Last Updated:October 22 @ 07:58 am

The Lost Fight for Gun Control

By United Press International

As the images of 20 first-graders massacred in Connecticut, of the horrific attack on former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others in Arizona, of the slaughter of movie-goers in Aurora, Colo., and of numerous other mass killings in the United States fade in the national memory, the fervor to restrict access to some types of weapons and magazines appears to be abating.

The debate on gun control itself has largely been subsumed in recent weeks by concern over the congressionally mandated sequester and its sweeping across the board cuts in federal programs. Much of the analysis focuses on the catastrophic effects of sequestration on defense, education and first-responders. But there has been little or no analysis of its effects on the federal government's ability to do background checks and enforce the gun laws already on the books.

The Obama administration and some members of Congress are still making the requisite noises about new laws. A small bipartisan group of senators is pushing legislation that would require background checks for all gun sales, even private ones. Vice President Joe Biden, speaking Feb. 21 at a Danbury, Conn., gun-control conference, called on politicians to show courage in enacting new laws.

"We have to speak for those 20 beautiful children who died 69 days ago, 12 miles from here," Biden said.

The National Rifle Association plans to resort to the democratic process to derail those brave enough to support restrictions on gun or ammo possession, targeting Democratic senators in newspaper ads as they run for re-election in 2014.

One politician, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. -- who says he loves and respects Giffords as she recovers from her debilitating wounds -- put it bluntly at a town meeting in Phoenix Feb. 22.

McCain told the mother of a victim in the Aurora massacre she needed to hear a little "straight talk" on gun control.

"I can tell you right now you need some straight talk," McCain said to cheers from the town meeting crowd. "That assault weapons ban will not pass the Congress of the United States."

An exchange during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun control Jan. 30 shows how far apart proponents and opponents of gun control are. But the exchange also highlighted a logical NRA rationale for civilian possession of assault weapons, one that might resonate in some federal courts.

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., a proponent of gun control, told the NRA's Wayne LaPierre that he hears often from NRA members in his home state.

"I run into some of your members in Illinois and here's what they tell me, 'Senator, you don't get the Second Amendment.' Your NRA members say, 'You just don't get it. It's not just about hunting. It's not just about sports. It's not just about shooting targets. It's not just about defending ourselves from criminals,' as [another witness] testified. 'We need the firepower and the ability to protect ourselves from our government' -- from our government, from the police -- 'if they knock on our doors and we need to fight back.' Do you agree with that point of view?"

"Senator, I think without any doubt," LaPierre responded, "if you look at why our founding fathers put [the Second Amendment] there, they had lived under the tyranny of King George and they wanted to make sure that these free people in this new country would never be subjugated again and have to live under tyranny."

But LaPierre, NRA vice president and chief executive officer, also evoked the image of ordinary people trying to defend themselves, not from the government, but from the forces of chaos.

"What people all over the country fear today is being abandoned by their government," LaPierre said. "If a tornado hits, if a hurricane hits, if a riot occurs, that they're gonna be out there alone. And the only way they're gonna protect themselves in the cold and the dark, when they're vulnerable is with a firearm. And I think that indicates how relevant and essential the Second Amendment is in today's society to fundamental human survival."

At congressional hearings, opponents of gun control have called out "the Second Amendment" when witnesses have asked why civilians needed assault rifles.

But there appears to be no legal or constitutional barrier to a ban on assault weapons or other restrictions, not even the Second Amendment. Any failure by proponents, including President Obama, to enact such restrictions would be the result of the normal political process, not action in the courts on the constitutional question.

Twice within the last five years, the U.S. Supreme Court has narrowly recognized the individual right to bear arms in the Second Amendment, but did so in a a very specific way. The Second Amendment says, "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."

The first part of the amendment, containing the reference to a militia, is the "prefatory clause." The second part, the "operative clause," contains the right, either individual or collective.

In 2008's District of Columbia vs. Heller and in 2010's McDonald vs. Chicago, the narrow 5-4 majority of Supreme Court justices ruled that the Second Amendment guarantees the individual right to bear arms for defense in the home.

But in Heller, Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, went out of his way to say the Second Amendment does not prohibit the government from banning certain types of weapons, or imposing other restrictions.

"Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited," Scalia wrote. "From [18th century seminal jurist William] Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."

Scalia said: "Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

"We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms ... as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those 'in common use at the time.'"

As for assault rifles, Scalia said, "It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service -- M-16 rifles and the like -- may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause [of a well-regulated militia]. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment's ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right [to bear arms] cannot change our interpretation of the right."

---

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

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21 Comments

  1. lwessonComment by lwesson
    March 4, 2013 @ 4:22 am

    The legalese parsing of words, to dance around, “Shall not be infringed”, to leap over weapons that are at least the equal of King George’s Royal Army, meaning that We the People have an unalienable right to arms, and arms much like that of The Government’s Standing Army, is amusing. (The Courts have addressed this very topic)

    And again, we have the useful misuse of the word, “Assault weapon”. Of course we do. Assault weapons run the gambit from full auto, to bursts, to semi auto. Daft people like Biden, simply do not know nor care about distinctions. The GOAL is to null and void a Right, (not given by the government, but unalienable to a free people, We the People). Handing this right over to the Government, ends the right to bear arms in the Government’s mind. It ends, “Shall not be infringed.” and that is what any successful tyranny wants. It does, and will make in the mind of the Government, criminals out of The People.

    King George was not successful in disarming the Colonists, Joe Biden!

    Nice that United Press International could grab Justice Scalia to make UPI’s politically correct narrative airborne but it still crashes and burns with the gravity of what The Founders prolifically said, wrote about and feared from ANY government per the natural pull to absolute power.

    UPI nor Scalia would not dare bring to the surface the clear language of The Founders, but do relish burying such clarity with legalese blather, and the bodies of children.

    In tyrannies that have run free, un-bothered by an armed populace, just how many young bodies, how many Giffords, were piled on high in mountains of corpses? How many?

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    • Dingbat36Comment by Dingbat36
      March 5, 2013 @ 10:36 am

      And the Japanese, according to their own Generals, have admitted that they never considered any full scale assault on the mainland of the USA because they knew there would be “a gun behind every blade of grass”! Those particular guns would have belonged to the people the founders meant when they spoke of a well regulated militia, a force which could be summoned to protect and defend their country………….”We the People”!

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  2. odayterrenceComment by odayterrence
    March 4, 2013 @ 5:05 am

    1. As these anti-gun politicians happily stand on small piles of dead innocents to push their anti-rights, anti-freedoms agendas…they are only setting us up for mountains of dead innocents in the future. 2. Someday these anti-gun politicians may face, unarmed and defenseless, an armed criminal seeking to hurt and victimize them. As the politician is begging and pleading for their life, they’ll finally see the reasoning for guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens. Of course…by then it will be too late. 3. As the grandchildren of these anti-gun politicians grow up in a world of despair and tyranny, they may come across an old history book showing the rights and freedoms that our country used to enjoy. Let them ask their anti-gun politician grandparents “My life is horrible and miserable! How come we don’t have all these great rights and freedoms any more, Grandpa and Grandma?”

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  3. gnafuComment by gnafu
    March 4, 2013 @ 5:41 am

    This whole freak show is about People Control and not Gun Control. CO State Senator Greg Brophy is demanding that all shot guns be banned. HB 13-1224. The CO Governor is ready to sign the bill once it passes all Senate. These people are ignorant just like other States that is on the band wagon to prohibit law abiding citizens’ guns. I hope CO ranchers put up a good fuss because they sure won’t be able to control the bears and mountain lions without their guns. Ignorance prevails!

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    • lokiswifeComment by lokiswife
      March 4, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

      It came at a time when Obama needed something to distract Americans from the Benghazi scandal. Take the Sandy Hook shooting and run with it, never let a good crisis go to waste…When gun control started waning and states fought back, sequestration came up – a huge fuss over a 2% budget cut in budgets that had grown about 20% in the past few years…Threaten people with losing police, firemen, teachers, janitors and welfare checks (forget about making any cuts to overpaid and underbrained upper levels of the agencies, scare them and stir things up). Let’s get back to Benghazi and asking questions about illegal criminals held by ICE being released. There was no other reason than for Obama to flaunt his power and do something vindictive to decent people.

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  4. xjandinComment by xjandin
    March 4, 2013 @ 5:50 am

    Don’t kid yourself, the fight is not over.

    For those who don’t believe in conspiracies, I suggest you study history. Conspiracies have existed throughout human history. It started with the first children of Adam and Eve when Cain conspired with Satan to murder Able. Julius Caesar was murdered by his close friends who conspired against him. Judas conspired against Jesus and delivered him to the Jews. And then there’s the Byzantine Empire. Yes, there ARE people who meet behind closed doors and conspire to take your guns. They have not stopped, the war is not over and Obama is just one of the conspirators.

    Liberty requires eternal vigilance. Support gun rights groups (NRA, GOA NRGO), get involved in the political process to make sure good people are in office. Stay alert!

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    • rattlerjakeComment by rattlerjake
      March 4, 2013 @ 10:37 pm

      De Oppresso Liber/ Nous Defions

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  5. revcdrmComment by revcdrm
    March 4, 2013 @ 6:41 am

    As I understand the idea behind limiting some of the rights of those guilty of felonies or of those with mental problems, is that by their actions or in the case of the mentally impaired their limited ability to discern right from wrong, they have been determined to not be able to act in a manner that entitles them to the full rights of an American citizen. Hence, criminals can’t vote or receive security clearances. They have limitations placed upon their freedoms, because they have shown themselves unworthy of those “rights”

    That the 2nd Amendment rights of those who have or have had, mental deficiencies speaks to the fear that they may forever be unable to distinguish right from wrong. I believe that these limitations are based largely on fear and misunderstanding about mental and or emotional problems and the blanket limiting of the rights of all those who at one time may have had problems is wrong. If anything, these limitations should only be applied on a limited case-by-case basis by medical professionals and not by those who can buy their public offices.

    That being said, when it comes to limits being placed on any American citizens when it comes to the 2nd Amendment the question should be asked, “What part of infringe don’t our supposed representatives and judges understand?

    “1 the statute infringed constitutionally guaranteed rights: contravene, violate, transgress, break, breach; disobey, defy, flout, fly in the face of; disregard, ignore, neglect; go beyond, overstep, exceed; Law infract. ANTONYMS obey, comply with.
    2 the surveillance infringed on his rights: restrict, limit, curb, check, encroach on; undermine, erode, diminish, weaken, impair, damage, compromise. ANTONYMS preserve.

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    • jetstreamComment by jetstream
      March 5, 2013 @ 4:27 am

      Your comment raises a valid point about restrictions on those with “mental deficiencies.” While on the surface, most would agree to the logic of denying access to those who are mentally impaired, it is not illogical to suspect the current administration would make every effort to paint the range of mental issues with an overly-broad brush. (think: PMS, post-partum depression, victims of crime… even *gasp* conservatives.)

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  6. revcdrmComment by revcdrm
    March 4, 2013 @ 6:55 am

    “How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words!”

    –Samuel Adams, 1776

    Having to do with infringed Samuel Adams had the answer more than 200 years ago.

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  7. CharlieComment by vietnamvet
    March 4, 2013 @ 9:58 am

    Scalia’s ‘clarification’ of the Heller decision, supporting:
    – longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill,
    – laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places
    – laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

    No mention of banning certain arms because they look scary, descended from military designs, or hold lots of ammunition.

    Not even any ‘permission’ to ban a gun because some crazy chose it for his mass murder adventure.

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    • lewistComment by lewist
      March 4, 2013 @ 6:03 am

      How about the bloated mental health system giving law enforcement a heads-up on the crazies who might be a threat to the public. They are supposed to do it but seldom do. The judges who interfered with the state mental institutions back in the 90s (in favor of so-called “community based mental health care”) should be held accountable for their actions as they are complicit in subsequent violence by the people they have turned loose on the community.

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  8. gimmesometruthComment by gimmesometruth
    March 4, 2013 @ 10:47 am

    If anyone, including the UPI propagandists, thinks that our Confiscator-In-Chief will back down from his gun-grabbing agenda, then they need to reduce their dose of progressive koolaid. When the next gun incident occurs, law-abiding citizens will be harangued into submission to give up their constitutional rights bit by bit until it will seem REASONABLE to turn in your sharpened pencils. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER give in!

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  9. DudleyComment by Dudley
    March 4, 2013 @ 11:04 am

    “But there appears to be no legal or constitutional barrier to a ban on assault weapons or other restrictions, not even the Second Amendment. Any failure by proponents, including President Obama, to enact such restrictions would be the result of the normal political process, not action in the courts on the constitutional question.” Really? So I suppose the statement above also applies to the First Amendment. Say the government steps in and says that Catholics are too radical banning the church. How do you think that will work out?

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  10. fedupwithbadgovComment by fedupwithbadgov
    March 4, 2013 @ 11:47 am

    This whole issue of Gun Control is NOT about the tragic events that caused school children or public figures or movie goers getting killed at the hands of someone hell-bent on a spotlight in the MSM. It’s about the Constitution…the Second Amendment. Watering it down with a bunch of more legislation on top of that which Biden admitted isn’t being enforced will not solve the problem of people getting their lives cut short by some idiot intent on doing harm. Timothy McVay (sp) proved that with the Oklahoma City bombing and that was done with fertilizer!

    No one with any sense of morality or compassion would condone what happened at Sandy Hook. Yet, Obama and his minions are using those kids as political pawns in another attempt to violate their sworn duty to “defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States”! Whether they accept it or not, they are accountable for that treason and convenient forgetfulness of their sworn duty. Of course, with no one in Washington, DC with the gumption enough to call them on this, other than hollow words to the MSM, then it will continue on until we all well find ourselves under the hobnail boots of tyranny.

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  11. willyrhoComment by willyrho
    March 4, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

    I was thinking… The 1,600,000,000 rounds of hollow point ammo should be distributed to all of the 16 million Retirees. That makes it 100 rounds for all 16,000,000 retirees. Then Deputize all of them. So a family with 2 seniors gets 200 rounds. Then, if the Gubbermint goes “Rogue” then the Seniors are nearly dead anyway and they can make war on the Rogue and if they die, save billions in Medicare and Social Security. But 16,000,000 troops mean some kind of power, just don’t ask us to march.

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  12. clawComment by claw
    March 4, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

    Trying to tie current application of the 2d Amendment to “the type of firearm in use at the time”, i.e. a Brown Bess musket or an early flintlock rifle can backfire. Let’s apply that to the 1st Amendment and freedom of the press and limit published material such as newspapers and magazines to that what can be printed with hand set type, on a hand press, on one side of the paper at a time. Give speakers a soapbox and leather lungs — no TV or radio. How about registering reporters? They do much more damage to the Nation than any firearm. It is the right, not the hardware.

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  13. rzraickComment by rzraick
    March 4, 2013 @ 6:20 pm

    The war for freedom is far from over. It may be true that enough of us have pushed back against tyranny, and that they are in retreat. But do not think for a moment that this temporary, modest retreat is anything other than a tactic so that the tyrants can regroup and attack again.

    It is the nature of tyrants to remove all freedom from those who they wish to rule.

    The freedom of all individuals will not be secured until these tyrants are removed from power. The fight is only beginning.

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  14. stormymonday2Comment by stormymonday2
    March 4, 2013 @ 10:09 pm

    What is it going to take to get both sides to quit playing politics with our Constitutional rights? Our Constitutional rights are nothing to “toy” with. Get it?

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  15. aretiredgiComment by aretiredgi
    March 4, 2013 @ 11:42 pm

    How long will it be before one of our SCOTUS old ducks decides to retire? Then who will make the selection for the replacement?

    Feel like leaving the approval to the likes of Feinstein, Jackson Jr (OOPS), Pelosi?

    Starting to think the entire process needs an enema.

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  16. nikomoComment by nikomo
    March 13, 2013 @ 12:53 am

    red dawn actually can’t happen,or better yet won’t be a success for the multi-nationals who’ve been breathing down our necks for centuries(yes all those FAUX democracies too).
    as a cultural leap of mankind,the elites who view tyrants as a tool to stay above the great unwashed are PISSED right the F
    OFF see individuals who can read,think for themselves are free
    hence “FREE THE MIND,THE *** WILL FOLLOW’.
    WE ARE A PEOPLE OF GREAT I-MAGI-NATION,not a bunch you want to test(but i’m sure they think WE are dummies/oh well).

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