Gun Control Is Racist, Sexist And Discriminatory
The people and organizations who advocate strong gun
control in the United States must be acting out of what they believe to be the best interest of the people, both the
citizens of the United States in general and the people they
represent. One must believe that! Otherwise this assault on the rights of the people could only be interpreted as an attack on the lives and freedom of the people of the United States leading to their ultimate subjugation to either the terror of constant criminal assault, or the actions of a government gone mad.
Gun control, as advocated by Handgun Control, Inc., the National Coalition to Ban Handguns and others is racist, sexist, discriminatory, and flies in the face of the substance and meaning of the Constitution of the United States, not only the controversial Second Amendment, but the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution as well. Gun control has no effect on crime rates and, in fact, may actually increase crime rates.
The most fundamental of human rights is the right of self-defense. No one becomes outraged when a wild animal fights to defend itself, its young or its den. The wish to survive in the face of an attack transcends any mere right granted by a government. Handguns in particular were created to meet the need for a ready means of effective self-defense, to be used in the protection of life and property. Throughout mankind's history, the mark of the freeman has always been the wearing of arms. In Switzerland since 1291 AD, when the Landsgemeinden (peoples assembly) gathered in the village squares, only those men carrying swords were permitted to vote. The right to bear arms was prohibited for serfs, peasants, and more recently in our history, slaves. Virginia's first recorded legislation about blacks, in 1640, barred them from owning firearms.
Gun control was never an issue in the United States until after the Civil War, when the slaves were freed. Racist
elements in both the North and South began to agitate for
restrictions on guns. The gun control laws of the late 19th
century and early 20th century were racist in conception and
targeted the black population specifically. As one Florida judge was heard to explain, the laws were "passed for the purpose of disarming the Negro laborers... never intended to be applied to the white population." The Dred Scott decision in 1857 declared that blacks were not citizens. If they were, announced Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, there would be no legal way to deny them firearms.
Often, such laws prohibited the sale and manufacture of inexpensive firearms, in effect allowing firearm ownership only by the wealthy, white landowners who could afford them the poor black could not. The Gun Control Act of 1968 has had the same effect, raising the cost of handguns and outright prohibiting inexpensive imports, without regard to the perceived quality of the handguns in question. The term "Saturday Night Special" has its origin in the racial slur "Niggertown Saturday Night", which was similar to "Father's Day in Harlem" or "Chinese Fire Drill".
In the 1960's, over one hundred civil rights workers were murdered. The Department of Justice refused to intervene to prosecute the Klan or to help protect the workers. Like a bad Western, it was often useless, or worse than useless, to ask the police for help. Often Klan dues were collected at the local police stations.
John Salter, a professor at Tougaloo College and NAACP leader during the early 1960's wrote "No one knows what kind of massive racist retaliation would have been directed against grass-roots black people had the black community not had a healthy measure of firearms within it." Salter was forced to defend his home and family against Klan nightriders several times.
In 1976, Ormistan Spencer, a black, moved into the white neighborhood of Rosedale, Queens. Garbage was dumped on his lawn, his children were abused, and a pipe bomb was hurled through a window of his house. When Mr. Spencer responded to a menacing crowd by brandishing a gun, police confiscated the gun and preferred charges against Mr. Spencer.
Blacks in America have at least a forty percent greater chance of being burgled and a one hundred percent greater chance of being robbed than whites. In California, in 1981 blacks committed forty-eight percent of justifiable homicides, in self-defense, as opposed to twenty-two percent self-defense shootings by whites in Chicago, the black-to-white ratio for weapons arrests was seven-to-one in one year, rivaled only by prostitution arrests in race ratio. Blacks have gone to federal court in Maryland and won firearms permits only after proving that a local police department almost never issued permits to black residents.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the St. Louis police have conducted over 25,000 illegal searches under the theory that any black driving a late-model car must have a handgun. In 1968, some rifles were stolen from a National Guard armory in New Jersey. The Guard, what gun-control advocates would call the militia, ransacked forty-five homes of black residents in warrantless searches for the missing weapons. They found none, and left the houses in shambles, without apology.
It used to be said that firearms were the "great equalizer" of the old west, and to a large extent, that is still true. An advertising slogan from the 19th century said, "Be not afraid of any man, no matter what his size; when danger threatens, call on me... and I will equalize."
In 1966, in response to a rape epidemic in Orlando, Florida, police embarked on a highly publicized program to train 2,500 women in firearms use. The next year, the incidence of rape fell eighty-eight percent in Orlando, burglary fell by twenty-five percent. Subsequently, not one of the 2,500 women actually had to fire her gun, the publicity alone served to bring about this dramatic increase in the safety of Orlando's citizens. Five years later, Orlando's rape rate was still thirteen percent below the pre-program level, while the surrounding metropolitan area had suffered a three-hundred and eight percent increase in rape incidence.
In 1982, the town of Kennesaw, Georgia flew in the face of the trend to disarm the public by passing an ordinance requiring every homeowner to own a gun. Contrary to the dire predictions of the anti-gun forces, Kennesaw did not turn into another Dodge City. Quite the opposite. Since the passage of the law, Kennesaw has had exactly one homicide, which was not committed with a gun. Home burglaries have dropped from 11 per 1000 to 3 per 1000. In that same time, Kennesaw's population has nearly doubled.
Statistically, only seven percent of rapists use a gun. A complete gun ban would make crimes against our women even more certain of success, guaranteeing unarmed victims for the would-be rapist. The anti-gun forces objection to arming women is that the rapist will take the gun away from the woman and use it against her. Having only the movies as an example, this argument is based on a sexist stereotype which assumes that all women are incapable of using a weapon effectively, exactly the opposite view of women's rights. The cases of women, even grandmothers, successfully using firearms to fight off attackers are numerous and fail to attract media attention.
The most prevalent argument today for depriving American citizens of their firearms is that this will, in some fashion, reduce crime.
As indicated by the Wright-Rossi report described below, the crime best deterred by gun ownership is burglary of occupied residences. While only 1 in 10 American burglaries is committed against an occupied home, Canada, with the restrictions the Handgun Control Inc. and others want, suffers fifty percent of its burglaries against an occupied home. In Britain, with even more strict prohibitions against gun ownership, the rate of burglaries endangering the homeowners directly is an appalling fifty-nine percent.
People who are otherwise uninvolved in the controversy find it difficult to find a downside to banning firearms. "I don't feel the need for a gun, the only one's who'll be hurt by this are the occasional hunter, and who cares? If it will save a few lives, why not?" Why not indeed?
There is no simple statistical correlation between gun ownership and homicide or other violent crime. In the first thirty years of this century, gun ownership remained stable, but the homicide rate rose ten times. Between 1937 and 1963, handgun ownership rose 250 percent while the homicide rate fell by over thirty-five percent.
A number of years ago, the National Institute of Justice offered a grant to Peter Rossi, the former president of the American Sociological Association, for the purpose of examining the field of research on gun control. Dr. Rossi began his research personally convinced of the need for tighter national gun control. Their study involved detailed interviews with 1,874 felons in prison in ten states. Among felons who had committed a crime of violence or a burglary, forty-two percent reported encountering an armed victim, thirty-eight percent reported being scared off, injured or captured by an armed citizen. Perhaps most significantly, forty-three percent reported having chosen not to commit a particular crime because they believed the victim to be armed.
When the study was complete, Dr. Rossi and his colleagues, James Wright and Kathleen Daly, from the University of Massachusetts concluded that there was no convincing proof that gun control had any effect on crime, and in fact, that gun ownership tends to deter crime.
According to Gary Kleck's study, "Crime Control Through the Private Use of Armed Force", completed in 1988, handguns are used to stop or ameliorate a crime of violence some 645,000 times each year. If one includes all firearms, i.e. rifles and shotguns, that figure climbs to near one million crimes reduced in severity or prevented completely in one year.
The gun control forces say that if even one life is saved because firearms are banned, then they were successful. What of the significant percentage of those one million persons each year who might have died or been severely injured had they been disarmed?
The survey data indicate that in the five year period from 1976-1981, some three million households used firearms for defensive purposes. Interestingly, the firearms were actually fired in less than half of the incidents.
While the data for these kinds of studies is incomplete and difficult to obtain, the sheer weight of the available data
strongly support Kleck's conclusion that when citizens own and use guns to defend themselves, the amount of violent crime is reduced to a degree that could rival the effect of the criminal justice system.
All of the things we fear about firearms are already illegal. Murder, assault, rape, robbery, etc., are already crimes, with punishment as specified by law. The gun control forces would have us depend on our police for protection from crime. In the US., there are slightly over six hundred thousand police officers, only a quarter of whom are on duty at any one time.
It is significant to note that under the laws of the United States, the police have no responsibility to the individual for their protection. For instance, California has enacted statutes asserting that government is not responsible for providing police protection. Thirty-seven other states have similar statues, the remaining thirteen have established case law which has the same effect.
Quoting from the California statutes:
"S 845. Failure to provide police protection.
In today's America, not only are the police so totally inundated by the work they already have, they are under no legal requirement to provide any protection at all.
Neither a public entity nor a public employee is
liable for failure to establish a police department or
otherwise provide police protection service or, if
police protection service is provided, for failure to
provide sufficient police protection service."
"S 846. Failure to make arrest or to retain person
arrested in custody.
Neither a public entity nor a public employee is
liable for injury caused by the failure to make an
arrest or by the failure to retain an arrested person
Long thought to be a pro-gun cliché, Stanford law professor John Kaplan observed, "When guns are outlawed, all those who have guns will be outlaws." He argued that when a law criminalizes behavior not believed improper by the citizens, the new outlaws lose respect for society and the law.
Further pre-emptive action against firearms, constitute laws that cannot be enforced without the establishment of a large bureaucracy and a serious erosion of our civil rights. The recent passage of a national waiting period, proposals for registration, instant record checks, all require the expenditure of huge sums of tax dollars before the first crime is prevented, if ever. The added paperwork and expense is worsened by the loss of enforcement personnel, police officers doing paperwork for gun control instead of patrolling or other direct crime prevention work.
Suppose half of all current handgun owners would disobey a prohibition and that 10 percent of them would be caught. At the current cost of arresting someone for a serious offense of $2,000.00, arresting that ten percent would cost five billion dollars a year. The cost of prosecution and trial would be at least four and a half billion a year. Imprisoning each defendant would cost over $660 million in one-time prison construction costs, and over $200 million in annual maintenance. Given that the entire American criminal justice system has a total annual budget of only $45 billion, adding an additional ten billion dollar burden seems cruel in the face of other social services to the poor that money could buy.
One doesn't have to be pro-gun to know that gun control laws are a threat to our civil liberties. Quoting Aryeh Neier, former director of the American Civil Liberties Union, "I want the state to take away people's guns. But I don't want the state to use methods against gun owners that I deplore when used against naughty children, sexual minorities, drug users, and unsightly drinkers. Since such reprehensible police practices are probably needed to make anti-gun laws effective, my proposal to ban all guns should probably be marked a failure before it is even tried."
As Aryeh Neier has said, the mechanics of enforcement must be considered. Illegal gun ownership is a possessory offense, like possession of marijuana or bootleg alcohol. The civil liberties invasions that result are the necessary effects of gun control enforcement.
No one, liberal or conservative, needs to be told how the criminalization of liquor and drugs has led the police into search and seizure violations. Possessory offenses, like the possession of firearms, cannot be contained any other way. Search-and-seizure violations are the inevitable result of the criminalization of gun possession. Judge David Shields of Chicago's special firearms court observed: "Constitutional search and seizure issues are probably more regularly argued in this court than anywhere in America."
In 1933, for example, long before the Warren Court, one quarter of all weapons arrests in Detroit were dismissed due to illegal searches.
The Fourth Amendment, which requires that searches be based upon probable cause, cannot be complied with and still effectively enforce a gun prohibition. Former DC. Court of Appeals Judge Malcolm Wilkey has said that the exclusionary rule, which prohibits courtroom use of illegally seized evidence, "has made unenforceable the gun control laws we now have and will make ineffective any stricter controls which may be devised."
Abolishing the exclusionary rule is not the only proposal designed to facilitate searches for illegal guns to be proposed. Harvard professor James Q. Wilson, the Police Foundation, and others propose widespread street use of hand-held magnetometers and walk-through metal detectors to find illegal guns.
The city attorney of Berkeley, California, has advocated setting up "weapons checkpoints" where the police would search all cars passing through dangerous neighborhoods for weapons , simply on the chance of finding a weapon, without probable cause or even reasonable suspicion. School administrators in several districts have begun searching student lockers and purses for guns and drugs. Searching a teenager's purse, or making our children walk through a metal detector several times a day, seems unlikely to instill upon them much faith in the importance of our civil liberties.
Most people possessing illegal weapons would never carry them on the streets and would not be caught even if metal detectors were on every street corner. Accordingly, a third of the people who favor a ban on private handguns want the ban enforced with house-to-house searches. Giving away the Second Amendment guarantees erosion of the Fourth Amendment.
One-fourth of the guns seized by the police are not associated with any criminal activity. Our Constitution explicitly rejects the idea that the police may be allowed to search our home at will and without due cause.
We are already seeing some of the effects of the erosion of our rights gun control has caused, in the form of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms [BATF].
The BATF has been singularly outrageous in some of its prosecution efforts. One year in Iowa, for example, the BATF hauled away an unregistered cannon from a public war memorial, in California it pried inoperable machine guns out of a museum's display. Often the bureau's tactics against small dealers and collectors are quite petty. After an acquittal, agents may refuse to return the dealers inventory or the collectors seized weapons, even under court order.
The BATF's behavior harms more than just gun owners. By action of the Supreme Court, BATF searches need not be based on probable cause, or any cause at all. In 1972, United States v. Biswell, the Supreme Court allowed these searches, further weakening the Constitution's probable cause requirement.
In 1982, the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution investigated the BATF and concluded that the agency had habitually engaged in "conduct which borders on the criminal. . . Enforcement tactics made possible by current firearms laws are constitutionally, legally and practically reprehensible. . . . Approximately 75 percent of BATF gun prosecutions were aimed at ordinary citizens who had neither criminal intent nor knowledge, but were enticed by agents into unknowing technical violations."`
There is no doubt that as many people can cite their Miranda rights, they can also explain the "militia" arguments over the Second Amendment. The Constitution merely permits the government to maintain a militia for its own purposes, they would argue.
A principle function of government, throughout history, has been to reserve to themselves the power to enforce, by violence if necessary, the rules of their society. All governments will have standing armies and police forces to maintain order and protect the borders. With a tradition like this deeply embedded in human, let alone European culture, why would the Framers feel it necessary to specifically provide for a militia in the Constitution? Obviously they did not. The purpose of the Second Amendment was, as clearly stated in the quotes below, to protect the people against the ravages of a government gone mad.
Writings in the Federalist Papers, written as a kind of "postal" debate over the text of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, elaborate and make clear the intended meaning of the Second Amendment. There can be no doubt that the Framers were afraid of a government grown too powerful and intended the Second Amendment as a means to prevent that.
"Americans have the right and advantage of being armed, unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." - James Madison, The Federalist Papers #46 at 243-244
The most conclusive and persuasive argument for the individual right interpretation of the Second Amendment occurs when one considers Madison's original structure of the Bill of Rights, which did not place the amendments together at the end of the text of the Constitution. Instead, he proposed mixing each amendment into the main text of the Constitution, following the provision to which it applied. Had he intended the Second Amendment to be mainly limit on the power of the federal government to interfere with state government militias, the Second Amendment would have been placed after Article 1, section 8, which granted Congress the power to call forth the militia to repel invasion, suppress insurrection, and enforce the laws; and to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia.However, Madison put the right to bear arms amendment, along with the freedom of speech amendment, in Article I, section 9, the section that guaranteed individual rights such as habeas corpus.
"The Constitution shall never be construed . . . to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms." - Samuel Adams, Debates & Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 86-87
`"The whole of the Bill [of Rights] is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals... It establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of." Albert Gallatin of the New York Historical Society, October 7, 1789.
"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of 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 bands of regular troops..." - Noah Webster, An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution of the United States (P. Ford, 1888)
As a final note to the Second Amendment's intended meaning, in ratifying the Bill of Rights, the Senate rejected a change in the Second Amendment that would have limited it to bearing arms "for the common defense."
In a government and society that has progressively ceded more and more of its individual rights into the hands of others, while our government may not, at the moment, seem poised on the verge of oppressive behavior, the trend seems more and more in the direction of greater government control, an ominous sign.
California, for instance, a state where progressively greater restrictions on firearms ownership are coupled with seemingly increasing incidents of police misbehavior.
Washington DC, a district with a virtual ban on the ownership of firearms of all types, let alone handguns, coupled with the highest per capita murder rate in the country, is another example.
As the nations "War on Drugs" intensifies, we hear more and more calls for relaxation of civil liberties in the system of justice in the interest of capturing and jailing drug dealers. The property of persons suspected of being involved in drug crimes can be confiscated and used by the government, without due process of law. President Bush's Crime Package of 1991 calls for relaxed evidentiary rulings on illegal search and seizure, but only for firearms violations. There are those who would argue that the need for this ultimate protection from an oppressive government is archaic, that our society has progressed to the point that we need not fear a government run amok. These same people can also be heard to say that "what hope has an armed populace against the massed forces and technology of the US. Armed Forces with their cluster bombs, smart missiles and stealth fighters."
In claiming that an unarmed populace could not hope to resist a powerful military, they are in fact arguing that an oppressive government is, indeed something to fear, and that should our government choose to turn oppressive, there is no hope. Two things need to be considered in the absence of experience, i.e. we haven't had to pit ourselves against the technological might of the US. Armed Forces and so can't say, with any certainty, what the outcome might be.
One: our armed forces, today, are made up primarily of volunteers, with mothers and fathers and siblings who would be among those the soldier would be asked to oppress. Two: with modest amounts of aid from the US and other countries, the Mujahedeen of Afganistan made a pretty good showing against the forces of the USSR, arguably the second most powerful military force on the planet, fighting them to a standstill with homemade and antique bolt action rifles. Anyone who claims that popular struggles are inevitably doomed to defeat by the military technologies of our century must find it literally incredible that France and the United States suffered defeat in Vietnam . . . that Portugal was expelled from Angola, and France from Algeria.
Our country faces serious problems today, from youth gangs to drug lords to corrupt political leaders. The solutions to these problems cannot come about by destroying the fabric of our country, nor by abrogating the civil rights and freedoms that have made our country the single most desired destination of immigrants from around the world.
Our freedom makes us strong, any curtailment of that freedom weakens us as a people and as a country. As Thomas Jefferson said; "a people who would sacrifice a small portion of freedom in exchange for security will have neither freedom nor security".