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The fight over the Second Amendment

Monday, August 10, 2009

...the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. -- Amendment II

Those 14 words, perhaps more than any others in the U.S. Constitution, have inspired discussions, arguments and legal debates for years and years.

Now, legislation introduced in January by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and lingering in the House Judiciary Committee has stirred up emotions on both sides of the gun control issue and once again brought these words into the spotlight.

Rush's bill, the Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act (H.R. 45), establishes a federal licensing and registration regime under the direction of the U.S. Attorney General and would make it a criminal act not to register as an owner of a firearm.

The bill will also:

ˇ Establish a federal licensing requirement for ownership of handguns and semiautomatic weapons, not including antiques, with application requirements which include a photograph of the gun owner, fingerprinting of the gun owner, a current address, a completed, written firearms safety test, and private mental health records. These licenses must be renewed every five years;

ˇ Create a federal registration database for handguns and semiautomatics to which every new sale or transfer -- including transfers among private individuals -- in America must be reported within 14 days;

ˇ Require a background check to be performed in any transfer of guns and provides penalties of up to two years in jail for failure to comply with any licensing or background check requirements.

ˇ Establish penalties of up to 10 years for parents whose children gain access to their firearms unless they meet certain federally-established requirements.

It should be noted there are already federally required background checks for purchasing weapons. A government database of all gun owners or longer waiting periods will not keep criminals from getting their hands on a gun.

Furthermore, this bill does nothing to curb the criminals who would use handguns to commit a crime. Just the opposite -- it would turn law-abiding citizens into lawbreakers for overlooking one of many forms or address verification.

Any bill which would require photographing and fingerprinting for simply possessing a firearm flies in the face of our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees -- and as the U.S. Supreme Court definitively ruled in District of Columbia v Heller -- the American people have the right to keep and bear arms.

As a member of the National Rifle Association and the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, I will work with my colleagues in the House of Representatives to promote legislation protecting our constitutional rights and oppose legislation, such as H.R. 45, which restricts such rights.

We need to work harder to ensure the safety of our citizens, but we must do so in a way which protects our Constitutionally-guaranteed rights.

Our country's founding fathers understood how important the principle of the Second Amendment is in ensuring our basic freedoms. They had faith in the citizens of America. We should have the same faith in our fellow countrymen today.


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It's one thing to have the right to bear arms; it's another for a person with a criminal conviction history of assault, or with other concerning felonys/misdemeanors to be granted a gun license.

I think where you are confused is that, yes, background checks are done--the problem is these are "name checks"; so, the background check is only as good as the name given. Imagine a woman who has a criminil conviction history of a felony/misdemeanor-and, specifically, a history of violence against others. This background may disqualify her from getting a gun. Now, she gets married, and changes her last name--guess what, she has no criminal history for the name she gave, so she can get a gun.

Fingerprints level the playing field. No one is saying not to be able to bear arms; what we are saying is the people who have the right to bear arms can only do so IF they have no criminal conviction history in their background. The best indicator of future performance is how someone has performed in the past. It would seem irresponsible to give a gun license to someone who just spent time in prison for assaulting someone with a deadly weapon.

-- Posted by jcritchfield on Mon, Aug 10, 2009, at 11:04 AM

Most criminals don't buy guns from licensed dealers that run background checks. If you want to keep guns away from criminals, go after the black market, not the law abiding citizens that have no will to take ones life.

There are far more law abiding gun owners then there are criminal gun owners.

-- Posted by npwinder on Mon, Aug 10, 2009, at 11:21 AM

The federal checks are a joke, The ssn requirement is a joke as most criminal records, arrests and DOC information runs based on the Name and DOB, The states should allow Private background check companies with much more available data to implement these checks. I work for a background check company named IntegraScan, we conduct national background checks and do not use the NCIC system which only has about 1.5 million records as opposed to our database with over 350 million records.

Laws need to be changed and the right to carry a firearm should be absolute and no wait should occur.

Terry Sweet

Integrascan

-- Posted by Integrascan on Mon, Aug 10, 2009, at 1:27 PM

I support Rep Smith's efforts to oppose the pro-crime HR45 legislation and will do my part to support bills that will have an effect on thugs and criminals not the law abiding citizen.

-- Posted by Mason on Tue, Aug 11, 2009, at 8:39 AM

My hartfelt thanks to the McCook Gazette, you just made me very proud. My mothers family, the Dacks, helped settle your corner of the world. Other than setting astraddle of the time zone, I have never heard of anything remarkable about McCook untill I read this articale.

You are probably the last newspaper in the nation willing to publish a true and accurate story in support of our 2nd ammendment right to posess and bear arms!

-- Posted by Pack-N-Heat on Tue, Aug 11, 2009, at 9:28 AM

I agree with Rep. Smith. Although he avoids discussing the potentially most serious downside of this whole thing, I won't.

I am amazed at the foolishness of those who believe that simply passing a law such as the Blair-Holt Bill will have ANY beneficial result for the society or the country. Remember what happened during prohibition, or the "War on Drugs"? There are MILLIONS of currently law-abiding Americans who not only believe Blair-Holt to be unconstitutional, but consider their right to self-defense inviolate, who will simply refuse to follow it, thereby becoming instant criminals. This would inevitably, and rapidly, result in a huge blackmarket in guns and ammunition in this country (a la Mexico). If that happens, there will be NO control over WHO buys guns, or WHAT kind they buy (for example, machine guns are only scarce in this country because most of us are law-abiding folks who routinely choose to follow the gun laws, thus eliminating any real black market in machine guns). It will also result in the most law-abiding and police-friendly groups in the country being marginalized and, ipso facto, severing their helpful relationships with the police forces. Police, through no fault of their own, will become "bad guys" to upwards of 10 million people overnight. Many gun owners will violently resist any efforts at arrest or confiscation in the wake of something like Blair-Holt being passed. Many Police and National Guard (yes, it will require them too) will honor their oath of office and refuse to follow orders to enforce such confiscations or arrests (this is already being discussed-google "Oathkeepers"). Do you think America would become safer or less safe? Would society become more or less violent? Once again, look at Mexico. Most of the illegal guns in that country are sold through the drug cartels who import them through their drug smuggling routes, that's how black markets work. How could all this possibly benefit our country or our society?

-- Posted by Oldshooter on Tue, Aug 11, 2009, at 9:39 AM

The irony to this irresponsible legislation is down here on the border states, where hand grenades are nationally illegal, frags are now being smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico. Banning goods and services that a lot of people want merely creates a wealthier criminal class. If you do not believe this, pass laws against liquor, gambling, prostitution and drugs. They are already illegal in many places, therefore they do not exist. Yeh, right.

-- Posted by proseshooter on Tue, Aug 11, 2009, at 4:30 PM

"jeritchfield" believes that all gun owners should be required to provide their fingerprints before they are permitted to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. There are several contradictions in terms in his position, and a contradiction in reality as well.

Disposing of the contradictions in reality first: The guy who uses a gun, or intends to use a gun, in the commission of a crime is not going to provide you with his fingerprints. Thus the only person inconvenienced, and whose liberty is stolen by this overweaning nanny-state idea, is the law-abiding gun owner.

Contradictions in terms: "jeritchfield" didn't use the word "permission" because his idea would immediately be revealed as fraudulent, but that is what he is talking about: "Permitting" people to exercise a "right"? Are you suggesting government or anyone else has the lawful power to give or withhold permission to exercise a RIGHT? Newsflash: "Permission" and "right" are a contradiction in terms. I have a RIGHT; therefore I don't need your permission, or government's permission, to exercise it. It is a RIGHT; government has no subject matter jurisdiction over it. I have a right to keep and bear arms and I have a right to privacy in the exercise of my rights. You have no right to know what rights I am exercising, but you can be assured I am exercising all of them. In point of fact, the Second Amendment gives you the only notice you need to be aware I am exercising my right to keep and bear arms -- and you don't even have a right to THAT notice; the Constitution conveys no subject matter jurisdiction to government at any level over my right to keep and bear arms. Another newsflash: "Incorporating" individual rights to apply to the states is a crock: Every state and municipal officer swears or affirms to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

Lastly, there is no need to find a way of keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals: Let them have their firearms. As long as the rest of us are armed, and their criminal sentence is enhanced by a factor of 2 or 3 if they use a gun in a crime, it won't be a problem.

-- Posted by Frdmftr on Tue, Aug 11, 2009, at 7:05 PM

My research on the 2nd Amendment - for those who try to invalidate it - feel free to use:

Let me start with this:

To assume all articles of the Bill of Rights grant personal rights to the individual with the exception of the Second Amendment demonstrates a logical disconnect. It is as if you are saying that the numbers one through ten are all numbers except number two, which is a letter.

Now, we shall divide, define and clarify it for you.

"A well-regulated":

I cite the following examples courtesy of Brian T. Halonen (halonen@csd.uwm.eduand) (reprinted here: http://chezjacq.com/well.htm):

The following were taken from the Oxford English Dictionary and bracket in time the writing of the Second Amendment:

1709: "If a liberal Education has formed in us well-regulated Appetites and worthy Inclinations."

1714: "The practice of all well-regulated courts of justice in the world."

1812: "The equation of time ... is the adjustment of the difference of time as shown by a well-regulated clock and a true sun dial."

1848: "A remissness for which I am sure every well-regulated person will blame the Mayor."

1862: "It appeared to her well-regulated mind, like a clandestine proceeding."

1894: "The newspaper, a never wanting adjunct to every well-regulated American embryo city."

"The phrase "well-regulated" was in common use long before 1789, and remained so for a century thereafter. It referred to the property of something being in proper working order. Something that was well regulated was calibrated correctly, functioning as expected. Establishing government oversight of the people's arms was not only not the intent in using the phrase in the 2nd amendment; it was precisely to render the government powerless to do so that the founders wrote it." It can, does and has been used to indicate something "of appropriate caliber" or "to be sufficiently armed".

Now let us move on:

"Militia": mi*li*tia (m-lsh-uh) noun.

1. A body of citizens enrolled for military service, and called out periodically for drill but serving full time only in emergencies.

2. A body of citizen soldiers as distinguished from professional soldiers.

3. All able-bodied males considered by law eligible for military service.

4. A body of citizens organized in a paramilitary group and typically regarding themselves as defenders of individual rights against the presumed interference of the federal government.

Courtesy: The American HeritageŽ Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

Well now, how do you define "ordinary citizens" or "not part of a regular army"? Perhaps "civilians" is the best term. The term Militia does not refer to the National Guard which was not established until The National Defense Act of 1916. Just so we are on the same page here, The National Guard serves both the state and nation in times of need, and soldiers and airmen in the Guard swear an oath to protect and defend not just the Constitution of the United States, but also of the State in which they serve. Remember the Constitution, you know, the one that has this pesky Bill of Rights? Let us not forget that most State Constitutions also guarantee a right to arms, clearly a conflict.

And then:

"being necessary to the security of a free State":

I do not think even you can twist this to mean anything else other than what it plainly says. Only properly armed men are able defend the State at any time.

And of course:

"the right of the people to keep and bear Arms":

This clearly signifies that "the people" should have access to the same common "Arms" as the organized military. In fact, the security of a free State requires it must be the same "Arms" as the common military arm, by which I mean up to and including the most common of military arm used by the U.S. armed forces; the M16A2 5.56mm rifle or the M4 5.56mm carbine. To truly guarantee a Free State, you must make available the same common Arms as the military.

And finally:

"shall not be infringed":

No authority can redefine or invalidate that which is reserved to be a right of the people. It is what you and many others are attempting to do. Will you next attack Americans freedom of religion?

In closing, let me say that as an ordinary, relatively uneducated citizen, I believe I have a far firmer grasp of the realties of this issue than you ever will. I for one am sure glad my future is not in your hands. I am very happy however, that you have the individual right to voice any opinion you wish. Please do not forget that if a fledgling nation were to have been deprived the use of Arms, you most likely would not.

-- Posted by funkfool on Tue, Aug 11, 2009, at 9:18 PM

Bobby Rush is a former Black Panther--- Imagine That! Typical Chicago Mobster Politics-- Like Mr Transparency our wonderful community organizer/ Unconstitutional Liberal Law Teacher President. We were founded on Natural law/ God's law. Our Founders believed God gave us the right to bear arms. We also were supposed to be able to own all weapons our military had access to. Hand grenades, Mortars, cannons etc... God Help us all

-- Posted by joethejunkman on Tue, Aug 11, 2009, at 9:42 PM

"CAN WE TALK"?

Gun control laws do not favor good race relations. Quite the contrary. The effects and burdens of gun control ( gun restriction) laws are suffered almost entirely by law abiding,responsible, white Americans who,for the mostpart don't need gun laws to prevent violence that they arn't doing. More outrageously is the arbitrary and nonsensical content and focus of anti gun legislation that renders hobyists and hunters uncertain as to their legal status and in potential legal jeopardy. Conversely,a disproportionate amount of violence in the US is concentrated in predominately non white,drug and gang infested urban areas where police forces generally exist in a perpetual and almost institutionalized equilibrium with criminals.

These "inconvenient truths" are a corrosive factor in race relations. We,the law abiding gun owners of America are being squeezed in a legislative vise because of violent tendencies that other demographic groups can't seem to control.

Not good! If the anti gun agendas of the thug state polititions become law, effectiveness of the restrictions will be measurable by the number of coroners reports attributing homicidal deaths to slit throats and beheadings. If I wern't a gun owner already, I'd become one fast.

-- Posted by howard goodman on Tue, Aug 11, 2009, at 10:29 PM

I am appalled at how even the most reasonable and articulate among us speak of the Second Amendment "granting" the right to keep and bear arms. How can our reading comprehension be so poor? It very simply states "the right...shall not be infringed", just as the Holy Bible starts off stating, "In the beginning God..." God makes no attempt to explain or defend how He got to be God; neither does the Second Amendment pretend to convey the right to bear arms - it simply assumes that everyone knows we have that right. The prefacing statement about a militia being necessary, merely supplies a practical application of the free-America inherent right to keep and bear arms, in the event some power-crazed leaders ever came along and insisted that that right should be infringed. Think that will ever happen?

-- Posted by SidsCardShop on Tue, Aug 11, 2009, at 11:48 PM

I have been following this legislation since it was

first introduced. It amazes me that it was written

by Bobby Rush, one time Black Panther and prison

inmate for illegal weapons possession. Does it not

surprise you that he comes from the wonderful Chicago political machine that has spawned so many

great politicians of late.

Folks, we better fight this bill with tooth and nail

or the national civilian police force to be created

by the Obama administration will be knocking on our

doors with arrest warrants....It is scary as hell

what the present people in power are trying to do.

-- Posted by dickshady2 on Wed, Aug 12, 2009, at 6:07 AM

A greater majorty of us are law abiding CITIZENS.

If we lose our right to bear arms, HOW will we fight tyranny? Why should I, lose the right to protect MY family. This is MY family, not the State or the Governments. If they take away the right to fight tyranny and to bear arms, WILL they check my home for a sharp stick? Will they outlaw sticks? Make owning a 4 ounce rock a felony, next?

To the folks who dislike, hate or THINK we should not have weapons.

PLEASE, put a bright lettered sign in your front yard, that reads:

WE ARE A PROUD GUNFREE HOME AND FAMILY.

Let us know how well you sleep after that.

-- Posted by PR32439 on Wed, Aug 12, 2009, at 1:03 PM

What these anti-gun folks do not understand is that law enforcement officers are not duty bound to protect us as a private citizens. I guess they want us to beg for mercy, before we get robbed, raped or murdered. Criminals do not register their guns or give finger prints, but they want law abiding citizens to do this so that they can make themselves feel good. .

-- Posted by ingramdr on Wed, Aug 12, 2009, at 6:01 PM

some helpful reminders for American CITIZENS

I carry a gun cause a cop is too heavy.

An armed man will kill an unarmed man with monotonous regularity.

"Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who Do not." Thomas Jefferson

"Give me liberty or give me DEATH." Patrick Henry

save us from our folly,selfishness and shortsightedness.What will be the results i cannot say i only see that a fearful calamity is upon us,and fear that our country will have to pass through for its sins a fiery ordeal- Robert E Lee prior to the war

i am saying these words because we may need them in coming days i hope every America citizen will remember these words and the people who said them as you give up your RIGHTS i sincerely do dream of a peaceful nation but unjust tyranny is not a peaceful nation and a govt that bans guns historically is a tyrant one

-- Posted by onemanstandingup on Thu, Aug 13, 2009, at 12:37 AM

On a sober, serious note, there is no Federal juirsdiction for the proposed scheme. Commerce Clause jurisdiction does not extend to firearms once they have left the stream of interstate commerce, which means after they have been sold by a Federaly license dealer. A more expansive reading on interstat commerce has been expressly rejected by the Court in gun cases. U.S. vs. Lopez (Federal "safe schools" zone unconstitutional) cit. om.

-- Posted by LouGots on Thu, Aug 13, 2009, at 8:19 AM

Only in America can a home grown terrorist, former Black Panther who served time for illegally possessing a gun become a congressman in the most corrupt state in the country. Then this criminal would sponsor a bill to make it much harder for law abiding citizens to posses a firearm so his criminal friends in Chicago can rob, rape and pillage without having to worry about a law abiding citizen being able to protect themselves

-- Posted by lawdog7 on Thu, Aug 13, 2009, at 1:52 PM

I find it interesting that I have not any comments from the other side of this issue.

My comment to this is always, who are "the people",are they different in the preamble "We the people", then( Bill of rights): Article 1 "the right of the people", article 2"the right of the people", article 4 "The right of the people", article 9 '...retained by the people", article 10 "or by the people".

I truley belive the "gun control thing" is not about guns but about about control.

From kansas

-- Posted by Ks 2nd. on Thu, Aug 13, 2009, at 6:35 PM

It really doesn't matter what laws they pass... If the Jury for any trial would exercise their option of JURY NULLIFICATION, then they would eventually stop trying to enforce such laws...

JURY NULLIFICATION is the process of a JUROR to Judge the LAW.. "Is this LAW just?"..."Do I agree with this LAW?".. "Do I agree with how this LAW is being applied?"... If any one of these answers is NO, then find the Defendent NOT GUILTY... Look it up...read about JURY NULLIFICATION... The Justice System has been trying to keep this secret for generations...

-- Posted by Spray on Tue, Aug 18, 2009, at 1:40 AM

Hi, I'm a retired U.S. Air Force veteran.

Rep. Bobby Rush's introduction of H.R. 45 is puzzling to me. If we as a Nation already have Federal, State, and Local laws regarding weapons registration, purchases, transfers, and who may legally obtain them, then why is he introducing this bill before Congress? What's his intent?

What is he trying to achieve (at least in his way of thinking) with this bill? It seems to me that anyone who tries to bastardize our Constitution just to make points so he/she can secure their re-election to Congress or other office, is not a true United States citizen. I swore to Support and Defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and this bill is representative, to me at least, as an enemy to our Constitution.

How many laws do we need to restrict our rights to "bear arms"? I understand the need to prevent certain individuals from having weapons, for example, toddlers, the truly insane, prisoners, and other people who can't responsibly handle weapons. But this bill wants to data-mine and keep a dossier on law abiding US citizens who own weapons. Ironically, I wonder if ALL members of the Federal Government will be in this proposed database - probably not because I think the Congress, Executive and Legistative branches will be exempt from this bill.

If you're an Illinois resident, I urge you to "fire", "sack", "legally remove from office" Rep. Bobby Bush and others like him. He and others like him are going to turn the United States into the United Soviet States of America.

Think about it...

-- Posted by I_Am_He on Wed, Aug 19, 2009, at 3:06 AM

Minor correction to my earlier post: I meant Rep. Bobby "Rush" not Bush.

-- Posted by I_Am_He on Wed, Aug 19, 2009, at 3:25 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_QjEL0uU...

Please watch that...I agree with this guy on every point. Seriously..

-- Posted by marlin on Fri, Aug 21, 2009, at 12:34 AM

Nebraska Residents, come take a stand with me at the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association and forum

http://www.nebraskafirepower.com/forum/i...

http://www.nebraskafirearms.org/

-- Posted by LJUnaTiC on Fri, Sep 4, 2009, at 9:20 PM


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U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith
Washington Report