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• See Jim Hightower
Triple-checking the Second
(Re: “Second-guessing the Second Amendment,” cover story, July 2.) I have spent more than 40 years collecting data on 22,309 of the restrictive gun laws currently in effect. Of those laws, not one has ever reduced crime. Not in one single case has gun-related crime remained at the same level. In every case, the amount of increase in crime can be directly related to the severity of the restrictions and to the degree to which the law is enforced. In short, a severe law that is never enforced has less impact than a milder law that is strictly enforced.
Take the tragedy of England as an example. A recent Daily Mail Online carries this fine headline: “The most violent country in Europe: Britain is also worse than South Africa and U.S.”
And that is true. With polls indicating more than 12,000 serious crimes per 100,000 people, the U.K. is probably the most violent society on Earth. It has been since guns and gun owners were demonized and guns were confiscated after the Dunblane Massacre.
Recently, a visitor to London’s trendy Soho district is more likely to become a victim of a serious crime than a visitor to the most crowded and disreputable slums of Capetown or Durban. But on the other hand, there are also 309 laws that require, allow or permit citizens of good repute to keep and carry a gun.
Three hundred nine times out of 309, crime has declined after those laws were passed — sometimes dramatically, as it did in Kennesaw, Ga., after a non-binding law was passed “requiring citizens to possess a firearm.” Sometimes decline happens more slowly, as it has in the many states that now allow open or concealed firearms carry. Again, the amount of the decline depends on how much freedom to carry is allowed, and how easy it is to get a permit.
So there is the situation. Gun controls act in precisely the same way a can of gasoline acts when it is poured on a campfire. But liberal possess-and-carry laws act like water on that fire.
There are certain hazards associated with gun ownership and possession. But the results of various safety training programs proves beyond reasonable doubt that general adoption of those programs would make a fatal firearms accident a rare, front-page worthy happening.
On balance, the gun controllers of any type are simply wrong. The FBI said it first, when this appeared in their Uniform Crime Report: “In general, the higher the incidence of private gun possession among the general public, the lower the crime rate.”
More guns equal less crime. It’s just that simple.
Pete Allen/Via Internet
You had a thought-provoking series of articles in your July 4 issue. I learned some things I did not know. And really, that is why I read. Good journalism. Keep up the good work.
Guns, per se, are not mentioned anywhere in the Second Amendment. The poorly written Second Amendment arguably ensures that the right of the people “to keep and bear arms” will not be infringed. However, “arms” are defined in Webster’s as any instrument used in fighting, also known as a weapon. The fact is that we have already “infringed” the hell out of peoples’ rights to own certain arms, such as nuclear devices, to name one currently in the news. Bombs, flame-throwers and small tanks don’t enter the discussion for obvious reasons. We even infringe on the rights of other countries; just think what we did to Iraq and are considering for Iran,
North Korea and whichever non-Anglo country may be next in seeking a nuclear weapon.
The argument that an armed populace will forestall a despotic government takeover is ludicrous. Our government, despotic or not, has control of the most powerful military in the world and possession of all those exotic weapons NRA members can only dream about. Eliminating automatic, military or police-style weaponry makes as much sense as limiting the speed we can travel on highways, and hunters and those needing self protection will still have their needs fulfilled. The actual Second Amendment right (assuming the “well-regulated militia” stipulation is moot) will not be infringed anymore than it is already. We will only be safer as a population. While guns may not kill people, to paraphrase the NRA mantra, people with guns do kill people!
James C. Bailey Jr./Boulder
(Re: “How well do you know your rights?” cover story, July 2.) Your second question includes a false premise: that there is no definitive resolution by the courts concerning what right the Second Amendment protects. The Supreme Court settled the question regarding individual rights versus state militia purposes in the District of Columbia v. Heller decision on June 26, 2008. The Second Amendment protects individual rights, not state militia authority, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The question concerning punctuation is answered as true in the article because it is claimed that a comma appearing in some versions but not in other versions has led “in large part” to the controversy over whether the Second Amendment protects individual rights or state powers over the militia.
I would suggest that controversy over the intent of the Second Amendment, including arguments about punctuation, is almost entirely due to attempts to explain away its very clear wording. The presence or absence of a comma in the Second Amendment or its predecessors would not confuse those who trace the Second Amendment’s language back to its immediate state-ratifying convention Bill of Rights sources, which are all two-clause provisions. It is apparent that the two clauses of the Second Amendment were based upon these provisions that were taken directly from state Bill of Rights provisions containing contrasting wording — either well-regulated militia of the people or the people have a right to bear arms. Both of these forms were intended to protect a defensively effective armed population, and the only way of assuring such a population against misconstruction or abuse of power by government is protection of individual rights to possess and use arms.
David E. Young/via Internet
(Re: “The liberal argument for gun ownership,” cover story, July 2.) Heller established that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual one. He did not address the Second Amendment’s applicability to the States.
The Supreme Court has always rejected Justice Black’s contention that the 14th Amendment incorporated the Bill of Rights. Instead, the court has used creative doctrines such as Justice Cardozo’s “ordered liberty” to manipulate the meaning of the amendment to allow some of the first eight amendments to be enforced against the states.
At least one justice, Scalia, is on record as saying that, when properly interpreted, the Second Amendment is no limitation on arms control by the states. It’s time that we take a stand and point out the way that the 10th Amendment has been ignored and the 14th Amendment has been misread.
Jim Cotter/Via Internet
DA’s policy costs the public
(Re: “Court costs,” News, June 25.) Your recent article on District Attorney Stan Garnett quoted him saying his plan to take more cases to trial will “return sentencing [to the trial judge]” and thereby transfer power from prosecutors to judges and juries.
Isn’t this statement disingenuous? Don’t trial judges handle sentencing regardless of whether a conviction is reached via guilty plea or jury verdict?
Additionally, your article rightfully highlighted the heightened strain Garnett’s policy will put on public defenders (and, by extension, the due process of law), but you omitted mention of the burden it will place on the Boulder Police Department; as more cases go to trial, officers must leave their beats to linger around the courthouse. Often, an officer will have to be present for far longer than the duration of his/her testimony to both ensure her presence at the beginning of the trial and to remain available for recall to the stand.
The result is either a depleted patrol or a bloated overtime payroll to compensate for the officer’s replacement in the streets. Either way, the people end up paying the costs of the DA’s policy. Thus, if the new approach is indeed a political ploy as some suggest, perhaps Garnett should face theft charges of his own.
Aaron D. Goldhamer/Via Internet
In recognition of July 4th, I read through the Declaration of Independence. In it our forefathers proclaimed that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” and that, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
I thought about the irony of our situation here in Southeastern Colorado on July 4th, 2009. The signers of the Declaration would be shocked to learn that 17,000 American citizens face a threat to their livelihoods, their homes, their lands, their pursuit of happiness, not from the oppressive tyranny of an English King, but from their own military. How appalled they would be to learn that even though every city and county in our part of the state, and both houses of our State Legislature have expressed their opposition to it, the Army continues to harass us with their plan to federalize 6.9 million acres of private and state land and depopulate the entire southeastern corner of the state in order to create a huge live-fire range. How ashamed they would be to learn that this power is not “derived from the consent of the governed,” but comes by way of the economic influence of huge military contractors.
Most people are familiar with the first couple of paragraphs of the Declaration, but it is instructive to read through to the list of specific grievances against the English King. Among them are that he had “sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance,” that he allowed “Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures” and that he had “affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.”
As I reflect upon the values embodied in The Declaration of Independence, it strikes me that the most patriotic thing that we can do to honor our forefathers is stand together in opposition to the federalization of our state’s lands and the militarization of our state’s economy.
Doug Holdread/Trinidad, Colo.
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