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Old May 31, 2002, 08:31 PM   #1
DMK
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Join Date: November 18, 2001
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GUNS AND GUN CONTROL

The right to keep and bear arms originated in the common law right of self-defense. As Colin Greenwood has written, "The Common Law right to keep arms and the tradition of owning arms for protection, was built up during a period when there was no effective police, when the individual was compelled to see to his own protection."

Traditionally, Americans considered each person responsible both for self-protection and for the defense of the state. Well into the nineteenth century, people needed guns to protect themselves against hostile Indians. In addition, hunting was a major source of food. People legally carried guns as a matter of course, a practice accepted as both necessary and politically desirable.

Alexander Hamilton, replying to accusations that the military power granted to the federal government in the Constitution would lead to tyranny, pointed to the armed citizen as a counterweight: "that army [the Regular Army] can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow citizens." The private bearing of arms, then, was seen by the Founding Fathers as a positive good. The new government could not oppress the people because a citizenry "properly armed and equipped" would protect their own rights. Citizens were even required to have guns. States enforced ownership at yearly militia musters when all men were required to present their guns and ammunition for inspection.

The Second Amendment to 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" - simply asserts and protects this right, and Americans have traditionally exercised the right with few restrictions. Travelers in earlier years routinely went armed. Men's pants and women's dresses were made with built-in holsters. At times, however, a few trail towns in the West required that cowboys check their guns with the sheriff before getting drunk, and most western states prohibited carrying concealed weapons by 1850. But in the urban East there were few places where even this restriction existed. In New Jersey, until 1927, the only gun law was a prohibition on dueling.

Gun control, in the modern sense, was a fixture of the pre-Civil War Slave Codes designed to prevent a rebellion. These laws restricted all blacks both slave and free. Immediately after the war, laws were passed in the South to prohibit freedmen from owning firearms. But in response, civil rights legislation during Reconstruction made prohibition of black gun ownership impossible, so southern laws were rewritten to restrict pistols to the expensive "Army pistol." The effect was similar to a poll tax - it discriminated against both blacks and poor whites.

There are no reliable data on gun ownership or production in the nineteenth century or even the first half of this century. Millions of guns were manufactured, imported, or sold as surplus after wars, but no one kept track until the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms was reorganized in 1968.

In 1911, after an attempt to assassinate the mayor of New York City, the New York legislature passed the Sullivan Law, which required a police permit for both owning and carrying a pistol. Support for the law ranged from the New York Times and idealistic reformers to Tammany Hall political hacks like its author, Tim Sullivan. (He was trying to give police a way to frame his enemies. One political opponent had all his pockets sewn closed after three arrests for carrying guns without a permit.) Few states, however, followed New York's lead. In forty-five of them, unlicensed pistol ownership remains legal except for persons with criminal records or the insane.

Over the next thirty years most states adopted various forms of the National Revolver Act, a law largely drafted by the National Rifle Association. It established a permit system to regulate carrying concealed weapons. In some states, the law allowed the issuing authority to reject applications without a reason. Their guidelines were vague phrases such as "good character, public safety, or need." Elsewhere, license denial must be for clearly defined causes, such as a history of crime, alcoholism, insanity, or drug abuse.

In the late 1930s federal controls were imposed on machine guns, sawed-off guns, and other dangerous devices by the National Firearms acts. The Gun Control Act of 1968 forbade the sale of guns by mail or to out-of-state residents and placed restrictions on ammunition sales. The Firearms Owner's Protection Act of 1987 repealed federal restrictions on ammunition sales and out-of-state sales of rifles and shotguns because they had proven to have no crime reduction value. It also provided for the legal transportation by interstate travelers of "unloaded and inaccessible" guns regardless of local restrictions.

Approximately half the families in the United States own a gun; estimates on the number in the country range from 60 million up to 200 million. About one American in twenty (7.5 million) carries a gun for self-protection. Fourteen percent of the gun-owning households in the United States (about 14 million people) report that they have used a gun for protection of person or property exclusive of military or police work. In 60 percent of these cases, the gun was not fired but was used as a threat, and in only 9 percent of the instances was anyone injured or killed.

There is much debate between those who would ban guns as a danger to society and those who regard them as a necessary protection for the citizen. The major parties in the debate are the National Rifle Association and Handgun Control Inc.

The National Rifle Association nra has 3 million members, and sponsors and encourages target shooting, hunting, safety training, and shooting sports. The nra has been active in lobbying on gun control issues since the 1930s. Its lobbyists try to influence federal, state, and local legislators, and its many members inundate legislators with mail. The nra asserts the right of citizens to own and use guns and advocates strict penalties for the criminal misuse of them. It supports carry permit laws that are clear in their requirements and do not allow arbitrary denial.

Handgun Control Inc. hci has about 150,000 members who lobby against gun ownership. It focused originally on pistols but has recently lobbied against ownership of semiautomatic guns of all types. The group asserts that guns are a major cause of crime and accidents, and it aims ultimately at ending gun ownership by anyone except police and the military. It has adopted a step-by-step strategy of achieving gradually increasing restrictions. As first steps, hci supports waiting periods and police background checks before a gun can be purchased.

The United States contains millions of guns, so many, in fact, that it would probably be impossible to collect them all. Whether one approves or disapproves of them, guns seem to be a permanent part of the American scene.

Don B. Kates, Jr., ed., Restricting Handguns (1979); James D. Wright, Peter H. Rossi, and Kathleen Daly, Under the Gun (1983).

Edward F. Leddy


http://www.thehistorychannel.com/per...ok.pl?ID=35191


I like this part:

"Handgun Control Inc. hci has about 150,000 members who lobby against gun ownership. ... it aims ultimately at ending gun ownership by anyone except police and the military. "


"The National Rifle Association nra has 3 million members, and sponsors and encourages target shooting, hunting, safety training, and shooting sports."


Hmm, 3 million citizens vs. 150 thousand misguided wackos.
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Old May 31, 2002, 09:09 PM   #2
Justin
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Join Date: October 24, 2000
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Quote:
Gun control, in the modern sense, was a fixture of the pre-Civil War Slave Codes designed to prevent a rebellion. These laws restricted all blacks both slave and free. Immediately after the war, laws were passed in the South to prohibit freedmen from owning firearms. But in response, civil rights legislation during Reconstruction made prohibition of black gun ownership impossible, so southern laws were rewritten to restrict pistols to the expensive "Army pistol." The effect was similar to a poll tax - it discriminated against both blacks and poor whites.

As far as I'm concerned, that one paragraph is the most important one in that entire article. It shows how gun control is based on the concept of controlling a minority population and disallowing them the most effective means of protecting themselves.

The history of gun control is rooted and based in a history of intolerance, bigotry, and racism.
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Old May 31, 2002, 09:23 PM   #3
C.R.Sam
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Blackstone covered the subject and the right of free men to carry arms in order to remain free men in his "Commentaries" published in the 1760s.

Sam
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Old June 1, 2002, 09:23 AM   #4
KSFreeman
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Not exactly correct. There is a distinction between RKBA and SD. RKBA began as a duty. SD was seen as a natural right. To follow up on Sam I Am:

"It seems universally agreed by all historians that King Alfred first settled a national militia in this kingdom, and by his prudent discipline made all the subjects of his dominion soldiers." 2 WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, COMMENTARIES *409.

"[P]opular insurrection and resistance to the government, by disarming the bulk of the people . . . is a reason oftener meant, than avowed, by the makers of the forest and game laws."
Id. at *412.

"Self-Defence, therefore, as it is justly called the primary law of nature, so it is not, neither can it be in fact, taken away by the law of society." 3 WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, COMMENTARIES *4.

"Blackstone's Commentaries had a wide circulation in America at the time of the Constitutional Convention." Sunray Oil Corp. v. Allbritton,187 F.2d 475, 478 95th Cir. 1951) (Holmes, J., dissenting) (16 signers of the Declaration of Independence cover to cover; Blackstone has been published in 73 editions in English, 56 in French, 11 in German, and 9 in Italian).
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