Not long ago when I expressed concern over misguided gun legislation, a friend and retired police officer declared, “No one’s taken away our guns!” Intimating our right to bear arms may be increasingly regulated but will never be taken away.
Unfortunately, his reassuring assertion may not hold up.
Your constitutional right to keep and bear arms is under attack from gun grabbing politicians from many angles.
Make no mistake, your individual right to possess a firearm is clearly on the ballot in 2020.
Some attacks are direct. Most gun owners don’t know how close they came to losing their guns back in 2007. That was the year the US Supreme Court decided DC v Heller. We were one justice’s vote away from losing our individual right to own firearms.
In that case, “Respondent Heller, a D. C. special policeman, applied to register a handgun he wished to keep at home, but the District refused.”
The DC licensing requirement prohibited keeping an unlicensed firearm in the home, and astoundingly, even licensed guns had to be either dissembled, made non-functional, or locked. That completely undermined their potential use for self-defense, even if no minors lived in the home!
The issue went to the US Supreme Court when a lower court held,
“…the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess firearms and that the city’s total ban on handguns, as well as its requirement that firearms in the home be kept nonfunctional even when necessary for self-defense, violated that right.”
Astonishingly, four of the nine US Supreme Court Justices disagreed with the lower court’s assertion of an individual right to own a firearm, writing in their dissenting opinion;
”Specifically, there is no indication that the Framers of the Amendment intended to enshrine the common-law right of self-defense in the Constitution.”
Thankfully, the albeit too narrowly decided 5-4 majority vehemently disagreed. It correctly held and declared the right to keep and bear arms is an INDIVIDUAL RIGHT, not a collective right of states to maintain a militia.
The late Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion,
“…what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.”
But that’s how close it came to being so declared and how close we got to losing our gun rights!
Another direct attack on that right was only recently narrowly defeated in the US Senate. Just weeks ago, the US Senate voted 53-46 not to join the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. The vote went strictly down party lines with all 53 republican senators voting against it, and all 44 democrat and 2 independent senators voting to join the international small arms treaty.
The two NY US Senators, Kirsten Gillibrand and Democrat Minority Leader Chuck Schumer led the charge to join the treaty and cede our sovereignty and 2nd amendment rights to the international body.
The UN Arms Trade Treaty Senators Gillibrand and Schumer and others supported stated as its purpose;
“Being determined to continue to take practical steps to prevent the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons, including in support of other ongoing efforts and processes,…”
In its eleventh agenda item (it);
“Calls for Member States to support weapons collection, disarmament, …as well as physical security and stockpile management programmes…”
On a side note, I remember when, then candidate for senate, Kirsten Gillibrand addressed the Greene County Federation of Sportsmen and was asked about gun rights at the county fair. She committed to defend the 2nd amendment as she said she grew up in a home with guns and hunters.
I know for a fact she persuaded some very conservative 2nd amendment voters to support her based on that assertion. When elected, Senator Gillibrand made an early, feeble attempt to fight against anti-gun legislation, only to be taken aside by party leaders and read the riot act. She was told to tow the party line. She then enthusiastically supported that, and every subsequent overzealous gun control measure that came before her.
So, don’t believe everything you hear a candidate say when they are seeking support in an election. Some however, tell you right out how they will ban guns.
Another way to essentially ban gun ownership is to make it so expensive that poor, working and middle-class citizens cannot afford to own a firearm for self-defense or any other lawful purpose.
On the “Biden/Harris for President” website, the ticket proposes to heavily tax what they call “Semi-Automatic Assault Weapons (SAWs). That includes rifles and shotguns with detachable magazines that simply have a feature like a pistol grip or a barrel shroud.
The website states they would, “Regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act.”
The National Firearms Act instituted in 1934, regulates and taxes machine guns and other firearms. The tax has been $200.00 per machine gun since 1934 but that could be increased drastically on the semi-automatic firearms they seek to include at the drop of a hat. That would be especially likely if democrats take control of the presidency, senate and the house.
The Biden/Harris website also boasts, “Biden will enact legislation to prohibit all online sales of firearms, ammunition, kits, and gun parts.”
He would also limit, “…the number of firearms an individual may purchase per month to one.”
Both local Democrat Congressmen Antonio Delgado of the 19th District, and Paul Tonko of the 20th District, are co-sponsors of HR 1296; a bill, similar to actions proposed by Biden/Harris that would ban semi-auto firearms they identify as “SAWS."
If you think banning guns or taxing them out of existence could only happen at the federal level, think again. NY politicians are currently trying to force gunowners to buy pricey automobile-style liability insurance for guns.
In last week’s column, both current NYS Democrat Senate candidate, Michelle Hinchey, and NYS Assembly candidate, Betsy Kraat, stated unequivocally if elected they will support requiring gunowners to buy liability insurance for their guns.
When asked this question;
” Will you support or oppose this or other similar legislation that would require gun owners to buy and maintain liability insurance for their firearms?”
Michelle Hinchey replied; “As someone who grew up with rifles in my house and a long family tradition of gun ownership for both hunting and sport, I believe, similarly with car ownership, we should also have gun insurance.”
When posed with the same question, Betsy Kraat responded: “Yes, I support liability insurance on firearms.”
The question asked is not hypothetical. This is real legislation, currently pending in both the NYS Senate and Assembly. NYS A2847 and its companion bill in the Senate will require ALL gun owners in NY to buy and maintain $250,000.00 of liability insurance.
Both local democrat candidates for the Senate and Assembly support making gun owners pay for liability insurance on their guns like they do with their cars and we all know how expensive that can get.
Their republican opponents emphatically stated they would not support the proposed legislation.
Guns sales are brisk for folks who never thought of owning a gun, and many are buying them for protection given soaring local crime rates with exponential increases in shootings.
Shootings are up in cities across the country, and not just in big cities like NYC.
CBS News reported on September 3, 2020
“The city saw a 166% increase in shooting incidents in August – 242 compared to 91 in August 2019, CBS New York reports. In addition, murders are up 47% for the month, with 53 this year versus 36 in August 2019.”
While that 166 % increase in shootings took place in NYC, small cities like Albany Schenectady, and Troy have experienced a devastating spike in shootings.
On July 11, 2020, the Albany Times Union reported;
“Albany joins other cities across NY seeing surge in gun violence, much of it caused by teenagers…Although a large number of Albany’s shootings this year — which are up nearly 400 percent from 2019 — have involved victims and suspects age 18 or older, there have also been dozens of violent crimes attributed to youthful offenders in the past two years.”
It seems those with limited means in NY may be priced out of the right to own a gun for protection or any other lawful purpose when they have to buy $250,000.00 in gun liability insurance.
It’s come down to this; gun owner’s only say in the matter is at the ballot box. Make your voice heard and consider the stance of candidates at the local, state, and federal level on bills that say they will “protect” you, while flat out forfeiting your individual constitutional right to keep and bear arms.