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article imageOp-Ed: The right to have and bear arms

By Donald Quinn     Jan 30, 2014 in Politics
There are few things that incite more passion than the debate around gun control. The tragic shooting at Columbia Mall, has thrust the conversation into the headlines and legislature once more.
Living in a state that has some of the most restrictive gun control laws, and in an era when President Obama signed 23 executive orders in one month related to fire arms (January 2013), it stands to reason that someone who is an ardent supporter of the Bill of Rights would want to look at the reality behind some of the fear. As someone who is running for office, I have to state clearly, in disclaimer, that I am firm believe in the 2nd Amendment and the right of law abiding citizens to have and bear arms.
One of the executive orders signed by President Obama was to order the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve the information the government has about the causes of firearm violence. The findings of the CDC were quite interesting and should cause a moment of pause for fervent advocates of gun control.
There has been a lot made of the recent attempt by gun control advocates to ban both high capacity magazines and “assault weapons.” The most recent of these was a bill proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, from California, which would the ban the sale of any weapon considered to be an assault weapon along with the ban on high capacity magazines. The stated reason why the Senator has been passionately advocating for these bans is the rash of recent mass shootings across the country. This is where the challenge arises.
According to the study, commissioned by President Obama and carried out by the CDC, mass shootings are not the primary problem when it comes to gun violence in the United States. The study found that since 1983 there have been 78 events of mass shooting, where four or more people were killed by a single perpetrator. These mass shootings have resulted in 547 victims and 476 injuries (up to the time of the study). Comparatively there have been over 335,000 gun related deaths between 2000 and 2010 alone. Despite these facts, it has not stopped political grandstanding by people like Senator Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, who had this to say,
" While the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 is an incredibly important part of this debate, I continue to believe that a more targeted ban on high capacity magazines is an equally effective way to reduce casualties in episodes of mass violence. I believe we need to have a separate floor vote on a high capacity magazine restriction, and I look forward to working with other senators in the coming weeks to develop a reasonable restriction on large volume magazines that can gain bipartisan support."
The second problem arises when one looks at the idea that assault weapons are the primary problem, and a quick look at the weapons listed by Sen. Feinstein shows a clear bias against rifles and shotguns. The proposed legislation briefly mentions semi-automatic pistols with a magazine capacity of more than 10 rounds, and then quickly goes about naming over 157 weapons. Most of these are rifles which brings about another conflict with the study completed by the CDC.
According to the study there are over 300 million guns in the United States, of which only 106 million are handguns. That being said, however, hand guns are the majority of the problem. Eighty-seven percent of violent crimes occurred with a handgun being involve. The study also found that “handguns comprised 72.5 percent of the firearms used in murder and non-negligent manslaughter incidents.” Criminals prefer handguns because they are easy to conceal versus rifles and shotguns that have more sport, hunting, or defensive uses.
This study did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, who then, said on CNN of the assault weapons ban,
"We're going to find the votes."
"As the president said in his State of the Union... what we want is votes on each of these issues to include the assault weapons ban," McDonough said. "There will be amendments, I'm sure, from Sen. Feinstein, who's been a champion of this now, over the course of decades because of her own experience in San Francisco and what she's seen, frankly, across this country."
The bill was dropped because the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., could not find the necessary votes in the Senate to overcome the Republican filibuster. It will be back.
What is clear to anyone who is watching the issue carefully is the focus on “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazine” is nothing more than a side show to keep the public focused on only one of the three rings in the circus. Meanwhile on the other rings is a clear understanding, proven by the CDC study, that handguns in the hands of criminals are the major problem — not rifles. So why the focus on these particular weapons?
First, it’s about media attention. Polls show that the majority of Americans would support some kind of ban or restriction on assault weapons. Fear is a powerful weapon and the idea of crazy people toting machine guns is a good way to instill fear. An honest dialog would publicize the fact that handguns, not rifles or “assault weapons” comprised 72.5 percent of the crimes committed involving a firearm.
Second, it’s about repealing the Second Amendment. This is where the sideshow becomes perfectly apparently. While many gun control groups, and 2nd Amendment rights groups, are focused on the proposal by Senator Feinstein and the guns she wanted to ban, almost no one seems to have caught the very first line of the bill submitted by the Senator. The opening lines of the bill read –
To regulate assault weapons, to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited, and for other purposes.
The bill clearly has three agendas (remember a three ring circus). First it is to regulate assault weapons, which is the smoke and mirrors since they have garnered so much attention. The second is to “ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited,” which is clearly the major focus of this bill and for the record a clear assault on the Bill of Rights. The third agenda of this bill leaves it open to any and all interpretation by the legislature, either now or at some other time when it states “and for other purposes”.
Finally, this bill is clearly an attempt to take away the right of the American people to defend themselves in the event of a tyrannical government. Anyone who knows guns, especially those of us who served in the military, knows that in order to have “a well-regulated militia” guns more significant than handguns would be needed. These type of guns are typically not used in crimes, per the study, and are not easy to hide but can in fact be used to protect “the security of a free state”. This is exactly what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they added the 2nd Amendment to the Bill of Rights which states –
“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.”
Comparing the language of the 2nd Amendment “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” to the language supported by the White House and liberals in the Senate “ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited”, shows the clear ideological position which is to remove the binding nature of the Bill of Rights.
Maryland has become the poster child for gun control in recent days, with Governor Martin O’Malley signing some of the strictest gun control laws in the Nation into law in 2013. These laws banned 45 types of assault weapons. Keeping in lock step with Washington, and flying in the face of the facts, the Maryland Legislature rubber stamped the laws. Then, on January 25th 2014, a tragic mall shooting in Columbia Maryland flew in the face of all these so called effective gun control measures.
First the weapon used was not an assault weapon, second the Mall of Columbia is a “gun free zone,” and finally the perpetrator never passed a “required” background check before purchasing the gun used in the shootings. This is important to note because criminals, the ones causing gun violence, will not register their weapons, just as they won’t stop their other illegal activities. Instead, it is ordinary law abiding citizens that bear the brunt of strict gun control laws.
Unfortunately one is left facing two very clear facts when it comes to gun control and the intense efforts to regulate, control, and ban weapons. These are that:
a. The gun control political agenda is one of control, not preventing gun violence. The focus on the wrong kinds of guns, the fact that none of these measures have been effective, and the fact that none of the facts have changed the conversation is a clear indication that the agenda is far deeper than simply saving lives.
b. There needs to be common sense legislation to replace the hysteria and focus on “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines” which are being used as scare tactics.
Common sense legislation can involve requiring safety training for gun owners and giving easier access to concealed weapons permits for citizens willing to be trained. There should also be the removal of gun owning privileges for felons, people with restraining orders, and those with a history of mental illness, and most importantly crackdowns on criminal elements. Good legislation would not fly in the face of facts and the intrinsic rights guaranteed to all citizens of these United Stages, but instead would focus on the criminal element and taking away the guns that they have.
As I was finishing this piece Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio of Maryland introduced some common sense legislation which would allow trained shooters, holders of a handgun qualification license, easier access to concealed carry permits. This is exactly the kind of legislation needed, citizens being empowered and rewarded for taking the time to be trained and understanding gun safety rules.
Until we start realizing that there is a gun violence epidemic in America, and start addressing the real reason why instead of trying to erode the Bill of Rights with hidden agendas, the battle will continue, law abiding citizens will suffer, and innocent people will keep dying.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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