Lessons of the Fourteenth Amendment - Heller, McDonald and Halbrook
Part 2

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Halbrook closes his book by stating that although “firearms ownership, even by peaceable citizens, is controversial today, it was far more controversial during Reconstruction.  Trusting ex-slaves to own firearms was, by any definition, the cutting edge or true belief in civil rights.  It remains to be seen whether contemporary society will accommodate the same rights of the freedmen sought to be guaranteed by the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment.” (page 196) Although written in 1998, this closing remark remains prophetic given the ongoing actions of primarily white governments to keep a primarily black citizenry disarmed in Washington D.C., Chicago and many other American cities.

Reflecting on current views on  the Second Amendment, Halbrook writes “ Judicial reluctance to consider seriously whether the Fourteenth Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms from state infringement perhaps reflects a tendency to view the Second Amendment, with its apparent guarantee of gun ownership, as embarrassing and politically incorrect. (8) Under the twentieth-century ‘State’s rights’ view, ‘the people’ have no right to bear arms, but the states have a collective right to have the National Guard. (9) However, the weight of serious scholarship supports the historical intent of the Second Amendment to protect individual rights and to deter governmental tyranny. (10) From the Federalist Papers (11) to explanations when the Bill of Rights was introduced, (12) is it clear that the purpose of the Second Amendment was to protect individual rights.” (page viii)

Otis Mcdonald So viewing recent events through our historical context of the Second Amendment, there are some striking problems with the public discussion of the District of Columbia V. Heller and the McDonald V. Chicago cases.   First is the misrepresentation that the Supreme Court expanded gun rights – they did not.  The Court merely confirmed the innate rights of liberty including the right of self defense as documented in the Constitution.

Secondly, in response to loosing in Supreme Court, Chicago did not rise to support their citizen’s Second Amendment rights.  Rather, echoing post Civil War Southern states, Chicago passed an Ordinance to meet the minimum requirements of the Court’s decision in support of private gun ownership while remaining intentionally and excessively restrictive and limiting.  In their defense of their gun bans, the Chicago Ordinance includes the following citations:

In 2009, in the City there were 1,815 aggravated batteries with a firearm, of which 83 were shootings inside a residence, and there were 379 murders with a firearm, of which 34 were murders involving a firearm inside a home…
…Although the State of Illinois has already enacted several laws to regulate the sale and possession of firearms, these laws are not sufficient to protect the City from the unique and heightened risk of firearm violence…
…As a consequence of the United States Supreme Court decisions in Heller and McDonald, it is anticipated that gun ownership in many communities, including large urban areas, will increase. To ensure public safety and the welfare of a community, it is essential that local law enforcement agencies be made aware of any gun brought into their jurisdictions….

Note how Chicago documents criminal activity, which is the failure of the Chicago government and police to stop the crime and protect its citizens, but takes no blame for its own failure.  Chicago also fails to address obvious questions.  If 1,815 aggravated batteries were committed with guns at the same time that private ownership was so severely restricted, then where did all those guns come from?  How many assaults were committed using legal registered gun owners?  How many crimes would have been avoided if the citizens were allowed to arm themselves?

Clearly, by their own data Chicago has documented that gun bans do not work.  Criminals do not get gun permits and criminals like unarmed targets.  Chicago’s response is not to remove restrictions allowing good citizens to defend themselves.  Nor does Chicago seek to improve their governance or hire more police.  Instead, the Chicago government condemns the very people it has failed to serve and protect and further their suffering by limiting access to guns to the greatest extent possible.

Selectively using biased statistics and blaming the victim are common ploys as discussed in Richard Poe’s Seven Myths of Gun Control . The tour de force on the gun control statistics is John Lott’s More Guns, Less Crime .  Lott, an economist and statistician, painstakingly presents the data to support the title of his book and expose many of the statistical manipulations made by those who seek ever stronger gun control and gun bans.  One of the better known cases is the dramatic drop in violent crimes and rape following Florida’s concealed carry law.  A short hand version of such data and easy to share electronic documents can also be found at .

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