Guns For All

On Monday, April 26, 2021, the Supreme Court moved to hear a firearm-related case from New York. Judges will be deciding on the freedom of the state’s citizens to conceal carry outside of the home, which in turn could set a major precedent for gun owners throughout the country.

While the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of citizens to keep and bear arms, many states have created laws that restrict gun purchases, implement licenses, and ban or limit carry. In conjunction, these rules leave the average citizen with virtually no way to obtain a firearm and exercise their God-given right to self-preservation.

With the mainstream media playing gun violence on repeat and America’s current Commander in Chief, who said “no amendment is absolute,” signing executive orders at record levels, the rights of the American people depend on this hearing.

The Second Amendment

Amendment 2A states that “[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.” Contrary to Joe Biden’s remark at his recent State of the Union address, “we the people” are the American citizens, not government officials. The Bill of Rights was written to prevent the freedoms of the governed from being taken by an authoritarian system.

The 2nd Amendment right guaranteed by the Constitution is not left to the states to accept or deny. The Supremacy Clause dictates that the Constitution and federal law are the supreme law of the land; therefore, they should have a say over any state law. Laws that stop citizens from carrying guns infringe on their ability to “bear” arms. People don’t typically wield arms in their home, the term “bear” implies that their right to arms extends outside of their residence.

While the Second Amendment is definite, there have been justices who disagreed with the rights it grants. The 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller centered around D.C.’s restrictions on handguns and the requirement that firearms be left nonfunctional in the home. In a 5-4 decision, the court found that these regulations violated the Second Amendment. Dissenting judges gave the opposite opinion, stating that the Second Amendment doesn’t guarantee the rights of American civilians. Rather, they asserted that the liberty to possess firearms is limited to those serving in the military.

The Constitution was distinctly written for the people, however. The Founding Fathers understood that the Second Amendment gave the people the explicit power to keep and bear arms without government contravention.

James Madison, the Founding Father referred to as the “Father of the Constitution,” stated that “[t]he right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country.” (I Annals of Congress 434, June 8, 1789).

Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers that “[i]f the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense.”

George Washington, in his first address to a joint session of congress, posited that “[a] free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined…” (January 8, 1790).

Thomas Jefferson wrote that “[n]o free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms” (Virginia Constitution, Draft 1, 1776). In a letter to James Madison in 1787, he stated that he prefers “dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”

In Commonplace Book (1774-1776), quoting 18th-century criminologist Cesare Beccaria, Jefferson wrote,

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…. 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.

The Founding Fathers were clear about what the Second Amendment entails, even when it came to the potential risks that it posed. While anti-gun activists claim the Fathers would have written it differently knowing the modern advancements in weaponry, the notion that it was created for muskets is false. Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution, which allows Congress to grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, gave privateers (private shipowners) the authorization to attack and capture enemy vessels. Arms are not limited to handheld weapons—cannons and warships were owned by citizens at the time. To say the Fathers would take issue with a firearm that has more potential than a muzzle-loaded long gun is preposterous.

Mass Shootings

If the Second Amendment is so absolute, one may question why the idea of banning guns is even a discussion. The calls for a ban on so-called “assault weapons” and lies about mass shootings often come from the media and Democratic Party officials who distort reality to fit their agenda.

While gun control is not a new thing, recent media propaganda has attempted to convince viewers that gun ownership is an issue, period. CNN, a confirmed disseminator of propaganda, pushed the phrase “7 mass shootings in 7 days” to convey the idea that America is dealing with a mass shooting crisis. They aren’t painting a full picture, though. The framing and rhetoric of the mainstream media often leave out important factors, statistical information, and proven facts. Their intense coverage of these incidents also leads to copycat events taking place, fueling a vicious cycle in the process.

For clarity, there is no consistent definition of “mass shootings.” The term is often used to define at least 3 to 4 people fatally injured by a gun (excluding the shooter), but some definitions are far broader, encompassing incidents where four or more people are killed or even injured by gunfire (including the shooter). Using the latter characterization, there would have been 355 mass shootings in 2015. Using the first definition, however, there would have been around 67. The fact that there is no legal or statistical consensus on what a mass shooting is defined as makes it harder to agree upon and compare collected data.

Gun Control: History

Gun control is a relatively new phenomenon in the United States. Understanding America’s History Of Gun Control, written by Samantha Benthien, explains that,

The origins of gun control began in 1934 when the violence caused by crime boss Al Capone incentivized Congress to pass legislation that required all gun sales to be recorded in a national registry as a way to regulate who owned firearms in the country. About 25 years later, the first single gunman mass shooting occurred in Camden, New Jersey. Howard Unruh killed 13 people in his neighborhood in 1949, bringing large-scale awareness to gun violence in the United States. But it was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 that sparked unprecedented public support for gun control at that time. These events catalyzed The Gun Control Act of 1968 which became law on October 22, 1968. The federal law prohibited the sale of mail-order guns, banned all convicted felons, drug users, and those found “mentally incompetent” from owning a gun, and changed the age of legal purchase to 21.

Looking back, it’s reasonable to conclude that gun violence was not curbed through stringent gun control. The truth is that gun policy is ineffective and banning convicted felons, drug users, and those who are “mentally incompetent” (not everyone with a mental illness poses a risk to others) across the board from owning a gun is an overreach. If a felon has paid their debt to society, then why would they not be given their full rights back? Non-violent drug users shouldn’t have their rights taken away either as it doesn’t make sense to prohibit the sale of a gun to someone who smokes marijuana from time to time. And if someone has had depression or anxiety or has been checked in to a mental hospital in the past, they shouldn’t be barred from owning a weapon after they’ve been treated.

Gun control may not be effective, but that hasn’t stopped the U.S. government from banning certain firearms and parts. The Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 banned 19 guns, including AR-15s and other “assault weapons,” a term that has no legal definition but encompasses firearms that can accept detachable magazines and possess one or more other features.

This didn’t prevent gun manufacturers from selling similar firearms that checked out under the legislation. Guns that operated like the AR-15 increased in sales after the ban and purchases skyrocketed when the law was rescinded. Overall, the ban failed to curb the “issue” of so-called assault weapons. While it’s true that shootings decreased when the ban was in place, violent crime as a whole dropped in the United States following the mid-’90s (as displayed by the graph below).

Figure 1: Violent Crime Rates in the United States from 1990-2019 (Statista)

The data call into question the threat that guns pose. When looking at the statistics, pistols are the biggest killer. Policy-makers, on the other hand, prefer to go after AR-15s and other semiautomatic rifles, even though guns such as rifles and shotguns are used to take fewer lives than knives are.

Perhaps legislators and career politicians don’t care about what these policies do. They could just care about good optics or having more control over the people. If Joe Biden cares about gun control policies such as prohibiting drug users from purchasing firearms, then he should speak out against his son, Hunter Biden. Hunter Biden lied on a federal background check, stating that he wasn’t “an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance” (which he even admitted is untrue).

Gun Control: Licensing

Like most other gun laws, requiring licenses does not have any proven significance in curbing crime or self-harm. A video from Vox titled “The gun solution we’re not talking about” examines legislation passed in Connecticut, which implemented a permit-to-purchase (PTP) for handguns in 1995, and Missouri’s licensing system, which was repealed in 2007.

Vox uses statistics from the John Hopkins Center For Gun Policy and Research to make the argument that licensing systems worked in curtailing firearm suicides and homicides.

Figure 2: Firearm-related deaths per 100,000 in Connecticut (Vox, “The gun solution we’re not talking about”)
Figure 3: Firearm-related deaths per 100,000 in Missouri (Vox, “The gun solution we’re not talking about”)

Studies from the National Center for Biotechnology Information and the Center For Gun Policy and Research revealed that there were in fact decreases in firearm-related deaths around the overlapping period of the licensing systems. While this is true, it’s difficult to make the case that there’s causation between PTPs and gun deaths. Both states had a dip in homicides and suicides between 1995 and 2005, but this was also found to be true for the national average.

Universal background checks and other regulations on the legal purchase of firearms may not solve anything either. In 1991, only about 21% of violent crimes were committed with a gun bought from a retailer, by 1997 it was a little under 14%. In 2016, the number was a bit over 3%. These numbers don’t factor in any other venues of obtaining a firearm, but a substantial number of gun crime is committed by those who illegally possess them.

Red Flag Laws

Even in states where citizens legally own firearms, red flag laws pose a danger to their liberties. Under red flag laws, citizens can be stripped of their rights without due process. People who are baselessly reported as a danger to others could have and have had their guns taken away. A New Jersey man, Alfred Conti, had his guns seized with no due process over a conflict with his doctor.

A Rhode Island man, Edward Caniglia, who was determined by doctors to not pose any threat to others, had his guns stolen from his home by police. This seizure followed an argument with the man’s wife. Without a trial, Caniglia has his rights stripped away from him, all in the name of “safety.”

Defensive Gun Use

Those who prioritize safety over liberty should look at the amount of defensive gun use that takes place in comparison to offensive use. When it comes to gun-related deaths, there were 38,882 deaths by firearms in 2017 (Politifact). Excluding suicides and accidental deaths, however, there were 14,542 murders in the year, making only about 38% of gun-related deaths murders.

Defensive gun use, on the other hand, is more than firing at an attacker, it’s a tactic used to prevent any violence from taking place. Firearm owners rarely even shoot criminals because a criminal is more likely to back out when they believe they’re at risk of being shot. 60% of convicted felons were detoured from committing crimes when they knew their target was armed. 40% admitted the same when there was a possibility of their victim being armed.

A revised study performed by Criminologist Gary Kleck found that roughly 1.1 million people per year from 1996 to 1998 stopped violent crimes with a firearm. The results revealed that guns were still used defensively far more than they were used violently.

The National Academies Press also released a study that revealed that defensive gun use outweighs the offensive use of guns. The article states that,

Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million (Kleck, 2001a), in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008 (BJS, 2010).

The findings prove that at the very least, defensive gun use occurs as often as offensive use. The actual estimation is even larger than that at about half a million to over three million. Using this number, the 300,000 violent crimes (of which murders count for less than 5%) are undoubtedly overshadowed by the instances in which guns are used to prevent violent crimes.

The CDC cites a 2013 report, Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence, which estimates that 60,000 to 2.5 million defensive gun uses take place each year.

Gun Lies and Flawed Arguments

One of the least convincing arguments against guns is that a gun owner is more likely to be killed by or kill someone with a gun. The argument lacks any sort of meaning behind it. Owning a car increases the likelihood of getting in an auto accident or running over a pedestrian. Owning a shower increases a person’s chances of slipping and falling while bathing. Eating food increases one’s likelihood of choking.

Proponents of this argument should also consider the fact that gun-free zones are where most mass shootings take place. From 2009 to 2014, 92 percent of mass shootings occurred in gun-free zones. It’s almost as if violent criminals know the likelihood of a good civilian being armed is far lower within these areas.

There has also been a push by policy-makers and anti-gun activists to prohibit the sale of high-capacity magazines. Aside from the fact that limiting the rights of a person to protect themselves and others from a variety of threats is unconstitutional, handguns, which often only hold about six to 18 rounds are most often used. Even if a mass shooter wanted access to more rounds, all they need is another magazine, which can easily be changed in a matter of seconds. A ban on magazines with more than ten rounds wouldn’t necessarily prevent deaths if there’s no one present to neutralize the threat.

When it comes to gun lies, ghost guns are often claimed to be a widespread issue. People listening exclusively to the mainstream media may be led to believe that ghost guns make up for an outstanding amount of gun crimes. But a 2019 survey of 100 police agencies found that only about 1.3% of crimes were committed using homemade guns (1.8% when outliers were included).

An even more widespread misconception perpetuated by Democrat politicians such as Barack Obama and Joe Biden is that there are no federal background checks at gun shows. This is often called the “gun show loophole” or the “private sale exemption.” However, this notion about gun shows is false, as licensed sellers are required to run a NICS background check before selling a firearm.

The truth to the claim is that firearms can be privately sold by individuals who don’t sell as a trade. Transfer of arms between two citizens is legal so long as the buyer would be legally allowed to own the firearm.

Police Brutality

Many of the cities taking rights away from their citizens are also moving to defund their police. If gun control is implemented and the police are defunded, the people are left with few options to defend themselves from violent criminals. This problem is worsened by the autonomous zones that have been established in places such as Portland and Minneapolis in addition to riots in densely populated areas where crime is already rampant.

The riots are being sparked in part by the narrative that police officers are hunting down Black Americans. The violence from leftist demonstrators over this notion has led to death and destruction. Taking action against the abuse of power and protesting for reform within a system is always important, but many of these “protests” are violent riots performed by immoral and misguided individuals.

The truth is that there is no epidemic of unarmed Black men being killed by the police. Even conservatives overestimate the percentage of Black Americans killed by the police in a year compared to those of other races.

There’s no doubt that there are officers on any given force who abuse their power. There’s a problem when it comes to officers who aren’t serving in their local area as there’s less accountability from their community. But the violence won’t solve that. The real solutions are better training, better hiring, and proper accountability for officers who go against their oath to support the Constitution.

A shrinking police force and lowered funding haven’t seemed to appease the criminals, though. In states where police have been defunded, riots and violent crime have risen. Minneapolis, which saw chaos after the death of George Floyd, had a 537% increase in carjackings at the end of 2020. This was after the city moved to defund the police by 8 million dollars. It should be acknowledged that the people defending themselves and their community are the ones suffering because of this, not the state. Minnesota was able to throw Derek Chauvin (who was convicted for the death of Floyd) under the bus to save their own skin.

Does America Have A Gun Problem?

While America has the most guns per capita, it ranks 28th in gun murder rate. It doesn’t rank top 10 in worldwide homicide rates or suicide rates. The top 5 deadliest shootings in the world didn’t take place in the US.

Before 2020, the United States was seeing a notable decrease in violent crime. 2020’s numbers differed as there were increases in homicide and other violent crimes, especially in cities with stringent COVID-19 lockdowns and curfews. A majority of gun violence happens in metro areas where these coronavirus restrictions are most prominent. America also has a lot of urban areas compared to other countries, making it hard to compare statistics accurately. Cities like New York City and Seattle where population density, poverty, and homelessness are high see large amounts of muggings, assaults, and gang violence.

Poverty is one of the biggest factors in violent crime rates, meaning impoverished people within packed cities account for a substantial amount of gun violence. As much as 80% of crimes in the U.S. were gang-related according to a Justice Department gang threat assessment during President Obama’s term.

While an overwhelming amount of crime in the country, gun crime included, comes from gangs, guns are not the problem here—broken families are. Kids raised by single parents are far more likely to be living in a lower-class household. A measure such as requiring firearm safety courses would not stop gang violence. The two-parent household is the most pivotal factor in ensuring that children are less likely to commit crimes as they get older.

In addition to most gun violence being committed by gangs, mass shootings as a whole are responsible for a low number of gun deaths. MacIver Institute explains that,

Since the Texas bell tower massacre in 1966, The Washington Post has logged a total of 187 mass murders in the United States—an average of just 3.4 per year.  Those 187 incidents have killed a total of 1,312 people—an average of 23.8 per year.

Since 1981, the United States has averaged 12,900 gun homicides per year.  This means that an infinitesimal 0.18% of all gun homicides were committed during a mass shooting.  Even the Gun Violence Archive, which has the most liberal definition of “mass shooting,” recorded 513 deaths in mass shooting incidents out of 19,395 total gun homicides in 2020—just 2.6%.

The chances of a person in the United States getting killed in a mass shooting are slim. Even school shooting numbers are incredibly low but are often inflated by the media and the United States Department of Education.

A Buyback Wouldn’t Work

Groups and individuals in support of banning guns often point to the Australian gun buyback of 1996 as an example of how a buyback could work. The truth is that the act did little to curb the country’s problems.

From 1979 to 2013, firearm suicides may have decreased in Australia, but non-firearm suicides increased in much larger numbers. In 2015, their suicide rates rose to a ten-year high. One person was taking their own life every three hours.

Firearm homicide (excluding mass firearm homicide) also decreased, but non-firearm homicide saw a net increase within that period. Additionally, there were around the same number of non-firearm homicides in 2013 as there were in 1979.

What should also be taken into account is that the firearm homicide rate had already been declining before the 1996 buyback as displayed by the figure below.

Figure 4: Australian Firearm Homicide Rate, 1980-2014 (National Review)

If there were a buyback in America, only law-abiding citizens would turn in their arms. It’s unlikely that a potential mass shooter would do such a thing. It’s also not probable that America would see any decrease in homicide or suicide.

Why Guns For All Is The Solution

In cities where guns are heavily regulated, citizens are far more prone to violent crimes. Good civilians who just want to defend their inalienable right to life face charges for possessing arms in states that defy the Constitution.

Technically, the rights of citizens to own guns could only be constitutionally taken away through an Article V Convention of States or a supermajority vote in both houses of Congress. That being said, the only way to actually get the guns from the citizens would be through illegal searches and seizures done by an authoritarian government. Infringing upon 2nd amendment rights, 4th amendment rights, and the right to privacy guaranteed by multiple amendments would be the only way to assure that all guns are taken.

In the unlikely scenario that the government effectively gets guns out of the hands of criminals, citizens would still be prone to those violent criminals. In Britain, knife crime soared even before the COVID-19 lockdowns. Britain bans carrying a knife longer than 3 inches in public; that doesn’t stop criminals from brandishing knives long enough to kill someone. UK’s knife crime impacts citizens who have no way to protect themselves. And while gun violence is lower in the UK now, murders shot up 50% and rapes, assaults, and muggings all increased after their gun ban. Even when a government bans guns, violent offenders still commit crimes in high numbers.

The right to keep and bear arms is inalienable. Every U.S. citizen should own a gun for protection against threats, foreign or domestic. The basic right to self-preservation should not be put up for a vote or trampled on by any state or federal government. When the government takes the people’s ability to defend themselves away, it’s often a sign that they seek absolute power over the population. To ensure that liberty stays alive, the American people must stay armed.

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