Friday, October 21, 2016

Second Amendment

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second amendment

In the Preface to their new book, “Shall Not Be Infringed,” David Keene and Thomas Mason, two veteran Second Amendment advocates, include a quote from former President Ronald Reagan:

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in their bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same . . .

Reagan uttered those words not during his two terms as president but in 1961, several years before he was first elected to public office. While the former president’s words might not have been delivered in the precise context of the Second Amendment, Keene and Mason quote him here because his admonition to all Americans of all generations, that freedom is not a self-executing principle but must be fought for by every generation, is particularly acute right now, in the election fast upon us.

A central theme of “Shall Not Be Infringed” is that, despite her efforts to soften her express words, President Hillary Clinton would take steps to do precisely what candidate Hillary Clinton has vowed to do – undermine the fundamental Supreme Court ruling in the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller opinion, that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms. Second Amendment supporters and opponents alike understand that if you overturn that underpinning of Heller, you open the door for all manner of government actions to not just “chip away” at how an individual chooses to exercise his or her Second Amendment rights, but measure to effectively deny any ability to exercise them in the first place. This clearly will be a litmus test for any Supreme Court nominee submitted by Clinton.

In addition to detailing some of the ways in which the Obama administration has moved to place restrictions on Second Amendment rights without pressing for legislative measures (which would be the proper, constitutional procedure to employ), authors Keene and Mason spend considerable time explaining why the anti-gun actions of the United Nations is a very relevant and timely topic for discussion this election.

Why and how the United Nations is involved actively in gun control are very good questions; especially when voters consider where a President Hillary Clinton would stand on the Second Amendment.

The United Nations is – if nothing else – one of the best, if not the best bureaucracies in the entire world. The bureaucratic behemoth on the East River in New York City has turned the concept of “mission creep” into a true art form. Since its formation in the immediate aftermath of World War II as an international organization to promote peace and limit chances for another catastrophic world conflict, the UN has created a maze of bureaucracies that would make Rube Goldberg envious.

Recognizing that most member nation governments never want to appear to not be supporting the UN’s peace efforts, and mindful of the basic law of bureaucracies that once an office is funded the first time it is almost certain to be funded each year thereafter, the UN over the years successfully morphed its general mission for peace and [nuclear] disarmament into a mandate to fight international trafficking in illicit firearms (with the term “illicit” left purposefully vague). This formal effort was launched in the summer of 2001, and has continued to gain funding and support for 15 years.

Why, the reader might ask, is this a problem for gun owners in the United States? It is quite simple actually — the UN knows it cannot implement any meaningful system of tracking the movement of firearms internationally, unless there exists a system for knowing what firearms exist within each member state and when those firearms cross a border. Bingo! Gun registry. And that’s but the tip of the ATT iceberg.

Keene and Mason understand all this. They also understand how quickly a proposal that appears non-threatening one day, can the next day become terribly real and problematic.

For example, throughout the eight years of the George W. Bush administration, the U.S. consistently opposed adoption by the UN of the ATT. However, shortly after becoming Secretary of State in 2009, Hillary Clinton reversed that policy, and the ATT was adopted by the General Assembly in April 2013. The Treaty now awaits action by the US Senate after having been signed in September 2013 by Clinton’s successor at Foggy Bottom, John Kerry.

The very real problem in 2017 if former Secretary of State Clinton becomes President Hillary Clinton, and especially if she wins a Democrat majority in the Senate? The Arms Trade Treaty, already on the shelf awaiting Senate action, could quickly and quietly be dusted off, brought to the floor for a vote, and passed. And that, my friends, is a major reason why every voter who supports the Second Amendment, should read “Shall Not Be Infringed” . . . before November 8th.

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Second Amendment

The Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has once again come down with a shameful ruling based on selective interpretation of the Supreme Court’s narrow rulings in Heller and McDonald, the landmark Second Amendment cases decided in 2008 and 2010.  In this latest abomination from the courts, the three-judge panel concluded that New York and Connecticut’s laws banning virtually all semi-auto rifles as “assault weapons” and all “high-capacity” magazines, do indeed “burden” and infringe on citizens’ rights under the Second Amendment, but they go on to conclude that the states’ “compelling governmental interest in public safety and crime prevention” carry greater weight than individuals’ rights to self-defense – in spite of the fact that “assault weapons” are rarely used in crime, when they are, it is unusual for more than a few shots to be fired, and laws restricting them and “high-capacity” magazines have proven useless in practical application.  Conspicuously missing from the court’s reasoning was any reference to the militia or to the previous, primary Supreme Court ruling on the Second Amendment, US v. Miller.

The Second Amendment is composed of two clauses, the prefatory clause; “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state,” and the operative clause “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  In Miller, the Court commented that this militia relationship had to be considered in any judgement regarding the right to arms.  They went on to conclude that, since they weren’t aware of a short-barreled shotgun being a normal part of militia equipment, that such an arm was not protected under the Second Amendment.

For almost 60 years after the 1939 Miller decision, lower courts misused the “militia” comment to mean that the right to arms only applied to people actively enrolled in a government-sanctioned militia.  Had that been the Justices intent, Miller’s claim would have been rejected because he was not a militia member.  Instead, his claim was rejected because his gun, a sawed-off shotgun, was not recognized as a common militia weapon.

By focusing on self-defense, the Heller decision didn’t negate the Miller decision.  On the contrary, it expanded it.  Miller addressed the Second Amendment from the perspective of the people’s ability to effectively participate in the militia if called upon to do so, and specifically addressed the types of arms protected for that purpose.  Heller recognized that the right extends beyond militia purposes to include the right to arms for self-defense.  For any court to rely solely on one of these decisions without any consideration for the other is an outrage, but courts are now ruling as ifMiller had been completely repudiated.  It was not.

It should be understood that only the Supreme Court has the authority to interpret the Constitution.  Lower courts are required to rule based on established precedents and principles set by Supreme Court decisions.  Further, the Supreme Court itself is heavily bound by its own precedent under a doctrine known as stare decisis, a Latin term meaning “the decision stands.”  Rulings made by the Court in the 17 and 1800s are still in effect and binding upon the Supreme Court and all lower courts, unless the Supreme Court specifically revisits the issue and reverses that previous decision. That is something that almost never happens.  Instead, the Supreme Court goes through elaborate legal gymnastics to work around conflicting precedents, and the lower courts do the same thing.  Only the Supreme Court can ultimately decide whether the lower court contortions are acceptable, but there is nothing to compel them to accept a case for review.  Over the past few years there have been numerous cases regarding Second Amendment issues that have been appealed to the Supreme Court with conflicting rulings from lower courts, but the Supremes have doggedly refused to take up those cases.

The decision to review a case requires only the agreement of 4 of the 9 Justices.  The Court’s refusal to hear Second Amendment cases probably rises from the fact that the Court is evenly divided on Second Amendment issues.  Four of the Justices have made it clear that they do not agree with the Court’s holdings in Heller and McDonald.  Justices Breyer and Ginsburg both dissented in Heller, and newly confirmed Sotomayor joined them in dissent against McDonald.  While Justice Kagan has not been tested on a Second Amendment case, her views are pretty clear.  On the other side, Justices Thomas, Scalia, and Alito have demonstrated a pretty firm commitment to rational interpretation of the Second Amendment, and Chief Justice Roberts seems inclined to go along with them, as long as the decision isn’t too disruptive to the status quo.  The real wild card on the Court is Justice Kennedy.  He voted in favor of both Heller and McDonald, but it was clear that he had reservations.  It is very likely that Kennedy is refusing to make clear his position on cases regarding bearing of arms for self-defense outside the home or bans on “assault weapons,” leaving both sides wondering where he would come down on these issues, and leaving neither side with enough confidence to push forward with a hearing on any of these cases.

As I have pointed out several times before, several members of the Court are likely to retire sometime soon.  Justice Ginsburg is the oldest at 82 and in frail health.  Next oldest are Kennedy and Scalia, who will both turn 80 in 2016.  Of the three eldest members, Scalia’s view is reliably “conservative,” Ginsburg is reliably “liberal,” and Kennedy is the perpetual swing Justice, whose votes decided both Heller and McDonald.  Odds are increasingly good that time will catch up with at least one of these three, and possibly one or two more within the next four years.  The balance of the Supreme Court is at stake in the coming Presidential election, and in the Senate elections where the next Justices will be confirmed.  It’s up to GunVoters to see that decisions like this latest Second Circuit outrage do not stand, and that Heller and McDonald are not washed away in a political tide.

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As the 2016 elections approach it is time for each of us as gun owners, Second Amendment advocates, freedom lovers, and patriots to prepare the single most effective form of advertising media there is.  The best part is that for all the multimillion dollar media buys the candidates pay for, all the mass emails and websites created, this form of advertising has something the candidates can’t buy at any price. It has millions of outlets, with a reach that is unparalleled in modern advertising.  Even more unique is the fact that we control it, can make it available 24 hours a day, and have the ability to change the message as needed.

It’s called a personal “30 second commercial.” That’s right – we each have the ability to influence those around us by simply stating our informed opinions in as little as 30 seconds.  Whether asked specifically or through the course of normal conversation, we have the power to influence a person’s choice the way no radio or T.V. commercial can.

After all, who are your co-workers, friends or neighbors going to listen to – a radio spot by a candidate “who approves this message,” or a trusted friend co-worker or neighbor who is educated on what I believe to be the threshold question every candidate must answer correctly, before they get one second more of my time?

My personal 30 second commercial focuses on answering the question, “What is the candidate’s views on my civil rights – particularly my Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms?” Certainly there is a better indicator of a person’s character than their views on my right to self-defense, right?  Not to me.  I believe that a politician’s moral compass can be determined by how they reference free men and women the right to defend themselves.  That is the indicator that I believe to be the most telling. Broken down, it speaks volumes.  If a candidate for public office believes depriving a law abiding citizen of their God-given, fundamental rights, based upon the actions of another deranged, mentally ill, or evil human being, is the right thing to do, then that is all I need to know.  What more is there that can possibly justify their decision to leave me helpless to die, by preventable attack?

Consider that for a moment: a person running for political office wants to deprive us, as good law-abiding citizens, not convicted of a felony, of the freedom to defend our gift of life. Over and over again the media bombards us with senseless policies, expounded by progressive anti-gun politicians, to solve the wrong problem.  These progressive anti-gun; anti-civil rights proponents have been missing the real problem for years. After every incident in a “gun free zone” permitting the killing with impunity with no fear of being stopped until the necessity for the coward to commit suicide is created – after another Luby’s Cafeteria (22 dead); VA Tech (32 dead); Aurora, CO (12 dead, 70 injured); Sandy Hook (26 dead) – they still don’t get it.  America doesn’t have a gun problem – we have a mental health problem.

Consider the toll in in Chicago, a city with some of the most stringent anti-gun control laws in the country, on the weekend of September 19, 2015: 8 dead, 45 wounded.  Those are not results of gun problems; that is the result of a societal environment where human life has no value – where a young man proves his life’s worth by taking life.

The anti-gun politicians who push their “common sense” reforms (claiming that if “could just save one life” it would make stripping the rights from the responsible law abiding citizen worth it) refuse to understand is that evil exists, – an evil that isn’t stopped by a “No Guns” sign; an evil that is undaunted by laws that supposedly draws an imaginary line that evil “shall” not cross.   Since Cain murdered Abel, we have known that the only thing that stops evil is the immediate ability to fight back with sufficient force stop evils threat.

That is why, to me, a person’s views on my right to self-defense is the threshold question that must be answered before a candidate gets even one more second of my time.  Whenever I have the opportunity to replay my 30 second commercial to my co-workers, friends or neighbors I will be ready with my commercial based upon the answer to my threshold question.

As Americans, we owe it to each other to replay our commercial whenever and wherever we can.  We must educate ourselves on the issues that matters most to us – to that threshold question.  If you don’t know a national candidate’s views on the threshold question, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action has several great resources to help you with your questions. The NRA-ILA website contains a wealth of information, including news articles, candidates grades and endorsements, and grassroots alerts, just name a few.  Also don’t forget about your state associations – including and other groups in your area – as well as resources like,,, and so many more.

If we as gun owners, Second Amendment advocates, freedom lovers and patriots prepare our own 30 second commercials, by educating ourselves on the candidates based upon that threshold question:  what are their views on my right to self-defense; be prepared to replay it whenever and wherever we can, we can’t lose.

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If you’ve been following the story about the shooting in Ferguson, MO, you may have noticed a familiar pattern.

While the general public knows very little about the reality of violence or the use of lethal force, that doesn’t stop people from having strong opinions anytime someone gets shot. This is especially true when it comes to how many shots are fired.

According to one long-standing statistic, most self defense shootings involve an average of two shots. But that’s an average, meaning there are a lot of incidents with fewer and a lot with more.

Anyone who has ever taken a firearm defensive class from a competent instructor knows that in a life-or-death situation, you should shoot until you perceive the threat is over. That means shooting multiple times to the chest and/or head. At the very least, students are told to do a “double tap,” meaning two shots minimum.

But to listen to some of the news coverage of the Ferguson case, you’d think that multiple shots are evidence of murder.

Here are the basics of this case.

On Saturday, August 9, 2014, there was a confrontation between 18-year-old Michael Brown and 28-year-old police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO. Details are still a little fuzzy at this point about what happened and why. It may have been related to a convenience store robbery or it may have resulted from a chance encounter between the officer and the young man.

According to a report in USA Today, St. Louis County Police Chief Joe Belmar said “Brown physically assaulted the officer, and during a struggle between the two, Brown reached for the officer’s gun. One shot was fired in the car followed by other gunshots outside of the car.”

Some alleged eye witnesses, on the other hand, claim the shooting was unprovoked and the officer shot Brown as he ran away or as he was surrendering.

Regardless of how the facts play out over the coming weeks or months, let’s assume just for the sake of discussion that the police officer was honestly in fear of death or great bodily harm and shot Brown in self defense.

A preliminary autopsy report released on Monday, August 18 showed that the police officer fired at least six shots, four landing in the arm and two in the head. It’s unclear whether other shots were fired and missed.

Is that too many shots?

In response to the autopsy report, Brown family lawyer Benjamin Crump said, “It verifies the worst that the family thinks happened — that he was executed. It confirms what the witnesses said, that this was an execution. That’s what the witnesses said from day one.”

You might expect a prosecuting attorney to bend facts in his favor, but the idea that six shots are too many and indicate evil intent has been a regular theme of the media coverage and “man on the street” interviews even before Crump’s statement.

Why? Is it because movies and TV teach us that one shot is all it takes to stop someone? Maybe, but whatever the reason, reaction to multiple shots is almost universally negative regardless of the facts.

How many shots does it actually take to stop an attack? Maybe one. Maybe 20. It depends on many factors, including shot placement, the physical condition of the attacker, whether or not certain drugs are involved, etc.

Medical examiner Dr. Michael Baden claimed in a public statement about his own autopsy in the Ferguson case that five of the six shots were survivable. It was, in his opinion, one shot to the head that stopped and killed Michael Brown. He also said he believed the head shot was the last shot fired.

So one shot was required, but apparently it took six shots to land the one critical hit.

If you believe the police statement about the shooting being self defense, we could say six shots were reasonable. If you believe the alternate scenario, that the officer “executed” the young man, then even one shot was too many.

There are negative perceptions about more than just multiple shots. The media constantly refer to the teenager as “unarmed,” suggesting that only those with firearms pose a threat. The lethal shot to the head prompts many people to suggest that the officer purposely administered a coup de grâce shot. Even a video showing the officer pacing up and down the street following the shooting says to some self-appointed experts that the officer was guilty of murder because, they believe, he should be reacting in some other way.

Again, we don’t have all the details about this incident so it’s unfair to arrive at opinions just yet. But there are two takeaways from this shooting.

First, most people are terribly misinformed about the reality of self defense. This includes not just the general public, but unfortunately, the media and many legal “experts” and prosecutors who give credibility to bad information.

Second, while you need to be willing to do what you have to do to survive an attack, you need to also be prepared to deal with the ill-informed opinions of those who may become involved in a legal case against you.

If everyone were truly reasonable and well-educated about self defense, you would have nothing to worry about. Sadly, this isn’t the case.



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