The Fight for Your Gun Rights

Posted: Aug 04, 2013 12:00 AM

You wouldn’t give up your life or property without a fight if a criminal assaulted you — not if you had any way to fight back.

Nor should you give up your right of self-defense when enemies of that right assault you — not when you have so much democratic armament at your disposal.

Foes of gun rights have long pretended that the Second Amendment’s explicit ban on infringing “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” pertains to something else altogether, maybe the right to reupholster furniture. But in 2008, a lawsuit financed and led by businessman-turned-lawyer and policy analyst Robert Levy resulted in a Supreme Court decision that affirmed the Second Amendment’s protection of our right to bear arms. The court recognized that the amendment “protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”

District of Columbia v. Heller was a major affirmation of the right to bear arms. But as Levy understood, the ruling was merely the “opening salvo in a series of litigations” to be fought over gun rights.

Within this context, politicians and others persist in seeking to infringe our gun rights . . . as if the best way to help potential victims of murderous assaults is to make of us easy prey.

The strategy? Maim our gun rights first, finish them off later.

This means that they are eager to get just as close as they can, today, to annulling the Second Amendment without doing so explicitly.

Americans grasp the strategy and are fighting back. Consider just two states in which the right of self-defense has been under assault, Washington and Colorado.

The battle in the Evergreen State has taken the form of two competing ballot measures. Because enemies of the Second Amendment have failed to win new gun-control laws from the legislature, they are turning to the initiative process. Their anti-gun-right measure, I-594, would require background checks for every kind of gun purchase, pretty much killing gun shows, for instance. On the opposing side, a coalition of pro-Second-Amendment organizations has been collecting signatures for pro-gun-right ballot initiative, I-591, also known as The Protect Our Gun Rights Act.

The Protect Our Gun Rights Act would require any background check “to be in line with a national uniform standard,” says Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation. Gottlieb contends that additional burdens sought by the anti-gun-right side would not only weaken self-defense rights right now but also serve as precedent for further assaults. I-591 therefore also would prohibit any confiscation of firearms without due process. Advocates of victim disarmament “are going with what they can try and get away with right now, but their ultimate goal is to confiscate firearms. We know that; that’s where the anti-gun-rights movement is. So we’re protecting against that.”

Petitioners must collect about 350,000 valid signatures to place the Protect Our Gun Rights question on the ballot.

The situation is worse in Colorado, where state lawmakers have already passed bills, signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper, to virtually nullify the Second Amendment in the Centennial State.

The new law outlaws magazines (compartments that store cartridges and feed them into a firearm) with a holding capacity greater than 15 rounds and bans smaller magazines that are expandable. In other words, a de facto ban on most magazines currently on the market. If you own a firearm with a higher-capacity magazine, that magazine is grandfathered in; you may keep it. But you may neither sell your weapon if it has that magazine nor even hand it with that magazine to someone else for even a few moments — for example, to an instructor at a firing range who needs to check your firearm for safety reasons. If the magazine wears out, you’re out of luck. It would be illegal to buy a replacement.

Obviously, if you’re in the middle of being shot at, you don’t want to spend precious seconds finding and injecting another clip. You may infinitely prefer a higher-capacity clip. And suppose you’re disabled: Coloradan Dylan Harrell, who uses a wheelchair, is unhappy indeed about any arbitrary limit on how many cartridges he could have in his firearm if his young family were under attack. “Having to reload is a big deal to me when I have to protect my family,” he tells the Greeley Tribune.

Colorado’s new law also makes private and online gun sales cumbersome or impossible by requiring background checks for every sale. Your friend will have to get a background check even if you loan your rifle to him for just a few days for a hunting expedition. If you buy a gun for a family farm that anyone there may use, a background check must be completed for all family members and farm hands; and you’ll have to pay $22 for each check.

The procedure is not trivial. It must be performed by a properly licensed firearms dealer, who may charge only ten dollars for his supervision of a process that is both time-consuming and risky. If the complex form he must submit contains a single error, he may lose his license and suffer other legal sanction. The time and risk may be worth it for the dealer when the background check is being conducted for a person who is also buying an expensive gun. Otherwise, probably not.

Coloradans have responded to the legislative onslaught with two major counter-offenses.

First, 55 sheriffs from around Colorado have joined forces with 21 other groups and individuals (including Harrell) in a lawsuit to block the new victim-disarmament laws. The attorney leading the charge is Independence Institute research director Dave Kopel, who expects a years-long judicial struggle but is optimistic.

Second, voters have acted to recall legislative malefactors. The big fish is Democratic Senate President John Morse. Petitioners collected some 16,200 signatures from Colorado Springs constituents angry about the assault on their gun rights and about the remorseless Morse’s contempt for their opinions on the matter. Although 7,173 signatures were needed to force a recall, the Colorado Secretary of State certified 10,137.

Morse will be first state lawmaker in Colorado history to face a recall election unless the pro-Morse group A Whole Lot of People for John Morse (“A-Wholes” for short) can find a legal trick to block it. The election is set for September 10. Joining Morse on a recall election ballot is fellow anti-gun-right Democratic State Senator Angela Giron, after the more than 13,000 recall petition signatures submitted against her were verified as legally sufficient.

All this energetic activism comes in the wake of the defeat of a full-bore victim-disarmament campaign in the U.S. Congress.

So, yes, they’re coming after your gun rights.     [further reading]