Two very different cases of mayhem centered around firearms provide an appropriate starting point for a bare-bones analysis of the erosion of our Second Amendment, or rather the erosion of our ostensibly protected liberties under same.
The tragic case of 39 year-old Carol Browne of Berlin Township New Jersey is the first. Ms. Browne was dutifully waiting on a lethargic bureaucracy for her concealed carry pistol permit in order to defend herself against an abusive ex-boyfriend when he accosted Browne in her driveway on June 3 and stabbed her to death.
The second is the mass murder carried out on June 18 by Dylann Storm Drain (it’s actually Dylann Storm Roof, so I’ve been told), the 21-year-old who walked into a South Carolina church and fatally shot nine people as they attended Bible study class.
Immediately after the South Carolina shootings, the leftist leviathan – led by one Barack Hussein Obama – leapt into action, framing the incident as demonstrating a clear need for more gun control. This, despite the attendant facts – such as Roof being a drug-addled loser with a mounting criminal record and parents who may have even less viable grey matter than Dylann himself (his father allegedly gave him a .45-caliber pistol for his birthday earlier this year – shortly after the junior Roof was released from jail).
In liberal-controlled areas, governments (we actually have a lot of them in the U.S.) have enacted very strict gun control measures. The process of purchasing any firearm is profoundly burdensome; trying to obtain a permit for a handgun often takes months. In some cities, you’re not getting a pistol, let alone a concealed carry permit, unless you’re a lawyer, a judge, or a police officer. Liberal elitism at its best.
Despite such measures, these places have the highest instances of gun-related crime in the nation.
On the one hand, we have people saying that the nine South Carolina parishioners would still be alive if Storm Drain hadn’t had access to a firearm. On the other, those who say that Carol Browne would still be alive if she’d received her pistol permit in a more timely manner. One can hardly disagree with either statement.
The problem is that both statements are theoretical. In Browne’s case, the New Jersey authorities should have provided Browne with her pistol permit in a timely manner, but they didn’t – and with the deep entrenchment of big-government progressivism in that state, all the statistics in the world aren’t going to prompt them to change their protocols.
In the case of Dylann Roof, the truth in practice – the reality that liberals absolutely will not acknowledge – is that keeping guns out of the hands of criminals is an impossibility. This is immaterial in that public safety is not the leftist politicians’ motivation behind advocating for gun control in the first place; the motivation is their totalitarian objectives.
Thus, discussions around eliminating bureaucracy in the concealed carry permitting process and how to keep guns out of the hands of the Dylan Roofs among us are the wrong discussions.
Because no American citizen should be required to obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm, or endure onerous processes in order to purchase firearms.
For reasons of personal accountability, insurance liability, and public safety, a certificate of completion of a firearms safety or combat pistol course would be quite adequate in establishing an individual’s qualification to carry a concealed firearm safely.
Anything more than this is not only a grotesque violation of the Second Amendment, but indicative of government entities that have gotten out of hand.
And in case it’s just started to sink in, there are a lot of government entities (local, state, and federal) that have gotten far out of hand. Considering the firearms laws that abound in America, one can see how government at every level has been chipping away at the Second Amendment for the last hundred years. The justification (or con) that’s been used in every case has been public safety.
Now … How many of the parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina might have had a concealed pistol on them – just as a matter of course – if they didn’t have to obtain a permit in order to carry one?
Better still: How many second thoughts would Dylann Roof have had if he knew that someone might wind up shooting back?
In America, if someone shoots someone else without apparent justification, there ought to be only two things considered: Did this occur due to criminal intent or negligence? If it was a crime, obviously the perpetrator should be prosecuted forthwith. If negligence, they may be liable in criminal court, civil court (for damages), or both. That’s the way shooting incidents should have played out from Day One, but we wound up with progressives, liberals, socialists, and finally out-and-out communists in government.
And by the way; not only should any American citizen be able to carry a concealed firearm sans permit, they should be able to own any type of firearm they desire, even if it’s a belt-fed 50 caliber machine gun, tripod-mounted in the entryway of their home.
Now, wait a minute Rush … What about the mentally ill and felons? Do you think they ought to be able to bop down to the friendly neighborhood gun store and pick up any kind of firearm, no questions asked?
I’ve been asked these questions many times. For my part, I am stunned at how many people who think they understand the principles behind our Bill of Rights summarily concur with the parameters government has set (and revised many times) concerning the restrictions on firearms.
In answer to these questions, first let me pose a few of my own by way of edification:
What constitutes a “felon?”
What constitutes “mentally ill?”
Who makes those designations?
Can they be trusted to do so?
These are questions we should have asked many decades ago when laws that had the potential to dilute the Second Amendment were proposed.
My answers to the last two of the questions I posed are
- government officials, and
- emphatically, no
With regard to those who are adjudicated as mentally ill: Given the political climate today in particular, do you trust the government (local, county, state, or federal) not to designate persons as mentally ill for reasons of politics, agenda, or retaliation?
If the response is “no,” you have your answer. If it is “yes,” you’re an idiot.
Then there’s the question of felons. What is a “felon,” anyway? All the dictionary tells us is that a felon is “someone who has committed a felony.”
Great. Then what qualifies as a felony?
To which American dictionaries (both standard and legal) answer (generally): A felony is an offense “of graver character than those called misdemeanors, especially those commonly punished in the U.S. by imprisonment in excess of one year.”
Which of course says nothing about the nature or severity of the respective offenses at all.
Ah. So a felony is a crime for which they can incarcerate you for a year or more … ?
Well, no. Felonies are generally crimes for which statutes suggest at least one year in prison, but not all crimes for which one can be incarcerated for a year or more are felonies. It depends on the crime and, more importantly, the jurisdiction.
But all felonies involve a weapon of some kind … ?
Well, again … no.
Then all felonies involve violence … ?
Sorry … no.
Many crimes, even some misdemeanors that do not involve any form of violence or weapon can forever bar a person from owning or possessing a firearm in the United States of America. In fact, the related federal statute (18 U.S.C. § 922 : US Code, Section 922: Unlawful Acts) says that it is unlawful for any person to own or possess any firearm or ammunition if that person “is under indictment for, or has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year … ”
“Under indictment for” means that if you’ve been charged with a crime and not yet tried or convicted, but you could be, and might be sentenced to prison for a year or more, you’d better get rid of your guns.
Is that asinine or what?
Here’s my favorite part: “punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year … ”
This means that if you’re convicted – by plea or trial – of any crime on the books anywhere in the U.S., and a judge could have had you incarcerated for 365 days or longer, your Second Amendment rights are gone … forever. Doesn’t matter if you got six months’ probation and no jail time. Doesn’t matter if it was a misdemeanor. Doesn’t matter if it was nonviolent and there was no weapon of any kind involved.
By the way, the same statute is equally draconian with regard to certain other people. Say you’re a recovered narcotics addict who’s been clean for 25 years … no guns. Doesn’t matter if it was heroin or Vicodin, either; according to the statute, “any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802))” qualifies, so any past or present narcotics addiction torpedoes your right to own or possess a firearm. Forever. And if we get into what constitutes a “narcotic” under U.S. statutes, we’ll be here all month …
So … sorry, Brett Favre (who became addicted to narcotic painkillers the team doctors gave him early in his career); no guns for you…
How about the teenage girl who was very briefly committed to a psychiatric hospital by her parents for severe depression and a suicide attempt after being raped..?
No guns for her. Not ever. According to 18 U.S.C. § 922, she’s a “mental defective.”
The simple solution that both preserves Second Amendment protections and ensures public safety (inasmuch as it can be ensured) is a multi-tiered process involving panels of psychiatric professionals, attorneys, and judges participating in proceedings that examine individuals’ mental capacity or criminal offenses on a case-by-case basis. It would involve layers of bureaucracy, but the protection of our rights is among the few things that justify such expense and redundancy.
We’re well aware that millions of Americans don’t have even a nodding acquaintance with our nation’s founding principles; thus, they simply cannot comprehend the sanctity of the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment was crafted by people who had risen up to overthrow a tyrannical government by force of arms. It exists so that if We The People ever need to do so again, we will be equipped to do so.
Yes, America has the highest per capita gun ownership, but isn’t it strange that the nations with the highest per capita murder rates are all heavily socialistic countries with stringent gun control, rather than the United States?
If we are going to abrogate anyone’s Second Amendment protections, we’d better have a damn good reason, and plenty of fail safes to prevent government abuse. We’ll never have a perfect system, but we’ve gone too far in the other direction, with the various strata of government each taking a little piece of the Second Amendment and leaving none left for the citizenry.
In the final analysis, what Americans should have immediately acknowledged with regard to the victims at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina is that which was evident in relation to the Carol Browne tragedy: If they had been armed, their chances for survival would have been exponentially greater.