In the wake of President Barack Obama's re-election on November 6, 2012, and the virtual demoralization of Republicans, it is important to recognize that the political mastery of the left does not last forever. Moreover, three new conservative, pro-Second Amendment senators and several freshmen representatives were elected. A solid Republican majority was preserved in the House of Representatives. So, the election did not mean complete defeat for the GOP.
The political battle continues, and conservatives and gun rights advocates must keep their eye on the ball regarding the constitutional right that ultimately preserves all others — namely the Second Amendment. Yes, the political pendulum has swung to the left, but it will not remain there. After the "reign" of Democrat king FDR and the presidency of Harry Truman came Dwight D. Eisenhower (for two terms), and after Jimmy Carter came the great Ronald Reagan. Perhaps the next GOP champion will be another "great communicator," who can transcend the liberal media and reach the people. Florida Senator Marco Rubio and others immediately come to mind, but I am veering off my subject. The important thing is that conservatives and gun owners must regroup to preserve the gains already achieved on gun rights. And this brings me back to my topic — Guns and Freedom.
The English philosopher, John Locke (1632-1704), who was greatly admired by the American Founding Fathers, once wrote, "I have no reason to suppose, that he, who would take away my Liberty would not when he had me in his Power take away everything else." And for his part, Thomas Jefferson added, "The national progress of things is for liberty to yield and for government to gain ground." The solution to this dilemma — namely, government as a necessary evil, according to Joseph Story (1779-1845), foremost American jurist and intellectual alter ego of Chief Justice John Marshall — was found in the Second Amendment.
Supreme Court Justice Story thus wrote (1833): "The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the ﬁrst instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them."(1) These are strong words better said by the American Founding Fathers in explaining the reason for the Second Amendment than to be left unsaid to a posterity that may have forgotten why the natural right of gun ownership was written into the U.S. Constitution.
Recent U.S. Supreme Court Rulings on the Second Amendment
The U.S. Supreme Court has finally corroborated what many of us had believed all along. On June 26, 2008 in the District of Columbia v. Heller decision, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down a Washington, D.C. handgun ban, which had forbidden American citizens from owning and possessing ﬁrearms in the District of Columbia. The Court ruled that U.S. citizens have an inalienable, personal right to keep and bear arms in the federal district of the nation, a pre-existing natural right guaranteed in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Then on June 28, 2010 in the McDonald v. Chicago case, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down a similar Chicago handgun ban, reconfirming that the Second Amendment protects an individual right of all citizens to possess ﬁrearms in their homes for self-defense. In the McDonald decision, the U.S. Supreme Court incorporated the Second Amendment as a fundamental right of citizenship applicable to all the states and municipalities of the nation via the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Under legal tradition, a constitutional right is protected and inalienable under the 14th Amendment's Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, if it is considered a fundamental right, an inherent natural right deeply rooted in American history and jurisprudence.
The UN Small Arms Treaty
Even before these landmark rulings, Americans had refused to give away their natural and constitutional right "to keep and bear arms." Nevertheless, many politicians bent on prohibiting gun ownership have tried ingenious ways to curtail gun rights and institute gun control. One legal approach has been to attempt to apply the Treaty power of the U.S. Constitution, using the United Nations as a vehicle, to circumvent and contravene the same document and disarm Americans.
I refer to the Supremacy Clause, Article VI, Paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution:
"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”
While in the landmark case Reid v. Covert (1957), the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution supersedes the power of treaties, many left leaning, liberal scholars have tried to circumvent that ruling with creative arguments, claiming the treaty power vested in the Constitution supersedes other internal U.S. laws, even if these are duly enacted laws, and even if the treaty itself contravenes the U.S. Constitution. Other conservative legal minds disagree. For them, it is axiomatic that a creature is never greater than its creator!
For years, so encouraged, several politicians and influential members of the Democratic Party have worked hand-in-glove with their political counterparts in the United Nations (UN) to pass several versions of the UN's Small Arms Treaty. A recent attempt, the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), was tabled in July 2012; but according to Gun Owners of America (GOA), UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called "the unraveling" of the ATT merely a “setback,” and experts at the UN expect further discussions and the taking of a vote at the next session of the UN when the General Assembly reconvenes.(2)
Prior to the election, President Obama had temporarily halted his support for the UN Arms Trade Treaty because, according to several news sources, gun control efforts could have hurt his bid for re-election in November. But the election is over now. Indeed, within the first 24 hours following his re-election, the Obama administration supported another conference on gun control under the aegis of the same UN Arms Trade Treaty. On November 7, the U.S. joined 156 countries in voting to finalize the treaty in March 2013. Russia was the only country to vote against the conference! Both the National Rifle Organization (NRA) and Gun Owners of America, the two largest, gun owners organizations in the U.S., have pledged to work with the new Senate to oppose ratification of the treaty and, if necessary says GOA, to defund the effort in the House of Representatives.(3)
With the Obama administration now openly supporting the UN treaty, we can realistically expect Democrats to support gun control efforts in the new Congress. In view of the scandal created by “Operation Fast and Furious, ” it is ironic that the Obama administration and the UN have been pushing for gun control as a means to allegedly stop the flow of illegal guns onto the world market. This scandal erupted when it came to light that American officials in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) under the supervision of Obama’s Department of Justice were allowing illegally purchased guns to “walk” into Mexico purportedly in the hope of tracking the guns to Mexican drug cartel leaders.(4) The harsh reality coming to light as revelations mount is that the administration was hoping to show an increase in crime perpetrated with those guns, so that the Justice Department in a duplicitous pincer strategy could use the data to push for gun control in America, while simultaneously pushing for the UN treaty at the international level.(4)
Moreover, despite attempts by the UN to establish a link between an illegal, world gun market and crime in the U.S., Florida State University Professor of Criminology Gary Kleck has found no such link. In fact, Kleck’s recent research found that gun theft is essential for criminal activity. His new findings are in accord with previous research establishing that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens reduce criminal activity and outweigh the illegal uses of firearms by criminals.(5-6)
But what would this UN treaty entail? I believe U.S. Representative Paul Broun (GA-R) is immensely correct when he expressed the following concerns in a June 2010 open letter:
"If passed by the UN and ratiﬁed by the U.S. Senate, the UN’s Small Arms Treaty would almost certainly force national governments to: Enact tougher licensing requirements, making law-abiding citizens cut through even more bureaucratic red tape just to own a ﬁrearm legally; conﬁscate and destroy all ‘unauthorized’ civilian ﬁrearms; ban the trade, sale and private ownership of all semi-automatic weapons; create an international gun registry, setting the stage for full-scale gun conﬁscation..."
The truth is that although the UN Small Arms Treaty failed to materialize in 2012 because of the inability of negotiators to reach a consensus this year, it is obvious the battle is far from over. For years the UN has been trying to formalize a global, civilian disarmament treaty with the intention of circumventing the Second Amendment rights of American gun owners. After all, the UN has dictated national policy to other sovereign nations as it regards environmental, criminal, and even global tax issues, so why not gun control? And now that President Obama has been re-elected retaining control of the Senate, the chances for finally passing this treaty and ratification in the U.S. Senate are greater than ever. So the struggle to preserve the individual right to gun ownership is an ongoing effort, even for those who already possess it. The showdown is to come in March 2013.
Parts II and III of this essay will follow soon in subsequent editions.
1. Story J. Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1830) quoted in The Second Amendment Primer by Les Adams. Birmingham, AL: Palladium Press; 1996.
2. Gun Owners of America (GOA). Help Gun Owners of America stop the UN’s continuous attempts to destroy the 2nd Amendment. Gunowners.org, July 31, 2012. Available from: http://gunowners.org/a07312012.htm
3. Gun Owners of America (GOA). Obama No Longer “Under the Radar” -- Administration pushing UN gun control treaty once again. Gunowners.org, November 9, 2012. Available from: http://gunowners.org/a11092012.htm
4. Faria MA Jr. Gunrunning ATF runs amok! GOPUSA.com, July 18, 2011. Available from: http://www.gopusa.com/commentary/2011/07/18/faria-gunrunning-atf-runs-amok/
5. See http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/p/faculty-gary-kleck.php. Gary Kleck, The Florida State University College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, David J. Bordua Professor of Criminology, November 11, 2012.
6. Kleck G. Targeting Guns — Firearms and Their Control. Hawthorne, NY, Aldine de Gruyter. 1997.
Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D. is Clinical Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery, ret.) and Adjunct Professor of Medical History (ret.) Mercer University School of Medicine. He is an Associate Editor in Chief and World Affairs Editor of Surgical Neurology International (SNI), and an Ex-member of the Injury Research Grant Review Committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2002-05; Former Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Sentinel (1996-2002), Editor Emeritus, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS); Author, Vandals at the Gates of Medicine (1995); Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine (1997); and Cuba in Revolution: Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002).
This series of articles is based on the two-part essay entitled “America, Guns and Freedom” originally published by Surgical Neurology International (SNI), an on-line, peer review journal for neurosurgeons and neuroscientists. The illustrated essays were published in October and November of 2012, but have been edited for an American audience and published for readers of GOPUSA in a three part series.