The Second Amendment, Lies, and Violence

The 2nd Amendment, like the 1st Amendment, does not have a singular purpose or a precise, snappy meaning. Those who practice one-incident reporting and attempt snappy one-liners do nothing to properly address the issues. In order to address any issue, we must of course understand it. Sadly, politicians lie. Pundits lie. There are fact-based points and then there are those most charitably called “something else.”


This is not hard to answer. Real facts from the F.B.I. Violence in the United States has been in an astonishingly steep decline for the last twenty years. Here it is: . For 2011, violent crime rate for the year was 386.3 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants a 4.5 percent decrease from the 2010 rate. Check it all out: .
In 1992, the violent crime rate in the U.S. was 757.7 per 100,000. Now, it is 386.6. In 1992, the Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter rate was 9.3 / 100k. In 1997, it was 9.5 / 100K. In 2011, the Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter rate was 4.7 / 100,000 inhabitants. Since 1992, violent crime and murder rates in the United States have been more than cut in half.

Moreover killings from firearms are not what some politicians apparently can comprehend. The majority of firearm deaths are suicides, hardly the same issue as violent thugs and street violence. US Department of Justice reports that approximately 60% of all adult firearm deaths are by suicide, 61% more than deaths by homicide.

What the media (and most everyone else) fails to mention is that not only is violent crime in steep decline, the steep decline continues despite the expiration of the ten year long “Assault Weapons Ban.” For years, the suggestion has been made that more guns, more crime. This has been loudly disproved. Twenty years ago, conceal-carry was not common. Today, there are some 10,000,000 concealed carry permit holders coinciding with the reduction of violent crime. It is fact that concealed carry poses no negatives to the public. In fact, less than one percent of concealed carry permits have been withdrawn. Note that criminals have always been able to carry weapons whenever and wherever they choose, only the law-abiding citizen bothers with a CCW permit. Some 2,000,000 times a year, law-abiding citizens use personal firearms to stop, thwart, or end crime. This is not explored or touched upon by most; instead it is sadly ignored. While Utopia would be no violence at all, the violent crime and murder rates in the United States that have been more than cut in half since 1992 should be appreciated, if not celebrated.


Good question. Though Government is not above killing or “laying siege” to its own citizens (Kent State, Ruby Ridge, Waco, etc.) and the Government has completely lost control (Detroit Riots, LA Riots, Katrina, Hurricane Sandy) the primary purpose of the 2nd Amendment (not the only) is the Natural Right of Self-Defense, an Unalienable Right of Man than can not be taken or legislated away.


It is of no surprise to anyone that Congress passes unconstitutional laws regularly. Problem is, it may take years for things to work their way through the courts if they indeed ever do. The Korean War was a “police action,” never completely ended, Obamacare was not a tax, but only constitutional if it was a tax, so it quickly became a tax. The Supreme Court has avoided any thorough exploration of the 2nd Amendment. When “reasonable restrictions” are discussed, it is wise to note that the complete ban on handguns in Washington, D. C., and Chicago, IL, were considered “reasonable” by many obviously inclusive of those that enacted these laws. The Obama Administration ostensibly supported the Washington, D.C. complete ban.

In 2008, the Supreme Court decided to hear District of Columbia v. Heller. A landmark case, Heller decided for the first time in United States history that the 2nd Amendment was a personal right, as opposed to a collective right.
In 2010, we had McDonald v. Chicago. The Supreme Court held that the right of an individual to "keep and bear arms" protected by the Second Amendment is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and applies to the states.
Still, it was not a completely thorough exploration of the 2nd Amendment and did not attempt to define or address every nuisance or every jot and tittle. I'll quote from McDonald as I think what the Court actually said is important:

No. 08–1521. Argued March 2, 2010—Decided June 28, 2010
Two years ago, in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. ___, this Court held that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense and struck down a District of Columbia law that banned the possession of handguns in the home. Chicago (hereinafter City) and the village of Oak Park, a Chicago suburb, have laws effectively banning handgun possession by almost all private citizens. After Heller, petitioners filed this federal suit against the City, which was consolidated with two related actions, alleging that the City’s handgun ban has left them vulnerable to criminals. They sought a declaration that the ban and several related City ordinances violate the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. Rejecting petitioners’ argument that the ordinances are unconstitutional, the court noted that the Seventh Circuit previously had upheld the constitutionality of a handgun ban, that Heller had explicitly refrained from opining on whether the Second Amendment applied to the States, and that the court had a duty to follow established Circuit precedent. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, relying on three 19th-century cases—United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252, and Miller v. Texas, 153 U. S. 535— which were decided in the wake of this Court’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause in the Slaughter-House Cases, 16 Wall. 36.

The McDonald case was decided on June 28, 2010. It affirms the Natural Right of Self-Defense, an Unalienable Right of Man, with arms. It does not go into extreme detail beyond that, it does not fully explore “sporting purposes,” hunting, or the many other facets of the Second Amendment. It does not negate them, but that was not the question before the Court: self-defense was the issue, as Otis McDonald originally sought relief by challenging four broad aspects of Chicago's gun registration law, which, according to the plaintiffs:

Prohibit the registration of handguns, thus effecting a broad handgun ban.
Require that guns be registered prior to their acquisition by Chicago residents.
Mandate that guns be re-registered annually, with another payment of the fee.
Render any gun permanently non-registrable if its registration lapses.


I've always found it easier to Foretell the Past rather than predict the future. It is clear that outright gun bans will not be tolerated and that the lower courts will take the lead from the Supreme Court in continuing to rule that ownership of guns for self-defense is a right, not a privilege, just as recently decided by the Seventh Circuit. In Moore/Shepard, Judge Posner observed that the "vast terra incognita" referred to by the other circuits "has been opened to judicial exploration by Heller and McDonald." Accordingly, the court analyzed the text of the Heller and McDonald opinions, and of the Second Amendment itself.

The Seventh Circuit noted Heller's statement that the Second Amendment "guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation," and added that "[c]onfrontations are not limited to the home." Further, in McDonald the Supreme Court characterized Heller as holding "the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense[.]" Noting that the Second Amendment right to "bear" arms is distinct from the right to "keep" arms, the Moore/Shepard court concluded that bearing arms is unlikely to refer to the home, and that "a right to bear arms thus implies a right to carry a loaded gun outside the home." Most importantly, it found that "[t]he Supreme Court has decided that the amendment confers a right to bear arms for self-defense, which is as important outside the home as inside."

Applying the “in common use” threshold as used in several cases, Armalite AR-15 rifles and 30 round magazines would be constitutionally protected, as would various common pistols (Glock 17) that are commonly factory-supplied with 17 – 19 round detachable magazines. Law enforcement is not military, of course, and the weapons they routinely use are to “serve and protect.” Therefore, any firearm or weapon used by law enforcement for protection would naturally be a protected item for self-defense and protection by the U.S. Citizen as well. It could not be more clear that police and the citizen are not living on a battlefield on foreign soil, but seeking only to protect the very same things for the same reasons. It is important to note that prior court decisions has not impeded legislatures from enacting unconstitutional law in the slightest and there is no indication that this sad fact will over change.


You can call it a lie, or you can call it not telling the truth: take your pick. Today, February 4, 2012, President Obama again called for an “assault weapons ban” under the dishonest claim they are “weapons of war.” But, the firearms discussed fraudulently as “assault weapons” are not weapons of war in any modern military. President Obama should be awarded several dozen Pinocchios for such a fabulous lie. Indeed, the rubrik of court decisions has pointed to common weapons. Weapons of war are armed predator drones, cruise missiles, nuclear subs, tanks, grenade launchers, long-range missiles. The President should know this, for he has ordered more people killed with drones and missiles than most anyone.

The “assault weapon” is a strictly political term. Amazingly, the Department of Homeland Security currently has a solicitation out for 7000 select-fire “Personal Defense Weapons.” Select-fire means the gun can shoot two or three round bursts or go full auto: in the common vernacular, a “machine gun” banned from purchase by civilians. You just can't make this stuff up: a self-loading repeating rifle is an “assault weapon” if you buy it. However, a machine gun is a “Personal Defense Weapon” if the government buys 7000 of them.


The real debate is fairly basic. Criminals have the advantage of choosing their victims and the time and place of their attack. They naturally prefer to prey upon the unarmed, for criminals are hardly unreasonable. Citizens know that police are only called to the crime scene after it becomes a crime scene. Citizens do not understand why the government “solution” is to try to take guns away from those that didn't do it and wouldn't do it.

Gun laws do not work, for only the regular man or woman gets the permits, pays the fees, gets the training. Some are “worried” that CCW permit holders can carry weapons for self-defense, apparently forgetting the obvious: criminals carry guns all the time, wherever they choose, and they don't need permits . . . nor do they want them. Policemen do not assume responsibility for anyone's personal safety, nor does is the fireman responsible for every fire that is set, every act of arson committed. All kinds of things are illegal, but simply making them illegal whether drugs or guns does not make them hard to get. History shows loud and clear that anytime something is less convenient to get legally, a black market quickly grows that makes it convenient. Black markets themselves are often run by undesirable folks, and we can look to Mexico to see the result of radically tight gun laws yet massive crime. The Armed Citizen, at his own expense, provides a reduction in crime to society, and a reduction in exposure not only to his or her own family, but to their neighbors and community as well. The Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness we hold so dear provides no guarantees, only opportunity. Personal firearms ownership is cherished by those who want a measure of responsibility for their own safety. Guns in the right hands is never the problem, only guns in the wrong hands.


There is no law that can be passed that will prevent tragedy: it is intellectually dishonest to suggest that there is. Gun violence has dropped dramatically due to personal gun ownership and concealed-carry. It will continue to decline as long as personal gun ownership and CCW continues to rise.

Problems are solved by education, community involvement, and by punishing the wrong-doers. If you are convicted of committing a crime with a gun, you should not be on the street, it should be a Federal crime. Of course you look at our criminal justice system, you look at the neglect of our veterans, you look at why gang-banging and drug dealing is a more promising option than education and a job for so many young folks.

Of course you look at mental health issues, cautiously, for less than 5% of the gun-violence is attributed to mental illness and those with mental issues are far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than a perpetrator. And, if morality and responsibility are important, we really need to ask far tougher questions. Why are we sending our young men and women to fight in optional, elective, undeclared wars? Just what are we doing about it when they come home with battered bodies and broken minds that were battered and broken for Uncle Sam? It is more than troubling when a young man or woman can't own a semi-automatic pistol at home to protect themselves, but that same young man or woman is given grenade launchers and hellfire missiles to use when those same boots hit the ground overseas.

What of the reckless media? You have a media that quickly sensationalizes deranged killers, talking about them for months, splashing their pictures on the front page, posting every little childhood drawing they ever made, interviewing every casual acquaintance they have ever had, republishing ever little tweet and Facebook note they have ever had. The obvious result is encouraging and inspiring copycat crimes. Yet, when a soldier returns home from Afghanistan with his legs freshly blown off serving his country, it rarely makes the 47th page. It is a media that feeds on insanity but ignores patriotism and sacrifice.

Looking for a reason for an insane act is itself insane. For those who believe in setting an example, reporting rumor as fact and making money off of human misery is not the best example. Politicians who so proudly lie from the bizzaro realm of Washington, D.C., aren't setting what most would call a good example, either.

Copyright 2013 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

Tim Lynch, Director, Project on Criminal Justice, Cato Institute, gives a sterling overview of 2nd Amendment and Gun issues of today, from Thursday, January 24, 2013. Outstandingly good work from Tim Lynch and Cato Institute. You might want to start your viewing at the 3:30 mark.

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