The long list of "Gun-Control" myths
Back to Gun Legislation Page
This FAQ is now available at http://www.rkba.org/ courtesy of Jeff Chan (firstname.lastname@example.org)]
CONTENTS (* indicates an updated entry)
SECTION I. - Personal issues
1.0 - "You don't need a gun, the police will protect you."
1.1 - "Guns aren't an effective defense, or, the 43:1 myth."
1.1.a - "Chemical sprays and stun guns are just as effective."
1.2 - "Bad guys will just take your gun away and shoot you."
1.3 - "Guns are too dangerous to own if you've got children."
SECTION II. - Constitutional issues in the United States
2.0 - "The 2nd Amendment means you can't disarm the National Guard."
2.0.a - "What's the deal with the punctuation?"
2.1 - "The 2nd Amendment doesn't protect an individual right."
2.2 - "So you think everybody can own nuclear weapons?"
2.3 - "The 2nd Amendment doesn't apply to states and localities."
SECTION III. - Other "gun-control" fantasies
3.0 - "We ought to register all firearms and ammunition."
3.0.a - "We ought to license and register guns like cars."
3.1 - "Guns increase the lethality of crime."
3.2 - "Waiting periods save lives."
3.2.a - "The Brady Act national waiting period is very effective."
3.3 - "Ban assault weapons!"
3.4 - "Ban cop-killer bullets!"
3.4.a - "Ban Black Rhino ammunition!"
3.5 - "Ban Saturday Nite Specials!"
3.6 - "Ban plastic guns!"
3.7 - "Gun buy-backs are effective in getting guns off the street."
3.8 - "Concealed-carry reform will take us back to the Wild West!"
3.8.a - "What about the University of Maryland study?"
SECTION IV. - Deterrence and resistance to tyranny
4.0 - "Small arms aren't effective against a modern army."
APPENDIX I. - Federal "gun control" laws in the United States
National Firearms Act of 1934 - Public Law 73-474
Gun Control Act of 1968 - Public Law 90-618
Firearms Owner's Protection Act of 1986 - Public Law 99-308
Armor Piercing Ammunition ban of 1987 - Public Law 99-408
Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 - Public Law 100-649
Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 - Public Law 101-647
Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 - Public Law 103-159
Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994
(a.k.a. "assault weapons" ban) - Public Law 103-322
APPENDIX II. - Data on concealed carry reform in Florida
APPENDIX III. - "Gun Control": international comparisons
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
INDEX AND GLOSSARY
SECTION I. - Personal issues
"The peaceable part of mankind will be continually overrun by the vile and abandoned while they neglect the means of self-defense. The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world, as well as property. The balance of power is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some_will_not, _ others_dare_not_ lay them aside... Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them;... the weak will become a prey to the strong."
-=(Thomas Paine, "Thoughts on Defensive War," 1775)=-
1.0 "You don't need a gun, the police will protect you."
Recommended reading: _In The Gravest Extreme,_by Massad Ayoob (available from Police Bookshelf, P.O. Box 122, Concord, NH 03301), ISBN 0-936297-00-1, (1980)
_The Truth About Self Protection,_by Massad Ayoob, Police Bookshelf, ISBN 0553-23664-6, (1983)
_Armed and Female: Twelve Million American Women Own Guns, Should You?,_ by Paxton Quigley, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0-312-95150-7, (1993)
_Firing Back,_by Clayton E. Cramer, Krause Publications, ISBN 0-87341-344-X, (1994)
_Stopping Power: Why Seventy Million Americans Own Guns,_by J. Neil Schulman, Synapse-Centurion Books, ISBN 1-882639-03-0, (1994)
A selection of relevant cases [listed in 'Dial 911 and Die!' by JPFO (Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership) 2872 S. Wentworth Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53207, Ph: (414) 769-0760, FAX: (414) 483-8435]:
[Note: For convenience of the reader, legal citations in this FAQ have been rendered in a more familiar "bibliography" style form, rather than standard legal citation form. Real lawyers would cite the first case below as 59 U.S. (18 How.) 396, 15 L.Ed. 433 ]
South v. Maryland, U.S. Reports (18 Howard) v.59 p.396, Lawyer's Edition v.15 p.433 (1856)
Riss v. City of New York, N.Y. Supplement 2nd series v.293 p.897, N.Y. Reports 2nd series v.22 p.579 (1968) Keane v. City of Chicago, Illinois Appellate Court Reports 2nd series v.98 p.460 (1968)
Hartzler v. City of San Jose, California Appellate Reports 3rd series v.46 p.6, California Reporter v.120 p.5 (1975) Reiff v. City of Philadelphia, Federal Supplement v.471 p.1262 Eastern District of Pennsylvania (1979) Warren v. District of Columbia, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit 2nd series v.444 p.1 (1981) Bowers v. DeVito, Federal Reporter 2nd series v.686 p.616 U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Cir. (1982) Morgan v. District of Columbia, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit 2nd series v.468 p.1306 (1983) Lynch v. N. C. Dept. of Justice, Southeastern Reporter 2nd series v.376 p.247 North Carolina Court of Appeals (1989) Marshall v. Winston, Southeastern Reporter 2nd series v.389 p.902 Virginia (1990)
In summary: Police can only act once a crime is occurring or has already been committed. They cannot be held liable for failure to arrive in time to save any particular individual from harm, so long as they aren't someone who has a special relationship with the police, like a protected witness. There aren't, and there ought not to be, sufficient police to act as personal bodyguards for every citizen, 24 hours a day, and any guarantee to that effect would be extremely expensive in terms of both money and liberty.
1.1 "Guns aren't effective defensive weapons, and are more likely to kill their owners or family members than they are useful to defend against criminal attack."
See_Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America,_by Gary Kleck, Aldine de Gruyter, ISBN 0-202-30419-1 (1991) also_Criminal Victimization in the United States,_1992_ A National Crime Victimization Survey Report,_Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Dept. of Justice SuDoc# J 29.9/2:992 (1992)
Rushforth, Norman B., Hirsch, Charles S., Ford, Amasa B., and Adelson, Lester, "Accidental Firearm Fatalities in a Metropolitan County (1958-1975)," American J. of Epidemiology, v.100, pp.499-505 (1975)
Kellerman, Arthur L. and Reay, Donald T., "Protection or Peril? An Analysis of Firearm-Related Deaths in the Home" New England J. Medicine, v.314, pp.1557-1560 (1986)
In summary: Whether cited as a "6 to 1" ratio (as in the 1975 'study'), or a "43 to 1" ratio (as in the Kellerman 'study' of 1986), the often- quoted "studies that show" having a gun in the home is a far greater risk to you and your loved ones than to criminals, are a favorite topic of discussion here on t.p.g., if for no other reason than to demonstrate that "gun control" supporters (like our good friend "Pim van Meurs") will go to extraordinary statistical contortions in an attempt to support their flawed premises. The idea that guns (and handguns in particular) are ineffective as defensive weapons shows a distinct lack of imagination.
The basis for comparison in these studies is the ratio of "firearm- related deaths" of household members vs. deaths of criminals killed in the home. The "firearm-related deaths" in the studies include suicides and accidents, neither of which are randomly distributed throughout the population, as the "risk ratios" would imply. Both suicides and accidents are more likely to occur in specific categories of people than they are in the general population. Also, sometimes a "gun cleaning accident" is actually a suicide reported under a name less likely to deny payment from a life insurance company. People who are violent, unbalanced, or involved in a life of crime are much more likely to use their home gun unwisely, and their odds of using it to harm another or themselves are higher than average. If a person is stable, and not suicidal, and not prone to extreme violence, their odds will be far lower than average. The odds of being injured will decrease further with training in safe gun handling, much as firearms accidents have declined in the U.S. population recently due to such safety education. (See 1.3) Another factor inflating the statistics of "firearm-related deaths" in these studies is that legitimate incidents of self-defense against nonstrangers (such as abusive spouses, ex-spouses, or other murderous family members or acquaintances) are counted with "firearm- related deaths" rather than "criminals killed," denying the critical moral distinction between justifiable self-defense homicides and wanton acts of murder.
Assessing the effectiveness of gun use against criminals as "number of criminals killed" is an extraordinary presumption as well, since law enforcement officers aren't judged by such a restrictive standard. Why isn't "criminals deterred" or "crimes completed" or even "criminals wounded or apprehended" a legitimate means of measuring defensive effectiveness?
In point of fact, the reason these "studies" are structured as badly as they are, and are published in medical (rather than criminological) journals, is that the numbers don't work out in favor of the "gun control" viewpoint if considered in these other ways. There's no more reason to judge the ability and effectiveness of armed citizens at fighting crime by the numbers of criminals they kill than it is to do so for the police. Surprisingly, however, the numbers are quite similar (see 3.8).
According to U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics data, having a gun and being able to use it in a defensive situation is the most effective means of avoiding injury (moreso even than offering no resistance) and thwarting completion of a robbery or assault. In general, resisting violent crime is far more likely to help than to hurt, and this is especially true if your attacker attempts to take you hostage, such as sometimes happens in a carjacking situation. Most often in with-gun defenses, criminals can be frightened away or deterred without a shot being fired. Estimates of these types of defensive uses of firearms are wide ranging, but they occur at least as often (if not far more often) each year as misuses of firearms by violent criminals, since violent crimes involving firearms account for only about 40% of all violent crime, and such defensive uses are rarely reported to the police (in some cases because firearms possession in the locality is illegal).
Even if the number of crimes deterred by armed citizens annually is no greater than the number of violent crimes committed with guns each year, in the absence of these self-protective acts, the incidence of violent crime would be far higher (arguably doubled) than it is at present, and injuries to victims would also increase. The annual use of firearms for other lawful purposes, unrelated to self-defense, dwarfs both defensive and criminal uses combined, yet firearms accidents have declined, even as the number of firearms in the U.S. population has increased (see 1.3).
1.1.a "Chemical sprays, stun guns, and other non lethal methods are effective and easy to use in stopping an attacker."
see Ayoob,_In The Gravest Extreme_(see above) p.35-38.
In summary: Unfortunately, even_shooting_an attacker doesn't always stop them immediately, unless the shot is directed at the central nervous system. A fatally wounded assailant can still be dangerous for the few seconds or minutes they have left. Non-lethal methods, while they can be effective in some cases and can provide an additional option for personal defense, are not something you want to bet your life on when confronted with deadly force. The chemical sprays available to civilians (such as CS tear gas, or OC pepper spray) are not always as strong as those used by law enforcement, but even though the police carry chemical agents, they also carry firearms, since even the police sprays (like FREEZE+P) don't stop everybody, and aren't appropriate for every situation. The chemical sprays are most effective when they can reach the mucous membranes, such as when sprayed in the eyes or inhaled. Yet if an attacker is wearing glasses, or holds their breath, or is on drugs, or is just unusually impervious to the pain, the spray may not be effective. (After all, some people can_eat_extraordinarily hot peppers, and some people just have high pain thresholds.)
Chemical sprays are designed for outdoor use, and will persist and can cause problems for the defender if used indoors. Outdoors, they can be affected by the direction of the wind, and blown off target, or back into the defender's face, if not delivered in a stream. Inclement weather can also affect their effectiveness as a defense, and they require a few seconds to fully incapacitate when they work. It should be noted that pepper sprays are more effective against dogs than man, since dogs expose their mouth and tongue when threatening attack, but chemical mace (CS tear gas) is not effective against dogs, since dogs lack tear glands. Use of OC sprays on non-human animals may require the highest concentration of pepper, i.e. 10%-13%, since it is believed that dogs, for example, are less sensitive to the pain. Many sprays contain visible or invisible dyes which are useful in identifying and apprehending a suspect, but if the victim ends up wounded or dead due to the essentially random chance that the spray is ineffective as a defense, that's a fact of interest primarily to the police. Criminals can be equally and more indelibly marked for capture by the use of a firearm, if use of deadly force is justified, since their wounds often require that they seek medical attention. Medical personnel are required to report patients seeking treatment for gunshot wounds to law enforcement authorities.
The stun "guns" available for civilian use require direct contact with the attacker's body, putting the victim dangerously in harm's way, when the objective is to keep as far away as possible. Many civilian stun guns are also under powered, and require several seconds contact with the attacker in order to incapacitate, and may have difficulty penetrating heavy clothing, like winter coats. Police stun guns (like the TASER) can fire electrode darts with trailing wires_into_the target from some distance away, but even these don't always work, as evidenced by the Rodney King video. King was TASERed prior to being attacked by baton-wielding officers but was still able to move around and present a potential threat. (Some of the fired darts may have missed him, but had he been incapacitated by the TASER, the baton attack would have been even more obviously excessive, and unnecessary.) Both chemical sprays and stun guns are virtually useless in stopping multiple attackers, while with sufficient practice, firearms (and particularly handguns) are quite effective at stopping violent attack, even by a determined gang of assailants. (See 3.3) Unlike these two common non-lethal weapons, a gun, when fired, also acts to alert possible aid, and is less likely to be ignored than personal alarms. Ironically, many of the same localities which have strict "gun control" laws also prohibit ordinary citizens from owning and using chemical defense sprays or stun guns, and the rationale is the same. Law-abiding citizens are disarmed of any possible effective means of self-defense because of the possibility of criminals misusing these weapons.
Some people in high-crime "gun control" zones like Washington, D.C. and other U.S. cities have taken to carrying cans of aerosol spray oven cleaner (potassium or sodium hydroxide, a powerful caustic agent) because the laws in these localities deny them the right to carry a non-toxic pepper spray, or any other effective means of self-defense. This illustrates precisely the type of "weapon substitution" effect that opponents of "gun control" argue will occur if any particular class of weapons, such as "Saturday Nite Specials," is banned. People who are determined to have weapons, whether they are honest citizens defending against crime, or criminals obtaining the tools of their trade, will find a way around any ban, and will often end up having a deadlier weapon that the one that has been banned. (After all, if someone is breaking the law_anyway,_it matters little whether they break it to carry a "Saturday Nite Special" or a sawed-off shotgun or machinegun.) There's very little chance that banning oven cleaner will occur, since the_only_localities which have this "problem" are the ones which deny their good citizens any other means to protect themselves.
In Canada, use of pepper gas against bears and dogs is legal, but not against human predators. Only the police in Canada are allowed to use OC pepper spray on humans. Anyone else caught using this "prohibited weapon" to protect themselves faces a possible_10-year_prison_term!_ In spite of the law, Canadian citizens are "arming for bear" by exploiting this legal loophole, though the government is cracking down on sales. Pepper defense sprays are also legally unavailable to citizens in Germany, since German law requires that any such defensive spray be first tested on animals, and a 1987 German law prohibits the testing of weapons on animals. Pepper sprays are gaining popularity worldwide, however, since they are the most effective personal defense option for people whose governments don't trust their citizens with firearms, or for people who choose not to use firearms in defense of their lives and their families.
There has been some concern expressed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in about 30 cases in which pepper spray has thought to have been associated with deaths of suspects in police custody, but a review of these cases by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a pro-"gun control" police organization, said that most of the incidents could be attributable to factors such as improper use of restraints like handcuffs in ways which restricted breathing, the suspect's obesity, and/or the suspect's use of alcohol and/or cocaine. That the ACLU could find only 28 such questionable incidents during the three year period of its investigation, and also the fact that ACLU did not claim that pepper spray directly caused the deaths, only underscores the essential safety of the sprays as a non-lethal defensive weapon. (Users who are concerned about the remote possibility of killing an attacker with pepper spray should be wary of using the spray against drunken asthmatic fat guys on "crack.")
1.2 "It's too easy for your attacker to take your gun away from you and shoot you."
See Kleck,_Point Blank_(see above) p.122.
also_Uniform Crime Reports: Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted 19xx,_United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, SuDoc#s J 1.14/7-6:9xx-993
In summary: The techniques required for "weapon retention" are not all that difficult to learn, but the greatest risk for being disarmed by an attacker appears to be from open carry in a holster as police officers do. Some ten to fourteen percent of law enforcement officers who are killed are shot with their own guns. By contrast, an average of 1% or fewer of armed citizens end up disarmed by their attacker, no doubt in part because criminals_expect_police to be armed, but are mostly unpleasantly_surprised_to find their intended victims are. Police are also more frequently in contact with desperate and dangerous people, which_they_must attempt to personally apprehend, increasing their risk of being in close enough proximity to be disarmed. Private citizens with guns need not take such risks, and can carry concealed, confronting their attackers at a distance in many situations, rather than permitting attackers to get close enough where a knife or brute strength can come into play. In a home defense situation this is particularly true, if the armed homeowner is alerted by the sound of forced entry, or by an alarm. For the physically weaker members of our society, for the elderly, or the disabled, no other means of self-defense negates the advantages of youth, agility and strength as effectively as a firearm (see 3.1), and none but firearms can defeat strength in numbers. In most cases, the credible brandishing of a gun convinces criminals to look for an easier target, but if life-threatening danger is imminent, and the situation permits, having a gun gives the defender an additional option of resistance, which can reduce the risk of being injured or killed (see 1.1 and 1.1.a).
1.3 "Guns are too dangerous to keep in the house if you've got children."
See_Guns, Crime, and Freedom_by Wayne LaPierre, Regnery Books, ISBN 0-89526-477-3, (1994), where he devotes an entire chapter (Chapter 9) to this. [_Guns, Crime and Freedom_ is now out in"trade paperback" (an oversize paperback) from HarperCollins, ISBN 0-06-097674-8 (1995).]
also Kleck,_Point Blank,_pp.276-280.
_Accident Facts,_1993_by National Safety Council Staff, ISBN 0-87912-172-6, (1993)
In summary: The death of children, whether by abuse, neglect, homicide, suicide, or accident, is a particular tragedy, because for most children their safety is dependent on adults to protect them from harm. This responsibility for protecting children is primarily that of their parents, as it is for so much of their physical, emotional, and intellectual sustenance. As with any potentially dangerous item in the home, it is the responsibility of parents to do their best to secure their firearms from misuse by children who are unaware of that potential danger, as much as responsible parents try to protect their children from the hazards of electricity, household chemicals, poisons, and physical injury from falls, sharp objects, fire, choking, or drowning. Part of that protection, when they are old enough to understand, is education. Safes are available which allow quick access to defensive firearms when needed, while preventing unauthorized access; and modern firearms (particularly semi-automatics) are designed with safety features to prevent accidental discharges, but "childproofing" a home is no substitute for "accident-proofing" or "gun-proofing" a child so that they can understand the dangers and actively avoid them, whether at home, at school, or at a friend's house.
Irrationally, the same people who use accidental shootings of children to advance the cause of "gun control" are often opposed to educational efforts to teach children how to avoid gun accidents and injuries, though they may favor education as a means to make children aware of the risks of venereal disease and pregnancy. The National Rifle Association, for its part, has championed the cause of gun safety and training for over a century, and since 1988 has promoted a safety program for children in grades K-6 which tells those youngsters to "Stop! Don't Touch! Leave The Area! Tell An Adult!" if they find a gun. The NRA's "Eddie Eagle" program has been used in schools across the nation, and was awarded the National Safety Council's Outstanding Community Service Award in October 1993. The rate of firearms accidents generally has been declining since the 1970s, largely due to public education about the basic rules of firearm safety, even as the number of firearms in the U.S. population has increased. Firearm-related accidental deaths involving children under 14 totaled 227 in 1991, trailing many more commonplace causes of accidental death among children, including car accidents, fire, and drowning.
SECTION II. - Constitutional issues in the United States
"Are we at last brought to such a humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in our own possession and under our own 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, in_Debates in the Several State
Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution,_ Jonathan Elliot, ed. 1836, v.3 p.168)=-
2.0 "The Second Amendment is really just an irrelevant anachronism, but if it has any meaning at all today, it just means that the Federal government can't disarm the National Guard."
See United States Constitution (U.S.C.), Amendment II:
"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."
also U.S.C. Article I, sec. 8 (clauses 15 and 16) -- Powers of Congress:
"...To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;"
also U.S.C. Article II, sec. 2 (clause 1) -- President to be Commander-in-Chief. (etc.)
"The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States;"
also U.S. Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.) title 10 sec. 311 (as amended Nov. 30, 1993) [relating to the definition of militia]
"311. Militia: composition and classes
(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are--
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia."
also U.S.C.A. title 32 sect. 101 (as amended Sep. 29, 1988) [relating to the establishment of the National Guard]
(3) "National Guard" means the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard.
(4) "Army National Guard" means that part of the organized militia of the several States and Territories, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, active and inactive, that--
(A) is a land force;
(B) is trained, and has its officers appointed, under the sixteenth clause of section 8, article I, of the Constitution;
(C) is organized, armed, and equipped wholly or partly at Federal expense; and
(D) is federally recognized.
(5) "Army National Guard of the United States" means the reserve component of the Army all of whose members are members of the Army National Guard.
(6) "Air National Guard" means that part of the organized militia of the several States and Territories, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, active and inactive, that--
(A) is an air force;
(B) is trained, and has its officers appointed, under the sixteenth clause of section 8, article I, of the Constitution;
(C) is organized, armed, and equipped wholly or partly at Federal expense; and
(D) is federally recognized.
(7) "Air National Guard of the United States" means the reserve component of the Air Force all of whose members are members of the Air National Guard."
also Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. (1989) p. 138 for definition of "well-regulated"
"WELL-'REGULATED, ppl. a. [participial adjective] 1709 SHAFTSB._Moralists_II. iv. 108 If a liberal Education has form'd in us . . well-regulated Appetites, and worthy Inclinations. 1714 R. FIDDES._Pract._Disc._II. 250 The practice of all well regulated courts of justice in the world. 1812 J. JOYCE._Sci._Dial.,_Astron._xii. II. 126 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 THACKERAY_Van._Fair._lviii, A remissness for which I am sure every well-regulated person will blame the Major. 1862 MRS. H. WOOD_Mrs._Hallib._I. v. 27 It appeared, to her well-regulated mind, like a clandestine proceeding. 1894 _Pop.__Sci._Monthly._June 165 The newspaper, a never wanting adjunct to every well-regulated American embryo city."
also Cottrol, Robert J., and Diamond, Raymond T., "The Second Amendment: Toward an Afro-Americanist Reconsideration," Georgetown Law J. v.80 pp. 309-361 (1991)
Kates, Jr., Donald B., "The Second Amendment and the Ideology of Self-Protection," Constitutional Commentary v.9 pp. 87-104 (1992)
_For the Defense of Themselves and the State: The Original Intent and Judicial Interpretation of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms,_by Clayton E. Cramer, Praeger Publications, ISBN 0-275-94913-3 (1994)
_The Constitution of the United States,_an annotated edition by the research staff of the Library of Congress, U.S. Senate Document 99-16 (1982)
_To Keep And Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right,_by Joyce Malcolm, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-89306-9, (1994)
_The Roots of the Bill of Rights,_by Bernard Schwartz, Chelsea House, ISBN 0-87754-207-4, (1980) [an illustrated 5-vol. edition of Schwartz' definitive work_The Bill of Rights: A Documentary History,_Chelsea House, ISBN 07-0796613-0 (1971)]
_United States Statutes at Large,_published under the authority of the United States Congress; Little, Brown, and Co., Boston, Mass., [no ISBN] v. I, p. 21 (1861)
and Dred Scott v. Sanford, U.S. Reports (19 Howard) v.60 p.417, Lawyer's Edition v.15 p.691 (1856)
Perpich v. Department of Defense, U.S. Reports v.496 p.334, Supreme Court Reporter v.110 p.2418, Lawyer's Edition 2nd series v.110 p.312 (1990)
In summary: There is no historical basis to the claim that the Framers of the Second Amendment intended to limit its scope solely to protecting organized state militias from being disarmed by the Federal Government. In any event, the National Guard is a reserve unit of the United States Army, and not a creation of the individual state governments. It is essentially a Federal force which the governors of the states may "borrow" if the Federal Government does not object. During the civil rights movement of the 1960s, governors attempting to enforce segregation by using the National Guard found out why it's called "National" (if they hadn't known already). The English common law tradition, and the works of political philosophy which influenced the Founders of our Republic, as well as their own writings, show that the right to keep and bear arms (RKBA, as it's often abbreviated on t.p.g.) was considered the hallmark of a free people, and distinguished a free man from a slave (see 3.3). Prior to the January 21, 1903 establishment of the National Guard, the Militia Act passed by the Second Congress on May 8, 1792 had been in force, requiring "each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective states" between age 18 and 45 to be enrolled in the local militia, and to "provide himself" with arms as specified by Congress (originally an eighteen gauge firelock or musket). Following the establishment of the National Guard, Congress provided for the arming and training of the National Guard under its power to raise and support armies, and made the organized militias of the states into a reserve unit of the U.S. Army called the National Guard of the United States. The National Guard has been part of the Army by law since June 15, 1933; another part of the trend towards an increasingly centralized national government which began after the U.S. Civil War.
2.0.a "What's the deal with the commas, and the hyphen in 'well-regulated'? You gun nuts seem to be obsessed with them."
In summary: Archaic punctuation, usage, and peculiar grammar (though certainly no more peculiar than many modern legal documents) to some degree obscure the plain meaning of the Second Amendment. As in any human endeavor, mistakes can be made, and from time to time here on t.p.g., the authors of this particular bit of the Bill of Rights get flamed over whether there is in fact (or ought to be) a hyphen in "well regulated" (and/or fewer commas overall) so as to clarify the Amendment's meaning to modern readers.
The choice of the adjective "unalienable" rather than "inalienable" in the Declaration of Independence has scarcely received more notice than the issue of proper punctuation in the Second Amendment. Confusion over the punctuation dates back to the very drafting and ratification of the Bill of Rights, since some sources give the text of Amendment II as
"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."
with only one comma, and no internal capitalization. This version is found in the Senate Journal for Sept. 25th, 1789, and in the Library of Congress' annotated version of the U.S. Constitution, as well as in the ratification document for the Bill of Rights as passed by the State of New York. Another version of the Second Amendment, this one reading
"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."
can be found in the first volume of_U.S. Statutes at Large,_which was published by the Congress in 1861 (note the capitalization of "State" but not "militia" or "arms," and the single comma). The trouble is, the more commonly referenced version, which reads
"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."
is the version which can be found on permanent display at the National Archives, since it's in the Federal Government's original engrossed copy of the Bill of Rights which was signed by Speaker of the House Frederick Muhlenberg and Vice-President John Adams, and that is the version which was copied and submitted to the states for ratification. This is also the version found in the U.S. Code Annotated, and it appears to be the version which was ratified, but given that the one-comma version is the one that the Congress passed and published, it would appear that any of the versions can be considered correct, and the Great Comma Controversy is unresolved (and perhaps unresolvable).
The issue of what "well regulated" meant to the Framers is a much simpler question to resolve. To the modern reader, "well regulated" has acquired the primary connotation of_government_regulation, rather than that of "efficient" or "well functioning" which it had in the 18th Century. About the only common usage today of "regulate" in this sense is found in those commercials dealing with "occasional irregularity". The term "regular army" (as opposed to "irregulars") gives some idea of the type of discipline and order which the authors of the Second Amendment were trying to evoke with respect to the militia, which they saw as the best available alternative to the dangers and expense of a standing army. (See 3.3)
2.1 "The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee an individual right."
A few relevant law review articles [from the list given in LaPierre,_Guns, Crime and Freedom,_(see above) pp.238-240]:
Levinson, Sanford, "The Embarrassing Second Amendment," Yale Law J. v.99 pp. 637-659 (1989)
Cottrol and Diamond, Georgetown Law J. (see above)
Kates, Jr., Constitutional Commentary (see above)
Van Alstyne, William, "The Second Amendment and the Personal Right to Arms," Duke Law J. v.43 pp. 1236-1255 (1994)
see also _That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right,_by Stephen P. Halbrook, University of New Mexico Press [reprinted by the Independent Institute], ISBN 0-945999-24-0, (1984)
and _The Right to Keep and Bear Arms,_report of the subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 97th Congress, second session, Feb. 1982, SuDoc# Y4.J 89/2: Ar 5/5
also "In conformity with the interests of the working people, and in order to strengthen the socialist system, the citizens of the U.S.S.R. are guaranteed by law: (a) Freedom of Speech; (b) Freedom of the Press, (c) Freedom of assembly, including the holding of mass meetings; (d) Freedom of street processions and demonstrations.
In order to guarantee to all workers real freedom of opinion, the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic abolishes the dependence of the press on capitalism, and places at the disposal of the working class and the peasantry all the technical and material means for the publication of newspapers, pamphlets, books, and all other publications of the press, and guarantees free circulation for them throughout the country."
--Constitution of the U.S.S.R., partially attributed to Stalin, Jan. 31, 1924
_The Great Thoughts,_compiled by George Seldes, Ballantine Books, ISBN 0-345-29887-X, (1985)
In summary: The phrase "the right of the people" means the same thing in the Second Amendment as it does in the First and Fourth Amendments. The U.S. Constitution recognizes, but does not_grant,_the pre-existing right of individuals to keep and bear arms. This is because the Framers assumed that the basis of governmental power originated with the people, whose natural rights were either ceded to government in the form of governmental powers, specifically protected from the powers of government by listing them in the Bill of Rights, or retained by the people, according to the Ninth Amendment.
The history of the drafting of the Second Amendment also makes clear that "the right of the people" means a civil right belonging to each individual citizen. The first proposed draft of the amendment as written by James Madison reads:
"The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country; but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person."
In addition to clarifying that the Second Amendment has nothing to do with guns owned for "sporting purposes" like hunting, this earlier draft clearly illustrates that the "person" whose religious scruples require that he_not_"bear arms" would not be compelled to do so by the Congress, and that the "person" referred to in the text is an individual, and not a group.
This version of the Second Amendment also closely reflects the spirit of the First Amendment's clauses dealing with religious freedom, in that the Congress should have no power to prohibit the keeping and bearing of arms, but neither should it have the power to compel those persons we would today call "conscientious objectors" to do so. It's unlikely that Madison intended this earlier draft of the Second Amendment to prohibit the Congress only from calling up all the Quakers and other pacifists _en_masse_as a militia, but rather that each individual would respond to the nation's call as their individual consciences dictated, and that they would "keep and bear" their private weapons to that end. Indeed, the Militia Act passed by the Second Congress in 1792 did require exactly that, and such a requirement was in force for well over 100 years (see 2.0). This is not to say that the right to keep and bear arms is dependent upon the existence of an organized militia, or that_only_military weapons are constitutionally protected, since, as with the other enumerated rights found in the Constitution, the right is assumed by the Framers to be pre-existing. Just because the right to "peaceably assemble" is protected by the First Amendment explicitly for the political purpose of petitioning the government "for redress of grievances", this does not mean that_only_political speech and political gatherings are constitutionally protected. The Bill of Rights is about limiting the power of government, not the freedoms enjoyed and exercised by We the People, and so should not be subject to such a narrow interpretation in any of its provisions. The Bill of Rights sets forth the_minimum_standards which its authors felt define a "free state". Ironically, the "religious scruples" clause was deleted because of fear that the government could misuse those words to disarm whomever_it_defined as "religiously scrupulous".
The often-heard phrase "states' rights" is likewise the basis of some confusion in arguments about constitutional issues, because states don't have_"rights"_under the American Constitution, they have delegated_"powers,"_ and the Ninth and Tenth Amendments_clearly_distinguish between "powers" and "rights". Governments, whether state or federal, don't have "rights". They have_only_such powers as are granted to them under the law. This is a very crucial distinction in American law, and one which is the basis for every just government. Once a government claims the "right" to do_anything,_asserting the sort of natural rights which belong only to individuals, we have returned to an era of the "divine right" of kings.
In American law, the idea of a "collective" right (a right belonging to everyone - but to no one in particular) has no place. It was by just such an idea of "collective" rights that the constitutional guarantees of rights enumerated in the Soviet Constitution were deprived of all practical effect. "The people" owned all the printing presses, and could publish whatever "the people" wanted, but if anyone dared to exercise their individual right to free expression, they might be shot, sent to the Gulag, or to the mental hospital for "rehabilitation." Interpreting the phrase "the right of the people" to mean a "collective" right in the Second Amendment places the First Amendment (and the Fourth Amendment) in peril of similar "re-interpretation". Does the First Amendment guarantee of assembly apply only to state legislatures?
At the most basic level, the arguments for censorship under the First Amendment and the arguments for "gun control" under the Second are the same. Both involve prior restraint on liberty (see 3.0), and both rest on a paternalistic assumption that the general public cannot be trusted to exercise their liberty wisely. Underlying both is the implication that there are certain officials of the state, censors in the case of the First Amendment, and the police and military in the case of the Second, who may exercise the liberties which are denied to the people (watching and reading what is otherwise forbidden, or carrying arms in defense of themselves and other citizens) and who can be trusted not to abuse that power, or be corrupted by it, in ways which their fellow-citizens (mere mortals that they are) cannot. In effect and in fact, to defend censorship, or to defend "gun control," is to assert that there ought to be some citizens who are "more free" than others, and that second-class citizenship for all but a select few is permissible. Such elitism, obviously, has no place among those who value equality before the law as a political ideal, or as the first proposition of the American republic.
2.2 "If the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear ordinary military weapons, then everybody can have their own tactical nuclear warhead." [This is what is known on t.p.g. as the "nuclear strawman" or "Ban guns, ban The Bomb!" argument, designed to get everybody off on a tangent about whether or not the U.S. Constitution protects privately owned nuclear weapons.]
In summary: The Second Amendment protects all arms, though as is mentioned elsewhere (see 3.3), those arms which have some relationship to a well-regulated militia are better protected than those which do not, at least according to legal precedent. Many people (at least for the sake of argument here on t.p.g.) are justifiably distressed at the thought of private individuals owning such indiscriminately destructive and persistently dangerous weapons. Some supporters of the civil right to keep and bear arms, as a result, seek to interpret "arms" as meaning "personal arms" (i.e. those which can be carried and used by an individual against another individual). However, in researching the era during which Amendment II was drafted, it is possible to find individuals who owned cannon and privateer ships, much as it is possible today to find people who own tanks and planes from the World War II era (and later), some with functioning guns. Civil War re-enactor companies today sometimes own cannon and other weapons which were state-of-the-art for_that_period.
If we attempt to "creatively interpret" the Second Amendment today to say that it should now only apply to "personal arms" (in the absence of any textual or historical basis for that interpretation), what legitimate objection can we have to others who "creatively interpret" it to say that it now applies only to the National Guard, or even to say that it's entirely outmoded and can be totally ignored? (See 2.0) Any of these is an arbitrary selective interpretation, and all are equally insupportable, as would be any attempt to limit the First Amendment protection of a free press only to, say, presses like those used by Benjamin Franklin, and not the unimaginably more powerful telecommunications devices of today.
The Second Amendment was indeed written to protect all arms, and thus nuclear weapons are included. If multibillionaires funding their own private bomb development efforts seem to be a problem worthy of serious consideration, what's the solution? Follow the procedure that the authors of the Constitution provided for modifying the Constitution to adapt to changing times --amend it by following the procedures in Article V. The people who wrote the Constitution did not intend for it to be selectively interpreted in order to fit changing conditions. They planned that if conditions_did_change enough to warrant an alteration in a provision of the Constitution, it should be done with due care and consideration, and only upon the agreement of two thirds of each house of Congress, and three fourths of the legislatures of the states. _This_is the proper way to react to changing times-- through the amendment process, and not by arbitrary denial of the plain language of the Constitution, by whatever branch of government (see 2.3).
Based on a posting by Dan Day (email@example.com)
2.3 "The Second Amendment doesn't apply to state and local governments, so state gun control laws, or local ordinances like the Morton Grove, IL ban on handguns, are constitutional."
See U.S.C. Amendment XIV, sec. 1:
"1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
also Dowlut, Robert, "Federal and State Constitutional Guarantees to Arms," U. Dayton Law Rev. v.15, pp. 84-89 (1989):
"Forty-three (43) states have constitutional guarantees on the right to keep and bear arms.
ALABAMA: "That every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state." Ala. Const. art. I, S 26
ALASKA: "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." Alaska Const. art. I, S 19
ARIZONA: "The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the State shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain, or employ an armed body of men." Ariz. Const. art. 2, S 26
ARKANSAS: "The citizens of this state shall have the right to keep and bear arms for their common defense." Ark. Const. art. II, S 5
COLORADO: "The right of no person to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall be called in question; but nothing herein contained shall be construed to justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons." Colo. Const. art. II, S 13
CONNECTICUT: "Every citizen has the right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state." Conn. Const. art. I, S 15
DELAWARE: "A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and State, and for hunting and recreational use." Del. Const. art. I, S 20
FLORIDA: "The right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law." Fla. Const. art.I, S 8
GEORGIA: "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but the General Assembly shall have the power to prescribe the manner in which arms may be borne." Ga. Const. art. I, S I, para. VIII
HAWAII: "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." Haw. Const. art I, S 15
IDAHO: "The people have the right to keep and bear arms, which right shall not be abridged; but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to govern the carrying of weapons concealed on the person, nor prevent passage of legislation providing minimum sentences for crimes committed while in possession of a firearm, nor prevent passage of legislation providing penalties for the possession of firearms by a convicted felon, nor prevent the passage of legislation punishing the use of a firearm. No law shall impose licensure, registration or special taxation on the ownership or possession of firearms or ammunition. Nor shall any law permit the confiscation of firearms, except those actually used in the commission of a felony." Idaho Const. art. I, S 11
ILLINOIS: "Subject only to the police power, the right of the individual citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Ill. Const. art. I, S 22
INDIANA: "The people shall have a right to bear arms, for the defense of themselves and the State." Ind. Const. art. I, S 32
KANSAS: "The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be tolerated, and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power." Kansas Bill Of Rights, S 4
KENTUCKY: "All men are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned: .... Seventh: The right to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state, subject to the power of the general assembly to enact laws to prevent persons from carrying concealed weapons." Ky. Bill Of Rights,S 1, para. 7
LOUISIANA: "The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged, but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to prohibit the carrying of weapons concealed on the person." La. Const. art. I, S 11
MAINE: "Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned." Me. Const. art. I, S16
MASSACHUSETTS: "The people have a right to keep and bear arms for the common defense. And as, in time of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be maintained without the consent of the legislature; and the military power shall always be held in exact subordination to the civil authority, and be governed by it." Mass. Decl. Of Rights, pt. I, art. XVII
MICHIGAN: "Every person has a right to keep and bear arms for the defense of himself and the state." Mich. Const. art. I, S 6
MISSISSIPPI: "The right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called in question, but the legislature may regulate or forbid carrying concealed weapons." Miss. Const. art. 3, S 12
MISSOURI: "That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned; but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons." Mo. Const. art. I, S 23
MONTANA: "The right of any person to keep or bear arms in defense of his own home, person, and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called in question, but nothing herein contained shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons." Mont. Const. art. II, S 12
NEBRASKA: "All persons are by nature free and independent, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights; among these are ... the right to keep and bear arms for security or defense of self, family, home, and others, and for lawful common defense, hunting, recreational use, and all other lawful purposes, and such rights shall not be denied or infringed by the state or any subdivision thereof." Neb. Const. art. I, S 1
NEVADA: "Every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes." Nev. Const. art. 1, S II, para. 1
NEW HAMPSHIRE: "All persons have the right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, their property, and the state." N. H. Const. part 1, art. 2-a.
NEW MEXICO: "No law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons. No municipality or county shall regulate, in any way, an incident of the right to keep and bear arms." N. M. Const. art. II, S 6
NORTH CAROLINA: "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; and, as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they shall not be maintained, and the military shall be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power. Nothing herein shall justify the carrying of concealed weapons, or prevent the General Assembly from enacting penal statutes against that practice." N. C. Const. art. I, S 30
NORTH DAKOTA: "All individuals are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inalienable rights, among which are ... to keep and bear arms for the defense of their person, family, property, and the state, and for lawful hunting, recreational, and other lawful purposes, which shall not be infringed." N. D. Const. art. I, S 1
OHIO: "The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be kept up; and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power." Ohio Const. art. I, S 4
OKLAHOMA: "The right of a citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power when thereunto legally summoned, shall never be prohibited; but nothing herein contained shall prevent the Legislature from regulating the carrying of weapons." Okla. Const. art. 2, S 26
OREGON: "The people shall have the right to bear arms for the defense of themselves, and the State, but the Military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power." Or. Const. art. I, S 27
PENNSYLVANIA: "The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned." Pa. Const. art. I, S 21
RHODE ISLAND: "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." R. I. Const. art. I, S 22
SOUTH CAROLINA: "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. As, in times of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they shall not be maintained without the consent of the General Assembly. The military power of the State shall always be held in subordination to the civil authority and be governed by it. No soldier shall in time of peace be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner nor in time of war but in the manner prescribed by law." S. C. Const. art. I, S 20
SOUTH DAKOTA: "The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be denied." S. D. Const. art. VI, S 24
TENNESSEE: "That the citizens of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime." Tenn. Const. art. I, S 26
TEXAS: "Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in lawful defense of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime." Tex. Const. art. I, S 23
UTAH: "The individual right of the people to keep and bear arms for security and defense of self, family, others, property, or the State, as well as for the other lawful purposes shall not be infringed; but nothing herein shall prevent the legislature from defining the lawful use of arms." Utah Const. art. I, S 6
VERMONT: "That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the State - and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to the civil power." Vt. Const. Ch. I, art. 16
VIRGINIA: "That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power." Va. Const. art I, S 13
WASHINGTON: "The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain, or employ an armed body of men." Wash. Const. art. I, S 24
WEST VIRGINIA: "A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, and for lawful hunting and recreational use." W. Va. Const. art. III, S 22
WYOMING: "The right of citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the state shall not be denied." Wyo. Const. art. I, S 24
Seven (7) states do not have a constitutional provision on arms: California, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Wisconsin."
Cottrol and Diamond, Georgetown Law J.
Halbrook,_That Every Man Be Armed_(see above)
_Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty,_by James Bovard, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0-312-10351-4, (1994)
Dred Scott v. Sanford (see above) Butchers Benevolent Association v. Crescent City Live-Stock Landing & Slaughter-House Co. [a.k.a._Slaughter-House_Cases_], U.S. Reports v.83 (16 Wallace) p.36, Lawyer's Edition v.21 p.394 (1872) U.S. v. Cruikshank, et al., U.S. Reports v.92 pp.542, Lawyer's Edition v.23 p.588 (1875) cited in Presser v. Illinois, U.S. Reports v.116 p.252, Supreme Court Reports v.6 p.580, lawyer's Edition v.29 p.615 (1886) cited in Quilici v. Morton Grove, Federal Reporter 2nd series v.695 p.261 (7th Circuit, 1982)
In summary: The history of "gun control" in the United States is undeniably rooted in racism. The infamous Supreme Court decision in the_Dred Scott_case mentions among the rights of a free citizen "the right to keep and carry arms wherever they went" and argues that to recognize Negroes as citizens in any one state, with all the "privileges and immunities" of citizenship, might compel every state to do so, a prospect which the Court postponed with dread for over a century. The earliest "gun control" laws were aimed at disarming slaves, free blacks, and freedmen, and even provided that white citizen patrols "shall enter into all Negro houses and suspected places, and search for arms and other offensive or improper weapons, and may lawfully seize and take away all such arms, weapons, and ammunition..." a situation not unlike today's warrantless sweeps of public housing projects for weapons and other contraband. Penalties for selling or providing arms to blacks were likewise steep, for instance, an 1811 Louisiana statute provided for a $500 fine and up to a year in prison for selling arms to slaves.
Following the Civil War, these same types of provisions were included in "Jim Crow" laws, with the disarmament of black Americans enforced by the terror of the Ku Klux Klan. The U.S. Congress moved to deal with this and other violations of the civil rights of black Americans through the Fourteenth Amendment, which created a national citizenship, gave the Congress the power to protect citizens of the United States from abridgment of their Federally recognized rights under the Constitution by the state governments, and guaranteed equal protection of the rights of all citizens by the governments of the states and the Union. In the case of_U.S. v. Cruikshank,_the Supreme Court continued the denial of the plain meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment which it had begun in the_Slaughter-House Cases_by ruling that the federal government had no power to protect citizens against private actions which violated their constitutional rights, despite the fact that failure to afford equal protection of the law was clearly within the scope of the Amendment. In this case, William Cruikshank and a mob of nearly one hundred others were indicted under the Enforcement Act of 1870 with criminal conspiracy to violate the civil rights of two black men, Levi Nelson and Alexander Tillman, including their right to peaceably assemble, and their right to keep and bear arms. Though the authors of the Reconstruction Amendments, of which the Fourteenth was a part, clearly expressed their intent to extend the "privileges and immunities" of the federal Bill of Rights to all men, regardless of race, the Court took it upon itself to decide which parts of the Bill of Rights were binding upon the states, through a doctrine of selective "incorporation," thus allowing the injustice of statutory racism to persist until the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s.
"Gun control" advocates who rely upon_Cruikshank_(or the later decision in_Presser v. Illinois_) to support the idea that the Second Amendment is not binding upon the States via the Fourteenth are relying upon the same arguments used to deny the civil rights of black Americans after the Civil War. Further, the constitutions of most of the states include a provision protecting the individual right to keep and bear arms, to varying degrees. This fact further undermines the contention that the Second Amendment protects only the state's organized militia (see 2.0), especially considering that some of the state constitutions, like Virginia's, pre-date the federal constitution. The right to keep and bear arms is fundamental, because the right to self defense is fundamental, not only against the actions of common criminals, but against those uncommon criminals acting under the auspices of government as well (see 3.3).
SECTION III. - Other "gun-control" fantasies
"And so a lot of people say there's too much personal freedom. When personal freedom's being abused, you have to move to limit it. That's what we did in the announcement I made last weekend on the public housing projects, about how we're going to have weapon sweeps and more things like that to try to make people safer in their communities."
-=(U.S. President Bill Clinton, MTV's "Enough is Enough," 4/19/94)=-
"If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an_out_right_ban, picking up every one of them. "Mr. and Mrs. America, turn 'em all in," I would have done it. I_could_not do that. The votes weren't here."
-=(U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, CBS-TV's "60 Minutes," 2/5/95, speaking about her authorship of the 1994 "assault weapons" ban)=-
3.0 "Registration of all firearms and ammunition will assist police in solving crimes committed with guns."
See particularly LaPierre,_Guns, Crime and Freedom_where he devotes an entire chapter (Chapter 10) to this.
Bovard,_Lost Rights_(see above), pp.218-224.
_Lethal Laws,_by Jay Simkin, Aaron Zelman, and Alan Rice, published by JPFO (see above)
In summary: Currently, all handgun buyers must fill out the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms' Form 4473, which remains on file with the federally licensed firearms dealer (along with a notation of the transaction in a bound book with numbered pages) who sells the gun. If more than one handgun is purchased at a time, a Multiple Purchase form is filled out, and forwarded to the BATF for their records. Firearms transaction records of legitimate licensed dealers, though stored in this decentralized paper-based manner, are still readily accessible and traceable by law enforcement on request, if, for instance, a gun used to commit a crime needs to be traced to its original point of sale. The records include the gun make, model, caliber, and information about the original purchaser, as well as the gun's unique serial number. Wholesale transactions, between dealers and manufacturers (or importers), and among dealers, are noted in the bound book, so tracing a firearm involves calling the manufacturer and tracing it down through these records to the point of sale. All weapons covered by the National Firearms Act of 1934 (see Appendix I) are recorded by the BATF in their centralized National Firearms Registry. If a licensed dealer goes out of business, all records of its firearms transactions are acquired by the BATF, but the Bureau is forbidden by law from computerizing these records so as to create a national registry of non-NFA weapons. (Nevertheless, the Bureau's current policies, such as raising the licensing fees, have driven many dealers out of business, and the Bureau is now working to computerize the records of defunct licensees, a direct violation of the expressed intent of Congress, and Federal law. The BATF, in its defense, claims that it is merely using its computers to index the paper records, and not compiling them into a centralized list of non-NFA weapons and their purchasers.)
Such national registration could be used, as it often has been used in the past in particular locales, not to trace guns used in crime, but to aid in the confiscation of firearms from the public at large. In 1967, New York City required that all owners of rifles and shotguns register their guns with the police, and obtain a license to own what was_already_their property. Later, in 1992, New York City banned the ownership of most semi-automatic rifles, and even certain other types of rifles, claiming (falsely) that they were "assault rifles" (see 3.3). The existence of the registration lists enabled police to send out threatening letters to gun owners demanding that they surrender what had been, until that time, their legal property, without compensation. Police even went door-to-door demanding that gun owners turn over their weapons, even though they had not been found guilty of committing any crime (other than that they were violating the "gun control" law), and many of the guns which were prohibited cost several hundred, or even thousands of dollars.
Registration lists, in other countries, while produced with perhaps the best intentions, have later been used by tyrannical governments to disarm political opponents or targeted minorities, such as happened with registration lists generated by the Weimar Republic when the Nazis came to power in Germany. Anti-semitic laws were passed requiring that Jews turn in their weapons, which most Jews dutifully did, unaware of the horror of the Shoah which awaited. "Gun control" schemes, such as these, have contributed to aiding and abetting genocide's throughout this century (see 3.3 and 4.0).
For gun registration laws to be useful in solving crimes, some rather unlikely things all have to happen. The gun must be used in the crime, recovered by the police at the scene or from the suspect, the suspect must have fled the scene, leaving only the gun to directly tie him to the crime, and the suspect must have registered the gun using his true name or unique identifying marks like fingerprints, or the owner of the gun must be able to provide police with a lead to the criminal. Further, the gun's serial number must still be readable, so as to identify that particular gun from all others of that make and model, and the ballistics characteristics of the gun cannot have changed very much from the time it was used in the crime. Firing the gun with an abrasive in the barrel, or placing it in conditions where it could rapidly corrode could easily change the ballistics, and grinding off or multiply stamping the serial number could produce an untraceable weapon. Such "sterile" guns are fairly common among criminals concerned about the traceability of their weapons, and evidently quite unconcerned about the fact that tampering with the serial number or other identifying marks on a gun is a serious crime in itself, not to mention the fact that mere possession of a gun by a convicted felon is also a crime.
Registration of ammunition sales is laughable as a crime control measure, for several reasons. Stamping an individual unique serial number on every bullet of the_billions_of rounds of ammunition used lawfully by Americans each year is impossible enough, both due to lack of space on the bullet (how do you label shotgun shot?), and the sheer scope of the task (considering that you cannot repeat a number in subsequent years, because ammunition produced in one year isn't all shot up during the year, and it can remain stable and usable for many years); but expecting such an identifying mark to survive impacting a target, and not be torn to pieces or smashed into illegibility, is even more fanciful. (Nevertheless, "gun control" proponents haven't been joking when such schemes were proposed.) Serializing ammunition also ignores how easy it is to cast one's own bullets, or machine them, and load them into existing cases (and there are thousands of hobbyist reloaders out there who tinker with ammunition performance and accuracy in an effort to outdo the mass-produced ammunition made by companies such as Winchester, Federal, Remington, and others).
Just recording the sales of ammunition in the manner required by law for recording gun purchases, as was once Federal law (see Firearms Owner's Protection Act, Appendix I), quickly generates mountains of useless paper, with no value in solving crimes. The overwhelming majority of ammunition used in this country is purchased and used lawfully, and the amount used by criminals to commit crimes in any given year could likely fit into a small closet. Most ammo is used for target shooting and hunting, and for keeping in practice for self defense, so if buying ammunition is in itself a suspicious act, half of America is guilty.
3.0.a "Guns ought to be licensed and registered like cars."
See particularly LaPierre,_Guns, Crime, and Freedom,_where he devotes an entire chapter (Chapter 7) to this.
National Safety Council Staff,_Accident Facts_(see above)
In summary: Automobiles must only be licensed for use upon public roads, and license is not required for the purchase of one car (or many cars). There are no waiting periods or background checks on the purchase of cars. People who misuse their cars are punished for their own actions, and particular types of cars aren't banned or taken away from those who use them safely. Unlike driving on public roads, which is a privilege, owning a gun is a right explicitly protected by the U.S. Constitution (see 2.1), and the right of self-defense is fundamental and inalienable, so requiring a license to own the means of self defense is like requiring a license to live. Licensing of law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed weapon is permissible, because, like driving, the State has an interest in maintaining public safety by ensuring as best it can that only the law-abiding carry in public. However, some supporters of the civil right to keep and bear arms oppose requiring a permit for concealed carry, and prefer a permitless system like that of Vermont, which simply punishes misuse of guns, rather than restricting their lawful use (see 3.8). Restricting the ability of law-abiding citizens to own and use firearms on their own property, and in defense of their homes and families, is unjust, and constitutes prior restraint (that is, punishment before any crime has been committed).
Guns, which "gun control" supporters claim are "designed only to kill" were involved in about 1,400 accidental deaths in 1990, and an additional 18,800 suicides, and 13,600 murders, for a total of 33,800 firearm-related deaths. There are more than 200,000,000 firearms in private hands in the United States. By contrast, motor vehicles, which are not (supposedly) "designed to kill" were involved in about 46,000 accidental deaths in 1990, and an additional 2,400 people decided to suck on an exhaust pipe to end their lives, for a total of some 48,400 motor-vehicle related deaths. There are about 143,000,000 passenger cars in use in the United States. From looking objectively at the numbers, these_licensed_and_registered_transport devices routinely kill more people than the (for the most part)_unlicensed,_and_unregistered_deadly weapons do. And it isn't because these devices "designed only to kill" aren't used a lot; U.S. gun owners go through about 4,000,000,000 (that's four BILLION) rounds of ammunition a year. The fact is, most people use guns at least as responsibly as they use their automobiles, and the vast majority of gunowners never harm anyone. That being the case, why punish everyone for the wrongs committed by a few, whether they be criminal car drivers or criminals with guns?
Adapted in part from a posting by William Gray (firstname.lastname@example.org)
3.1 "Guns increase the lethality of crime."
In summary: This argument (a favorite of t.p.g.'s resident spammer "Pim van Meurs") ignores that, in the absence of guns, the younger, more agile, and/or physically stronger criminal has much less difficulty in overpowering his victim, particularly if the victim is elderly or disabled. This is certainly true in the case where there are multiple assailants, since, in the absence of firearms, there is no way for the physically weaker to overcome strength in numbers. (See 1.1.a) While the existence of guns no doubt enables people who might not otherwise easily commit violence to do so, it likewise increases the ability of victims to resist violent attacks, when they might otherwise not be able to do so effectively. Guns are indeed "the great equalizer," and removing them from the hands of the public at large returns us at best to the "law of the jungle," where the weaker are prey to the stronger; and at worst affects only the law-abiding, leaving criminals to obtain guns by illegal means which they can then use with impunity against the otherwise defenseless (see 3.8). Proficiency with firearms is no guarantee of success for potential victims of crime, but it is surely better than submission to the mercy of criminals, especially when that submission is compelled by government through "gun control" laws (see 1.1).
3.2 "A waiting period saves lives, and it might even have stopped John Hinckley, Jr. from wounding Jim Brady (for whom the Brady national waiting-period law was named)."
See particularly LaPierre,_Guns, Crime, and Freedom,_where he devotes an entire chapter (Chapter 5) to this.
In summary: Waiting periods, ostensibly for the purpose of background checks, are ineffective against determined criminals, who can obtain illegal guns by a variety of means, including "strawman purchases" by individuals with clean records, theft, and purchase from illegal dealers and/or smugglers. All of these channels are illegal (and therefore by definition unavailable to the law-abiding), and avoid both waiting periods and background checks. Background checks, in principle, can be done in the manner of a credit card transaction, if appropriate databases are established. In the absence of such databases, the personnel and paperwork requirements placed upon law enforcement officers detract from time and resources needed for combating more serious crimes. Establishing such readily accessible databases would greatly aid law enforcement in the apprehension of criminal suspects (particularly fugitives), and seems a good idea on its own merits, aside from "gun control". Waiting periods did not and would not stop John Hinckley, Jr. (who had a clean criminal record, and whose mental health history had been covered up by his wealthy parents, and who purchased a .22 revolver in Texas several_months_before his attempt to assassinate President Reagan), or convicted mass murderer Colin Ferguson (who purchased the 9mm Ruger in April he used to attack passengers on the Long Island Railroad in December after undergoing a fifteen-day waiting period and mandatory background check in California), or the murderer of John Lennon (who bought his .38 revolver in Hawaii, while working as a_security_guard_for a Waikiki apartment building, despite a violent marriage, and being treated for a suicide attempt!). These cases point up one of the major impediments to effective background checks, which is the confidentiality of mental health and drug treatment records, as well as the difficulty of defining just what type of "mental health history" is sufficient disqualification for denying a person their civil right to keep and bear arms. Should people treated for clinical depression lose their right to protect themselves from violent crime? How about people with no criminal record, but who have sought marriage counseling? Recovering alcoholics or those who have abused other drugs at some time in the past?
Far from stopping "crimes of passion," waiting periods can even make matters worse, if an abused spouse is denied the best means of self-protection, while the abuser can use whatever other weapons are at hand (knives, blunt trauma, strangulation, battery-- or a gun) to kill or maim. Anti-stalking laws and restraining orders, like waiting periods, only affect the law-abiding. People who already own guns responsibly need not wait for a background check, since they wouldn't require a_new_gun (or a gun at all) if they were inclined to commit a crime. People who already commit violent crimes with guns aren't going to be deterred by another law, and are already prohibited by law from possessing guns if previously convicted of a serious crime.
3.2.a "The Brady Act has stopped thousands of violent felons from getting guns since its enactment in 1993."
see_Uniform Crime Reports for the United States, 1992, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Dept. of Justice, SuDoc# J 1.14/7:992
Houston Post, 2/28/95, p.A1
In summary: According to the report released on February 28, 1995 by the Clinton Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the Brady handgun waiting period law (see Appendix I.) has been a success. But a success when compared to what? BATF's study of the effect of the law in 30 jurisdictions which had not had a waiting period before, conducted between March of 1994 and January 1995 showed that of 441,545 applications or background checks run, some 15,506 were denied, or about 3.5%. However, the BATF study admits that only 4,365 of these were convicted felons, which brings the denials down to 0.99%. Of the total denials, 649 were illegal drug users, which is not a violent crime, but is a felony, and would disqualify a gun purchaser. Excluding this nonviolent category of felony from the count of convicted felons results in 0.84% denials, assuming there is no overlap between the violent felons and the drug users listed in the study.
The Clinton Administration estimates that some 40,000 persons were denied under the Brady Act nationwide. Assuming that's correct, then the 15,506 included in the study constitute 38.8% of the national total, and the 441,545 checks run in the study are an equivalent proportion of the total checks run for the nation. This means that some 1,141,000 background checks were run, and assuming that this turned down violent felons at the rate of 0.84%, about 9,600 violent felons were turned down nationwide. If each check took 10 minutes to run, this amounts to some 11,410,000 minutes of law enforcement time, or 190,167 hours, or 15,847 twelve-hour workdays. If a law enforcement officer typically works a five day week, with twelve hour shifts, this amounts to 61 cop/years, or about 37 violent felons a day. In other words, a reasonable estimate of the number of full-time law enforcement officers the Act has taken off the streets is 61. If the amount of time it takes to run each check is greater than 10 minutes, the number of officers taken off the street by the Act is even higher.
Divided over the nation's law enforcement officers, a total of about 550,000, this amounts to about twenty minutes work for every cop in the country, with each cop catching 0.017 violent felons during the year. In other words, you have to have about 12 cops working an hour each before you catch one violent felon by running Brady Act background checks! Or, put another way, for each 100 cops that spent_all_day_doing background checks, you would catch about 61 violent felons. Consider, in reality, that added workload is borne by only a fraction of the total officers, so in rural counties, with low numbers of law enforcement officers per capita, Brady checks may well consume a significant proportion of their workday. It's no wonder that rural law enforcement officers are suing the Clinton Administration because of an unfunded mandate, and the impositions of the law on local law enforcement have been found unconstitutional under the Tenth Amendment in five jurisdictions. (See Appendix I.)
At the same time, it's important not to forget that 30,400 people who were not violent felons were denied purchase during the year, though perhaps as many as 1,677 of these were illegal drug users, and 177 were mentally disabled. This gives the Brady checks a false positive rate of about 2.5%, or one out of every 40 people who apply are unjustly denied, some 117 each workday. At the same time, 37 violent felons get caught each workday. The act would seem to "catch" law-abiding citizens at a rate three times as high as it "catches" violent felons!
The proportion of violent felons "caught" by the Brady check might be expected to diminish as criminals shift exclusively to other means of acquiring weapons. As a comparison, an estimated 742,130 arrests were made in 1992 for violent crime, or about 2,854 each workday. As a crime-fighting measure, Brady checks are a tiny blip on the screen, and inconvenience both police and law-abiding citizens on a daily basis. The possibility exists, with so many false positives, that the Act can be abused to deny legitimate purchases due to_any_legal infraction, like a speeding ticket, and would require going to court to show that your record does not disqualify you from owning a gun. The idea that violent criminals get more than a small fraction of their guns through legitimate channels, or that the Brady Act will thwart the acquisition of handguns by determined criminals to any significant degree, and lead to more arrests, is unsupported by the current evidence. By the time the background checks are run, a criminal can be long gone, or have already acquired a firearm by means like theft or through an illegal dealer. An instant background check system, like that supported by the NRA, might help put more police out on the street, reduce the hassle and delay to the law-abiding, and provide an occasional opportunity to make a quick arrest. During the Brady Act's first year, it has resulted in only_four_federal prosecutions.
3.3 "No one needs an assault weapon, they have no sporting purpose, they're only intended to kill people."
See particularly LaPierre,_Guns, Crime, and Freedom,_where he devotes an entire chapter (Chapter 6) to this.
Madison, James, Hamilton, Alexander, and Jay, John, _The Federalist_#46
Halbrook,_That Every Man Be Armed_
Cottrol and Diamond, Georgetown Law J.
Simkin, Zelman, and Rice,_Lethal Laws,_(see above)
_Crime and the Sacking of America: The Roots of Chaos,_by Andrew P. Thomas, Brassey's, ISBN 0-275-94913-3 (1994)
Aymette v. State, Tennessee Reports v.21 (2 Humphreys) p.154 (1840) cited in
U.S. v. Miller, U.S. Reports v.307 p.174, Supreme Court Reporter v.59 p.816, Lawyer's Edition v.83 p.1206 (1939)
In summary: So-called "assault weapons" are not machine-guns (which have been heavily taxed and restricted since 1934), and are less powerful than some commonly used hunting rifles, like the .30-06 . They are defined in law primarily according to their appearance, which often resembles a military-issue "select-fire" rifle or machinegun, including a pistol grip, a folding stock, a flash suppresser or muzzle brake, a barrel shroud, a bayonet, and/or a grenade launcher. They, like their military counterparts, may use the same ammunition as other small and intermediate sized game hunting rifles, and typically accept a magazine holding a large supply of ammunition. Like their military counterparts, they are often equipped with lighter, more durable polymer or composite stocks, which don't require as much maintenance as wood stocks, and aren't so heavy to carry. They can be used for "varmint" control, competition target shooting, small game hunting, and other lawful purposes.
In point of fact, their military counterparts were designed primarily to wound (rather than kill) enemy soldiers; since a wounded soldier must be carried from the battlefield by others, and continues to consume enemy resources, without continuing to be a threat. That, combined with lighter weight both for the gun and its ammunition, made the assault rifle (which, unlike the term "assault weapon," has a precise military definition) a military advantage over older infantry weapons which were often based on heavier caliber hunting guns.
The right of civilians in a free society to possess "military-looking," or even actual military weapons, is essential if a monopoly of force is not to reside in the hands of government, where modern history shows the potential for far greater abuses and crimes exists than are possible for any deranged individual. Every major genocide in the twentieth century has been preceded by laws which disarmed the eventual victims of their ability to resist the progressive imposition of murderous tyranny. Once granted a monopoly of force, government acquires power that cannot be readily opposed or revoked. (See 4.0) And, if government fails to act, as in time of natural disaster or a riot, the ability to defend against roving gangs or to deter looting requires a dependable, versatile, and credible deterrent to whatever threat may appear, and possibly even a means to obtain small game for survival. Or, if government is too far away to act quickly, for instance in remote rural areas, or miles from shore out to sea, people faced with attack by packs of wild animals, human predators, or hijacking pirates must be able to respond with all necessary force, in order to preserve their lives from harm.
Rifles of any kind are very rarely used in crime, since they are more difficult to conceal than are handguns, and "military-looking" rifles are generally more expensive than both handguns and common long guns (rifles, shotguns) used for hunting (see 3.5). Further, the Supreme Court has ruled that weapons having no "reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia" may be taxed in interstate commerce, clearly implying that weapons having such reasonable relationship with the militia are those which the Second Amendment protects the right of the people to keep and bear, moreso even than other types of weapons. In other words, the arms protected by the Second Amendment are those "such as are usually employed in civilized warfare, and that constitute the ordinary military equipment."
Prior to the passage of President Clinton's Crime Bill in 1994 (see Appendix I.), which included a controversial (and unconstitutional) ban on "assault weapons," sales as well as manufacturing of the to-be-banned weapons increased dramatically, and soon after the ban passed, it was revealed that Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D - WV), a supporter of the ban, in fact owned one of the weapons on the ban list, a Colt AR-15. President Clinton has admitted publicly that he believes that as many as twenty of the Democrat legislators who supported his AW ban were defeated for re-election on the basis of their votes. In the November 1994 elections, Democrats lost majorities in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.
3.4 "There's certainly no reason to allow the sale of cop-killer ammunition which can penetrate bulletproof vests."
see_Uniform Crime Reports: Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted 1982-1985,_FBI (see above)
In summary: Claiming that particular types of bullets or guns are responsible for particular types of crimes, rather than simply holding individuals who misuse guns responsible for their actions, is the classic myth of "gun control". In point of fact, any weapon can be a cop-killer in the hands of violent criminals. Often, it's the police officer's own sidearm which is grabbed by criminals in a struggle and used against him (see 1.2). Armor-piercing handgun ammunition, originally developed for law enforcement use in 1966, acquired public notoriety in 1982 when a major U.S. television network, NBC, demonstrated the ability of such bullets to penetrate soft body armor like that worn by police officers. Other networks and media outlets followed the "story," despite the fact that a little research would have revealed that common hunting ammunition like that used in large caliber rifles and in shotguns can also penetrate bullet-resistant vests. Rather than diminishing the threat, media publicity about the use of body armor by police contributed to some criminals redirecting their aim to the head, neck, and other unprotected areas of police, instead of buying expensive exotic ammunition or sawing off rifles and shotguns to achieve the same effect. [Officers shot in the head and killed while wearing bullet-resistant vests: 1982 - 5, 1983 - 9, 1984 - 13, 1985 - 8] Further, the "cop-killer bullet" scare, like the recent "Black Rhino" hoax (see 3.4.a), took place despite there never having been even_one_law enforcement death associated with the use of such exotic ammunition. Nevertheless, a ban on sales of such ammunition was proposed in Congress, passed, and signed into law, with the cooperation and assistance of the National Rifle Association.
Recently, President Clinton has called for banning any type of ammunition which can penetrate a bullet-resistant vest "like a knife through hot butter." In effect, he has resurrected the original "cop-killer bullet" ban proposal, which would have classified most ammunition, including that used by hunters and sportsmen, as armor-piercing, and thus prohibited. The President's proposal would also give to the BATF increased power to prohibit the sale of new ammunition by reclassifying it as armor-piercing, without requiring further action by Congress. This approach is seen by many gunowners as a "back-door" means of gun prohibition, and by the President's critics as an obvious political ploy.
3.4.a "Black Rhino ammunition, made from space age plastics, which can penetrate bulletproof vests and then fragment..."
Newsweek, Dec. 19, 1994
New York Times, Dec. 27, 1994, A10; Dec. 28, 1994, A8; Dec. 29, 1994, A16
Wall Street Journal, Dec. 29, 1994, B2
Code of Federal Regulations, title 27, chapter I, section 178.92 (b) [cited by lawyers as 27 CFR I, S 178.92 (b)]
In summary: "Gun control" supporter David Keen, chief executive of Signature Products, a Huntsville, AL based defense contractor, staged a publicity stunt late in 1994 by claiming his company was about to market "Rhino" ammunition, capable of causing "nearly instantaneous" death, "a horrific wound," with "no way to stop the bleeding"; as well as an armor-piercing version, dubbed "Black Rhino" (suggestive of Winchester's "Black Talon," a brand name of non-armor-piercing handgun ammunition which was withdrawn from public sale by Winchester after "gun control" groups seized upon the name's publicity value) which Keen claimed would penetrate bullet-resistant vests and then "disintegrate" into "lethal shrapnel" "hurled into vital organs" just like the non-armor-piercing version.
The initial story ran as a line or two in_Newsweek_magazine's "Periscope" column the week of December 19th (written by Newsweek's Peter Kotell), but the "Rhino" was first given national prominence in a story written by Associated Press reporter Robert Dvorchak, which was released on the AP wire the day after Christmas, when many businesses and government agencies (like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) would be closed, making fact-checking the story and its sensationalistic claims difficult. The Associated Press, for its part, promoted the story to editors with a notation that it was of special interest. Bob Walker, a lobbyist for Handgun Control, Inc. was quoted in the Dvorchak story, along with the alleged manufacturer, who Dvorchak wrote "acknowledges taking calls from worried police". Pro 'gun control' legislators like U.S. Rep. Charles Schumer (D - N.Y.) and Sen. Daniel Moynihan (D - N.Y.) quickly proposed extending the earlier "cop-killer bullet" ban (see 3.4) to include Keen's "Rhino" ammunition. National Rifle Association lobbyist Tanya Metaksa issued a statement saying "This has all the trappings of a hoax. What we have is an outbreak of mob journalism centering on the dubious claims of a would-be manufacturer."
The claims could hardly have been_more_dubious to people familiar with firearms and the science of ballistics. Pre-fragmented ammunition for handguns, such as the Glaser Safety Slug, has been available for many years and is sold in part on the basis that it is less likely to penetrate walls or ricochet from hard surfaces, lessening the danger to people in adjoining rooms or apartments from discharge of a firearm indoors, as in a home-defense situation. This type of bullet typically makes a large, shallow wound, since the fragments produced are each a small fraction of the total bullet weight, and much of the inertia and energy of the bullet is expended as the bullet fragments, (something like Indy cars flinging parts everywhere, carrying away the energy of hitting the wall) resulting in limited penetration. Additionally, the binder or matrix containing the fragments makes the bullet lighter, and less dense, than if it was made of solid metal. The effectiveness of fragmenting ammunition in rapidly stopping an attacker is generally considered to be less than for non-fragmenting ammunition, like hollow points.
The claims made for "Black Rhino" ammunition were even more preposterous, since the very characteristics which make a bullet capable of defeating soft body armor (that it be made of hard, non-deformable metal, preferably pointed, and that it have as high a kinetic energy as possible) are the exact opposite of the characteristics which would allow it to fragment. After Keen's inflated and sensationalistic claims were demonstrated false in independent tests by ABC-TV's_Nightline,_and it was revealed that Keen did not even have a license to manufacture ammunition (or armor-piercing ammunition, which is a separate license) as required by federal law, the company announced that it would not be marketing "Black Rhinos" after all. Since then, the other "Rhino" has failed to materialize on product shelves, no doubt disintegrated on impact with the truth as well. At last report, Signature Products is attempting to sell its manufacturing rights for $500,000 (from an ad in_American Firearms Industry_magazine). That press reports about the "Black Rhino" would be so blatantly inaccurate is not particularly surprising, considering that Winchester's Black Talon (a hollowpoint designed to expand on impact, so as not to over penetrate) has itself on occasion been misreported as an armor-piercing round. While all armor-piercing rounds are required by (somewhat melodramatic) federal regulations to_be_black at the tip, not all "Black Bullets Of Death" are armor-piercing. (The Glaser Safety Slug, in its marketing savvy, is tipped with blue plastic.)
3.5 "Cheap handguns, a.k.a. 'Saturday Nite Specials,' are the weapons of choice for violent criminals."
See_Under the Gun: Weapons, Crime, and Violence in America,_by James Wright, Peter Rossi and Kathleen Daly, Aldine de Gruyter, ISBN 0-202-30303-9 (1983)
_The Armed Criminal in America: A Survey of Incarcerated Felons,_by James Wright and Peter Rossi, U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, SuDoc# J 28.24/3: C.86 (1985)
_Armed and Considered Dangerous: A Survey of Felons and Their Firearms,_by James Wright and Peter Rossi, Aldine de Gruyter, ISBN 0-202-30330-6 (1986)
also Kleck,_Point Blank_pp.83-94
LaPierre,_Guns, Crime and Freedom_p.58
In summary: Unlike so-called "assault weapons," which are very rarely used in crime (see 3.3), handguns are commonly used by armed criminals, most often for their intimidation value, and due to the fact that they are easily concealable. However, the supposed preference of criminals for inexpensive, low caliber, poor quality handguns (the guns which "gun control" advocates term "Saturday Nite Specials") doesn't reflect the realities of gun preference and use by serious career criminals. Those who make crime their livelihood are likely to prefer the same sorts of guns as do legitimate users, guns which are accurate and well made, although with the additional requirements that they be untraceable (often meaning stolen), and easy to use and conceal. Price doesn't seem to be much of a factor when it's possible for a criminal either to steal the weapon he wants, or buy a stolen gun on the street. Guns are used to some extent as a medium of exchange by criminals, and traded for drugs, or sold to pay debts. While semi-automatics have increased in popularity among police, legitimate users, and criminals; revolvers and shotguns are also well-represented among guns used in crime, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The Smith and Wesson .38 caliber revolver remains one of the most common handguns in general use, and is also very commonly used by criminals armed with handguns. It might be speculated that the shift by police from the .38 service revolver to the 9mm semi-automatic pistol will result in increased popularity of the 9mm among criminals, just as the popularity of the 9mm as a military sidearm, replacing the venerable Colt Government Model 1911A1 .45 caliber semi-automatic, has spurred increased interest by police departments in the so-called "wonder nine".
Small, inexpensive, low-caliber handguns, by contrast, are primarily the weapons of those too poor to afford anything better, and bans of these so-called "Saturday Nite Specials" disarm largely those honest poor who typically face greater risk of being victimized by violent crime than do more affluent people who can afford to live in better neighborhoods, and homes or apartments with security alarms and armed guards. Further, restricting the availability of low caliber handguns, or handguns in general, can result in criminals arming themselves with heavier caliber, deadlier handguns or sawed-off rifles and shotguns. It's unlikely that, given that the U.S. has extreme difficulty in preventing the smuggling of_tons_of illegal drugs and_thousands_of illegal immigrants each year, we would have any greater success in preventing the smuggling of durable non-perishable goods like firearms (or their illicit manufacture in the United States, for that matter) in quantities sufficient to easily satisfy all criminal demand for them. In the meantime, we would have deprived law-abiding citizens, and particularly the most vulnerable among us, of any effective means to resist criminal attack, with predictably tragic results.
3.6 "Plastic guns, which can slip through metal detectors..."
see Kleck,_Point Blank_p.82
In summary: The Austrian-made Glock 17 pistol was the subject of a "gun control" scare in the mid 1980s, because it was one of the first widely available handguns to have a polymer frame (or handle) which reduced the overall weight of the gun. The Glock, first made for the Austrian military, became a popular sidearm for police officers, who must carry a gun for long periods of time while on duty. While the Glock still contained over a pound of steel (in the barrel, slide, magazine, and trigger mechanism) and is detectable both by metal detectors (due to the metallic content of the gun and any ammunition it might contain) and security X-ray machines (due to its clearly recognizable shape), "gun control" advocates agitated for a law which would ban "plastic guns", a threat they claimed would defeat standard security measures at airports, prisons, and courtrooms. No all-plastic undetectable firearms existed at the time, and except for a depiction in the recent Clint Eastwood movie "In The Line Of Fire" none exist today.
Rather than exploring ways to upgrade security measures to deal with possible future technological threats such as non-metallic firearms, Congress banned their production in the United States and required that all firearms sold and manufactured in the U.S. must meet an established detectability standard. The National Rifle Association helped draft the law which was adopted, and fought to prevent the banning of detectable firearms containing plastic parts, like the Glock. The ban legislation, aimed at a non-existent threat, can of course do nothing to prevent the eventual development of non-metallic firearms in other countries, and the subsequent acquisition of such weapons by terrorists.
Curiously, the theme of plastic tends to recur in "gun control" arguments, from "plastic" handguns, to "assault weapons" with black plastic stocks, to "plastic cop-killer bullets" like the mythical "Black Rhino" (which manages to combine two previous "gun control" motifs, "plastic" and "cop-killer"!). Some "gun control" supporters also advocate bans on plastic toy guns, and "high capacity" squirt guns, like the popular "Super Soaker".
3.7 "Gun buy-backs are an effective way to get guns off the street."
See LaPierre,_Guns, Crime and Freedom,_where he devotes an entire chapter (Chapter 8) to this.
In summary: Gun buy-backs, or "guns-for-cash" programs, in which police departments or businesses pay a small amount of cash or merchandise for any gun which is turned in for destruction, have gotten an enthusiastic response in many cities, and have succeeded in getting large numbers of guns "off the street". But what kind of guns? For the most part, these programs act as an economic incentive to dump old, obsolete, unsaleable (and in some cases even non-functional) guns which are less valuable than the reward being offered. Many of these programs are set up to accept guns with "no questions asked" and full anonymity for the person who turns in a gun, and can be used by criminals to dispose of illegal firearms (like unregistered sawed-off shotguns) and/or guns which have been used in crimes (thus destroying potential evidence).
More valuable modern or antique firearms have plenty of buyers, and sometimes, collectors (or even criminals looking for a bargain), have attempted to buy the more valuable weapons from people waiting in line to sell their guns at a buy-back, offering to pay a higher price than the buy-back is offering. Some people may have inherited a gun, or have an old war relic in their attic which they don't know the value of, and they may have no desire to keep the gun, so when the buy-back is announced, it sounds like a good deal. Thieves may steal a gun and take it to the buy-back for some quick "no questions asked" cash. And even the people responsible for destroying the collected guns have on occasion been known to pocket some of the better ones, either for their own use, or for later sale. Gun buy-backs have little chance of disarming serious criminals, since_they_know how valuable their weapons are, both as tools of their trade, and as a medium of exchange (see 3.5).
3.8 "Permitting people to carry concealed weapons will lead to increased violent crime, and people killing each other at the slightest provocation."
See LaPierre,_Guns, Crime and Freedom,_where he devotes an entire chapter (Chapter 4) to this.
_Commonplace Book_by Thomas Jefferson (G. Chinard ed., 1926), p.314
_Uniform Crime Reports,_FBI (1992)
Florida Statutes, title 46, sec. 790.06, pp.590-597 (amended 1992)
In summary: Persons who go to the effort and expense of obtaining a permit to carry a concealed weapon (which, to use Florida's 1987 law as an example, requires 6 months or longer residency, being over 21 years of age, able bodied, not a drug abuser or alcoholic, completion of a firearms safety course, no felonies or violent misdemeanors or record of being committed for mental illness, sworn application on file listing name, address, place and date of birth, race, and occupation, and including a statement that the applicant meets the above criteria, a $125 application fee [renewable after three years for $100], a full set of fingerprints, and a color photo), and who submit to a full background check to verify the application and check fingerprints, are not the sorts of people who abuse firearms. The permit process acts quite effectively to select for law-abiding citizens rather than trigger-happy criminals, and the records of those states which have liberalized their concealed carry laws show this. Of the 204,108 licenses issued in the Florida law's first 6 1/2 years of operation, seventeen (17, or .008%) were revoked for unlawful conduct while the firearm was present, and many of these violations were either technical (such as carrying into a restricted area, like an airport or bar) or non-gun related (such as revoking a permit due to a drunken driving arrest). In Oregon, over 60,000 concealed carry permits have been issued, and none has been revoked.
In light of these successes, many other states, Tennessee, Arizona, Wyoming, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, Utah, Arkansas, Virginia, and most recently, Texas and Oklahoma, have joined the ranks of states protecting the individual right to self defense through reformed concealed carry laws. One state, Vermont, even allows concealed carry without a permit, and has little crime. The impact of such laws on fighting crime is debatable at a purely statistical level, but states which issue concealed carry permits to their law-abiding population show less violent crime in general than those which do not, and rates of some crimes (such as homicide and robbery) which are 50% lower than states in which concealed carry is not permitted. These states, it could be argued, may have had less crime than restrictive states to begin with, but the dire predictions by "gun control" advocates that violent crime would increase in these states following liberalization of concealed carry have not proven to be valid.
At an individual level, many carry permit holders have already saved their own lives and the lives of others in the face of criminal violence. Armed citizens, permit or not, kill almost as many criminals each year as do law enforcement officers (some 348 out of 763, or 46% of justifiable homicides in 1992), and armed citizens are less likely to have "bad shoots" than the police, since, unlike the police, they aren't usually arriving late at the scene and_then_having to figure out who the bad guys are. Armed citizens may in fact kill far more criminals in justifiable shootings than the police, since statistics which are available reflect only the initial determinations about a shooting incident, and not the verdict in the case after it has actually been tried. Police are more often given the benefit of the doubt in shooting incidents than are private citizens. But, as is pointed out elsewhere (see 1.1), the true measure of the ability of firearms to fight crime isn't found in the body count, but in criminals wounded, deterred from violence by fear that a potential victim may be armed, or driven away without even firing a shot.
The fact that laws against carrying weapons were ineffective against crime was no secret to Thomas Jefferson, who hand-copied this quotation from the 18th century Italian criminologist Cesare Beccaria's 1764 book_On Crimes and Punishments_into his own notebook on law and government, a quote which sums up well the arguments of those who defend the right to keep and bear arms:
"False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Can it be supposed that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, the most important of the code, will respect the less important and arbitrary ones, which can be violated with ease and impunity, and which, if strictly obeyed, would put an end to personal liberty --so dear to men, so dear to the enlightened legislator-- and subject innocent persons to all the vexations that the guilty alone ought to suffer? Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man. They ought to be designated as laws not preventive but fearful of crimes, produced by the tumultuous impression of a few isolated facts, and not by thoughtful consideration of the inconveniences and advantages of a universal decree."
3.8.a "Yeah, but what about the University of Maryland study that showed that murders increased after concealed-carry permits were issued in Florida?
In summary: This statistical "factoid" offered up March 13, 1995 by the Associated "Black Rhino" Press said that average monthly homicides by gun increased in four of five urban areas studied by the University of Maryland's Violence Research Group, after the passage of liberalized concealed carry reform laws. The researchers do not reveal in press reports whether_any_of these gun-related homicides were committed by concealed carry permit holders, nor the proportion of concealed carry permit holders in each of the studied localities, which, if we were to assume that less restrictive concealed carry is associated with increased homicide, would be an important factor to consider. The information that is available from other sources, such as the state government in Florida, suggests that criminality by concealed carry permit holders is virtually unknown. (See 3.8, and Appendix II.)
Three of the localities studied were in Florida (where a statewide CCW reform law was enacted in 1987, and where "gun control" advocates predicted increased violent crime would make it into the "Gunshine State"): Jacksonville, where the monthly average number of gun-related homicides increased by 74 percent (a jump of that magnitude makes one wonder whether the "startling increase" was something like the increase between having an average of 4 gun-related homicides a month in one year and 7 in the next, which would be a "75% INCREASE!" over the previous year), and the average monthly number of gun-related homicides (note that they don't say gun-related_murders_here, so their numbers will include justifiable homicides in self-defense, and even what is somewhat euphemistically called "legal intervention" by the police) in Tampa increased 22 percent, and in Miami the gun-related homicides per month increased 3 percent. Complicating any analysis of Florida's crime rates is the fact that almost immediately following the passage of Florida's 1987 CCW reforms, the state changed the manner in which they collect crime statistics, so comparisons before and after the implementation of the law_can_be invalid on that basis. However, the number of homicides ought not to be affected by that, since to have a homicide, you need to have a body. Statistical changes ought not to affect the ability to count bodies, which is essentially what the Maryland study does (albeit very crudely, and without distinguishing between justifiable homicides and murders).
The wide disparities in the with-gun homicide rates given in the study seem very unusual at first glance, and this is the result of the fact that the study is calculating its percent increases in absolute terms (4 going up to 7) rather than per 100,000 population, as is necessary for any realistic assessment. Localities with few gun-related homicides per month to begin with can always show greater percentage changes if expressed in absolute terms. As can be seen in Appendix II, the numbers jump around quite a bit from year to year, also. Calculating average homicides per month seems rather peculiar, since it's widely known in criminology that more violent crime occurs in summer months than in winter months, so averaging over the year will serve to produce smaller numbers. Since the monthly numbers are much lower than those for the year, and the average monthly values lower still, they can easily produce some "startling" percentage changes. The study design seems to be geared towards producing maximum "noise" in the data, rather than discerning a longer term trend.
The question of the direction of causality's arrow is critically important to consider. Does increased homicide lead to more people obtaining permits to carry, or does increasing the availability of permits to carry increase the homicide rate? The Maryland study's researchers seem to want to argue the latter, but they have thus far offered no evidence that CCW permit holders are doing the killing! The sampling of these particular localities, if non random, can also be used to introduce bias into such a study, and sociological differences between localities would also need to be controlled for.
The two other localities examined were Jackson, Mississippi, where the average monthly gun-related homicide rate increased by 43 percent; and Portland, Oregon, where the average monthly gun-related homicide rate_fell_by 12 percent. U. Maryland criminologist David McDowall, quoted in the AP report says: "While advocates of these relaxed [carry] laws argue that they will prevent crime, and suggest that they have reduced homicides in areas that adopted them, we strongly suggest caution. When states weaken limits on concealed weapons, they may be giving up a simple and effective method of preventing firearm deaths." This quotation also points up another aspect of bias in the study. What exactly is significant about_gun_related homicides, versus total homicides? Does the fact that a homicide is committed with a firearm make the slain any_more_dead than if the homicide was committed with a knife, or with hands and feet? The researchers note that homicides by other means remained steady in the studied localities.
The researchers_could_argue that increased availability of legal concealed weapons is leading to an "arms race" between criminals and their potential victims, and more criminals are using firearms than previously, but the legitimacy of availability of concealed carry permits to the law abiding is not predicated on the frequency of misbehavior of criminals-- except in the minds of "gun control" advocates who wish to prohibit any item that could potentially be misused by criminals (chemical defense sprays and stun guns included), regardless of its effectiveness in protecting the weak from the predations of the strong. (See 1.1.a) Theirs is a policy which demands that victims "lie back and enjoy it," rather than_fight_back, and reduce their risk of injury or death.
Section IV - Deterrence and resistance to tyranny
"Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God."
-=(Thomas Jefferson, motto found among his papers)=-
"Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than live as slaves."
-=(Winston Churchill,_The Gathering Storm,_1948)=-
4.0 "Ordinary people can't fight a modern army with just pistols, rifles and shotguns! What chance does a_militia_have against tanks, planes, helicopters, and nuclear weapons?"
See_War in the Shadows: Guerillas Past and Present,_2nd. ed. by Robert Asprey, Morrow, ISBN 0-688-12815-7, (1994) for a broad historical overview of guerilla warfare.
_1984: Spring - A Choice of Futures,_by Arthur C. Clarke, ISBN 0-345-31357-7, (1984) pp. 3-13
_Paul Revere's Ride and the Battle of Lexington and Concord,_by David H. Fischer, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508-847-6 (1994)
_Afghanistan: the Soviet War,_by Edward Girardet, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0-312-00923-2, (1985)
_Lethal Laws,_published by JPFO (see above)
_The Bravest Battle,_by Dan Kurzman, G.P. Putnam's Sons, ISBN 0-399-11692-3, (1976)
_Memoirs of a Warsaw Ghetto Fighter,_by Simha Rotem (Kazik), Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-05797-0, (1994)
_The Gulag Archipelago,_by Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn, HarperCollins, ISBN 0-06-092104 (1991)
_Schindler's List,_by Thomas Keneally, Touchstone Books, ISBN 0-671-88031-4, (1993) p. 374
_Victory,_by Peter Schwizer, Atlantic Monthly Press, ISBN 0-87713-567-1 (1994)
_War in Afghanistan,_by Mark Urban, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0-312-01205-5 (1988)
In summary: While the full scope of tactics involved in modern urban and guerrilla warfare would require a FAQ by itself, the common assertion by "gun control" supporters that resistance against a tyrannical government by the use of privately owned small arms is impossible today (given the destructive power of modern military weapons) reflects a degree of ignorance of military science and an unfamiliarity with history. Certainly it is possible to_kill_greater numbers of people faster today than ever before in human history, but_enslaving_a people and_subjecting_them to tyrannical rule is becoming increasingly_more difficult_in the modern era, despite the destructiveness of modern weaponry.
The astounding proliferation of computers, telecommunications devices, video recording devices, audio tape cassette recorders, photocopiers, and strong encryption methods in the industrialized (and industrializing) nations of the world has made imposing censorship on or jamming these multiply redundant means of command, control and communications all but impossible for even the most tyrannically minded nation-state. (And, ironically, nation-states which attempt to prohibit these liberating technologies pay a severe penalty in terms of their economic productivity, as is the case today in North Korea.).
However,_knowing_that you're being tyrannized doesn't always mean that you'll be able to_do_anything about it, if the guns are all in the hands of the government. Government control over education and mass communications remains a powerful tool of indoctrination and propaganda, even when opposed by private ownership of liberating communications technologies like those listed above. The experience of the pro-liberty movement in Communist China during the student-led protests of June 3-4, 1989 shows this very clearly. Despite the presence of many foreign journalists who were there to cover the visit of then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, and despite the e-mail and faxes and live satellite feeds which informed the world of the events, and despite the courage of people brave enough to stand in front of a tank column, some 5,000 people were slaughtered by an indoctrinated "People's Army" of peasants from the provinces.
Governments (even democratically elected governments) have always held the potential for tyranny and mass murder, and the use of "gun control" laws has acted only to monopolize power further in the hands of the state. Throughout the twentieth century, governments have exercised their monopoly of force in ways far more villainous than any lone criminal or deranged individual is capable of. Tens of millions of deaths due to Communism in the Soviet Union and China, another million or so in Cambodia's killing fields, and the millions murdered at the hands of the Nazis in Germany, not to mention the millions who died in the wars fought to combat these infernal regimes, are a testament to the effectiveness of "gun control". Many lesser known tyrants have also racked up impressive body counts after disarming their political opponents or despised minority groups. The decades of tyranny which the former Soviet and Eastern European peoples endured, and fact that some people were misfortunate enough to have lived out their entire lives without tasting_once_of liberty, is indeed a tragedy. Could the wardens of such prison-states have survived, and plundered the wealth of their country, and enslaved their fellow citizens so effectively, without the help of "gun control"?
In the United States, we have been spared such dictatorship, but we_have_seen the racist and unconstitutional internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II, the death of American Indians by the thousands in the wars to establish control of the Western territories, the statutory deprivation of the civil rights of black Americans in the century after Emancipation, and the sporadic oppression of other ethnic and religious minorities throughout our history. While one might hope to avoid such abuses in the future, it ought to at least be considered that these American atrocities were the product of democratically elected governments, and whatever past crimes may have occurred with the support of the people, at least_we_are at liberty to change the shape of our future. The Founders of our republic justly realized that granting_any_government (even a democratically elected one), a monopoly on force is a risky proposition, and a sure recipe for eventual tyranny. That is the real reason for the existence of the Second Amendment, and our history suggests that it has been a very effective deterrent to the kinds of tyranny and genocide which have arisen even in some so-called "civilized" countries of the world.
Could American history have been far worse than it is, had the ambitions of would-be dictators not been restrained by the thought of the multitude of armed citizens ready to resist the loss of their liberties? And what of the progress of freedom on Planet Earth without America's strength and innovation, and the torch of her Liberty Enlightening The World? It_was_once intellectually fashionable to be a Communist, and there_were_initially prominent admirers in this country of the efficiency of the German Third Reich. How might history have changed, if there were no Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution? One shudders to consider the possibilities...
Even today, despite the development of weapons capable of massive and indiscriminate destruction, tyranny must still be imposed at ground level, if it is to exist at all. Technology has made it far easier to kill people than to enslave them. Small arms are still sufficient to tip the balance in favor of survival and eventual victory, and when combined with the liberating communications technology that saturates the modern industrialized (and industrializing) nations, they can be potent weapons indeed. Coordination of forces, and careful choice of targets can result in the capture of heavier and deadlier weapons from the enemy, starting from the basic rifles and pistols of the infantryman, on up to artillery, tanks, helicopters, anti-tank and anti-aircraft rockets, missile systems, etc.
Communications technology can be used to rally the people to the cause of liberty, much as VCRs helped the Solidarity movement win freedom for the people of Poland by putting news censored by the government onto hundreds of television screens. Even without sophisticated communications, the Afghan fighters of the mujahedeen were able to stymie the Soviet Army in Afghanistan for the first few years of the occupation, and, covertly supplied with tons of Soviet arms purchased for them by the U.S. and other sympathetic nations, as well as training and intelligence assistance, the mujahedeen were able to fight and kill tens of thousands of Soviet and Afghan Communist troops during the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation, forcing the much vaunted Red Army to withdraw in defeat. Most of the weaponry of the mujahedeen militia in the early years was obtained by capturing Soviet equipment, or obtained from deserters from the conscript Afghan Communist army, and by manufacturing home-made copies of captured AK-47 assault rifles with basic hand tools, and this is what gave them the edge to survive until foreign help was available, much as France helped the U.S. win her independence.
The Stinger anti-aircraft missiles the "muj" obtained later from the U.S. contributed to their victory, but the war was waged guerrilla-style, and as was the case for the U.S. in the difficult terrain of Vietnam, fighting an enemy which blended in with the locals, while being _obviously_foreign yourself, made the Soviets a big fat target. Both the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, and that of the U.S. in Vietnam also point to the difficulty in utilizing an armed force designed to fight a high-tech conventional adversary against a low-tech, elusive insurgency. The usual radio signals and heat signatures targeted by electronic warfare don't exist if the enemy is smuggling weapons through the countryside on horseback!
The tactical difficulty in fighting an_urban_insurgency makes tyranny a particularly dangerous task in the city as well. The Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw was almost liquidated by the occupying Nazis between July and September of 1942, but there were a few hundred out of the few thousands of Jews who had not yet been sent on the trains to Treblinka and who felt that they would rather fight than surrender to Hitler's Final Solution. Armed primarily with pistols, Molotov cocktails, grenades and explosives, and desperately short of ammunition, the Warsaw Ghetto fighters were able to hold off the Waffen-SS for almost a month in April of 1943, killing a dozen or more Nazis and wounding many more, before leading a few survivors out under the walls through the sewers of Warsaw, even as the Nazis demolished the Ghetto with aerial bombs and finally burned what remained to the ground.
If these Jewish fighters had been as well-armed as some of their Israeli descendants are today, who knows how history might have turned out? Even the much-celebrated German war profiteer and industrialist Oskar Schindler armed his Jewish workforce better than the Ghetto fighters. By the end of the war, many of "Schindler's Jews" had been provided with_machineguns!_ (A fact that Steven Spielberg chose to leave out of his award-winning movie.)
One need not be paranoid about the possibility of genocide, any more than one need be paranoid about flying in a jumbo jet. But the fact that airplane crashes that kill hundreds of people occur only _rarely_doesn't mean that we don't need the safety systems which help protect us from that eventuality, or that we ought to be dismantling them. A long-standing tradition of civilian control over the military, and a rich legacy and cultural love of liberty among soldiers and civilians willing to fight for its defense won't disappear overnight. Chances are only a few police or military would join in any tyrannical endeavor in these United States, but who knows what perils the future may hold for our great-grandchildren --and_their_grandchildren.
One hopes the military will always take seriously its oath to preserve, protect and defend our Constitution against all the enemies of liberty, both foriegn_and_domestic; and that police will refuse to enforce laws which are unconstitutional, and will refuse to be corrupted by power and illicit wealth. But history has taught us that many unthinkable things are indeed possible, and that in Alexander Hamilton's words "To model our political system upon speculations of lasting tranquillity, is to calculate on the weaker springs of the human character."
The Founders of this country knew the road that "gun control" leads to quite well, no matter what "good intentions" are claimed for it. It was the British attempt on April 18-19, 1775 to seize and destroy the colonists' arsenal stored near Lexington, at Concord Massachusetts, that prompted Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Dr. Samuel Prescott to ride and alert the countryside. The contingent of 700 British troops marched up the road from Boston, and at Lexington Green were met by 70 colonial Minutemen (so-called because they were supposedly ready to fight on a minute's notice). The British had cannon, and would use them when the Minutemen refused the British order to throw down their arms and disperse. In the subsequent skirmish there were a few casualties on each side, but the Minutemen did disperse, and the Redcoats then proceeded past Lexington to Concord, where they destroyed what few munitions and supplies the colonists had been unable to remove in the additional time that eight Minutemen had purchased with their lives.
From the countryside, alerted by the news of the riders and Minutemen, and by alarm bells and warning cannon shots, came the citizen militia, the good men of Lexington and Concord, some 4,000 strong, ready with their loaded muskets in hand. It was only then the Redcoats began their retreat to Boston, surrounded by angry colonial snipers shooting from cover behind stone walls, hedgerows, and houses, who kept up the barrage in engagement after engagement along the length of the road, picking off 273 British soldiers (killing 73 of them) while incurring only 95 casualties themselves (of which 49 died). This was "The Shot Heard Round the World" and the humble beginning of the American Revolution.
The Biggest Myths of "Gun Control": A Look At U.S. Federal Legislation
[Disclaimer: Firearms laws change frequently, and vary from state to state. None of the information contained in Appendix II should be considered legal advice or a legal restatement of any Federal firearms laws or regulations. Consult a lawyer, your local law enforcement, and/or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for further information regarding firearms laws and taxes in your area.]
National Firearms Act (NFA'34) - Public Law 73-474
The violence associated with alcohol Prohibition, and the threat of Communist and anarchist subversion during the 1930s, prompted in 1934 the restriction of so-called "gangster weapons" from availability to the general public. The weapons defined as "firearms" under the NFA include machine-guns, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, "zip" guns (homemade firearms) which use rifle or shotgun ammunition, silencers, and "destructive devices" (artillery, bombs, grenades, and other guns over .50 caliber, excluding ordinary shotguns). The act also considers any parts of these restricted weapons, or any weapons easily convertible into a restricted weapon, whether assembled or not, to be equally restricted. Because of the Second Amendment's limitation on the power of the Federal Government to simply ban these weapons outright, a strategy of licensing, registration, and taxation was used to limit the ownership of weapons which the Congress deemed undesirable. The act gave regulatory and tax collecting powers to the Treasury Department's "revenuers" (who were at the time busting up stills and "speakeasies" and barrels of moonshine), a department which eventually grew into the current Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF), a tax collection agency with its own SWAT team.
All NFA weapons are subject to a $200 tax every time their ownership changes from one federally registered owner to another, and each new NFA weapon is subject to a manufacturing tax when it is made, and it must be registered with the BATF in its National Firearms Registry. To become a registered owner of NFA weapons, a complete FBI background investigation is done, checking for any criminal history or tendencies toward violence, and an application must be submitted to the BATF including two sets of fingerprints, a recent photo, and sworn affidavit that transfer of the NFA firearm is of "reasonable necessity" and that sale to and possession of the weapon by the applicant "would be consistent with public safety." Because the transfer tax for one NFA weapon is just as high as the cost of a Class III dealer's license, most machinegun enthusiasts opt for the dealer's license also, if they want to buy more than one NFA weapon. The Class III FFL (Federal Firearms License) is good for three years, and a renewal fee of $90 must continue to be paid in order to maintain the license, every three years. The license fee to be a dealer in "destructive devices" (tanks, artillery, and bombs, for example) is considerably steeper, at $1,000_a year._ Even with a dealer's license, the transfer taxes must still be paid, but some of the paperwork involved in the transfer is reduced, such as for the background investigation. Since 1986, no new machine-guns have been available to Class III licensed civilians. (See Firearms Owners Protection Act, below) Since 1934, only one legally owned machinegun (of some 100,000+) has ever been used in crime.
Except perhaps at Waco, Texas in 1993...
Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA'68) - Public Law 90-618
Amended the National Firearms Act of 1934 (which is a section of the Internal Revenue excise tax code) to ban the interstate shipment (primarily mail order, but also just transportation) of firearms and ammunition, and out-of-state purchase of firearms by individuals, require record keeping for sales of firearms and ammunition, impose stiff penalties for use of firearms in the commission of federal felonies, and prohibit sale of firearms and ammunition to felons and other dangerous classes of persons. This legislation was pushed hard by President Johnson and his Attorney General (the notorious Ramsey Clark), and enacted in the wake of the assassinations of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy and civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This law is believed to be modeled after Germany's_Waffengesetz_ [Law on Weapons] of March 18, 1938 (published in_Reichgesetzblatt_1938, Teil [Part] I, pp. 265-276), because the Act's author, late U.S. Senator Thomas J. Dodd (D-CT), had in his possession a copy of the Nazi Weapons Law around the time he was drafting the 1968 Gun Control Act. He later requested an English translation of the German text, a Xerox copy of which_he supplied_to the Library of Congress, although the Library had copies of its own which he could have requested to be translated. This was an effort on his part to fend off criticism that his legislation closely resembled the law passed under the Third Reich. Senator Dodd didn't need the translation himself, since he could speak German, and had been a prosecutor at Nuremberg during the War Crimes Trials of 1945-46, so he was familiar with German law. The parallels between the two laws _are_striking (including for the first time the introduction into American firearms law of the European concept of "sporting purpose," a direct translation of "Sport-zwecke" in the 1938 statute), and there was no apparent reason for Senator Dodd to own a copy of the Nazi Waffengesetz, or any other Nazi law which did not figure in the evidence at Nuremberg. Yet own it he did. For more information about this incident, and a line-by-line comparison of the two laws, see the book _"Gun Control" Gateway to Tyranny,_by Jay Simkin and Aaron Zelman, published by JPFO (see above), as well as_Federal Firearms Legislation - Hearings Before the Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency of the Committee on the Judiciary,_United States Senate, 90th Congress, second session, June 26-28 and July 8-10, 1968; SuDoc# Y4.J89/2:F51/3 , pp.489-496.
Firearms Owners' Protection Act (McClure-Volkmer Act) - Public Law 99-308
Amended the Gun Control Act of 1968 to repeal some of the sillier provisions of that enactment, including the ban on transportation of one's own firearms to another state (which had been a hassle particularly for hunters), the record keeping requirement on the sale of ammunition (which generated enormous quantities of useless paper), the ban on interstate sales of long guns (which, then as now, are infrequently used in crime); and limited the surprise inspections of licensed gun dealers' premises to just once a year. It also made it a federal offense, whether a Federally licensed firearms dealer or not, to transfer or sell a gun to any individual who is prohibited by the GCA '68 from owning guns, such as a felon. In a peculiar procedural move, the House-passed version of this NRA-backed legislation contained a ban on the possession and transfer of new machine-guns by civilians, which became effective when President Reagan signed the Act into law, May 19, 1986. Machine-guns which were manufactured prior to that date are regulated under the National Firearms Act, but those manufactured after the ban cannot be sold even to civilians who are already licensed to own machine-guns. The Senate approved the machinegun ban language of the House bill without a roll call vote, though their original bill did not include the ban amendment added in the House and sponsored by U.S. Rep. William J. Hughes (D - N.J.). (The parliamentary shenanigans surrounding this are quite strange, and are found in Congressional Record v.132 p.H1751 and p.S5358.) This ban has been found unconstitutional in the case of_U.S. v. Rock Island Armory_(Federal Supplement, v.773 p.117) but the decision was not appealed to the Supreme Court.
Armor Piercing Ammunition - Public Law 99-408
Banned the manufacture and importation of handgun bullets made of tungsten, steel, iron, brass, bronze, copper, or depleted uranium, or alloys of these hard metals. (Depleted uranium is currently used in ammunition for the U.S. Army's M1 Abrams main battle tank, so presumably the government can keep track of its limited supply of such an exotic material!) An exemption exists in the law for steel shotgun shot, which is needed by waterfowl hunters for compliance with environmental regulations. Armor-piercing handgun ammunition is regulated as a "destructive device" under the National Firearms Act, requiring federal permission to own and manufacture. This law also strengthened penalties for federal felonies committed with armor-piercing handgun ammunition, though at the time, no cops had been killed by so called "cop-killer" bullets. The NRA helped draft the version of the law which was adopted, so as to exclude ammunition for hunting rifles and shotguns, which is also capable of defeating soft body armor.
President Clinton has recently revived the "cop-killer bullet" strategy for "gun control," but it is unlikely that his proposal will be accepted by the Republican majority in Congress (see 3.4).
Undetectable Firearms Act - Public Law 100-649
This 1988 legislation banned production and sale of "plastic" guns undetectable by metal detectors and X-ray machines, a threat which (aside from that assassin's derringer in the recent Clint Eastwood movie "In The Line Of Fire") did not exist at the time, and still doesn't exist. The NRA helped to rewrite this law so as to narrow its scope, and exclude detectable polymer-frame guns like the light weight Glock 17 pistols now in common use by police departments.
Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 (Part of the "Crime Control Act of 1990") - Public Law 101-647
Made possession and/or discharge of a firearm on, or within 1000 feet of the grounds of, a public, private, or parochial school a federal felony punishable by a $5,000 fine and/or 5 years in prison. The legislation did not apply to non-school private property located within such a zone, or uses of firearms which had been approved by the school or by government (such as school rifle teams, and police). The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled this Act to be an unconstitutional extension of the "interstate commerce" clause (U.S.C. Art I. sec. 8 cl. 3) in_U.S. v. Lopez,_(U.S. Reports v. 514 p.___, Lawyer's Edition 2nd series v. 131 p.626, Supreme Court Reports v.115 p.___, 1995) in part because the Federal government was unlawfully encroaching upon the traditional powers of the states concerning matters of education and law enforcement. The Feds had rather tenuously argued that the effect of guns in schools upon learning, and hence upon U.S. economic competitiveness, gave them the power to enact such legislation. The implications of this case upon other Federal authority to ban possession of weapons within the borders of the states, and upon Federal authority to commandeer local law enforcement officials to perform background checks (such as is implied by the Brady Act, see below), and indeed upon the very nature of American federalism itself and the increasing growth of the Federal law enforcement function, seem to be substantial.
Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act - Public Law 103-159
Imposes a five working-day waiting period (in reality, a seven day wait) on the purchase of a handgun, and requires that the chief law enforcement officer of the jurisdiction where the sale is to take place make a "reasonable effort" to determine whether the purchaser is legally able to own the gun. Though the Feds have attempted to argue that "reasonable effort" can mean_no effort at all_under certain circumstances, the impositions of this act on local law enforcement officers have been found unconstitutional under the Tenth Amendment in five jurisdictions, namely Montana, Arizona, Vermont, Mississippi, and Louisiana, leaving only the waiting period standing. See_Printz v. U.S._(Federal Supplement v. 854 p.1503), _Mack v. U.S._(Federal Supplement v. 856 p.1372), Frank v. U.S._(Federal Supplement v.860 p.1030), _McGee v. U.S. (Federal Supplement v.863 p.321), and most recently,_Romero v. U.S._(No. 94-0419) which was a 1994 case in the Federal District Court for Western Louisiana. In addition to finding the "reasonable effort" background check requirement unconstitutional, the court in_Romero_also held that Sections 922(s) (6) (B) and (C), which require chief law enforcement officers to destroy records of handgun transactions and to write letters explaining denials, are also unconstitutional under the Tenth Amendment. There is one opposing decision: _Koog v. U.S._(Federal Supplement v.852 p.1376) which was decided in Texas. These decisions are limited in scope, usually affecting only the sheriff in the county who sought the injunction. Remarkably, the Brady Act does not exempt persons who already own a handgun from the waiting period or background check (as though they would require a_new_gun each time if they were inclined to commit a crime!). A reasonable way to do this would be to exempt all holders of concealed carry permits. The Brady Act sunsets to a computerized instant background check system in those states which adopt such. The instant check provisions of the Brady Act were added thanks to lobbying by the NRA. And yes, it's true, the Brady law wouldn't have stopped John Hinckley. He had no prior felony record, his mental illness was covered up by his wealthy family, and he had bought the .22 revolver he used months earlier.
Public Safety And Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act (part of the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, a.k.a. the "Crime Bill" which was signed by President Clinton on September 13, 1994) - Public Law 103-322
Defines a new class of firearms "semi-automatic assault weapons" based upon their military-style appearance, despite the fact that they are functionally identical to and shoot the same ammunition as many other rifles, pistols and shotguns. Prohibits the manufacture of "semi-automatic assault weapons" for sale to civilians after the effective date, a provision which is prima facie unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. Classifies magazines which hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition as "high capacity ammunition feeding devices" and bans their manufacture for sale to civilians after the effective date, a provision affecting both handguns and long guns. Exempts customers of pawnbrokers from the Brady Act when recovering their pawned handguns. The parliamentary shenanigans surrounding this legislation are also curious, since the initial House rules vote effectively killed the Crime Bill, but the Republicans weren't content to declare victory, and subsequently the House trimmed a bit of the fat out of the spending portion of the bill, and passed it anyway, sending a crime bill opposed by the NRA, the ACLU, and most Americans on to the Senate for final passage. Democrats, despite being the majority in both houses, and holding the White House, found difficulty passing a supposed anti-crime measure in an election year! The Democrats subsequently suffered an historic defeat at the polls in November, leading to the election of Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, and the first Republican House since 1952. The most immediate effect of the "assault weapons" legislation was to encourage gun manufacturing and sales prior to the enactment date, including speculative investment in the banned weapons, some of whose prices increased greatly (though they have now begun to decline again). Lawsuits are currently pending which attack the semi-auto ban as being unconstitutionally vague-- in other words, so poorly written that it is difficult to determine what type of weapons are permissible.
1994 was certainly a banner year!
Concealed Carry Reality vs. "Gunshine State" Fantasy
Murder rates in Florida Cities included in U. Maryland CCW 'study' (Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation _Uniform Crime Reports_ 1984-1993 and 1963)
pop. = population (city limits, in thousands) MNNM = murder/non-negligent manslaughter
1984 1985 1986 1987* 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993
pop. 400.6 385.9 396.4 385.1 381.2 358.5 367.9 373.8 372.5
MNNM 170 131 148 128 132 129 134 128 127
MNNM/100K 42.4 33.9 37.3 33.2 34.6 36.0 36.4 34.2 34.1
pop. 289.3 285.3 293.0 285.9 289.4 280.0 287.4 291.9 288.9
MNNM 52 70 79 61 57 60 64 49 43
MNNM/100K 18.0 24.5 27.0 21.3 19.7 21.4 22.3 16.8 14.9
pop. 582.4 601.0 616.7 629.9 654.7 636.7 653.5 663.9 672.3
MNNM 103 90 119 147 165 176 128 123 125
MNNM/100K 17.7 15.0 19.3 23.3 25.2 27.6 19.6 18.5 18.6
Statewide, FL (FL, 1963 = 8.2)
MNNM/100K 11.5 11.4 11.7 11.4 11.1 10.7 9.4 9.0 8.9
U.S. (U.S. 1963 = 4.5)
MNNM/100K 7.9 7.9 8.6 8.3 8.7 9.4 9.8 9.3 9.5
* Data for 1988 in the states of Florida and Kentucky were not available due to reporting problems at the state level.
Analysis: Figures for cities given are for city limits, not metro area, although metro area figures are available. As more violent crime tends to occur in urban areas, rather than suburbs, however, if anything, the figures ought to be biased in the direction of more murders, rather than less. Each of the cities included in the U. Maryland study show declines in murder/non-negligent manslaughter rates per 100,000 population since the passage of Florida's concealed carry reform law in 1987. This is not to say that the increase in concealed carry permits_caused_this decline, but it does show that murder rates have declined, rather than increased, since the law was enacted. Further, the statewide murder/non-negligent manslaughter rates for Florida (per 100,000 population) have declined from well above the national rate to slightly below the national rate during this same period, and are approaching where they were 30 years ago, prior to the enactment of major federal gun control bills like the 1968 Gun Control Act, which prohibited mail order gun sales to ordinary citizens, among other restrictions. The University of Maryland researchers have not stated in the press whether they blame concealed-carry permit holders for the increase in homicides which they noted in their 'study,' but evidence from the Florida Department of State which issues the permits shows that crime among CCW permit holders is virtually unknown (Kleck,_Point Blank,_see 3.8).
APPENDIX III. - "Gun control": international comparisons
See_The Samurai, The Mountie, And The Cowboy,_by David Kopel, Prometheus Books, ISBN 0-87975-756-6, (1992)
_Lost Rights,_by James Bovard (see above)
[Disclaimer: The following represents the most recent information available to me regarding the listed countries, and is derived from publicly available sources. Firearms laws change frequently, and vary from place to place. None of the information contained in Appendix III should be considered legal advice or a legal restatement of the firearms laws and regulations of any of the listed countries. Consult a lawyer familiar with the firearms laws of the particular country or region of interest for further information. Your mileage may vary. Always read and follow label directions. The gun is always loaded unless you've inspected the chamber yourself. Always keep the weapon pointed in a safe direction. Identify your target, and know your backstop. Always eject the magazine before clearing the chamber, and never the other way around. Keep out of reach of children. Always wear your safety belt, even with airbags. Don't drink and drive.]
Search warrants not ordinarily required, police given discretion to disarm people and seize weapons, detention of suspects for up to 28 days without charges, interrogation without counsel is permitted, jury trial not required in criminal cases, short prison time if confession is obtained. In short, a police state.
Handguns absolutely prohibited to civilians, yet organized criminals still have them, and commit some 200 violent crimes with them annually. About the only way a civilian can own or use a handgun legally is to be a competitive target shooter, and few such licenses are issued. Rifle owners must be licensed, and rifles must be turned in to the police when the license holder dies. Shotguns and air rifles (the most commonly owned types of guns in Japan) must also be licensed, and all guns must be stored unloaded in a locker separate from any ammunition, and in a location known to the police. All firearms and ammunition in Japan must be registered. Needless to say, machine-guns are also prohibited to civilians.
Licenses issued primarily to hunters and sportsmen for skeet shooting, and for small caliber rifles, and only after extensive classes, tests, background checks (including checking for political affiliation), and medical certification that the licensee is mentally healthy and not addicted to drugs. Rifle licenses are no longer issued.
Search warrants only required for residences (and then not in all circumstances), police given discretion to perform searches of persons, vehicles, and premises (other than homes) for illegal weapons and to seize weapons, use of registration lists as the basis for "reasonable grounds" to authorize search and as consent to search is commonplace. Police are less likely to use deadly force to apprehend and control criminals than in the United States.
Handguns permitted if registered, as they are considered "restricted weapons" (as are many rifles and shotguns). All "restricted" weapons must be registered with the police, and "restricted" weapons may be only purchased for one of four purposes: protection of life where other protection is inadequate, target practice under the auspices of a shooting club, in connection with a lawful profession or occupation, or as part of a "bona-fide gun collector's" collection. All firearms must be stored unloaded in a securely locked container when not in use, and kept separate from ammunition. Trigger locks are required for those restricted weapons not stored in a safe or vault. Police may inspect the security of the storage arrangement of restricted weapons at their discretion. Transport of firearms requires a permit, and there are no actual "carry" permits issued except as a condition of employment. Firearms may not be transported without permit, and permits are only issued for transportation to and from the gunsmith (or a new address), to and from the range or shooting club, and to and from the police station where the gun is registered. "Prohibited" weapons in Canada include short barreled or "sawed-off" shotguns and rifles, silencers, and all machine-guns not registered prior to January 1, 1978; as well as chemical defensive sprays (like OC), and electric stun guns. Since few machine-guns were registered prior to that date, and all machine-guns manufactured subsequent to that date are prohibited, many machine-guns were converted to semi-automatic in Canada in an effort to comply with the law, but are still subject to confiscation. Hollowpoint handgun ammunition is prohibited to Canadian civilians, as is OC pepper spray, because effective self-defense is not considered to be a reasonable use of such weapons by anyone but police. Weapons may be added to the "restricted" list (or the "prohibited" list) by administrative fiat, called an "Order In Council," and issued by the Minister of Justice. Legislation currently before Parliament (Bill C-68) would expand this fiat power to include all previously non-restricted "sporting" guns as well, and would greatly extend the police power to conduct warrantless searches for all types of weapons, including searches of paper-based and computer records, and require that citizens assist police in their inspections as required.
Prospective firearms owners must obtain a license, called a Firearms Acquisition Certificate (FAC), in order to purchase any firearms, which is good for five years, and is basically a "must issue" system, and also enables FAC holders to purchase non-restricted "sporting" rifles or shotguns by mail-order. Licensees must take classes, pass tests, supply a recent, good-quality photo, fill out a four page application and answer questions about recent relationships and business failures, supply the references of at least two persons who have known them for at least three years (must be a fellow employee, spouse, minister, doctor, lawyer, tribal elder, etc.), pass a background check in the Canadian Police Information Computer (CPIC) [which lists all "encounters" with police in Canada, not just criminal convictions], pay a $50 fee, and wait at least 28 days before getting the FAC (with a typical wait being six to eight weeks). Confidential medical information need not be disclosed to the police in Canada, unlike the situation in some U.S. states.
Canadian information adapted in part from posts by Skeeter Abell-Smith (email@example.com)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
America's "War on Drugs" has brought with it increased use of both warrantless searches and so-called "no-knock" warrants (in which police are authorized to break down doors without warning, in an effort to prevent destruction of evidence). Both practices are strictly contrary to Fourth Amendment protections against illegal search and seizure, but are nonetheless commonplace, particularly in public housing projects, where the Clinton Administration has sought to increase their use in "cleaning up" crime ridden slums by seizing drugs and weapons. Police in the United States are more circumspect about violating the civil rights of wealthier Americans, though such violations too, have been more common of late. The use of asset forfeiture laws to seize property believed to have been obtained with drug money has resulted in some harassment of wealthy Americans, who must then prove that their assets were obtained legally, a requirement which turns the presumption of innocence on its head. Persons with large amounts of cash have been detained and their currency seized on suspicion of carrying drug money. Corruption of law enforcement has become a serious problem in several major U.S. cities, such as New Orleans and Washington, D.C. The threat of domestic and international terrorism has also been used as a pretext for limiting the civil rights of all Americans.
Prominent cases of civil rights violations by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the FBI have outraged millions of Americans, and increased their traditional distrust of government. The jury system in several prominent cases has shown signs of stress. High levels of violent crime associated with drug prohibition, while still confined largely to America's most blighted inner cities, have been terrifyingly recalcitrant to the efforts of the justice system, and have inspired fear even in those not directly affected by crime, resulting in the increased desperation of further "gun control" measures, adding one futile layer of prohibition upon another. Distrust of government and its demonstrated ineffectiveness at controlling violent crime has prompted_both_increased calls for "gun control" and the loss of other traditional American liberties, as well as increased purchase of guns, and political opposition to "gun control" by Americans suspicious of government's ability and inclination to protect them and their civil rights.
Nevertheless, the U.S. Constitution still protects the civil rights of all Americans to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, the right to peaceably assemble, and to be free from the abuses of arbitrary power which many of the peoples of the world still must endure.
The United States is still one of the most heavily armed nations in the world, and weapons of all types are legally available to her citizens with a greater degree of freedom than in most any other industrialized nation. The right to keep and bear arms is a part of the constitutions of 43 of her 50 states, and is protected by the federal Constitution of 1789 as amended in 1791. Machine-guns, short-barreled and "sawed-off" shotguns and rifles, silencers, and military heavy weapons such as tanks, artillery, and other "destructive devices" can be legally owned with the proper Federal permission, which requires an FBI background check, and a $200 transfer tax. New machine-guns manufactured after May 19, 1986 have been banned from sale to civilians, in violation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Manufacture of certain types of semi-automatic firearms which superficially resemble military weapons, and of magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition has been banned from sale to the public since September 13, 1994; also a violation of the Second Amendment. As with the machine-guns, all of the banned weapons and magazines manufactured prior to the ban dates are still legal to own. Handguns, rifles, and shotguns are prohibited in only some states and localities, usually those localities having a higher than average crime rate.
There is no national licensing or centralized national registration system, except for those weapons which require Federal permission and the transfer tax (NFA weapons). There are several state and local licensing and registration requirements, ranging from de facto prohibition of firearms, to unlicensed concealed carry. If there is any correlation between gun ownership, gun laws, and crime, it is arguably an inverse relationship in the United States.
As is the case in Canada, British subjects are subject to warrantless searches of persons and vehicles at police discretion, but searches of residences still require a warrant (in most instances). Arrests without warrant are common, and police have substantial discretion to conduct search and seizures of weapons. Interrogation without counsel is permitted, and evidence obtained from coerced confessions is permitted. Jury trials for serious crimes are conducted without many of the preemptory motions which can be used to dismiss biased jurors in the United States, and the distinction between prosecutors and defense attorneys (barristers) is not as clear cut as in the U.S. British subjects lack the protection of the rights of free speech, press, assembly, or to keep and bear arms, against the powers of the Parliament, which combines the legislative and executive functions of American government, and whose acts are not subject to judicial review by a Supreme Court, as there is no written Constitution. Liberty in Britain is protected only by the common law, and by tradition. Police in Britain are primarily unarmed, although their use of weapons is increasing in response to increased danger from criminals, who can still obtain firearms, despite being on an island with more easily defensible and secure borders than is the case in the United States. Those police who do carry weapons carry them concealed in many cases.
As in Japan, shotguns are easily the most popular firearms in Great Britain, and have a special place in British firearms law (despite being perhaps the most deadly of firearms, short of machine-guns). Carrying an unloaded shotgun in a public place is not considered a crime, whereas carrying a rifle or pistol in a public place, whether it is loaded or not, is. The special treatment of shotguns descends from the popularity of bird hunting among many British landowners. As large game is comparatively absent from Britain, rifles are more commonly associated with their military use than with hunting. All shotguns in Britain must be registered, and the prospective owners must show "good reason" in order to be able to purchase one. Handguns and bolt-action rifles are likewise permitted only if the prospective owner can show "good reason" for such ownership, such as being a member of a shooting club. All center-fire semiautomatic and pump-action rifles are banned, whether they resemble military guns or not, and are subject to confiscation with reimbursement at half the gun's purchase price or L150, whichever is less. As in Canada, self-defense is not considered a "good reason" for owning a handgun, and as in Canada, chemical defensive sprays like tear gas and OC pepper spray have been prohibited to the public. Martial arts weapons and the carry of knives in public has also been banned. Shotgun shells and other ammunition must be registered at purchase, and are only sold to shotgun or firearms license holders. All firearms must be stored securely to the satisfaction of local police, or the required licenses may not be renewed. Similar coercion is used to obtain inspections of the storage location, at police discretion. As many police chiefs in Britain, as in the U.S., are hostile to private firearms ownership, even the issuance of shotgun licenses is on the decline.
British subjects who wish to own firearms must obtain either a shotgun certificate, or a firearms certificate (applicable to bolt-action rifles and handguns), which requires, as in Canada, two personal references of persons of good standing (such as an MP, justice of the peace, minister of religion, doctor, lawyer, civil servant, etc.) who have known the applicant for two years, as well as showing "good reason" for being permitted to obtain the gun. Issuance of these certificates is discretionary however, unlike the case in Canada.
Switzerland places a far heavier reliance on decentralized government, and individual responsibility, which, when combined with a greater degree of social control than Americans would likely tolerate, helps keep the crime rate low. Switzerland's current constitution, which was adopted in 1848, reflects the influence of the United States, in that it for the first time recognized individual rights, rather than only the rights of the various cultural, linguistic, and religious groups which form the basis of cantonal (state) distinctions. Crime has increased slightly in recent years, but much of Swiss crime is attributable to the drug trade and to foreigners. Swiss citizens are generally_very_law abiding, and the Swiss have not seen the need for the sorts of harsh justice and broad police powers seen elsewhere. There is no death penalty, and sentences in Switzerland are usually short for all crimes except murder. All prisoners must serve at least two-thirds of their nominal sentences. Judges are popularly elected in some cantons. Violent movies can be banned, and racist and Anti-semitic acts, speech or publications are strictly prohibited. Arrests can only be made with warrant, and suspects must be charged within 24 hours after arrest. Foreigners who have been denied political asylum, however, can be held in administrative detention for up to a year if they are considered a risk to escape deportation. Foreigners can also be stopped by police on the street and asked for their identity papers. Police permits are required for public meetings, but are generally issued unless there is the likelihood of violence. Some cantons have official state-sponsored churches, but taxes to fund them are optional. Though narcotics are illegal, the laws have only recently been enforced with any severity. Swiss banking secrecy laws have led to the Swiss confederation becoming a center for drug money laundering. Zurich's notorious Platzspitz "Needle" Park was closed several years ago for public health reasons, and because international publicity about the park had attracted drug dealers and criminals. Other Swiss cities with similar parks have also sought to close them to drug users, and some drug abusers are instead now being given their drugs under medical supervision, as a public health measure. Violent crime is still rare, despite the widespread availability of weapons.
Switzerland requires mandatory military service for its men, but there is only a small standing army. The Swiss rely upon a militia system for defense of the confederation, and because of this, ownership of all types of military weapons is more widespread even than in the United States. The front line troops of the_Auszug_must keep their fully-automatic military assault rifle and seventy-two rounds of sealed ammunition at home during their term of service from age 21-32. The current issue rifles are SIG Sturmgewehr 90 (.223); SIG Sturmgewehr 550/551 (.223), and the SIG-Sauer P220 9mm semi-automatic pistol. Even after their service in the_Auszug,_Swiss men still remain part of the militia, either in a home guard (_Landwehr_), or reserve capacity (_Landsturm_) until age 42 (52 for officers). Practice with weapons is a popular recreation, and is encouraged by the government, particularly for the members of the militia. "Ordnance" ammunition is subsidized and available for sale at shooting ranges, and there is a regulatory requirement that ammo sold at ranges must be used there, but this is never really enforced. Sale of all ammunition is registered at the dealer if purchased at a private store, but it is not registered if purchased at a range. All types of ammunition are available for commercial sale, including caliber's for military-issue weapons, and hollow points. Ammunition sales are registered only at the point of sale by recording the buyer's name in a bound book. Semi-automatic rifles are registered at the point of sale in those cantons having registration at all, otherwise only full-automatics and other military guns must be registered with the government. Unlike the United States, handgun purchases aren't even registered in some cantons. Restrictions on the purchase of non-lethal weapons like pepper spray, which had been in effect in some cantons, have been eased.
Purchase of handguns is licensed on a "must issue" basis at the cantonal (state) level, with "firearms purchase certificates" issued to all adult residents without criminal records or history of mental illness. One canton doesn't even require a license for handgun purchases. Purchase of hunting guns and most types of semi-automatic shotguns and rifles usually require no permits. Since actual military guns are issued freely (albeit with a licensing and registration requirement at the cantonal level), the controls on other guns are comparatively mild. There are no restrictions on the carrying of long guns, and only fifteen of the twenty-six cantons require carry permits for handguns (which usually require that "necessity" for carrying the handgun be demonstrated). Laws have been passed which restrict the purchase and carry of weapons by non-Swiss citizens like Turks and people from the embattled area of the former Yugoslavia. There have been calls for more "gun control" from some quarters in Swiss society (including Pim's favorite criminologist, Martin Killias) but the tradition of Switzerland's armed citizenry is being kept alive by the activist gun owners organization ProTell (named after Swiss hero and marksman William Tell), which is associated with the Swiss Riflemen's Society, much as the NRA-ILA is associated with NRA in the United States. There are also several other shooting sports organizations.
Swiss information updated with the kind help of Emmanuel Baechler (Emmanuel.Baechler@chuv.unil.ch)
Law enforcement in Germany is primarily the responsibility of the Laender (state governments) but the Federal Office handles crimes like narcotics smuggling, gun running, and counterfeiting. Search warrants are required for searches of residences, and arrest warrants are required for arrest. German police must charge suspects within 24 hours of arrest. Freedom of speech and assembly is constitutionally limited, and certain organizations (such as neo-Nazis) are illegal. Sadly, much of the neo-Nazi propaganda, and some of the organizers of such groups, have their origin in the United States. Although crime has risen in Germany since 1990, the criminal misuse of guns accounts for a tiny fraction of criminal acts. While negligible in comparison to the United States, the use of guns by German criminals is on the increase, and a number of Germans have armed themselves in response (including ethnic minorities). Despite strict "gun control" laws, otherwise law-abiding Germans have engaged in smuggling guns into Germany from other European states such as France and Belgium, where their purchases are legal, and only a personal ID card is required. Some 14,000 firearms were seized in 1993, according to the German Federal Crime Office, and the French and Belgian governments are now reporting gun purchases by German citizens back to law enforcement in Germany. Not all guns in Germany come from other countries, however. Some guns were sold to eastern German civilians by departing Soviet troops!
The ownership and purchase of firearms is very tightly controlled in Germany, and there is total firearms registration and licensing in place. Pepper spray is also prohibited in Germany, because of a bureaucratic foul-up. There is a constitutional requirement for military service in Germany for German men over age 18 (though it_is_commonplace to opt out of the Army through_Zivildienst,_or "civilian duty," which is like conscientious objector status, but you still must do another type of government job instead). What it amounts to is that if you're not in the armed forces or police, the government doesn't trust you with a firearm (at least not without an extensive investigation and a government-issued license).
Gun owners must be licensed, and this requires a full background check, taking two months to two years. The background check is run through a central records office in Berlin. Licenses are granted only to people who are in "concrete danger," such as security guards, or (rarely) if the licensing office thinks you have demonstrated "need". There are "collector's licenses" for antique guns, but for the average German, such licenses are nearly impossible to obtain. Collector's licenses are very expensive (~$1,000), and collectors are not permitted to buy ammunition for the guns in their collection, or shoot the guns in their collection (where's the fun in that?). People who have acquired guns by inheritance are also prohibited from buying ammunition for them unless they get a proper permit to do so. The most common types of licenses are those for hunters and sport-shooters, but hunting is a rich man's sport in Germany, since you must pay the landowner for the right to hunt (~$1,500-$6,000), and essentially this means that hunters will often form hunting clubs. Sport-shooting is also a fairly expensive hobby since guns and ammo are heavily taxed. The tests for obtaining a hunter's or sport-shooter's license cost about $130-$150, and registration fees for each gun are around $10. All guns must be registered within two weeks of purchase. Many applicants for the hunter's license also take training courses to prepare, and that can cost around $500. Licensed hunters are allowed an unlimited number of rifles and/or shotguns, but only two handguns. Sport-shooters are permitted only single-shot rifles and/or shotguns, and only two handguns. Only with special permission from a shooting club can a sport-shooter get a multi-shot rifle or shotgun. Licensees are only permitted to buy ammunition for the handguns or sporting rifles and shotguns in caliber's they actually own, but licensed hunters are allowed to purchase any caliber ammunition for long guns. While Germans may have highly restrictive laws on firearms, there are no speed limits on the autobahn (highways), and proposals to impose speed limits have met with the type of passionate opposition that "gun control" laws face in the U.S.! Evidently the speed limiters in Germany have yet to convincingly wield the gun banner's slogan: "If it saves only one life..."
German information updated with the valuable assistance of Andreas Miehe (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Police are organized on the state level, and there is a healthy distrust of authority in Australia, in some sense extending back to its 1788 founding as a British penal colony. Nevertheless, Aussie police are professional and effective, and criminals typically serve longer sentences sooner in Australia than is the case in the United States. Police are forbidden by law to search without warrants, but like other Commonwealth nations, and Britain itself, there is no Australian equivalent to the U.S. Bill of Rights, except for a constitutional prohibition against establishment of an official religion. Voting is_compulsory_for Australians over age 18, and those who don't exercise their civic duty in this way can be (and are) fined!
In Australia, the "gun control" battle centers on long guns, as handguns have been tightly restricted along the lines of Canada's "need" based licensing system for some time. Handgun hunting is illegal, and those Australians who wish to own handguns must be part of a target shooting club, or must own the gun for some job-related reason. Self-defense is not considered a legitimate reason for owning a pistol, and as in Canada, non-lethal defensive sprays like tear gas and pepper gas are prohibited. Nonetheless, a number of Australians keep their pistols ostensibly registered for "target shooting" around for home and self-defense. Criminals, of course, can still get handguns, but Aussie criminals have frequently substituted deadlier and more easily accessible long guns. As a result of a few sensationalized shootings, there have even been calls to restrict the .22 cal "rabbit guns" which many Australians use for "varmint" control. The laws on gun ownership vary from state to state, with the most controls in Victoria (where semi-automatic rifles are banned to all but sport shooters with a special hard-to-get license), and the least in Tasmania (the only Aussie state to permit private ownership of machine-guns). Semi-autos are legally available only in Queensland, South Australia, and in Tasmania, but sale of "military looking" semi-automatics is banned nationwide.
Australian gun owners must obtain a license, which requires a background check, and the completion of training classes. In many states, ownership of semi-automatic firearms requires that the licensee show "need". Noncompliance with firearms registration laws is high, but not as high as the American rate (as in California's "assault weapon" registration). Police in some states have imposed de facto inspection and "safe storage" requirements which aren't part of the written law, such as requiring gun owners to purchase steel safes which can be bolted to their houses. Australia's gun owners have organized politically to oppose "gun control" (with some success), and the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia has sought organizational assistance from the U.S. National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA).
INDEX AND GLOSSARY
Adams, John (U.S. President, Vice-President to President Washington)
Soviet occupation of (1979-1989), 4.0
"Assault Weapons" -- see Guns
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [U.S.], 1.1.a
American Indian nations [U.S.]
genocide of, 4.0
armor-piercing, 3.4, 3.4.a, Appendix I.
Black Talon, 3.4.a
"Black Rhino," 3.4.a
Glaser Safety Slug, 3.4.a
AP [armor piercing, also Associated Press]
Asprey, Robert (author), 4.0
AW ["assault weapon(s)"]
Sport Shooters Association of Australia, Appendix III.
automatic [in common use this can mean either semi-automatic
or full(y)-auto(matic), i.e. a machinegun. Fully
automatic weapons continue to fire as long as the
trigger is held down, until the magazine is empty.
Full-auto weapons have been taxed and restricted
in the U.S. since 1934 by the National Firearms Act.]
Ayoob, Massad (firearms instructor), 1.0, 1.1.a
Barnes, Ken (author of this FAQ) Email: email@example.com
[Mr. Barnes is also the author of the 'Hit' List music
FAQ on alt.fan.rush-limbaugh. He is a microbiologist.]
BATF -- see Treasury Dept.
Beccaria, Cesare (criminologist), 3.8
Bill of Rights [U.S.] -- see Law
Bovard, James (journalist), 2.3, 3.0
Brady Act, 3.2, 3.2.a, Appendix I.
Brady, Jim (press secretary to President Reagan), 3.2
Bullet [the part of a round of ammunition which is expelled out
the muzzle in the direction of the target when the gun
is fired. Not the same thing as a cartridge or round.]
"Bulletproof" vests -- see bullet-resistant vests
Bullet-resistant vests, 3.4, 3.4.a
C3I [Command, Control, Communications, (and) Intelligence], 4.0
Caliber [the diameter of the bullet in inches (or millimeters)
which a gun is designed for. In shotguns, the caliber
is expressed as "gauge," or the number of lead spheres
of that diameter which would make up a pound of lead.]
Khmer Rouge genocide in, 4.0
Cartridge [a unit of ammunition, also called a round, or (primarily
among shotgunners) a shell]
Case [the part of a round of ammunition which remains in the gun
(at least until ejected) when the gun is fired.]
CCW [concealed carry weapon]
Chapman, Mark (assassin), 3.2
Chemical defense sprays, 1.1.a, 3.8.a
and animals, 1.1.a
and effectiveness, 1.1.a
and toxicity, 1.1.a
use of oven cleaner as, 1.1.a
weapons substitution and, 1.1.a
Communist (People's "Republic" of China), 4.0
genocide in, 4.0
"People's Army," 4.0
pro-liberty movement in (1989), 4.0
Tien an men Square massacre (1989), 4.0
Churchill, Winston (British prime minister), Section IV opening quote
Civil rights movement [U.S.], 2.0, 2.3
Civil War [U.S.], 2.0, 2.3
CLEO [chief law enforcement officer]
Clark, Ramsey (Attorney General to President Johnson), Appendix I.
Clarke, Arthur C. (author, inventor of communications satellite), 4.0
Clinton, Bill (U.S. President), Section III opening quote, 3.2.a,
3.3, Appendix I.
Clip -- see Magazine
Concealed-carry reform -- see Law
Constitution, U.S. -- see Law
"Cop-killer" bullet -- see Police
Cottrol, Robert (law professor, Rutgers University-Camden), 2.0, 2.1
Cramer, Clayton (author), 1.0, 2.0
CS [orthochlorobenzal malononitrile, a tear gas, sometimes called
"chemical mace" (after "Mace," a tradename for an older, less
effective tear gas formula made by Smith and Wesson which
actually contained CN, or alphachloroacetophenone). Tear gas is
generally believed to be less effective than OC pepper spray.]
Daly, Kathleen (author), 3.5
Day, Dan (contributing author to FAQ), 2.2
Declaration of Independence (U.S.), 2.0.a
Department of Justice [U.S.] -- see Justice, Department of [U.S.]
Diamond, Raymond (law professor, Tulane University), 2.0, 2.1
Dodd, Thomas (U.S. Senator, D-CT), Appendix I.
Dowlut, Robert (deputy general counsel, NRA), 2.3
Dvorchak, Robert (AP reporter), 3.4.a
Eastwood, Clint (actor, director), 3.6
Elliot, Jonathan (author), Section II opening quote
Feinstein, Dianne (U.S. Senator, D-CA), Section III opening quote
Ferguson, Colin (mass murderer), 3.2
Fischer, David H. (historian), 4.0
Franklin, Benjamin (scientist, U.S. Ambassador to France), 2.2
Gauge -- see Caliber
GCA '68 [Gun Control Act of 1968, see Appendix I.]
General Services Administration [U.S.]
National Archives, 2.0.a
Germany (Third Reich)
genocide in, 4.0
occupation of Poland (1939-1945), 4.0
Girardet, Edward (journalist, author), 4.0
Gray, William (contributing author to FAQ), 3.0.a
and U.S. Revolutionary War, 4.0
and censorship, 2.1
and children, 1.3
and "collective" rights, 2.1
and crime rates, 1.1.a
and effectiveness, 1.1.a, 3.0, 3.1, 3.2, 3.2.a, 3.3, 3.5, 3.6,
3.7, 3.8, 3.8.a, Appendix II.
and elitism, 2.1
and genocide, 3.0, 3.3, 4.0
and non-lethal defense, 1.1.a, 3.8.a
and racism, 2.0, 2.3
and U.S. Revolutionary War, 4.0
background checks, 3.2, 3.2.a
bans, 2.3, 3.0.a, 3.3, 3.4, 3.4.a, 3.5, 3.6, Appendix I.
concealed carry, 3.0.a, 3.8, 3.8.a, Appendix II.
gun confiscation, 3.0, 3.5
gun registration, 3.0, 3.5
licensing gun owners, 3.0
waiting periods, 3.2, 3.2.a
weapons substitution and, 1.1.a
assault rifles, 3.0, 3.3, 4.0
AK-47 (Avtomat Kalashnikov model 1947), 4.0
lethality of, 3.3
"assault weapons," 3.3, 3.5, 3.6, Appendix I.
and accidents, 1.1, 1.3, 3.0.a
and cars, 1.3, 3.0.a
and children, 1.3
and crime rates, 1.1
and defensive effectiveness, 1.1, 1.1.a, 1.2, 3.1, 3.2,
3.3, 3.4.a, 3.8
and disabled, 1.2, 3.1
and drugs, 3.2, 3.5
and elderly, 1.2, 3.1
and lethality, 1.2, 3.1, 3.3, 3.5
and mentally ill, 3.2
and multiple attackers, 1.2, 3.1, 3.3
and physical strength, 1.2, 3.1, 3.8.a
and poor, 3.5
and safety education, 1.1, 1.3
and suicides, 1.1
as medium of exchange in illicit economy, 3.5
concealed carry of, 1.2, 3.8, 3.8.a, Appendix II.
criminal acquisition of, 3.1, 3.2, 3.2.a, 3.5, 3.6, 3.7
criminal preferences in, 3.5
frequency of use, generally, 1.1, 3.0, 3.0.a
frequency of use in violent crime, 1.1
frequency of use in self-defense, 1.1, 1.2
Colt Government Model M1911A1 (.45 semi-auto), 3.5
Glock 17 (9mm semi-auto), 3.6, Appendix I.
Ruger P-89 (9mm semi-auto), 3.2
Smith & Wesson .38 revolver, 3.5
"Saturday Nite Specials," 1.1.a, 3.5
hunting rifles, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, Appendix I.
machineguns, 1.1.a, 3.3, Appendix I.
"plastic," 3.6, Appendix I.
retention of, 1.2
shotguns, 1.1.a, 3.4, 3.5, Appendix I.
Halbrook, Stephen (lawyer), 2.1, 2.3, 3.3
Hamilton, Alexander (Treasury Secretary to President Washington), 3.3
Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI) [U.S.], 3.4.a
handguns [concealable firearms designed to be held with only one hand,
they are more often used with two hands, for accuracy, and to
help minimize recoil. There are many basic designs, but the
most common are the semi-automatic pistol, the revolver,
and the derringer. Handguns are generally less deadly than
long guns, though in heavier calibers (and especially when
used with hollowpoint ammunition) they can be effective
personal defense weapons. That's why police have them.]
Henry, Patrick (orator, governor of Virginia), Section II opening quote
Hinckley, Jr., John (attempted assassin), 3.2
hollowpoint(s) [a type of ammunition utilizing a bullet with a hollow
tip, often precut or scored so as to expand to a larger
diameter within a target, and transfer more energy to
the target, rather than passing through and possibly
hitting whatever is behind the target. Hollowpoints
help increase the effectiveness of smaller calibers.
Hollowpoints do not "explode," nor are they in any way
"armor-piercing," contrary to erroneous reports by
uninformed members of the press.]
International Association of Chiefs of Police, 1.1.a
"In The Line Of Fire" (motion picture), 3.6
Jay, John (first Chief Justice of U.S. Supreme Court), 3.3
Jefferson, Thomas (U.S. President), 3.8, Section IV opening quote
Jewish Fighting Organization (ZOB, or Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa)
defense of Warsaw Ghetto, 4.0
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO) [U.S.]
address and phone numbers, 1.0
"Dial 911 and Die!", 1.0
"'Gun Control' Gateway to Tyranny", see Appendix I.
"Lethal Laws", 3.0, 3.3, 4.0
Johnson, Lyndon (U.S. President), see Appendix I.
Justice, Department of [U.S.]
Bureau of Justice Statistics
National Crime Victimization Survey, 1.1
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) [U.S.]
and background checks, 3.2.a, Appendix I.
Uniform Crime Reports, 3.2.a, 3.8, Appendix II.
Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 1.2, 3.4
Kates, Jr., Donald (lawyer, criminologist), 2.0, 2.1
Keen, David (chemist), 3.4.a
Kellerman, Arthur (physician), 1.1
Keneally, Thomas (author), 4.0
Kennedy, Robert (U.S. presidential candidate - 1968), Appendix I.
Kleck, Gary (criminologist, Florida State University), 1.1, 1.2,
1.3, 3.0, 3.3, 3.5, 3.6, 3.8, 3.8.a
King, Jr., Martin Luther (U.S. civil rights leader), Appendix I.
King, Rodney, (drunk driver) 1.1.a
North ("Democratic" People's "Republic" of Korea), 4.0
Kotell, Peter (writer), 3.4.a
Ku Klux Klan (U.S.), 2.3
Kurzman, Dan (author), 4.0
LaPierre, Wayne (NRA spokesman and chief executive officer)
1.3, 2.1, 3.0, 3.0.a, 3.2, 3.3, 3.5, 3.7, 3.8
Case law, U.S., 1.0, 2.0, 2.3, 3.3, Appendix I.
Concealed-carry reform, 3.0.a, 3.8, 3.8.a, Appendix II.
Constitution, of U.S. states
and RKBA, 2.3
Article I, 2.0
Article II, 2.0
Article V, 2.2
Amendment I, 2.1, 2.2
Amendment II, 2.0, 2.0.a, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.3, 4.0, Appendix I.
and military weapons, 3.3
and nuclear weapons, 2.2
application to state and local governments, 2.3
as deterrent to tyranny, 4.0
meaning of "well regulated", 2.0.a
punctuation in, 2.0.a
text of, 2.0
Amendment IV, 2.1
Amendment IX, 2.1
Amendment X, 2.1, Appendix I.
Amendment XIV, 2.3
and "incorporation" doctrine, 2.3
Constitution, German (Federal Republic), Appendix III.
Constitution, Soviet Union (CCCP), 2.1
"gun control," Appendix III.
"gun control," Appendix III.
and OC pepper spray, 1.1.a
Statutes, German (Third Reich)
Waffengesetz [Law on Weapons] of March 18, 1938, 3.0, Appendix I.
Statutes, German (Federal Republic)
"gun control," Appendix III.
and OC pepper spray, 1.1.a, Appendix III.
"gun control," Appendix III.
Statutes, United Kingdom
common law RKBA, 2.0
"gun control," Appendix III.
federal "gun control" laws, Appendix I.
Militia Act (1792), 2.0, 2.1
Enforcement Act (1870), 2.3
Title 10, 2.0
Title 32, 2.0
Statutes, U.S. state and local
"Jim Crow", 2.3
Morton Grove, Il., 2.3
New York City
"Assault rifle" ban, 3.0
Title 46, 3.8, 3.8.a, Appendix II.
and OC pepper spray, 1.1.a
Law Enforcement - see Police
LEO [law enforcement officer]
Lennon, John (entertainer), 3.2
Levinson, Sanford (law professor, University of Texas), 2.1
Lexington and Concord (Mass.)
battles of (U.S. Revolutionary War), 4.0
Library of Congress [U.S.]
_The Constitution of the United States,_2.0.a
long guns [firearms like rifles and shotguns, as distinguished
from handguns - these are generally more accurate and
deadlier weapons than handguns, but less concealable]
Machine guns -- see Guns
Magazine [the part of a firearm, often detachable, which holds
ammunition and feeds it into the gun via a spring
mechanism. Sometimes (incorrectly) called a clip.
Clips are pieces of metal which can be used to load
a non-detachable magazine.]
Madison, James (U.S. President), 2.1, 3.8
Malcolm, Joyce (historian, Harvard University), 2.0
McDowall, David (criminologist, University of Maryland), 3.8.a
CBS-TV, "60 Minutes," Section III opening quote
American Firearms Industry, 3.4.a
Associated Press, 3.4.a, 3.8.a
MTV (Music Television), "Enough is Enough," Section III
New York Times, 3.4.a
Wall Street Journal, 3.4.a
Metaksa, Tanya (lobbyist for NRA), 3.4.a
Militia, [U.S.], 2.0, 2.1, 4.0
Minutemen (U.S. Revolutionary War), 4.0
Moynihan, Daniel (U.S. Senator, D-NY), 3.4.a
Muhlenberg, Frederick (Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
in the First Congress, U.S. Representative, Federalist-PA), 2.0.a
Mujahedeen militia [fighters of God] (Afghanistan), 4.0
NFA [National Firearms Act of 1934, see Appendix I., also
weapons restricted by the act, such as machineguns,
short-barreled shotguns and rifles, and silencers]
National Guard [U.S.]
as organized militia, 2.0
National Rifle Association (NRA) [U.S.], 1.3, 3.4, 3.4.a, 3.6
and gun safety, 1.3
"Eddie Eagle" program (K-6), 1.3
and legislation, 3.4, 3.6, Appendix I.
National Safety Council [U.S.], 1.3, 3.0.a
Nuclear weapons, 2.2
Nurnberg War Crimes Trials, Appendix I.
OC [oleoresin capsicum, the active ingredient in hot peppers]
Oxford English Dictionary, 2.0
Paine, Thomas (author, revolutionary), Section I opening quote
Personal alarms, 1.1.a
Solidarity [Solidarnosc] movement, 4.0
Warsaw Ghetto uprising (1943), 4.0
and armor-piercing ammunition, 3.4
and chemical defense sprays, 1.1.a
and Glock 17, 3.6
and stun guns, 1.1.a
disarmed by attacker, 1.2
killed with armor-piercing bullet, 3.4
killed with service weapon, 1.2
responsibilities of, 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 3.2, 3.7, 3.8
transition to semi-automatics as sidearm, 3.5
Quakers -- see Society of Friends
Quigley, Paxton (firearms instructor), 1.0
Reagan, Ronald (U.S. President), Appendix I.
Reconstruction Era [U.S.], 2.3
Rice, Alan (writer, board member JPFO), 3.3
RKBA ["right to keep and bear arms"]
Rockefeller, Jay (U.S. Senator, D-WV), 3.3
Rossi, Peter (author), 3.5
Rotem, Simha [a.k.a. Simcha Rathajzer, or "Kazik"] (ZOB fighter), 4.0
Rushforth, Norman (physician), 1.1
Segregation, racial (U.S), 3.0
Seldes, George (author, journalist), 2.1
select fire [capable of single shot, multi-shot burst, or full
automatic (machinegun) rate of fire]
semi-auto(matic) [fires one shot per pull of trigger, ejects case,
loads another round into chamber]
The Right to Keep and Bear Arms (report), 2.1
Federal Firearms Legislation (1968 hearings), Appendix I.
Schindler, Oskar (German war profiteer and industrialist), 4.0
"Schindler's List" (motion picture), 4.0
Schulman, J. Neil (author), 1.0
Schumer, Charles (U.S. Rep., D-NY), 3.4.a
Schwartz, Bernard (law professor, New York University), 2.0
Schwizer, Peter (author, journalist), 4.0
SHU [Scoville Heat Units, a pharmacological measure of the "heat"
in hot peppers. Formerly conducted by a panel of human tasters,
the SHU scale has now been calibrated with instrumental methods,
and is measured via HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography).
Bell peppers are assigned a zero, jalapenos rate about 5,000 SHU,
and the hottest edible peppers, habaneros, about 200-300,000 SHU.
By contrast, the pepper extracts used in chemical defensive sprays
have an effective dose of between 1,500,000 and 2,000,000 SHU.]
Simkin, Jay (research director, JPFO), 3.3, Appendix I.
Slavery [U.S.], 2.0, 2.3
small arms [handheld firearms such as rifles, pistols, and shotguns
as distinguished from crew-served artillery]
(Society of) Friends ["Quakers", pacifist Christian denomination], 2.1
Solzhenitsyn, Alexsandr (author, Soviet political prisoner), 4.0
Soviet Union [CCCP, Soyuz Sovetskykh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublic]
constitution of -- see Law, Constitution, Soviet Union
genocide in, 4.0
occupation of Afghanistan (1979-1989), 4.0
tyranny in, 2.1, 4.0
Spielberg, Steven (producer, director), 4.0
"sporting purposes," 2.1, Appendix I.
Sprays, chemical defense -- see Chemical defense sprays
Stalin, Josef (Soviet dictator, mass murderer), 2.1
"states' rights," 2.1
Stinger anti-aircraft missile (U.S.), 4.0
Stun "guns," 1.1.a, 3.8.a
Supreme Court [U.S.], 1.0, 2.0, 2.3, 3.3
SWAT [Special Weapons and Tactics, or paramilitary police]
ProTell [gun owners association], Appendix III.
TASER [Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle, a whimsical name given
to the police stun gun by its inventor. Taken from
the 'Tom Swift' children's book adventure series.]
Thomas, Andrew (author), 3.3
Treasury Department [U.S.]
Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), 3.0, 3.2.a,
3.4.a, 3.5, Appendix I.
Urban, Mark (journalist, author), 4.0
van Alstyne, William (law professor, Duke University), 2.1
"van Meurs, Pim" (Dutch naval reserve officer), 1.1, 3.1
Waffengesetz - see Law, German Statutes (Third Reich)
Waffen-SS [Shutzstaffel, armed elite guard], (German Third Reich), 4.0
Walker, Bob (lobbyist for HCI), 3.4.a
telecommunications and, 4.0
Warsaw Ghetto uprising -- see Poland
Washington, D.C., 1.1.a
Weapon substitution, 1.1.a
"well regulated" -- see Law, Amendment II
Wright, James (sociologist, Tulane University), 3.5
Zelman, Aaron (executive director, JPFO), 3.3, Appendix I.
ZOB -- see Jewish Fighting Organization
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