Table of Contents:
"The right is general. It may be supposed from the phraseology of this provision that the right to keep and bear arms was only guaranteed to the militia; but this would be an interpretation not warranted by the intent. The militia, as has been explained elsewhere, consists of those persons who, under the laws, are liable to the performance of military duty, and are officered and enrolled for service when called upon.... [I]f the right were limited to those enrolled, the purpose of the guarantee might be defeated altogether by the action or the neglect to act of the government it was meant to hold in check. The meaning of the provision undoubtedly is, that the people, from whom the militia must be taken, shall have the right to keep and bear arms, and they need no permission or regulation of law for the purpose. But this enables the government to have a well regulated militia; for to bear arms implies something more than mere keeping; it implies the learning to handle and use them in a way that makes those who keep them ready for their efficient use; in other words, it implies the right to meet for voluntary discipline in arms, observing in so doing the laws of public order." [emphasis added]Whew! Powerful stuff. Not only does Chief Justice Cooley assail the major position of Handgun Control Inc. and most gun-control politicians, but he goes a step further. Cooley's comments blow a huge hole in the idea of licensing and registering of firearms when he says that the people need no permission or regulation of law for the purpose.-- Thomas M. Cooley (1824-1898),
Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court and author of the leading nineteenth-century works on constitutional law.
"In recent years, it has been suggested that the Second Amendment protects the "collective right" of states to maintain militias, while it does not protect the right of "the people" to keep and bear arms. If anyone entertained this notion in the period during which the Constitution and Bill of Rights were debated and ratified, it remains one of the most closely guarded secrets of the eighteenth-century, for no writing surviving from the period between 1787 and 1791 states such a thesis.
Stephen P. Halbrook, Lawyer, expert and commentator on Second Amendment issues, author of That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right(1984) [ Emphasis added]
The "militia" was not, as the gun lobby will often claim, simply another word for the populace at large. Indeed, membership in the 18th century militia was generally limited to able-bodied white males between the ages of 18 and 45 - hardly encompassing the entire population of the nation.Stop. Think. The year is 1775. Life expectancy was between 55 and 70 years of age on average (no antibiotics, poor medicine, poor diets, et al). Women did not yet have the right to vote believe it or not, and women were prohibited from military service. The population was predominately white European settlers and blacks were still slaves under the laws of England. So that 18-to-45 years includes the bulk of the population and excludes the very young and those considered "senior citizens". So what sizable group are we leaving out?
In the 20th century, the Second Amendment has become an anachronism, largely because of drastic changes in the militia it was designed to protect. We no longer have the citizen militia like that of the 18th century.Today's National Guard is what the framers of the Constitution referred to as a select militia. A select militia was a band of semi-professional, part-time volunteers, paid for their service and viewed by many as little better than a standing army. One must remember that the British used such select militias formed from Hessian mercenaries during the years prior to the forming of this country.
Today's equivalent of a "well-regulated" militia -- the National Guard -- has more limited membership than its early counterpart and depends on government-supplied, not privately owned, firearms. Gun control laws have no effect on the arming of today's militia, since those laws invariably do not apply to arms used in the context of military service and law enforcement. Therefore, they raise no serious Second Amendment issues.
"The militia, who are in fact the effective part of the people at large, will render many troops quite unnecessary. They will form a powerful check upon the regular troops, and will generally be sufficient to overawe them." [emphasis added]
Despite claims by the gun lobby that most gun laws are unnecessary and ineffectiveI will call your attention to their "factual" statement that federal laws like the Brady Law have proven to be successful and effective tools for keeping the wrong guns out of the wrong people's hands. That's a dandy statement. HCI says these laws are proven to be successful, yet they do not cite any proof or studies. But there is a study on the effectiveness of the Brady Law. Just as I was putting several pages together (including this one), a new study was published. Unfortunately for the gun-control advocates, it's dismal news.
at preventing gun violence, our gun laws do work. While Handgun Control recognizes
that gun control regulation is not a cure-all for all of our nation's youth and gun violence
problems, national, comprehensive gun laws -- such as the Brady Law and the federal
assault weapons ban -- have proven to be successful and effective tools for keeping the
wrong guns out of the wrong people's hands. Today, violent crime has fallen for six
straight years, thanks, in part, to strong gun laws that provided mandatory background
checks, banned the most dangerous types of assault weapons, and limited accessibility
to kids and criminals.
-- Handgun Control, Inc. Web site
Brady Law's Effect Is DiscountedOf course Handgun Control, Inc. and it's spin-off sister organization the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence claim the study is flawed on one hand - by not addressing interstate movement of firearms, yet also claim it proves gun crime is down (which they attribute to the Brady Law). Despite HCI's claim that the Brady Law is "proven", the only significant study on the subject says it has not had an impact on crime. Note: If the Brady Law was effective by some measure, you would expect to see gun crime drop much more than the same crime type where a gun was not used. Yet crime is down in most categories, with or without guns. Adjusting for the overall drop in crime and not finding measurable differences indicates that the Brady Law's effectiveness is minimal, if any.
By Guy Gugliotta
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 2, 2000; Page A01
A provocative new study published yesterday concludes that the 1994 Brady law restricting handgun purchases has had no effect on firearm homicide and suicide rates in states that previously had looser controls.
The study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association analyzed national homicide and suicide data between 1985 and 1997, dividing the states into two groups: 32 that adopted the Brady law's handgun purchase controls in 1994 and 19 (18 states plus the District) that already had Brady-style restrictions.
While the study confirmed a well-documented reduction in firearms deaths throughout the country beginning in 1994, the data showed no difference in the overall rate of decline between the two sets of states.
"Our analyses provide no evidence that implementation of the Brady Act was associated with a reduction in homicide rates," the study said. "We find no differences in homicide or firearm homicide rates to adult victims in the 32 . . . states directly subject to the Brady Act provisions compared with the remaining control states."
Homicide rates in the United States surged steadily, even precipitously, between 1985 and 1993, with the biggest spike coming in 1991. Researchers generally attribute the rise to the crack epidemic in the nation's inner cities and the gun violence that accompanied it.
The new study, one of the few to examine the effects of the Brady law, did not look at interstate gun trafficking or the effects of the so-called secondary market in gun sales between individuals, in which 34 percent of gun transactions take place.
Gun control advocates say examining those is critical to evaluating the effectiveness of the Brady law. Georgetown University public policy specialist Jens Ludwigs, who cowrote the study with Philip J. Cook, a crime researcher at Duke University, acknowledged that their data could not address such issues and agreed that more research needs to be done.
Ludwig noted that the study did find a sharp drop in gun suicides in the "Brady states" among adults 55 and older, which suggests "that Brady has saved lives by reducing suicides among older people." Ludwig said older people are perhaps less likely to buy guns on the secondary market and therefore most likely to be affected by the Brady law waiting period, giving them an opportunity to reconsider suicide.
But like Ludwig and Cook, Yale University researcher John Lott concluded in his book "More Guns, Less Crime" that the Brady law is not a factor in reducing gun crime: "In my research, the foremost effective things are arrest rates, conviction rates, prison sentences and the death penalty."