 did more than one-tenth of Americans own guns.
In Massachusetts, for example, no more than 11% of the population owned guns in 1840 – and Massachusetts was one of two centers of major U.S. gun production at the time. In fact, at the start of the war of 1812, the state actually had more spears than firearms in its arsenal.
As for the condition of its militias, the adjutant general of Massachusetts complained in 1834 that only “town paupers, idlers, vagrants, foreigners, itinerants, drunkards and the outcasts of society” manned his militias. Yet by 1839, just half the militia companies in Massachusetts had even bothered to follow through with the federal government’s 1808 offer to obtain guns free of charge. According to research by Michael Bellesiles, a professor of history at Emory University, by 1840 most states had given up on their militias.
Another reason for the scarcity of guns in the early 1800s: gunpowder and firing mechanisms had to be imported, so a gun cost about one year’s income for an average farmer. And guns were hard to maintain because muskets were made mostly of iron, which rusted easily and needed constant upkeep.
During the Civil War (1861-65), recruits who formed standing armies of the North and South replaced the disbanded state militias for good. The standing army members brought with them the guns they’d legally possessed for self-protection, as allowed by most state laws. Those weapons for self-defense were now used for common defense in the war, with enormously deadly and historic consequences. At the same time, weapons production soared. The armory in Massachusetts produced more than 600,000 rifles in 1864 alone, nearly as many as in the entirety of its 70-year history.
At its peak, the Union army included around 1.5 million enlisted men and the Confederate army another 1 million. These were easily the largest military forces ever assembled in the U.S. Most importantly, the new weapons these soldiers were supplied with were also left in their hands at the end of the war. They took them home, thus transforming the U.S. from a country with a few hundred thousand guns to one with several millions.
Adding to the gun fervor was the advent of hunting in the mid-1800s, when the growing American middle class started copying the activities of British aristocrats. Magazines began lauding the workings of guns – though one such publication, in 1843, also contained the caveat that guns made men “fierce in spirit, boastful and revengeful.” Around this time, Samuel Colt launched effective advertising campaigns convincing urban Americans to purchase guns. One such ad showed a heroic figure wearing nothing but a revolver as he defended his wife and kids.
In 1872, the National Rifle Association (NRA) was founded. It was closely associated with the armed forces until World War II and originally saw itself as a rifle club for Army sharpshooters; it had little to do with shaping gun policy.
THE GUN CONTROL MOVEMENT BEGINS
A movement to ban handguns began in the 1920s in the Northeast, led by the conservative business establishment. Concerns about organized labor, increasing numbers of immigrants, and race riots led some states to enact licensing systems or short waiting periods for handgun purchase. These actions were allowable, given the Tenth Amendment.
The Prohibition era spurred an increase in gun murders by gangsters until it was repealed in 1933. Soon after, the National Firearms Act was passed and taxes were levied on “gangster weapons,” including machine guns, short barreled rifles and shotguns, and federal registration was mandatory; originally, the Act was to include handguns too, but the NRA mobilized and handguns were removed from the bill before it became law.
Until then, gun control was almost exclusively a Southern phenomenon where the concern was keeping guns out of the hands of slaves or freed blacks.
In United States v. Miller (1939), the Supreme Court ruled that both the federal government and the states could limit any weapon types not having a “reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.”
Yet by the start of the 20th century, the only viable and legitimate militias in the U.S. were, and continue to be, the National Guard and the Air National Guard. The duties of the militias had otherwise all been transferred to law enforcement agencies: police departments, sheriffs’ departments, state patrols, and more.
When the 1960s began, violent crime rates were at historic lows. But by mid-decade, gun violence began to increase rapidly, in connection with race riots and Vietnam War protests. Gun sales then soared as home and business owners braced to protect themselves from civil disorder.
And then, on Aug. 1, 1966, an ex-Marine and agricultural student at the University of Texas in Austin climbed to the top of a campus tower and began shooting, using a high-powered hunting rifle. He murdered 14 and wounded 32 before police killed him, the fourth largest American mass murder in the 20th century.
In the aftermath of the Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations, the Gun Control Act of 1968 was enacted. This law regulated gun commerce, restricting mail order sales, and allowing shipments only to licensed firearm dealers. It also prohibited sale of firearms to felons, those under indictment, illegal aliens, fugitives, drug users, those dishonorably discharged from the military and those in mental institutions.
The Act also restricted importation of so-called “Saturday Night Specials,” a colloquial term for compact, inexpensive small-caliber and low-quality handguns and pistols, and other types of guns, and limited the sale of automatic weapons and semi-automatic weapons conversion kits. The law was supported by the NRA’s leaders but opposed by many of its members.
By 1977, the NRA had been transformed from a sporting club into the powerful lobbying organization it is today. When the Firearm Owners Protection Act, also known as the McClure-Volkmer Act, was passed in 1986, the NRA was largely responsible for this legislative upheaval, in part due to the money it spent building a network of Congressmen who opposed gun control.
The 1986 law changed some restrictions in the Gun Control Act of 1968, allowing federally licensed gun dealers and individual unlicensed private sellers to sell at gun shows, while continuing to require licensed gun dealers to require background checks. The law also restricted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) from conducting repetitive inspections, reduced the amount of record-keeping required of gun dealers, raised the burden of proof for convicting gun law violators, and changed restrictions on convicted felons from owning firearms.
Between the 17-year period of 1981 and 1998, there were 620,535 firearm-related deaths in the U.S., according to an analysis of CDC data. By the early 1990s, many felt gun violence was well out of control; in 1993, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was passed by Congress and imposed a waiting period before the purchase of a handgun, giving time for, but not requiring, a background check to be made.The law also required the establishment of a national system to provide instant criminal background checks, with checks to be done by firearms dealers.The act only applied to people who bought guns from licensed dealers, seemingly forgetting that felons buy many of their guns from black market sources.
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, passed in 1994, was the largest crime bill in history, and included congressional funding for 100,000 police officers and a ten-year federal assault weapons ban. The results over the next 14 years proved that costly crime prevention spending programs work. According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, total fatal and non-fatal firearm violence dropped from a peak of 1,548,000 incidents in 1994 to 383,500 in 2008.
Yet at the same time, the sharp decline in firearm violence between 1994 and 2008 was accompanied by a precipitous drop in U.S. manufactured and imported firearms.
SLUMPING GUN SALES GALVANIZED THE GUN LOBBY TO PRESSURE THE COURTS FOR CHANGE IN 2008
There is no doubt that the common defense limitation in the Second Amendment was an impediment to the U.S. firearms industry. By 2007, the industry was stuck in a no growth position, even though the ten-year ban on assault weapons had expired in 2004.
Billions of dollars spent by the federal government and the states to beef up law enforcement had not only reduced rampant firearm violence, it also took an extraordinary toll on gun sales. The industry desperately needed to pull itself out of an economic slump.
And then along came Heller. The gun lobby saw the D.C. patrolman’s claim that the Second Amendment allowed him the right to carry a handgun, both on-duty and off-duty, as its ticket out of a financial slump.
With the long awaited ruling of the Court in their favor, gun marketers embarked on a national marketing campaign to sell the benefits of self-arming, creating a perception that law-abiding citizens who were self-armed were best prepared to survive.
The Founding Fathers had placed the role of citizen security in the hands of state militias, who were well organized and well armed. Yet the opinion of the 2008 Court instead credited the Founding Fathers with authorizing individual citizens the right to bear military grade arms and create personal arsenals large enough to overwhelm a local police force. The decision of the Court can be likened to using gasoline to fight a fire.
Case in point: One of the saddest days in recent American history was on Dec. 14, 2012 when a 20-year-old gunman used an AR-15 Assault Rifle, firing 154 rounds in under five minutes, to systematically execute 20 Sandy Hook Elementary students ages six and seven, and six teachers in Newtown, Conn. The NRA capitalized on the shooting with its now famous slogan a week later: “Only Thing That Stops A Bad Guy With A Gun Is A Good Guy With A Gun.”
THE NUMBERS TELL THE STORY
The Court in 2008 did more than reinstate 1689 British common law rights allowing colonial subjects to bear arms for individual defense. Civilians were no longer restricted in most states and federal enclaves from buying military grade firearms.
- Between 2008 and 2013 the number of firearms in the U.S. increased from 303 million to 358 million (Congressional Research Service/ATF)
- Between 2008 and 2013 semi-automatics accounted for about 50% bought annually (NRA)
- Between 2008 and 2013 annual domestic firearms manufactured and imported increased from 7.1 million to 16.4 million (ATF)
- Between 2008 and 2013 gun rights lobbying increased from $4.1 million to $15.3 million (opensecrets.org).
The percentage of firearm crimes among all violent incidents went from a high of 8% in 1993 to 5% in 2008. But three years after District of Columbia v. Heller, in 2011, the rate jumped back to 8% – an extreme increase in just three years.
By comparison, reported firearm injuries and deaths (from the Centers for Disease Control/CDC) also inched upwards between 2008 and 2014:
- 30,728 in 2008
- 30,561 in 2009
- 30,814 in 2010
- 31,512 in 2011
- 32,759 in 2012
- 32,849 in 2013
- 32,743 in 2014
These statistics indicate the Court’s 2008 ruling had no discernible public safety impact. In fact, it shows the 2008 opinion simply worsened both gunfire fatalities and reported violent firearm crimes.
In 2015 alone, mass shootings – defined as the shooting of four or more people – killed 475 and injured another 1,870 in the U.S., according to Mass Shooting Tracker, which categorizes such incidents. There were 64 school shootings according to Everytown for Gun Safety Research. And in all, firearms killed 13,286 people in 2015, excluding suicides, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
So many people now die annually from gunfire in the U.S. that the death toll in 2015 eclipsed the total number of servicemen and women killed in all U.S. wars, combined. According to research by Politifact, there were more than 1.5 million gunfire-related deaths between 1968 and 2015, compared with 1.4 million American deaths in every conflict from the War of Independence to Iraq.
Depending on the survey or study, it is estimated between 30-40% of all American households currently own guns. And a 2015 Washington Post analysis found the average gun owner in America actually possesses eight guns – double the number in the 1990s. Furthermore, a March 2016 CBS news poll found that roughly one in five gun owners claimed to have 10 guns or more.
According to the (now-titled) U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the number of gun retailers dwarfs the number of grocery stores: 64,747 compared to 37,716.
By 2015, firearm violence cost American taxpayers roughly $23.5 million every day. Costs include police investigations, emergency services, medical treatment, mental health care, security enhancements, long-term prison costs, long-term medical and disability expenses, and legal fees. Each gun injury requiring hospitalization costs, on average, $583,000.The annual cost of gun violence overall in the U.S. has surged from $174 billion in 2010 to $229 billion in 2015 – $88 billion more than the federal government allocates for education, according to an April 2015 report released by Mother Jones.
Forget the rhetoric on all sides of the issue; the damage to the country is in the numbers.
GETTING ARMED FOR SELF-DEFENSE IS A MYTH
As a result of our ever-increasing gun culture, and the rise in gun violence that seems to go hand in hand with the increased number of guns in our society, many Americans have become indoctrinated into believing self-arming will save their lives. Few seem to realize the process usually works in reverse, with deadly results.
The right to shoot back is the essence of the interpretation rendered in District of Columbia v. Heller. Yet possession of a defensive firearm is of little value if an arms bearer is mentally, physically or otherwise incapable of discharging a weapon against an armed pursuer within a split second. In fact, it’s tantamount to non-premeditated suicide.
From the standpoint of using a firearm for lawful self-defense, the armed assailant has an advantage approaching 100% in most real time confrontations. Only a handful of people who own guns can successfully make a proper danger assessment, access a loaded weapon, release the safety, aim, and discharge a lethal weapon in self-defense, all within as little as a fraction of a second while being pursued or attacked by another armed individual.
According to the FBI, between 2000 and 2013 only 3% of 104 active shootings studied ended with a “good guy with a gun” stopping a “bad guy with a gun.” Yet 20% were stopped by people with no gun.
The element of surprise generally prevails in any ambush. The Dallas police massacre in July 2016 provides insight into the advantage of a shooter. There were nine survivors out of 16 victims. Fourteen of roughly 100 police officers overseeing a race-related protest were hit by gunfire from a lone gunman. At least 200 shots were fired in a standoff. Twelve officers discharged their duty weapons. A robot with an explosive killed the shooter.
The police providing crowd control were armed with military grade weapons used in domestic common defense. The shooter ambushing police was armed with an SKS semi-automatic rifle designed 73 years ago.
Most gun owners exercising self-defense rights would be victimized in less time than it takes to say “Second Amendment.” Perhaps the Dallas massacre gives pause to the nations’ gun owners to do some soul-searching regarding their personal safety.
FEW GUN OWNERS ARE PROPERLY TRAINED FOR SELF-DEFENSE
There’s no doubt that most civilian gun owners would fail the arduous tests used in police “shoot, don’t shoot” training exercises.
Blasting a human silhouette on a firing range with weapons designed for modern warfare is a popular recreational sport. Although the phenomena of using metal or paper human silhouettes was adopted from training protocols used in military and law enforcement training exercises, a true exercise would test reaction time by shooters to defend against a simulation using a broad range of mobile shooters pursuing the defender.
Without passing the rigorous training required by the law enforcers as pursuers, hazards of open and closed carry far outweigh any attainable benefits to personal or public safety.
EVEN THE BEST BACKGROUND CHECKS ARE DOOMED TO FAIL
The distinction between an armed combatant who may be suicidal versus an everyday-armed citizen cannot be legislated. Background checks of prospective gun buyers, designed to protect citizens from the potential dangers of firearms in the wrong hands, is a marginal deterrent to curb firearm violence.
No amount of legislation can stop a weapon, lawfully possessed to self-defend, from being used to commit violence. Legislation cannot stop any armed person from turning weapons against others, or themselves, for reasons that are often incomprehensible.
A firearm never sleeps. It’s on duty 24/7, 365 days a year. Guns being manufactured and imported in record numbers drive down the price of older guns. Street prices of older semi-automatics, such as those used in the Dallas police massacre, are as low as $100. Street prices of entry-level handguns used in gang shootings start at $20.
Background checks are useful for controlling the annual sales of new firearms, roughly 50% of which are semi-automatic. Private sales of already-circulating firearms – estimated to be 5 to 8 million annually from 2008 to 2013 – are exempt. Private sales can be expected to outpace new sales going forward, as the U.S. market is oversaturated.
CONCEALED WEAPONS CARRIERS STAND LITTLE CHANCE AGAINST MASS SHOOTERS, AND ALSO CAUSE PROBLEMS FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT
The new self-defense mantra touts concealed weapons hidden from the public. The mindset behind concealed carry is to supposedly instill fear into bad guys that would-be victims might be armed. But in a one-on-one armed confrontation, the self-armed good guy being pursued cannot lawfully defend unless the pursuer’s weapon is visible. Odds overwhelmingly favor the pursuer.
In a crowded setting such as a restaurant, church or shopping mall, one or multiple armed pursuers presumably have a plan and a purpose. If the plan and the purpose are to induce terror, the preferred weapon(s) is/are the rapid-fire semi-automatic rifle available from local gun dealers, plus a semi-automatic sidearm. With the possible exception of combat trained veterans, the likelihood of a concealed weapon holder coming to the rescue is remote.
The concept of concealed weapons remains an impediment to law enforcement as well. Law enforcers can run through complex terror exercises, including hostage taking, but cannot distinguish good guys from bad guys who hide arms behind plain clothes.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA V. HELLER’S DEVASTATING RESULTS
With all this said, the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling that extended and increased arms bearing rights for self-defense to the entire population flies in the face of every doctrine adopted by the Founding Fathers to safeguard liberties and freedom of the people.
The 2008 Opinion of the Court changed absolute, specific, enumerated, and codified rights limited to common defense in the Second Amendment to instead include non-codified self-defense rights. A precedent was established by the Court to interpret the Constitution and the Second Amendment based on a non-codified belief.
The First Congress provided members of state militias a Second Amendment right the central government could not infringe. The Supreme Court reversed the First Congress and provided citizens with a Second Amendment right the states could not infringe. Few seem to have detected, or be concerned with, this not-so-subtle transfer of powers from the states to the federal government.
The end result of District of Columbia v. Heller has been the immersion into our society of a massive supply of domestic weapons that, in turn, are now fueling racial and ethnic tensions. And every police officer that dons a uniform runs the threat of being targeted by a growing number of armed citizens, due to their discontent for any secular or non-secular reasons or causes.
Let’s read this Second Amendment one more time, shall we: “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 origins of the Amendment and our country’s historical trajectory make it abundantly clear that “the people” is meant in a collective sense, not an individual sense. Yes, individuals make up “the people” but the Amendment obviously states that “the people” must form a militia collectively, in order to defend the security and freedom of the U.S.
In 2016 terms, it should seem obvious that a militia and “the people” translate into law enforcement agencies and officers. But by no means can it be interpreted that the Founding Fathers envisioned a world where every 21st century Sam and Suzy Citizen sleep with semi-automatic rifles or pistols under their pillows, “just in case.” Again, nowhere is self-defense mentioned in the Second Amendment or Constitution.
As Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in a dissenting opinion to the 2008 opinion of the Court, the Founders would have made the individual right aspect of the Second Amendment abundantly clear if that was what was intended, and that the “militia” preamble and exact phrase “to keep and bear arms” are definitive indications that the Second Amendment pertains to state militia service only. Justice Stevens’ dissent was joined by Justices David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer.
Bottom line: How many more mass shootings and firearms deaths by non-militia members will it take for Congress or the Supreme Court to revisit District of Columbia v. Heller, and restore regulatory powers to the states?
If it were their children in that Connecticut classroom or their mothers in that Charleston church or their brothers in that Orlando nightclub, perhaps we’d have seen a quick change of thought and ideology in the U.S. Congress.
Will it take non-militia gun violence to directly impact each and every one of us in America before the monstrous impact of this decision can be overturned? How many more non-militia violent deaths will it take? How many stolen lives? What’s the number? The final toll? How much blood, how many tears, how much pain, sorrow, suffering, anguish and horror?
If they were alive, our Founding Fathers, the architects and creators of the Second Amendment, might very well put guns to their own heads than see another innocent life lost due to the Constitutional mockery that District of Columbia v. Heller has brought on citizens.