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COLUMN: Instead of outlawing guns, keep guns away from outlaws

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 1:35 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 26, 2010

The knee-jerk bleating reactions of the anti-gun left, biased media, four Supreme Court justices and selected state and municipal governments notwithstanding, who stands to gain most by draconian gun laws designed to restrict the law-abiding citizen's right to defend himself, his family and his property? If you answered "the career criminal," go to the head of the class — the burglar, the home invader and every thug's greatest nightmare is a level playing field on which the home owner or private citizen is armed.

The notion that outlawing private gun ownership will enhance the safety of our homes or person is utter nonsense. What criminal would obey such an edict? It is the law-abiding who are placed at greatest risk — anyone believing the felon who is already armed in defiance of the law will surrender his weapon is naive to the point of lacking common sense. Murder, robbery, assault and rape are violations of established law — all are committed continually by lawbreakers.

Accordingly, albeit belatedly, the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller held the Second Amendment to mean exactly what it says, that — inasmuch as self-defense is a fundamental right — the right to keep and bear arms extends to the states as well as to the federal government. That finding was reinforced and broadened in the June 2010 ruling in McDonald v. Chicago, in which the majority ruled the privileges and immunities clause of the 14th Amendment incorporates that Second Amendment right for individual self-defense.

Contrary to the dissenting opinions by the Supreme Court's minority, the aforementioned anti-gun lobby, media columnists, cartoonists and editorial opinions (the hysteria-generated June 28 Kansas City Star editorial as the absolute nadir), the majority acknowledged the constitutional right is not an absolute one. The court held, "The right to keep and bear arms is not 'a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.'"

The court iterated that neither "Heller" nor "McDonald" overturns longstanding reasonable regulatory measures such as prohibiting felons and the mentally ill possessing firearms, laws against carrying firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings or imposing conditions on concealed carry or transfer of handguns. The Kansas City Star's and other publications' characterizing the Supreme Court's interpretation as judicial activism and alleging that state and local governments will forfeit reasonable regulation of firearms is absurd.

No one disputes that there exists among the population a considerable segment that, for a variety of reasons, fear or dislike guns. Some have experienced tragedies involving firearms, others who have little or no history with weapons are uneasy while a number of them are so adamantly anti-gun as to align with organizations calling for an absolute ban on the manufacture and sale of firearms.

Opponents of basic gun rights assert that banning firearms in general and handguns in particular is the panacea to end all gun crimes, citing biased studies and statistics as evidence. In deaths involving children for example, they use Center for Disease Control data, which include those 19 and under, wilfully ignoring that 80 percent of these are homicides by criminals 15 to 19 years of age. In reality, the 1999 Center for Disease Control statistics for accidental deaths of children 10 years or age and under cited firearms as the cause in six cases while 93 drowned in bathtubs.

The Bill of Rights, established as the first 10 amendments, guarantees individual rights to the people. Those people described in the Second Amendment are the same as those described in the First and Fourth Amendments and to whom those rights and powers are reserved in the Ninth and 10th. May we safely assume that when the framers identified "the people," they included individuals such as you and me?

We should be able to agree also that, while a firearm is inherently dangerous, the degree of danger is vested in the person responsible for its use. A legally procured handgun, rifle, shotgun or even a Taser in the hands of a responsible and law-abiding citizen is far less apt to cause death or injury than an automobile operated by that same individual. Conversely, the criminal's weapon is rarely obtained legally and is intended for an unlawful purpose, rather than self defense or recreation.

The legitimate gun owner is described in the Second Amendment as one whose "right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." On the other hand, the person who uses a firearm for murder, armed robbery, intimidation, drive-by shooting or is a convicted felon has forfeited that right. To deny the person described in the first sentence that right of defending himself or herself from the one in sentence two is criminal — as well as a violation of the Constitution.

Finally, as has been the case accompanying nearly every court decision expanding the rights of gun owners, the wailing pronouncements of impending doom by hyper-hysterical anti-gun activists have failed to come to pass. Neither the "Heller" decision nor more than 40 states (Missouri included) issue concealed carry permits has resulted in the streets running red from gun battles involving legally armed citizens.

Banning guns will not deny them to criminals; however, adding 10 years to the sentence of one committing a crime while in possession of a firearm and 20 years for displaying said weapon is a powerful deterrent. If the anti-gun activists wish to make a difference, they will board the bandwagon for those more severe sentences for crimes with guns.

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via e-mail at JKarlUSMC@aol.com.


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Comments

John Brown July 14, 2010 | 7:29 a.m.

Great story! But concerning denying gun rights to the mentally Ill: You might be Shocked to learn just how easy it is to be Stigmatized as Mentally Ill. I am in college and have taken 3 psychology courses. The instructor of my current class (Abnormal Psychology) is a Dr. She warned the class that if any of us were to visit a therapist, we would be forever stigmatized as being mentally ill, because of the insurance companies. Simply put; In order for the insurance company to pay for the therapy session, the therapist Must Assign a Disorder to the person they are talking to. Once you have been Falsely Stigmatized the Label is Permanent; A lawyer cannot help you! Your constitutional rights are not worth the paper they are written on! Once your name is in the system of any mental health provider; Your Screwed!

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush July 14, 2010 | 11:23 a.m.

Here's the text f the 2nd Amendment in its entirety-
"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."
Here's a quote from the link you provide, "...the Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home."
Talk about judicial activism.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 14, 2010 | 6:04 p.m.

This issue rears it's head every election cycle. The Col is just riling up the base. Truth is that the "Hyper anti-gun left" are very few and far between. Many Dems and progressive that I know are either indifferent or own guns. The Col is just ratcheting up an issue that really doesn't need it.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop July 14, 2010 | 9:05 p.m.

20 years ago I researched the 2nd amendment. I had three questions:

Did the NRA present the 2nd Amendment as it was originally intended?

Was the NRA telling half truths?

Was the NRA totally misconstruing the intent of the 2nd Amendment.

I went to the debates before each state legislature on the adoption of the Constitution.

I went to the writings of the Founding Fathers.

I found that not only did the Founding Fathers intend the 2nd Amendment be an individual right, but were VERY emphatic that it was there to protect from government.

I researched if there were any arguments OPPOSING the 2nd Amendment as an individual right. I found nothing.

You will find that specifically mentioned below. If requested, I will gladly furnish my source documents, but the 3,000 character limit precludes me here.

NOAH WEBSTER, IN A PAMPHLET ADVOCATING PENNSYLVANIA'S RATIFICATION OF THE CONSTITUTION:

BEFORE A STANDING ARMY CAN RULE, THE PEOPLE MUST BE DISARMED; AS THEY ARE IN ALMOST EVERY KINGDOM IN EUROPE. THE SUPREME POWER IN AMERICA CANNOT ENFORCE UNJUST LAWS BY THE SWORD, BECAUSE THE WHOLE BODY OF THE PEOPLE ARE ARMED, AND CONSTITUTE A FORCE SUPERIOR TO ANY BAND OF REGULAR TROOPS THAT CAN BE, ON ANY PRETENSE, RAISED IN THE UNITED STATES.

JAMES MADISON: AMERICANS HAVE THE RIGHT AND ADVANTAGE OF BEING ARMED - UNLIKE CITIZENS OF OTHER COUNTRIES WHOSE GOVERNMENTS ARE AFRAID TO TRUST THE PEOPLE WITH ARMS.

GEORGE MASON, CO-AUTHOR OF THE SECOND AMENDMENT: IN DEBATE ON THE RATIFICATION OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION BEFORE THE VIRGINIA ASSEMBLY: "I ASK SIR, WHAT IS THE MILITIA? IT IS THE WHOLE OF THE PEOPLE, EXCEPT FOR A FEW PUBLIC OFFICIALS."

SAMUEL ADAMS: "THE SAID CONSTITUTION SHALL NEVER BE CONSTRUED TO AUTHORIZE CONGRESS TO INFRINGE THE JUST LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, OR THE RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE; OR TO PREVENT THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES, WHO ARE PEACEABLE CITIZENS, FROM KEEPING THEIR OWN ARMS."

RICHARD HENRY LEE: "A MILITIA WHEN PROPERLY FORMED ARE IN FACT THE PEOPLE THEMSELVES, AND INCLUDE ALL MEN CAPABLE OF BEARING ARMS. TO PRESERVE LIBERTY, IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THE WHOLE BODY OF PEOPLE ALWAYS POSSESS ARMS. THE MIND THAT AIMS AT A SELECT MILITIA, MUST BE INFLUENCED BY A TRULY ANTI-REPUBLICAN PRINCIPLE.

THOMAS JEFFERSON:

LAWS THAT FORBID THE CARRYING OF ARMS DISARM ONLY THOSE WHO ARE NEITHER INCLINED NOR DETERMINED TO COMMIT CRIMES. SUCH LAWS MAKE THINGS WORSE FOR THE ASSUALTED 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.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 15, 2010 | 6:50 a.m.

There seems to be more than a little evidence that the framers of our Constitution as well as the general populace of that time were concerned - if not outright paranoid - about unwanted incursions into their lives and freedom by centralized government.

Two centuries later it's obvious their concerns were totally unfounded, right? If you actually believe their concerns were of no consequence then I have some ocean front lots for sale in the state of New Mexico I'd like to discuss with you; I can offer you those lots at an unbelievably low price.

Guns may be the specific issue, but there's more at stake than either guns or gun ownership.

(Report Comment)
Stephanie Murphy July 15, 2010 | 8:08 a.m.

Don Milsop,

I would love to read your sources, especially for the Thomas Jefferson quote at the bottom. It is truly amazing to understand what our founding fathers felt on issues that still exist today.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop July 17, 2010 | 5:44 a.m.

Stephanie, Colonel Miller is on vacation now. When he gets back, tell him you need Semper's email. I'll get it for you.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller July 18, 2010 | 10:23 a.m.

Mr Bush--For your edification, judicial activism occurs when the court legislates to create a right which does not exist anywhere in the Constitution, such as the "right to privacy" rather than ruling on the interpretation of an existing one spelled out in the Bill of Rights. I fail to fathom just what part of " the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" you do not comprehend.

Nevertheless, if you are comfortable with restricting the ownership of firearms to state militia or law enforcement organizations, leaving your home and person defenseless against armed criminals, be my guest. It is abundantly clear; however, that most of your countrymen (myself included) are more than satisfied with the Supreme Court's majority ruling that the 2nd Amendment includes the right to bear arms in individual self defense.

Mr Dance--Perhaps you can explain just what base I "riled up?" I reread my column and found neither Republican vs. Democrat nor conservative vs. progressive rhetoric--the gun rights tent is a big one and includes the entire spectrum of those who believe the Bill of Rights means just what it says.

I apologize for the untimely response but, I just returned from a sun and sand vacation in North Carolina.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop July 18, 2010 | 6:32 p.m.

Colonel, it always amazes me that liberals only pick the 2nd amendment as the one under the Bill of Rights that is not meant to be an individual right. Never mind that portion of the amendment you point out that so clearly says "the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". The very words of the Founding Fathers I posted above make clear to anyone but a fool that it was meant to be an individual right.

After 30 years of attending hundreds of gun shows with millions of firearms and rounds of ammunition, I have yet to see a mass shooting or anybody even shot and killed or injured at a gun show. Firearms are not a problem. Criminals are a problem. When a society exercises criminal control over gun control, crime goes down.

As of 2008, there were approximately 311 million people living in the United States. There were 14,180 homicides, of which 9,484 were by firearms. Annually there are about 50,000 violent deaths in the United States from all causes other than traffic accidents.
The CDC 2007 report on injuries and deaths in the United States does not even mention injury by firearms, so it must be statistically very insignificant. The report only covers deaths by firearms. A web search would indicate that the CDC quit reporting firearms injury statistics after 1998 when they were less than 70,000.

There were 441,855 robberies in 2008, of which 43.5% included firearms. That's 192,220. So lets add all this up. There a maximum of 50,000 homicides and 192,220 armed robberies. Let's say there were 200,000 firearms injures.
That's a maximum of 450,000 incidents involving firearms. Estimates of privately owned firearms in the United States range from 200 million to 350 million. Let's go in the middle and say 275 million.

So you have a population of 311 million.
You have 275 million firearms.
You have 450,000 incidents of firearms used in death, injury, or crime, including suicide.

That is less than 2/10ths of 1 percent of guns used in crime or injury by less than 2/10ths of 1 percent of the population.

And for this liberals would run over the rights of the other 99.8+% of the population? Where do liberals get thinking like that? Surely we much quit calling them progressives, and instead, call them what they are: REPRESSIVES.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop July 18, 2010 | 9:45 p.m.

Tim Dance, regarding your post of July 14, 2010 how can you say the colonel is racheting up an issue that doesn't need it? When a citizen is stripped of their constitutional right of possession of weapons and self protection, and when four out of nine U.S. Supreme Court justices agree that stripping a citizen of that right is perfectly fine, then you have an issue that should be paid a huge amount of attention to.

Thirty-three amici curiae briefs in favor of McDonald for this case were filed with the Clerk of the Supreme Court. One of these briefs was filed by U.S. senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R, TX) and John Tester (D, MT) and U.S. representatives Mark Souder (R, IN) and Mike Ross (D, AR) asking the Supreme Court to find in favor of the petitioners and rule that the Second Amendment does apply to the states. The brief was signed by 58 senators and 251 representatives, more members of Congress than any amicus curiae brief in history. Furthermore, thirty-two states attorneys general filed amici curiae briefs in favor of McDonald.

Yet in spite of all this, four SCOTUS judges saw fit to attempt to strip Americans of their 2nd amendment rights.
Based on this information, it is very apparent that this is an issue of vital importance to the majority of Americans, and one in which we must maintain constant vigilence against repressive liberals in our society.

Which of the other amendments under the Bill of Rights are you willing to treat in such a cavalier manner?

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 19, 2010 | 12:07 a.m.

Wow, what a pathetic attempt to rile up a base. Liberal this and liberal that. Conservative sweetheart Guilani was for gun control and even joined a law suit to sue a gun manufacturer. Go ahead, call him a liberal. As a liberal, I don't see gun control as a priority and like it was stated before, most liberals I know are indifferent or own firearm.

Folks, this is just an biannual election year red herring that folks like the Col pull out every election cycle. No liberals here wants your guns, we just want you to realize that the Col is just manipulating you. He doesn't want you to start questioning why Republicans want to make their stand for fiscal responsibility. on the backs of the unemployed. Stop voting against your own economic self interest and tell these manipulators like the Col to take a hike

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop July 19, 2010 | 1:19 a.m.

Mr. Dance, you may have missed this. Gulliani never won more than 27% in any primary and withdrew from the campaign by January 30th, 2008. Hardly the sweetheart of conservatives. He was recognized quickly as another RINO.
You liberals can't seem to present any response based on fact and history, regardless of whether it's the 1780s or 2008. So you bluster and scream, throw your hands into the air and proclaim you are being mistreated and that conservatives are distorting. Meanwhile, anybody capable of reading and using logic and common sense can see what the facts are, and whose position has more merit as presented here. It sure isn't you nor Mr. Bush.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush July 19, 2010 | 12:07 p.m.

Here's the text from the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and Warrants shall not be issued, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

There is no "right to privacy." There is a "right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects...."

To quote, again, the link you provided: ..."right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home." A new "right to self defense."

Judicial activism.
But nobody wants to discuss a well-regulated militia. It's only in the language of the 2nd Amendment.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush July 19, 2010 | 12:09 p.m.

And Ms. Murphy - still no sources. It was a reasonable question. Contrivances populate the fictionary.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 19, 2010 | 12:57 p.m.

Gregg, it seems if you think the Second Amendment prohibits lawful possession of firearms for self-defense, then you must also believe that the First does not apply to speech on the Internet since it is not explicitly called out in the Bill of Rights. I think the better argument is to use the Privileges and Immunities clause of the 14th (I think) Amendment, as Justice Thomas mentioned. People think that the Bill of Rights grants us those rights; rather they are an enumeration and recognition by the government of those rights granted people by their citizenship, not a federal overload in Washington D.C.

I'll also point out that it appears the Thomas Jefferson quote posted by Don should not be attributed to him according to this link:

http://wiki.monticello.org/mediawiki/ind...

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 19, 2010 | 1:53 p.m.

Ok I am going to "speak" slower so you will understand. You stated that "you liberals" wanted gun control. I was pointing out that Guliani was for gun control. No one considers it liberal. You talk out of ignorance Don. One can be for universal access to health care and still believe in the second amendment. Using this as liberal bashing is just the rights attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator. I hope people wake up before November and realize they are being hoodwinked by the right.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop July 19, 2010 | 7:28 p.m.

No Tim. You said Gulliani who was for gun control was a darling of the conservatives. I pointed out to you that Gulliani was no darling of conservatives. Hope I said that slow enough for you to comprehend. I keep pointing out historical fact to you, and you come back with nothing in history to back up your position. If you don't think 4 out of 9 justices who are liberal and voted for severely restricting a citizen's right to firearms is not prima facie evidenence of liberals wanting gun control, then I shall have to cease using logic and facts to support my mosition.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop July 19, 2010 | 7:36 p.m.

Seems to me Gregg is advocating that citizens be armed appropriate to a militia. That would include belt fed full auto machine guns, rocket launchers, jet fighter aircraft and bombers, cruise missiles, etc. After all, all of these types of weapons are in the military, national guard, and state militias. Okay, most of the state militias don't have cruise missiles, but many do have jet fighters. Gregg, you're going to have to pay for more land and a hanger if you want me to keep all that stuff.

But really Gregg, from the hand of those who wrote the Constitution, isn't their meaning clear enough to you in their writings I posted above? Or are you going to choose to remain willingly blind to their intent?

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 20, 2010 | 12:24 a.m.

So Missouri Sen. Kit Bond, Former State Rep. Ed Robb, R-Columbia, and State Rep. Steve Hobbs, R-Mexico are liberals?

http://www.columbiamissourian.com/storie...

They endorsed a gun control Republican. Don, you see liberals around every dark corner. People, don't let these people have you vote against your own economic interest. They will wax poetic about out founding fathers, but once these Republicans are in power, they will open the taxpayer trough to their cronies.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 20, 2010 | 12:32 a.m.

Also what I think Gregg's point is and you are totally missing it Don is that since the Col won't make the leap that the 4th amendment is a implicit right to privacy, why should people make that same leap when the 2nd amendment wording refers to militia? I believe in both the right to privacy and the right to keep and bear arms. However most conservatives will not allow the logical step for the 4th amendment, but have no problem making that same logical step for the 2nd. I do.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush July 20, 2010 | 3:30 p.m.

In order to not confuse..."well regulated."

Discuss.

(Report Comment)

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