NOT Close Enough, EVEN for Government Work?

From CONGRESS ACTION Newsletter, Published on Internet by Kim Weissman - Published Here By Permission

Deprivation of A Constitutional Right by Bureaucratic Incompetence - or Deliberately?

Among every 10 cars manufactured, 4 are defective. Among every 10 airline flights which took off, 4 crashed. Among every 10 bridges built, 4 collapsed the first time they were used. Among every 10 routine surgeries performed, 4 patients died. Among every 10 people put in jail, 4 are innocent.

If the standards of incompetence exemplified by the above list actually occurred, the public would be outraged. Congressional hearings would be demanded. Investigations launched. Lawsuits filed. Heads would roll. Those examples are fictitious, to make a point; the following statistic is real, the finding of a Government Accounting Office study of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act after its first full year in operation:

Among every 10 people denied their Constitutional right to purchase a firearm, 4 denials were improper, the result of administrative foul-ups:

"Denials based on administrative or other reasons accounted for 7,216 (38.9 percent) of the 18,570 handgun purchase denials... These 7,216 denials were based on a variety of reasons, but the large majority (97.2 percent) involved application forms sent to the wrong law enforcement agency." "Traffic offenses accounted for 1,413 (7.6 percent) of the 18,570 denials." "Misdemeanor warrants [not convictions] accounted for 452 (2.4 percent) of the 18,570 denials."

Filing a false statement on a firearm purchase form (the prospective buyer certifying that he is not barred from purchase) is a criminal offense. Yet the GAO report found that out of the apparently 7632 (41.1%) prospective buyers who had felony histories, " of July 1995, at least seven Brady-related cases were successfully prosecuted."

A prosecution rate of 0.09%. Actually punishing criminals is simply not on the agenda of the gun control extremists, who admit that punishment of criminals is not a priority. GAO: "In response to our inquiries... the Acting Assistant Attorney General... reinforced the view that the act was intended primarily to deter or prevent unauthorized individuals from obtaining handguns from federally licensed firearms dealers.

DOJ has noted that because prosecutions for false statements on handgun purchase applications are inefficient and ineffective in advancing this purpose, "the number of prosecutions is not a good measure of Brady's effectiveness or usefulness." Do officials think that the felon, denied a purchase at a licensed dealer, simply goes home and becomes a law abiding citizen?

GAO: "Opponents of Brady point to a 1991 survey of state prison inmates, which showed that 73% of those who had ever possessed a handgun did not purchase it from a gun dealer. Generally, opponents contend that it is a mistake to claim Brady prevents criminals from obtaining handguns since anyone denied a purchase from a licensed dealer can easily obtain a gun from another source and will almost certainly do so."

All this is deemed a resounding success by Bill Clinton and the other gun-control extremists. This certainly gives new meaning to the phrase "close enough for government work."

BRADY FOOTNOTE: With the Supreme Court holding that "The Brady Act's... provision... to conduct background unconstitutional", the media has been quoting a statistic that 84% of people believe that there should be restrictions on firearms purchases. Setting aside for the moment the pernicious implication that Constitutional rights should be determined by public opinion polls, why isn't the media equally forthright in quoting the 1996 Harris poll showing the same 84% also think government should regulate the content of news broadcasts, and more than half believing that journalists should be government licensed?

Their rights are sacred. And as limitless as their arrogance. The People's rights are expendable.

ACLU HOGWASH: The Clinton administration, the most anti-Second Amendment, anti-freedom administration in American history, fails to punish criminals yet continues to attempt further restrictions of the rights of law abiding citizens. Relying on the hogwash propagated by the ACLU, the blatant misinterpretation of the Second Amendment continues to gain popularity. The lie which the ACLU continues to spread is that the Second Amendment is a "collective" right belonging to the State, not an individual right; and that the word "militia" in the Second Amendment really means only the National Guard, military, and police forces.

The ACLU's fallacious argument was rejected by the Supreme Court in 1990: "Contrary to the suggestion of amici curiae [ACLU] that the Framers used this phrase 'simply to avoid [an] awkward rhetorical redundancy'...'the people' seems to have been a term of art employed in select parts of the Constitution. '... the people' protected by the Fourth Amendment, and by the First and Second Amendments, and to whom rights and powers are reserved in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, refers to a class of persons who are part of a national community...".

Does anyone seriously contend that the Freedom of speech, religion, assembly, to petition the government for redress of grievances, or to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures, really protects the State and does not apply to individuals? Neither does the same phrase "the People" in the Second Amendment refer only to the State, and not to individuals. "Can we forget for whom we are forming a government? Is it for men, or for the imaginary beings called States?" asked James Wilson, Pennsylvania delegate to the Constitutional Convention.But the ACLU has abandoned its traditional defense of individual liberties in other areas as well, prostituting itself into nothing more than the legal mouthpiece of big government liberalism and radical egalitarian socialism.

Anyone who troubles to read what the Founders wrote about the right to keep and bear arms will have no doubt about their intentions. The Second Amendment was not ratified to grant a few rights to states or the federal government -- the very idea is ludicrous: ratification of the Constitution almost failed until promises were given to enact a Bill of Rights specifically to further protect INDIVIDUAL rights -- it was ratified to allow people to protect themselves FROM THE STATE; and to allow them to protect themselves, their families, their homes, and their country:

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." - Thomas Jefferson.

" this country, every man is a militia-man..." - Thomas Paine.

"The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able may have a gun."-Patrick Henry.

"Here, every private person is authorized to arm himself...". - John Adams.

" preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them..." - Samuel Adams.

"...the advantage of being armed, which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation..."- James Madison.

"Little more can reasonably be aimed at with respect to the people at large than to have them properly armed and equiped..." -Alexander Hamilton.

"Are we at last brought to such an humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?" - George Mason.

Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story summed it up: "The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered a palladium of the Liberties of a Republic; since it offers a strong moral check against usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable people to resist and triumph over them."

In Federalist #29, Alexander Hamilton discussed militias and standing armies in detail. He argued against a formal standing army, recommending "... an excellent body of well trained militia ready to take the field whenever the defense of the State shall require it. This will not only lessen the call for military establishments, but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that 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."

If Hamilton expected the militia to be able to oppose the regular army, if necessary, with what would they be expected to fight, if not their own arms? Hamilton's entire exposition assumed that people would always possess their own weapons with which they could defend the People's liberties against any formal "military establishment" of the State which might turn tyrannical.

It is not possible to explore the history of the right to keep and bear arms, and the words of the Founders, and accept the ACLU's reasoning. The ACLU knows this, and therefore never cites any authority to support their position. Instead, they fall back on the lame excuse that "times have changed", the Constitution is "evolving". If the Constitution is no longer appropriate because "times have changed", then the way to alter it is through the amendment process, not by simply ignoring those clauses which some people don't like. The right to keep and bear arms, private property rights, [protection against] double jeopardy, search and siezure, and limited delegation of federal powers, have already been distorted beyond recognition by court decision and common usage. The result is a government which arrogates to itself the power to set its own limits, meaning that it has no limits; acquiesced in by people rendered ignorant of their rights by incompetent schools and elite "experts" who despise the concept of popular government.

[Washington warned of this:] "One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown." -- George Washington, in his "Farewell Address."

Given the propensity of mush headed judges to coddle criminals, the right to keep and bear arms is even more important today than it was 200 years ago: "The laws that forbid the carrying of arms ... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Can it be supposed that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity ... will respect the less important and arbitrary ones... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants, they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." -- Thomas Jefferson

The ACLU had a choice. Who best knows the true meaning of the words of the Second Amendment: The men who actually wrote, debated, and ratified those words 200 years ago; or some alleged "expert" 200 years after the fact? The ACLU has chosen the latter, totally ignoring the former. What the ACLU is trying (successfully) to foist on the public, with the willing complicity of the media, is nothing less than the Big Lie. And they know it.