17 Aug 97.
1. Carrying a firearm is a "right" not a "privilege"
The Second Amendment guarantees that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." This means that law-abiding citizens should not need to beg the government for permission to carry a firearm. That would turn the "right" to bear arms into a mere "privilege." Likewise, one should not have to be photographed, fingerprinted, or registered before they can exercise their Second Amendment rights. Criminals certainly do not jump through these "hoops." The Second Amendment is no different than any of the other protections enumerated in the Bill of Rights. That is, honest citizens should not need a government issued permission slip; rather, they should be able to carry as a matter of right.
2. The issuing of permits can be abused by officials
a. Refuse to issue
* New York City: Officials in New York City routinely deny gun permits for ordinary citizens and store owners because -- as the courts have ruled -- they have no greater need for protection than anyone else in the city. In fact, the authorities have even refused to issue permits when the courts have ordered them to do so. (1)
* Gary, Indiana: Then-Mayor Richard Hatcher let it be known in 1979 that he would not be approving any citizens' concealed carry applications. He then said if they wanted to challenge his authority, they were welcome to take him to court. It took citizens over 10 years (and thousands of dollars in legal fees) to get any relief. (2)
* San Jose, CA: Joseph McNamara, a former police chief and anti-gun spokesman, bragged in his 1984 book, Safe & Sane, that "in San Jose, I have made it considerably tougher for residents to get handgun permits." (3)
b. Require fingerprints -- Virginia applicants for concealed carry permits were forced to submit to FBI fingerprint background checks without any authorization requiring such checks. (4)
c. Revoke for politically incorrect speech -- In Oregon, officials have been known to revoke concealed carry licenses because of one's political views. In one case, a permit holder had his license revoked because he was the editor of a pro-life newspaper. (5)
d. Print licensee holders' names in newspapers -- In several states, newspapers have frequently printed the names of concealed carry permit holders, which are almost always public information. (6)
3. Officials can "raise the hurdles" in order to get a permit
* The power to license a right is the power to destroy a right
a. Arbitrary Delays -- While New Jersey law requires applications to be responded to within thirty days, delays of ninety days are routine; sometimes, applications are delayed for several years for no readily apparent reason. (7)
b. Arbitrary Denials -- See the examples above from New York City, Indiana and California.
c. Arbitrary Fee Increases -- In 1994, the Clinton administration pushed for a license fee increase of almost 1,000 percent on gun dealers. According to U.S. News & World Report, the administration was seeking the license fee increase "in hopes of driving many of America's 258,000 licensed gun dealers out of business." (8) This example clearly shows how easily government officials can abuse the issuing of carry permits. Instead of using lower fees to merely pay for the processing of permits, officials can raise the fees to keep people from exercising their rights.
4. Vermont has a genuine right to carry law (i.e., requires no permits) and yet boasts the lowest crime rate in the nation (9)
a. Nationwide, concealed carry laws have worked to drop crime rates. Indeed, a comprehensive national study in 1996 determined that violent crime fell after states made it legal to carry concealed firearms. (10)
b. The results of the study showed:
* States which passed concealed carry laws reduced their murder rate by 8.5%, rapes by 5%, aggravated assaults by 7% and robbery by 3%; and
* If those states not having concealed carry laws had adopted such laws in 1992, then approximately 1,570 murders, 4,177 rapes, 60,000 aggravated assaults and 12,000 robberies would have been avoided yearly. (11)
5. Waiting periods of any kind threaten honest people's safety. (12)
Note: Criminals usually don't bother to go through the waiting period since they don't apply for permits.
a. New York. In 1983, Igor Hutorsky was murdered by two burglars who broke into his Brooklyn furniture store. The tragedy is that some time before the murder his business partner had applied for permission to keep a handgun at the store. Even four months after the murder, the former partner had still not heard from the police about the status of his gun permit. (13)
b. Colorado. Talk show host (Alan Berg) was gunned down in 1984 after being denied a concealed carry permit. (14)
c. Wisconsin. In 1991, Bonnie Elmasri inquired about getting a gun to protect herself from a husband who had repeatedly threatened to kill her. She was told there was a 48 hour waiting period to buy a handgun. But unfortunately, Bonnie was never able to pick up a gun. She and her two sons were killed the next day by an abusive husband of whom the police were well aware. (15)
d. Los Angeles. USA Today reported that many of the people rushing to gun stores during the 1992 riots were "lifelong gun-control advocates, running to buy an item they thought they'd never need." Ironically, they were outraged to discover they had to wait 15 days to buy a gun for self-defense. (16)
e. Virginia. In 1993, Marine Cpl. Rayna Ross bought a gun (in a non-waiting period state) and used it two days later to kill an attacker who was armed with a bayonet. (17) Had a 5-day waiting period been in effect, Ms. Ross would have been defenseless against the man who was stalking her.
6. CCW licenses register gun owners -- and licensing can lead to confiscation of firearms
a. Step One: Registration -- In the mid-1960s officials in New York City began registering long guns. They promised they would never use such lists to take away firearms from honest citizens. But in 1991, the city banned (and soon began confiscating) many of those very guns. (18)
b. Step Two: Confiscation -- In 1992, a New York city paper reported that, "Police raided the home of a Staten Island man who refused to comply with the city's tough ban on assault weapons, and seized an arsenal of firearms. . . . Spot checks are planned [for other homes]." (19)
c. Foreign Countries -- Gun registration has led to confiscation in several countries, including Greece, Ireland, Jamaica and Bermuda. (20) And in an exhaustive study on this subject, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership has researched and translated several gun control laws from foreign countries. Their publication, Lethal Laws: "Gun Control" is the Key to Genocide, documents how gun control (and confiscation) has preceded the slaughter and genocide of millions of people in Turkey, the Soviet Union, Germany, China, Cambodia and others. (21)
7 . Officials cannot license or register a constitutional right
The Supreme Court held in Lamont v. Postmaster General (1965) that the First Amendment prevents the government from registering purchasers of magazines and newspapers -- even if such material is "communist political propaganda." (22)
8. Citizens, even when untrained, show amazing accuracy and self-restraint with firearms
Citizens shoot and kill at least twice as many criminals as police do every year (1,527 to 606). (23) And readers of Newsweek learned in 1993 that "only 2 percent of civilian shootings involved an innocent person mistakenly identified as a criminal. The 'error rate' for the police, however, was 11 percent, more than five times as high." (24)
1. David Kopel, "Trust the People: The Case Against Gun Control," [Cato Institute] Policy Analysis 109 (July 11, 1988): 25-26.
2. Supreme Court of Indiana, Kellogg v. City of Gary, 1990.
3. Joseph McNamara, Safe & Sane, (1984): 74.
4. Peter Finn, "FBI Stops Checking Va. Gun Applicants," The Washington Post, 12 July 1996.
5. In a court hearing to have the license returned, the judge in the case admitted that the individual did not meet the criteria for a revocation (i.e., he had never engaged in acts of violence or made threats of violence) but agreed to uphold the revocation anyway. The justification the judge gave was that the abortion issue was "a volatile one" and people involved in it should not be allowed to carry guns. A friend of the "defendant" made a routine inquiry to the sheriff's department to see if any abortion doctors or activists had their licenses revoked. By Oregon law this is public information. He was immediately visited by four FBI agents who demanded to know the reason for the request. Statement by Kevin Starrett, Oregon Representative for Gun Owners of America, August 21, 1995.
6. North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia are just three examples where local newspapers have printed the names of concealed carry permit holders.
7. Kopel, "Trust the People," at 26. 8. U.S. News & World Report, (17 January 1994):
9. Morgan Quitno Press, Crime State Rankings 1996, at iv.
10. John R. Lott, Jr. and David B. Mustard, "Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns," University of Chicago, (13 July 1996). See also Lott, Jr., "More Guns, Less Violent Crime," The Wall Street Journal (28 August 1996).
11. See supra note 9.
12. Any waiting period -- whether the wait to buy a gun, or the wait to get a carry permit -- can have disastrous consequences. While most of the examples listed here relate to gun purchase waiting periods, the principle is the same. Waiting periods put one's rights on hold; and when one is in immediate danger, the result can be death.
13. Senate, "Handgun Violence," at 107, citing Novae Russkae Slovo, Vol. LXXII, No. 26.291, (6 Nov. 1983).
14. Stephen Singular, Talked to Death: The Murder of Alan Berg and the Rise of the Neo-Nazis, (1987): 137-138. Since he was shot from behind, one could possibly argue that a gun might not have helped him. Of course, had Berg received a carry permit, one can never be sure if his being armed would have served as a deterrent to the killer, who had stalked him for some time. Regardless, the point is that he should have been able to defend himself.
15. Congressional Record, 8 May 1991, pp. H 2859, H 2862.
16. Jonathan T. Lovitt, "Survival for the armed," USA Today, 4 May 1992.
17. Wall Street Journal, 3 March 1994 at A10.
18. On August 16, 1991, New York City Mayor David Dinkins signed Local Law 78 which banned the possession and sale of certain rifles and shotguns.
19. John Marzulli, "Weapons ban defied: S.I. man, arsenal seized," Daily News, 5 September 1992.
20. David Kopel, "Trust the People: The Case Against Gun Control," [Cato Institute] Policy Analysis 109 (July 11, 1988):25.
21. Jay Simkin, Aaron Zelman and Alan M. Rice, Lethal Laws: "Gun Control" is the Key to Genocide, (Milwaukee: Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, 1994).
22. Lamont v. Postmaster General, 381 U.S. 301, 85 S. Ct. 1493, 14 L. Ed. 2d 398 (1965).
23. Kleck, Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, (1991):111-116, 148.
24. George F. Will, "Are We 'a Nation of Cowards'?," Newsweek (15 November 1993):93.
Chris W. Stark
Gun Owners of America - Texas Representative
Visit our Web Page at: http://rampages.onramp.net/~gunowner
"No class or group or party in Germany could escape its share of responsibility for the abandonment of the democratic Republic and the advent of Adolf Hitler. The cardinal error of the Germans who opposed Nazism was their failure to unite against it. ....the 63% of the German people who expressed their opposition to Hitler were much too divided and shortsighted to combine against a common danger which they must have known would overwhelm them unless they united, HOWEVER TEMPORARY, to stamp it out."
-William L. Shirer, author of The rise and fall of the Third Reich
.....they who do not learn from History are DOOMED to repeat it!!
Maybe that's actually true.
The word "fire" is constitutionally protected by the first amendment both in speech and press. It is further protected by the 10th amendment in that the federal gov't has been enumerated no power to ban the word fire, and therefore they doubly cannot outlaw, ban, control, regulate, etc the word "fire."
Furthermore, the word "fire" is constitutionally protected even in the theater. The government has no authority to ban the knowledge or use of the word fire where ever it may be needed, wanted, or used simply for the heck of it.
Additionally, the word "fire" may be yelled in the theater, and is constitutionally protected speech in those cases where there is an actual fire and yelling "fire" is the only way to warn the innocent in a theater or even in a police station, courthouse, DC, etc where the word "fire" has been banned by a properly posted sign stating that those familiar with the word may not use there.
The only thing the government--and not even the federal gov't, because they have been enumerated no powers regulating speech in theaters or anywhere else, except maybe for libel--can outlaw is that use of the word "fire" which may bring harm to innocent people, that is, the gov't may outlaw the abuse of the word if it brings harm to innocent people.
The conclusion for the word "fire" is that the gov't may ban the abuse of the word "fire," but may not in any way restrict or regulate it's use any otherwise. Particularly, the government may not restrict or regulate the word fire in hopes of preventing some yet uncommitted theatre atrocity.
In perfect analogy to "fire," guns are constitutionally protected and may not in any way be infringed, regulated, banned, etc. What is regulatable is the harming of innocent people, whether it be by the word "fire!" or "fnortis bitootsbic!," or by a gun or a rock.
The final conclusion is that gun ownership and free speech go hand in hand, and, yes, firearms ownership is like the word fire.
David C. Treibs