The Gun Control Debate



By Charles Heller, January 27th, 2013. © JPFO Inc.

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Today there is a raging debate in our republic about so-called "gun control," which is really just a euphemism for theft of rights. Hopefully, "gun control" will be a phrase that is eventually, "euphemized," and put out of our collective misery.

I want to provide a context for several of the arguments which are used in the modern lexicon of those who would attempt to separate you from your rights, but first I want to define a term. Many of us who can read the Constitution and understand it's historical context, have known for a long time that the right to keep an bear arms, was not created by the U.S. Constitution. The Second Amendment says Quote: "the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." It does NOT say, "the right to keep and bear arms is hereby created." The right pre-existed the Amendment, plain and simple.

The 2008 decision from the Supreme Court in District of Columbia vs. Heller, reaffirmed that this right is a primary individual right. (For clarity, I am not the Heller in question. That is Dick Heller, a life-long resident of The District of Columbia, and a special police officer who works at one of the government buildings there.)

As a fundamental civil right, the right to keep and bear arms has some natural enemies - people who want to aggrandize the power of the state over the power of the individual. While there are example of this on both the left and the right, the FACT remains that anyone who is so prejudiced against your fundamental right, is by definition, a bigot. A bigot who is against your rights, is by definition, an anti-rights bigot. They are not anti-gun, because they do not object to the guns on the side of soldiers and police. They are anti-rights, because they are against the idea of you being at parity of small arms with your government. That is a classic example of bigotry.

The argument though, sometimes used by those anti-rights bigots, is that the framers of the Constitution, did not envision semi-automatic and fully automatic weaponry, and that therefore new restrictions are needed to combat modern technology. To that, I wish to present the erudite and refined argument: hog wash! The idea that the founders of this country were not aware of technological changes in weaponry, is too specious to believe.

First, look at the text of the Constitution itself. In Article 1, Section 8, clause 7. Congress is granted the authority, Quote, "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.

If the founders did not know that technology would improve weapons and weapons systems, why did they build a promotion of the effusion of knowledge and technology, into our founding document?

Further study reveals that breech loading and multiple shot weapons existed in the time of the drafting of the constitution, and certainly by the time of the adoption of the Bill of Rights, four years later. The Puckle Gun was invented in 1718 by James Puckle (1667-1724) a British inventor, lawyer and writer. And who says lawyers are useless, anyway, but I digress.

The Puckle Gun is a tripod-mounted, single-barreled flintlock weapon fitted with a multishot revolving cylinder. It was intended for shipboard use to prevent boarding. The barrel was 3 feet (0.91 m) long with a bore of 1.25 inches (32 mm). It had a pre-loaded cylinder which held 11 charges and could fire 63 shots in seven minutes?this at a time when the standard soldier's musket could at best be loaded and fired three times per minute. Two examples are on display at former Montagu homes: One at Boughton House England, and another at Beaulieu Palace in Essex, England. There is a replica of a Puckle gun at Bucklers Hard Maritime Museum in Hampshire. Blackmore's British Military Firearms 1650-1850 lists "Puckle's brass gun in the Tower of London" as illustration 77.

The idea that General Washington, or Alexander Hamilton who served as a Colonel under him did not know of these weapons and others like it, stretches credulity well beyond even anti-rights biggoted standards of reason. The founders knew damned good and well about the technologically developing state of weaponry - so much so that they planned for it in the Constitution.

They WANTED the citizens to be as well armed as the government. Let's consult a few of them for their opinions.

To disarm the people [is] the best and most effectual way to enslave them.
George Mason, American Statesman and Author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776).

"Arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as property. Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them." Thomas Paine.

To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
Richard Henry Lee, American Statesman, 1788.

"The great object is that every man be armed." and "Everyone who is able may have a gun." Patrick Henry, American Patriot.

"Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?"
Patrick Henry, American Patriot.

"The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that . it is their right and duty to be at all times armed ."
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Justice John Cartwright, June 5, 1824.

And of course, the capstone of the comments: "What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure. Thomas Jefferson.

And now if you would, let us indulge in a fantasy. Imagine for a moment that we are standing on the fields of New Jersey, on the banks of the Delaware River, in 1776. Someone is about to demonstrate for General Washington, the latest invention for his troops, the M-16 rifle. Let's listen: (Sound effect of full auto) "Well General Washington, what do you think of the weapon?"

Can you imagine him saying, "Oh no, this weapon is far too powerful for the American Citizen to own What would happen if someone took one into a school?"

Would he not be more likely to have given them to his men, saying, "Sakes alive, a people could be free with these," and give them to his men and tell them to take them home after the war?

The modern argument is about semi-automatics. First, a little background. Semi-autos have been around since the first successful design for a semi-automatic rifle , attributed to German-born gunsmith Ferdinand Ritter von Mannlicher, who unveiled the design in 1885. The Model 85 was followed by the equally innovative Mannlicher Models 91, 93 and 95 semi-automatic rifles. Although Mannlicher earned his reputation with his bolt action rifle designs, he also produced a few semi-automatic pistols, including the Steyr Mannlicher M1894.

A few years later, American gunsmith John Moses Browning developed the first successful semi-automatic shotgun, the Browning Auto-5, which was first manufactured in 1902 by Fabrique Nationale de Herstal and sold in America under the Browning name. Production of the Auto-5 was finally ended in 1999.

Semi-automatic refers to a firearm which uses the force of recoil or gas to eject the empty case and load a fresh cartridge into the firing chamber for the next shot and which allows repeat shots solely through the action of pulling the trigger. A double-action revolver also requires only a trigger pull for each round that is fired but is not considered semi-automatic since the manual action of pulling the trigger is what advances the cylinder, not the energy of the preceding shot.

Fully automatic vs semi-automatic. The usage of the term automatic may vary according to context. Gun specialists point out that the word automatic is sometimes misunderstood to mean fully automatic fire when used to refer to a self-loading, semi-automatic firearm not capable of fully automatic fire. In this case, automatic refers to the loading mechanism, not the firing capability.

The term "automatic pistol" almost exclusively refers to a semi-automatic (i.e. not fully automatic) pistol. With handguns, the term "automatic" is commonly used to distinguish semi-automatic pistols from revolvers. The term "auto-loader" may also be used to describe a semi-automatic handgun. However, to avoid confusion, the term "automatic rifle" is generally, conventionally and best restricted to a rifle capable of fully automatic fire. Both uses of the term "automatic" can be found; the exact meaning must be determined from context.

The first use of the term "assault rifle," came into being with the German made "Sturmgewehr 42" a medium german machine gun in 8mm Mauser caliber, roughly equivalent to the American .30-06 cartridge.

The term, "semi-automatic assault rifle," is a made up item by Josh Sugarman of the "Violence Policy Institute. It is a term engineered to confuse people about which guns are legal. True assault weapons are select-fire, which means you can select for them to shoot fully automatically. Pull the trigger, and the gun keeps shooting until it's empty. Semi-autos only give you one shot per pull of the trigger. They simply load the next cartrige for you instead of your finger having to do it by pulling the trigger, such as on a revolver.

Fully automatic guns have been heavily regulated since the 1934 gun control act, which placed a heavy tax, $200 per gun, silencer, short barreled shotgun, or short barreled rifle. The number of machine guns in private hands in the U,.S. is about 225,000. The number of them was frozen as of 1986, so no new ones are coming into private hands since then. As with any market, if you freeze the supply and accelerate the demand, the price will skyrocket, and it has. Sugarman of the so-called Violence Policy Center, famously said, of semi-automatics, that : "The public's confusion over fully-automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons -- anything that looks like a machine gun is presumed to be a machine gun -- can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons."

The usage of the term automatic may vary according to context. Gun specialists point out that the word automatic is sometimes misunderstood to mean fully automatic fire when used to refer to a self-loading, semi-automatic firearm not capable of fully automatic fire. In this case, automatic refers to the loading mechanism, not the firing capability.

Long story short, assault weapons are not a problem in American Society, no matter what some liars would like you to think.

Next is the argument, "why would you ever need 30 rounds, I mean, you could not use that to hunt?" Well, besides the fact that the 2nd has nothing to do with hunting, it is certainly now legal in Arizona to leave a full capacity magazine in your gun while hunting. This has more to do with the fact that in much of Arizona, the places people hunt are loaded with armed drug smugglers, and it is a wise choice to be fully armed. But beyond that, 30 round magazines are what the government folks carry, and your tax dollars went to buy them.

In the event of a tyrannical take over and attempted subversion of the constitution, are you suggesting that the armed defenders should not have the same firepower that their taxes paid to finance? Do you sincerely believe that those were the principles upon which this country was founded? If so, you might want to contact your civics teacher for a remedial lesson.

First of all, a free man or woman should NEVER have to justify why they NEED anything. If they are free, to whom would they answer? But as the Declaration says, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind, might cause them to offer some supportive reasoning.

As Rabbi Dovid Bendory of says, "Multiple assailants. Whether on the street or during a home invasion, violent criminals often move in pairs or packs. Realize that you will never shoot as well as your score at the range when you are under the unbelievable stress of a life-or-death encounter. Which would you prefer to have in your magazine in such an event? Ten rounds? Or fifteen or seventeen? Or perhaps even 30? " Second, Private citizens always face the threat before the police arrive. Private citizens were on the front line at Tucson, Columbine, and Virginia Tech. Why limit our effectiveness?

You should logically want whatever cops choose to carry. How many cops choose a ten round magazine? If politicians want to hinder us "little people" with a ten round limit, they should also hamper the police with the same limit. Let's see how far that flies.

Civil disturbances. Watch the Reginald Denny beating video some time. Review the looting insanity of Hurricane Katrina. You've got a crazed mob of ten, twenty, or fifty people headed in your direction. Are ten rounds enough? Might you want fifteen, or seventeen, or even thirty?

Oh, and while you're at it, perhaps bring from memory those Los Angeles Korean store owners standing guard on the roofs of their businesses with semi-auto AKs during the Rodney King riots. No one messed with those stores, did they?

Your assailants may well be armed with full capacity magazines themselves. No ban will affect these criminals; it will actually encourage them. Do you really think the gang bangers care about federal laws?

In nearly every instance it is not a cop on the "front line" of a violent situation. It is private citizens who must face the "lone gunman" until (and sometimes even after) the police arrive. See "Dial 911 and Die", available from . Is the life of a policeman more important than yours?

Now we move to other historical precedents. Did you know that within the Catholic church, there is a movement, led by John Snyder of Washington D.C., to name a patron saint for hand gunners? Father Gabriel Posenti was a Catholic seminarian whose marksmanship and proficiency with handguns single-handedly saved the village of Isola, Italy from a band of 20 terrorists in 1860.

In 1860, a band of soldiers from the army of Garibaldi entered the mountain village of Isola, Italy. They began to burn and pillage the town, terrorizing its inhabitants.

Possenti, with his seminary rector's permission, walked into the center of town, unarmed, to face the terrorists. One of the soldiers was dragging off a young woman he intended to rape when he saw Possenti and made a snickering remark about such a young monk being all alone.

Possenti quickly grabbed the soldier's revolver from his belt and ordered the marauder to release the woman. The startled soldier complied, as Possenti grabbed the revolver of another soldier who came by. Hearing the commotion, the rest of the soldiers came running in Possenti's direction, determined to overcome the rebellious monk.

At that moment a small lizard ran across the road between Possenti and the soldiers. When the lizard briefly paused, Possenti took careful aim and struck the lizard with one shot, in the left eye. Turning his two handguns on the approaching soldiers, Possenti commanded them to drop their weapons. Having seen his handiwork with a pistol, the soldiers complied. Possenti ordered them to put out the fires they had set, and upon finishing, marched the whole lot out of town, ordering them never to return. The grateful townspeople escorted Possenti in triumphant procession back to the seminary, thereafter referring to him as "the Savior of Isola".

Now while I am sure that today, some people would auger for the posthumas de-frocking of St. Gabriel Posenti due to his cruelty to lizards, there is a long tradition, even within religious communities, of armed self-defense. None of it has ever relied upon a background check.

Background checks are a placebo, a useless "feel good" drug, to placate the citizens, and make them think that we are prohibiting criminals and lunatics from getting guns. People in their right minds, understand that criminals do not obey laws, ergo the designation, "criminal".

What folks who are not part of the gun culture do not realize, is that registration is the holy grail of gun control. Once you have all guns registered, you can control them. If a significant number of the guns in a society are not known, they cannot be controlled. The same is true of ammunition. Own a list of the people who have it, and you own the people's behavior. It's that simple.

One of the most important things we could do as Americans in terms of staying free, is making sure that government does NOT know who is armed, and with what they are armed. Unless a person has demonstrated hostile intent by previous criminal act, the government of a free country has no interest and no business in knowing what arms they might possess.

There is also a tradition in the U.S. of not engaging in what is know as a "prior restraint" on rights. The rule against prior restraint was undisputed for much of U.S. history. The landmark case of NEAR V. MINNESOTA, 283 U.S. 697, 51 S. Ct. 625, 75 L. Ed. 1357 (1931), finally settled the issue, with the U.S. Supreme Court finding that the First Amendment imposed a heavy presumption against the validity of a prior restraint.

In Near, the Court struck down a Minnesota state law that permitted public officials to seek an Injunction to stop publication of any "malicious, scandalous and defamatory newspaper, magazine, or other periodical." The statute was used to suppress publication of a small Minneapolis newspaper, the Saturday Press, which had crudely maligned local police and political officials, often in anti-Semitic terms. The law provided that once a newspaper was enjoined, further publication was punishable as Contempt of court.

Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, in his majority opinion, called the law "the essence of censorship" and declared it unconstitutional. With its decision, the Court incorporated the First Amendment freedom of the press into the DUE PROCESS CLAUSE of the Fourteenth Amendment. This incorporation made freedom of the press fully applicable to the states.

While this is usually applied to the First Amendment, the Second is no less fundamental a right than the First.

The Heller Decision in 2008 against D.C. once and for all put in writing that the Second Amendment was an individual right, and NOT conditional upon militia service, and laid to rest the lie that its meaning was that the state could arm it militias. That lie began in a 1905 Kansas Supreme Court case, and seemed to achieve its own momentum. Luckily, the Supreme Court of the United States shot it down, before it achieved orbital velocity. And some said that star wars wouldn't work. (Reagan voice) Well, there they go again.

The set up for the future securing of our right to keep and bear arms was that Heller Decision, but the clincher of those rights was the incorporation upon the states of that decision in the McDonald vs. City of Chicago Case. In that case, the Supremes said that the Second Amendment was binding upon the states, thus opening the floodgate to retrieve our right to keep and bear arms once more.

A recent 7th Circuit Court Decision has also told the State of Illinois that its total prohibition against some form of licensed carry by its citizens is also unconstitutional. The legislature has 180 days to come up with some form of citizen carry system.

I won't say Hallelujah until I see the legislation, but if it looks like one of the "shall issue states" such as we are in Arizona, or Florida, or any number of others, we all ought to celebrate for our brother's freedom.

As we wind towards a close, let us remember that in years past, it was much easier to get access to guns. Before 1968, a fellow could have looked in the back of Boy's Life Magazine, cut out an ad, and had a .22 rifle mailed to his house in the U.S. Mail system. In those times, we did not have school shootings.

Many of us, even in Urban environments, had schools with a range in them. Lane Technical High School had not only a range, but M-14 battle rifles for it's ROTC Program, and the rifles were in working order. We marched in parades and on the campus with real, working rifles in those days. Now they are banned from there even in the ROTC program, and now we have school shootings.

If you want to teach children how to responsibly handle dangerous weapons, you will instill in them a respect for those tools, and you will lessen the mystique of them. You will also begin to transfer the awesome responsibility of adulthood to children as they mature into the ability to handle that responsibility. But if you try to prevent drowning by banning water, rather than teach them to swim, the results will continue to under whelm our sense of decency and proportion.

I want to encourage all of you to be proud Americans, who are not afraid to teach your children the judicious use of force, and, G-d forbid it should be necessary, deadly force. Only in that way, will our children be ready for the responsibility of leading a free nation.

In liberty, Charles Heller.
Host, Liberty Watch Radio, AM 1030 KVOI Tucson,
Executive Director, Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership,

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