Ren's Ramblings & Writings

Contemplations on things tangible and intangible

Sunday, March 17, 2013

My letter to editor response to recent letter re: 2nd Amendment

Response to Al Sweet's recent letter about Gun rights

Gun rights

-I am a gun owner who grew up in a hunting family and, I am terribly embarrassed by the extremism and lack of compromise exhibited by many gun rights activists, and, as a gun owner myself, do not want to be associated with that insanity.  Personally, I am concerned about any citizen with these extremist views, and I am not sure I want him or her in the same room with me when he or she is packing a .357.
As Sen. Mike Johnston of Denver stated: "What is before us is not a constitutional question but a policy question."
Mr. Sweet conveys his disdain, but does not give any facts. He opposes Obama (and state gun control efforts) because of his personal feelings about the POTUS, not because Obama has actually done anything to take away 2nd Amendment rights,  but because of continued conspiracy and hysteria that someone, anyone, is coming for all guns…
What Mr. Sweet states are not facts, but his interpretations, wishes and beliefs. Here are some facts:
In Presser v. Illinois, (1886)- states CAN regulate gun ownership
The Court noted that the Second Amendment only restrained the federal government from regulating gun ownership, not the individual states:
"The second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed, but this, as has been seen, means no more than that it shall not be infringed by congress. This is one of the amendments that has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government, leaving the people to look for their protection against any violation by their fellow-citizens of the rights it recognizes to what is called in City of New York v. Miln, 11 Pet. [116 U.S. 252, 102] 139, the 'powers which relate to merely municipal legislation, or what was perhaps more properly called internal police,' 'not surrendered or restrained' by the constitution of the United States."
On May 15, 1939 the Supreme Court wrote in United States V. Miller:
"In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a 'shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length' at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument."
Further explanation:
“Describing the constitutional authority under which Congress could call forth state militia, the Court stated, "With obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view."”
“The Court also looked to historical sources to explain the meaning of "militia" as set down by the authors of the Constitution:”
"The significance attributed to the term Militia appears from the debates in the Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These show plainly enough that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. 'A body of citizens enrolled for military discipline.' And further, that ordinarily when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time."
District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008)
(1) The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home
(2) Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.

United States v. Warner (1993) –
US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruling regarding Warner, who was caught in Utah with a machine gun and convicted on possession of a machine gun. Warner appealed on the basis the Utah constitution allows its citizens to bear arms, and therefore he is exempt based on 922(o)(2)(A), "under authority of the State." However, the court overruled this, citing the Farmer case saying machine guns were not meant to be in private hands, and although the Utah law gives permission to own automatic firearms, it did not grant him authority.
As for Mr. Sweet’s descriptions of Civil War battles-he is justifying the point: those were battles that took place PRIOR to United States v. Miller, and those battles have no bearing on current day society or court precedents that were established long AFTER the Civil War.
When it comes to discussions on hate groups, yes, there were laws implemented to try to keep guns away from former slaves that have since been overturned, but the statement Mr. Sweet made that “The 1994 “assault weapons” ban was aimed at the Koreans who successfully defended their businesses during the Rodney King riots” is patently false.  That legislation, which was packed with loopholes, was a direct result of the shooting of President Reagan and Press Secretary Jim Brady were shot (as well as two others).  After being disabled, Brady and his wife became active lobbyists in the gun control arena, and the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was passed in 1993 as a result of their work.  The 1994 assault weapons ban wasn’t a stand-alone bill. It was part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, an anti-crime measure, and voters largely accepted the basis for a ban on the production of assault weapons, according to news reports at that time.  Please, show your credible sources to support your statement.  Furthermore, President Reagan, who was an NRA member, supported the 1994 bill: here’s the link to his editorial explaining his position at that time.  He made the following statement in 1989 after Patrick Purdy fired more than 100 rounds from a version of an AK-47, killing five children and wounding 30 others at a school:
“I do not believe in taking away the right of the citizen for sporting, for hunting and so forth, or for home defense. But I do believe that an AK-47, a machine gun, is not a sporting weapon or needed for defense of a home.”

“Certain forms of ammunition have no legitimate sporting, recreational, or self-defense use and thus should be prohibited.”

“With the right to bear arms comes a great responsibility to use caution and common sense on handgun purchases.”

“Every year, an average of 9,200 Americans are murdered by handguns, according to Department of Justice statistics. This does not include suicides or the tens of thousands of robberies, rapes and assaults committed with handguns. This level of violence must be stopped.”
Yes, America has implemented many racist laws since its inception, to include laws trying to keep guns away from minorities.  That does not negate my position that we are not truly managing current gun access of hate groups even though the government is often tracking and following the activities of some of those members.  It isn’t until something bad happens that we act (case in point: the shooting of the Sikh gurdwara in Wisconsin. That shooter had been followed by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the government for a decade).
Retired General Colin Powell stated this:
“The American people want to see something done, and it is not a threat to the Second Amendment.”
“A message I’d like to see get out is: ’we’re not taking away your Second Amendment rights,’” Powell said. ”I believe in the Second Amendment, I have guns in my home, I am prepared to protect my family, but I’m prepared to do whatever is necessary to make sure that everyone buying guns is checked—what is objectionable about that?”
“Extremists who think they need to protect themselves from the government need to be countered by diplomatic calls for gun control, the panel agreed.”
“The Second Amendment was written to protect the people from the government, but the reality is the government isn’t coming after you and the Second Amendment is intact. You can own guns legally,” Powell said. “But the American people have been devastated by what’s happened at Newtown and elsewhere.”
Retired General Wesley Clark stated this in 2003:
“I have got 20 some odd guns in the house. I like to hunt. I have grown up with guns all my life, but people who like assault weapons should join the United States Army, we have them."
Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal stated this recently:
”I spent a career carrying typically either a M16 and later, a M4 carbine,” McChrystal said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “And a M4 carbine fires a .223 caliber round, which is 5.56 millimeters, at about 3,000 feet per second. When it hits a human body, the effects are devastating. It’s designed to do that. That’s what our soldiers ought to carry.”
“I personally don’t think there’s any need for that kind of weaponry on the streets and particularly around the schools in America. I believe that we’ve got to take a serious look — I understand everybody’s desire to have whatever they want — we have to protect our children and our police and we have to protect our population. And I think we have to take a very mature look at that.”
Mr. Sweet’s following statement is ‘loaded:’
“America IS one of the safest nations on the Earth. The myth that we have a high GUN HOMICIDE rate is based on the misuse of the number for overall GUN VIOLENCE. If one removes suicides, accidents, and justifiable shootings the US GUN HOMICIDE rate has been consistently under 4 per 100,000 and not the 10 per 100,000 that the gun grabbers claim.”
All I can say to this is true data show that
  1. We are not the safest nation on earth-in fact, we fall way below many countries
  2. You cannot separate the data on the overall matter of gun deaths in America (unless you are analyzing a specific category).  Whether it was intentional or accidental is irrelevant when looking at the overall “big picture.”
  3. True “gun grabbers” are few; it’s not even possible for anyone to “get all the guns.”  Reinstatement of the 1994 assault weapons ban, along with other bills to improve background checks and limit ammunition purchases and magazine sizes does not infringe on anyone’s 2nd Amendment rights.
Yes, Mr. Sweet, the NRA would seemingly have a duty to be part of the solution, but it is not. The NRA represents the interests of only the gun manufacturers, not the individual gun owners. I once had a membership, and discontinued it.
Even former President George HW Bush resigned his lifetime membership (

Former NRA lobbyist Richard Feldman is the president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association (IFOA) (  Here is information about Feldman and his book:
Richard Feldman, a former top lobbyist for the NRA, reveals the primary goal of
the organization today--and it isn’t protecting the Second Amendment--in RICOCHET: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist.
“He explains how the NRA's inflexible positions have placed the nation's most prominent representative of law-abiding gun owners in increasing opposition to law enforcement, gun makers, and moderate Republicans. The upshot is that the NRA is not an effective advocate for its members' interests. Obsessed with fundraising, scare-mongering, and wielding political power, NRA leadership undermines commonsense solutions that would protect gun owners' rights while reducing accidental shootings and gun violence.”
“Ricochet … is a wake-up call for gun owners who cherish their Second Amendment rights. The message is that the NRA has betrayed your trust and misused your hard-earned donations…”
As stated on the IFOA’s website:
Understanding the 2nd Amendment
The Second Amendment, regardless of the era – during the days of Madison and Jefferson or today – is about two words: “freedom” and “responsibility.” It never was about hunting or types of firearms.  In fact, it’s not really about firearms.
We CAN preserve the 2nd Amendment AND keep people safe, if we are smart, responsible, objective, and reasonable.

Rev. Renee L. Ten Eyck


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