While Barack Obama makes history as the United States first ever African American to become President; Obama’s past voting position on the Second Amendment right of private citizens to bear arms has been viewed by some as stringent or adversarial. The debate of the right of citizens to bear arms dates back to when James Madison first made a proposal for such rights on June 8, 1789, to the House of Representatives. The democracy that “We the People” share in this country has been made great by the laws and declarations set down by our founding forefathers. They put forth these laws with the hope of enabling peace and ensuring continued peace and freedom for future generations. There are two sides to every pancake and the issues on both sides of gun control are well documented with both sides making strong points. In the end it is important that the freedoms that have made America a desired destination for millions of immigrants from all around the world be upheld and the rights of the individual be secured.
Congratulations to President elect Barack Obama on winning the election for the 44th President of the United States of America. President elect Obama has already met with President George W. Bush to start the transition of the new administration. Obama has also started appointing personnel to his staff. In addition, Obama has started the enormous task of putting together a financial plan to turn around a slumping economy. Yet for some citizens, the most critical issue is what will Barack do concerning the issue of gun control. The upheaval by staunch gun toting liberals is caused by their concern of Barack’s prior voting record on gun control. According to the political watch group Onthe Issues.org, when Barack Obama was asked the question “Is the D.C. law prohibiting ownership of handguns consistent with an individual’s right to bear arms?” Barack’s answer was as follows “As a general principle, I believe that the Constitution confers an individual right to bear arms. But just because you have an individual right does not mean that the state or local government can’t constrain the exercise of that right.” So if the state or local government constrains the exercise of individual rights than how would that be considered a right? If government oppresses individual rights than what is left of democracy? On the Issues.org further reports that when Obama was asked his opinion on registering and licensing of guns Obama stated “I think we can provide common-sense approaches to the issue of illegal guns that are ending up on the streets. We can make sure that criminals don’t have guns in their hands.” If criminals always did what they were suppose to do than they would not be criminals.
Onthe Issues.org claims “Obama was being misleading when he denied that his handwriting had been on a document endorsing a state ban on the sale and possession of handguns in Illinois.” When Obama was asked if he favored an all out ban on handguns Obama responded, “No, my writing wasn’t on that particular questionnaire. As I said, I have never favored an all-out ban on handguns.” Yet OntheIssues.org reports that on a 1996 questionnaire Barack answered yes when given the question do you favor the ban of the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns. When asked of the discrepancy Obama’s campaign said, “Sen. Obama didn’t fill out these state Senate questionnaires–a staffer did–and there are several answers that didn’t reflect his views then or now. He may have jotted some notes on the front page of the questionnaire, but some answers didn’t reflect his views.” So which answer is correct Obama’s staffer’s response for him now or the staffer’s response for Obama prior? Barack was asked to further explain the seaming discrepancy of his supposed support for the 2nd
Amendment yet being o.k. with the D.C. gun ban. Obama answered “Because I think we have two conflicting traditions in this country. I think it’s important for us to recognize that we’ve got a tradition of handgun ownership and gun ownership generally. And a lot of law-abiding citizens use it for hunting, for sportsmanship, and for protecting their families.” Barack then talks about another group of gun toters stating “We also have a violence on the streets that is the result of illegal handgun usage. And so I think there is nothing wrong with a community saying we are going to take those illegal handguns off the streets.” Yet a community handgun ban only removes guns from the law abiding citizens. Therefore does Barack intend to state that in these banned communities that there are no law abiding citizens that would hope to hunt, shoot for sport or desire to protect their families?
Does Barack Obama want to abolish the 2nd Amendment? In 2000 according to On the Issues .org Obama cosponsored a bill to limit handguns purchases to one a month. This seems reasonable. After all how many handguns does one individual need at one time? But then Barack voted against people be allowed to violate the weapons bans in cases of self defense.
Who is Obama trying to aid the common person or the criminals? Surprisingly Barack Obama was reported to favor retired police officers carrying concealed weapons by David Mendel in his book From Promise to Power quoting Obama “I didn’t find that [vote] surprising. I am consistently on record and will continue to be on record as opposing concealed carry. This was a narrow exception in an exceptional circumstance where a retired police officer might find himself vulnerable as a consequence of the work he has previously done–and had been trained extensively in the proper use of firearms.” (250-251)
In a debate in 2004 between Alan Keyes and Barack Obama On the Issues .org reported this exchange concerning President George Bush’s failure to renew the automatic assault rifle ban: Keyes to Obama ” I am a strong believer in the second amendment. .[Obama] suggests that we should pass a law that prevents law abiding citizens from carrying weapons. You end up with a situation where the crooks have all the guns and the law abiding citizens cannot defend themselves.” Obama replied “Mr. Keyes does not believe in any limits from what I can tell with respect to the possession of guns, including assault weapons that have only one purpose, to kill people. I think it is a scandal that this president did not authorize a renewal of the assault weapons ban.” Individuals do not need to possess automatic assault rifles to uphold their rights to recreational uses of guns such as hunting and shooting or even for protection of self and family. However in the same debate Obama denies believe in people using weapons for self defense in their own homes. This goes against the core purpose for the 2nd Amendment. Barack Obama in his attempt to remove handguns from criminals will only deny rights to law abiding individuals; the right to teach our children to shoot and hunt; the right to protect our homes and families and will allow criminal gun violence to escalate. Just as Alan Keyes stated if our 2nd Amendment rights are revoked then the only ones with guns are the criminals. For proof look no further then marijuana, although outlawed it is very prevalent in all parts of this country.
The 2nd Amendment was established with the rights of the individual in mind. But as the individual has security it brings security and stability to the whole. The 2nd Amendment has its roots in the English Bill of Rights of 1689: That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defense suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law. (Volokh) According to Professor Eugene Volokh of UCLA Law School on law.UCLA.edu each state starting with North Carolina and Pennsylvania back in 1776 have adopted into their respective State Constitutions provisions for their citizens to bear arms. It is interesting that President elect Barack Obama continues to make mention of the rights of citizens to bear arms for the purpose of hunting. It is this exact distinction that allowed England to disarm the large majority of its people. Professor Volokh writes this excerpt from St. George Tucker, Blackstone’s Commentaries in 1803 “Whoever examines the forest, and game laws in the British code, will readily perceive that the right of keeping arms is effectually taken away from the people of England.” The commentator himself informs us “that the prevention of popular insurrections and resistance to government by disarming the bulk of the people, is a reason oftener meant than avowed by the makers of the forest and game laws.” England was seemingly allowing for the keeping of arms but then made distinctions to who could meet these criteria which boiled down to only the aristocrats
the select few. St. George Tucker, Blackstone’s Commentaries summarized according to Professor Volokh “the words suitable to their condition and degree, have been interpreted to authorize the prohibition of keeping a gun or other engine for the destruction of game, to any farmer, or inferior tradesman, or other person not qualified to kill game. So that not one man in five hundred can keep a gun in his house without being subject to a penalty.” Although Volokh mentions the ratio is probably an exaggeration the desired effect was achieved as the majority of law abiding citizens had been denied the rights to bear arms. Justice Joseph Story wrote again on this subject in 1833 in his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States. In 1880 Thomas Cooley wrote in General Principles of Constitutional Law on the subject of the right to bear arms.
A little more recently in a well documented case in 1939 there was a case in the Supreme Court involving the right to bear arms. In the case of United States versus Miller, Jack Miller was charged that he “did unlawfully, knowingly, willfully, and feloniously transport in interstate commerce from the town of Claremore in the State of Oklahoma to the town of Siloam Springs in the State of Arkansas a certain firearm, to-wit, a double barrel 12-gauge Stevens shotgun having a barrel less than 18 inches in length [contrary to the National Firearms Act] ” The defense stated “The National Firearms Act is not a revenue measure but an attempt to usurp police power reserved to the States, and is therefore unconstitutional.” In 1894 the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Miller v Texas on the subject of carrying weapons on the person “the trial of the case, was in conflict with the second and fourth amendments to the constitution of the United States, one of which provides that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and the other of which protects the people against unreasonable searches and seizures.” In 1929 the Supreme Court ruled on an interesting case denying citizenship in the case of the United States v Schwimmer stating “Schwimmer was denied citizenship because she refused to swear to “if necessary . . . take up arms in defense of this country.”
In recent cases Volokh continues to list the 1972 Supreme Court case Adams v Williams written “Connecticut allows its citizens to carry weapons, concealed or otherwise, at will, provided they have a permit. Connecticut law gives its police no authority to frisk a person for a permit. Yet the arrest was for illegal possession of a gun.” This would seem to put the police force at undue risk if unknowingly. In the 1980 case of Lewis v United States we read “Lewis was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm” Volokh gives us Printz v. United States in which “the Court today properly holds that the Brady Act Muscarello v. United States. In this case it reads “The question in the case was whether the statutory phrase “carries a firearm” is limited to carrying on the person, or also includes carrying in a car which the person is accompanying. The dissent said the phrase was limited to carrying on the person.” The case was ruled that the right to “bear arms” was meant to “indicate: wear, bear, or carry . . . upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose . . . of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person.” These are some of the major historical cases involving the 2nd Amendment. Next is the N.R.A.’s (National Rifle Association) reaction to the election of President-elect Barack Obama.
The NRA was established in 1871 for the purpose to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis.” (Editors, National Rifle Association) The NRA came to into existence when co-founders Union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate were “dismayed by the lack of marksmanship shown by their troops.” Anyone who has ever went to a shooting range either civilian or military can attest that people without the proper training and practice can be very pitiful in their shooting abilities. According to the NRA website they claim “in civilian training, the NRA continues to be the leader in firearms education. Over 50,000 Certified Instructors now train about 750,000 gun owners a year.”
The NRA is reporting that “President-elect Barack Obama has selected Eric Holder as his Attorney General, and that Holder may already have accepted the offer.” The stats sheet on Eric Holder is just as dismal for gun enthusiasts as Obama’s record on gun control. Eric Holder when he was Deputy Attorney General under Janet Reno went on record to interpret the 2nd Amendment as follows “the Second Amendment does not protect an individual right, but instead protects the right to have a firearm when serving with a militia.” Eric Holder seems to be out of touch with small things such as facts. Holder apparently does not give much respect to the individual rights of the people of this country. NRA reports that “When ABC’s George Will asked him about guns being used for self-defense more often than to commit crime, and Right-to-Carry states having lower crime rates than other states, Holder dismissed the facts that Mr. Will raised, with a flippant statement.”
The NRA is showing concern over the questionnaire that is being given out for all potential applicants for the new administration positions. Question 59 reads “Do you or any members of your immediate family own a gun? If so, provide complete ownership and registration information. Has the registration ever lapsed? Please also describe how and by whom it is used and whether it has been the cause of any personal injuries or property damage.” The NRA discusses that only five states even require registration and very few places require renewal updates. The final part of the question asks how the gun is used and draws this comment from the NRA “Once again, if an applicant is not using his gun to commit crimes, how could this possibly be relevant.” What concern is it of a employer whether an applicant goes hunting or enjoys shooting at firing ranges?
Locally the State of Florida’s “Guns at Work” law was upheld on August 1st 2008 by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle. This law allows employees in Florida with Right-to-Carry permits to have firearms concealed in their automobiles while they are at work. The law was heavily backed by the NRA and upon the victory this statement was released by the NRA President Marion Hammer, NRA’s Florida lobbyist and the first-ever woman to lead the NRA “In a day and age where commutes are longer and people spend more time running errands before and after work, hard working men and women in our country should not have their basic God-given right to self defense trampled by corporate giants.”
In conclusion the Barack Obama administration is off to a quick start putting together economic stimulus plans in place. This is the major issue facing the new soon to be President, yet in tight economic times with millions out of work home, family and self security is a obvious concern. With Eric Holder, NRA’s proclaimed “gun control nightmare” taking position as Attorney General coupled with Obama’s past gun control voting the NRA will have its hands full watch dogging those two. Even as this is being written student groups on college campuses in Wisconsin are pushing for the rights to carry concealed firearms while at school. Crimes involving handguns are much higher in a very strictly regulated handgun country of Germany then that of Switzerland who has very liberal handgun laws and a much lower criminal incident rate with handgun involvement. There are strong view points on each side of the gun control issue. There are groups that would push the extremes on both sides.
Do we go to guns everywhere including in schools, work and church? How about no guns unless you are a rich aristocratic elitist? Somewhere in the middle is right where hunting, sports shooting, and self protection are preserved. Just as plainly stated in the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution “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.”