By Kevin Lair
U.S. President James Madison rejoiced, “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.” Madison’s quote epitomizes one of the most cherished freedoms within the U.S.—the right to bear arms. The Second Amendment declares, “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.”
Gun-related disasters such as the recent tragedies in Aurora, Colo. and Newtown, Conn. are unquestionably tragic and keep America in a state of mourning. The subsequent police reports show that many of these murderers either stole their guns or their turbulent mental histories were overlooked prior to their purchases. Certainly, our current gun laws must be better enforced.
Nationally, Americans believe that enhanced police presence at schools and increased government spending on mental health screening and treatment are the most effective means of preventing future shootings; both garnered more than 50 percent support in Gallup opinion polls conducted after the Newtown shootings. Conversely, only 42 percent said banning the sale of assault and semi-automatic guns would be very effective. And the month following the Aurora movie theater massacre, Rasmussen opinion polling found that 53 percent of Colorado citizens still oppose tougher gun laws.
Then why did President Barack Obama bypass Congress and issue 23 strict executive orders on gun control, banning assault weapons and clips that hold more than 10 bullets? He sidestepped the legislative body because he knew that such measures would surely fail in both houses and with the general public if they were put before a vote.
Historically, gun bans have had negative effects. The D.C. handgun ban and trigger lock law of 1976 oversaw a 73 percent rise in murder rate before it was deemed unconstitutional and struck down years later. Chicago enacted a similar ban in 1982, yet murders involving handguns increased by 40 percent. Like in D.C., the Chicago ban would later be deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. These unintended consequences occurred because law-abiding citizens were no longer able to defend themselves and right-to-carry permit holders could no longer stop ensuing crimes. Police officers nationwide have labeled these proposed laws unconstitutional and refuse to enforce them, arguing that armed civilians play a pivotal role in combatting crime when law enforcement cannot respond in time.
In regards to the proposed assault weapons ban, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that less than 2 percent of all violent crimes are committed with assault weapons. Still, crimes committed with knives, clubs and hands outnumber those with assault weapons by more than 20 to one, with about 65 percent of these knives being kitchen knives. Why then aren’t the liberals marching through D.C. in protest of kitchen knives?
Coincidence or not, more Americans own guns today than ever before while the number of violent crimes in the U.S. is at its lowest rate in 40 years. So rather than take away our rights, the Obama Administration should better enforce the gun laws already emplaced—strengthen background checks, lengthen waiting periods, and ensure accurate mental evaluations. This administration should heed the public’s advice and focus its attention on curing mental illness, the cause of most, if not all, of these mass murders.
Remember, it was armed citizens around the world who fought against invading Nazis and Communists. It was armed farmers and blacksmiths who defeated the British during America’s struggle for independence. And it is this mentality of an armed America that prevents a tyrannous government or invasion from a foreign power. We must preserve our heritage by defending this country and our Constitutional rights. We must fight for our right to defend ourselves, our family, and the rights our Founding Fathers fought to secure us, which fundamentally includes our Second Amendment right to bear arms.