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President Obama understands how controversial the gun control issue is in America, so instead of using the legislative process to enact tougher gun control laws, he has suggested that he will issue an executive order to deal with guns. The first installment of this series discussed practical reasons why increasing gun control measures would not reduce crime or prevent violent massacres in the United States. This installment will address the constitutionality of an executive order on gun control and other legal concerns with regard to personal liberty and increased government power.
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution acknowledges the basic human right to bear arms.
"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" (Amendment Two as ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State)
This amendment has strong historical connections to the English Bill of Rights. After attempts by James II to disarm Protestants, the English Bill of Rights of 1689 was passed to protect Protestants citizens from being disarmed by the Crown. Since ancient times, the right to bear arms has been seen as a natural and legally defensible human right.
An executive order is only valid if it falls within the limits of the president's constitutional authority. Thus, if President Obama's executive order on gun control violates the Second Amendment, then U.S. citizens are under no obligation to obey it. While neither the president nor anyone within the judicial system has the right to legislate, that limit on powers has not stopped them in the past.
America is a republic, not a democracy, so the U.S. Constitution is still the ultimate limiter on federal power. Some state lawmakers are already proposing legislation to nullify any new gun laws. Wyoming is leading the way with HB0104 which states that “any federal law which attempts to ban a semi-automatic firearm or to limit the size of a magazine of a firearm or other limitation on firearms in this state shall be unenforceable in Wyoming.” The bill, if passed, would charge any federal official seeking to enforce federal gun laws in the state with a felony. (Reference "Wyoming lawmakers propose bill to nullify new federal gun laws".)
“Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” - Benjamin Franklin
With an estimated 70 to 80 million gun owners in America possessing between 200 and 250 million guns, U.S. gun owners could form the largest militia in the world. Should the government attempt to disarm citizens, a Civil War would likely commence. Dean Garrison's informative blog post on this subject entitled "If They Come for Your Guns, Do You Have a Responsibility to Fight?" went viral. In the post, he reminded readers that the founding fathers sought to protect the right to bear arms for the purpose of preventing tyranny. He included the following quotes to support his argument:
"The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." -Thomas Jefferson
"Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence … From the hour the Pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to insure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable . . . the very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that is good." -George Washington
"The Constitution shall never be construed…to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms." -Samuel Adams
Obama's voting record and statements about gun control demonstrate that he believes Americans should not be allowed to own handguns to defend themselves from criminals who enter their own homes. (Reference "Obama Opposed Gun Ban Exception to Defend One's Home".) Yet, Obama relies upon guns for his own protection. He just signed a bill giving him armed protection for life. (Reference "Obama Signs Bill Giving Him Armed Protection for Life.")
Gun control activists have ridiculed a school board in Ohio for granting school custodial staff approval to carry guns at school and for providing them gun training with the hope of providing increased security at the school without creating new public sector jobs. For a school board with a limited budget and excessive political restraints, the school board at least recognizes that having guns on campus could at least deter prospective mass murderers. (Reference "Armed Janitors Approved by Montpelier, Ohio, School Board to Stop School Shootings") President Obama also recognizes the protection and power to preserve lives that guns can provide in schools. He sends his daughters to a school with 11 armed guards. (Reference "School Obama's Daughters Attend Has 11 Armed Guards".)
The largest issue at stake is freedom. Without the right to bear arms, Americans also lose the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Two days after the Connecticut shooting, a man killed his ex-girlfriend in a restaurant in San Antonio. The other people inside the restaurant fled in fear to a nearby theater. The gunman ran after them to continue his shooting spree, but an armed off duty deputy who happened to be at the theater at the time shot him before he had a chance to kill anyone else. This story never made national news possibly because it demonstrates the protective power of guns. (Reference "Media Quiet About San Antonio Theater Shooting".) If the deputy had not been there, and no one else had been armed, how many people would have died?
When Thomas Richard Cowan entered Sullivan Central High on August 30, 2010 with a 380-caliber semiautomatic, a .25-caliber handgun in his back pocket, and 13 bullets, resource officer Carolyn Gudger and principal Melanie Riden met him at the school entrance. When he pointed his semiautomatic at the principal's head, Gudger pulled her gun on Cowan and moved Riden to safety. The gun pushed Cowan back long enough for the women to secure the school keeping every student safe until police arrived. (Reference: "Armed School Resource Officer Carolyn Gudger stops Gunman from Killing School Principal and Others".)
Just this week, a 15-year-old boy saved his own life and the life of his 12-year-old sister by using an AR-15 in self-defense when a burglar invaded their home. (Source) If gun controls become too restrictive, how will homeowners protect themselves when criminals break into their homes carrying powerful guns with evil intentions which could include rape or murder?
Those who have grown up in Communist or progressive countries warn that disarming citizens is a common strategy used by governments to increase and secure more power. Stanislav Mishin, when writing about life in the former Soviet Union, issued this warning to Americans:
"For those of us fighting for our traditional rights, the U.S. 2nd Amendment is a rare light in an ever darkening room. Governments will use the excuse of trying to protect the people from maniacs and crime, but are in reality, it is the bureaucrats protecting their power and position. In all cases where guns are banned, gun crime continues and often increases. As for maniacs, be it nuts with cars (NYC, Chapel Hill NC), swords (Japan), knives (China) or homemade bombs (everywhere), insane people strike...
No it is about power and a total power over the people. There is a lot of desire to bad mouth the Tsar, particularly by the Communists, who claim he was a tyrant, and yet under him we were armed and under the progressives disarmed. Do not be fooled by a belief that progressives, leftists hate guns. Oh, no, they do not. What they hate is guns in the hands of those who are not marching in lock step of their ideology. ..
So, do not fall for the false promises, and do not extinguish the light that is left to allow humanity a measure of self-respect." Stanislav Mishin
While the fact that an executive order to severely restrict the right to bear arms is unconstitutional should quell fears, there is also another limiting factor from a surprising source. The massive Obamacare bill includes Senate amendment 3276, Sec. 2716, part c which reportedly prohibits the government's right to use doctors to collect any information regarding gun or ammunition ownership or possession. Thus, any executive order on guns must not enforce gun registration. (Reference "Obamacare Amendment Forbids Gun and Ammo Registration".)
The first two installments of this series provided practical and legal reasons why excessive gun control measures could not solve the mass murder problem in America. The final installment will look past guns to the root cause of all violent crime in America and provide recommendations for addressing the fundamental problem at its source.
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