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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Anti-Gun Culture

“A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.” — Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Cartwright — 1824

Suppose an armed robber came into your place of business and pointed a gun in your face. He then locked your assistant in the restroom while he held the gun at your head and ordered you to open the safe. As in many of these cases you knew he would probably kill you — this often times is the case. While you are fumbling with the safe your assistant, a young Air Force veteran, manages to get out of the restroom and race out to his truck where he grabs his Glock 40mm gun and runs back in the front door and orders the robber to freeze. The when thwarted with this armed force bolts out the door and the manager calls 911. When the police arrive they ask the Air Force vet why he didn’t kill the robber and he relied that once the threat was removed he was more concerned about his manager. The local sheriff praised this young man and called him a hero. What do you think the owner of the store did to reward this young hero? Did they give him a bonus or a raise — no they fired him for violating corporate policy of bringing a gun into the store. Did this really happen? Yes it did in York County, Virginia.

According to a report by Todd Starnes of Fox Radio an AutoZone worker who stopped an armed robbery by retrieving a weapon from his truck said he was fired by the company for violating their gun policy. Mr. Starnes reports:

“Devin McLean and his store manager were about to close the AutoZone in York County, Va. when a gunman barged into the store.

“He pulled a gun from his waist band and demanded me and my manager go back into the office,” McLean told Fox News.

At some point, McLean was left in a restroom while the gunman made the manager open the store safe. That’s when McLean, a 23-year-old Air Force veteran, bolted through a side door and ran to his truck.

He returned through the front door holding a Glock 40 – pointed directly at the masked robber.

“I told him to freeze and to drop his weapon,” McLean told Fox News.

Instead, the robber took off – last seen running down the street from the store.

“I watched him run down the street,” he said. “I came back inside and made sure my manager was okay and he called the police.”

The York County Sheriff’s Dept. believes the bandit is responsible for as many as 30 robberies across the region.

“One of the officers asked why I didn’t shoot the robber,” McLean said.

Sheriff J.D. Diggs told Fox News he considers McLean to be a hero.

“He did a very brave thing,” the sheriff said. “He put himself in jeopardy in an attempt to make sure his friend was safe. He did a very brave thing.”

The part-time worker’s manager was especially thankful and credited McLean with saving his life.

But two days after the robbery – and just a week before Thanksgiving – McLean was fired.

Television station WTKR reported that McLean violated corporate policy by leaving the store and returning with a weapon.

The station spoke to a representative from the company’s corporate office who said they had a “zero tolerance policy for employees having weapons inside the store.”

An AutoZone spokesman told Fox News they will not discuss the matter.

“It was a surprise to me,” McLean said. “I did the right thing. I saved the company $2,000. I saved one of their manager’s lives – and you’re letting me go? It was a slap in the face.”

McLean said the firing came at a difficult time. He’s about to be a first-time father.

“We’re having a little boy,” he said. “I remember when the guy came in with that gun. My initial thought was I want to make it home to my family. I want to have the opportunity to meet my son and for my son to meet his dad. And for someone to come in and shove a gun in your face?”

So why not just keep running? Why go back inside the store – and risk your own life?

“I regard them as my family,” McLean said of his co-workers. “You’re not going to leave your brother or sister behind.”

It’s a lesson he learned in the Air Force.

“Never leave a man behind,” he said. “I’m not going to leave my brother in a room with a guy with a gun – that’s threatening his life.”

In spite of losing his job, McLean said his actions would be the same if it happened again.

“I wouldn’t change anything,” he said.

The sheriff said he was disappointed to hear that McLean lost his job on account of stopping the robbery.

“That’s certainly unfortunate,” he said. “They should be doing something to reward that young man instead of firing him.”

Sheriff Diggs said AutoZone has also sent an unintended message to the community.

“The company has now sent a message to every would-be robber out there – ‘Hey we’re open for business and unarmed. Come on in and take our money,’” he said.

Meanwhile, the backlash against AutoZone is spreading. Cam Edwards, of NRA News, called AutoZone’s decision an “injustice.”

“It may have been corporate policy to fire Devin McLean, but it’s also an injustice. He came to the aid of a fellow employee threatened by an armed robber and was canned. They should have named him employee of the year.”

He said the nation needs more people like McLean.”

James Madison stated in Federalist No. 46:

“Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.”

The Second Amendment to the Constitution (Bill of Rights) states:

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

As simple as these word are, we have been arguing about what they mean for a long time. Part of the problem is that many people engaged in the argument do not interpret the 2nd Amendment with respect for its historical context, but rather in light of what they want it to mean in support of their purposes. If we want to be honest about it, we must look to the origins of the amendment to understand it in the context of the framing of the U.S. Constitution, and only then can we consider it in our present context. The issue is further complicated by the fact that an increasingly large proportion of the U.S. population has no experience in the use of arms; they see arms as irrelevant to their lives at best or a threat at worst. This is important because the 2nd Amendment is always susceptible and becomes vulnerable when too many think it is an archaic artifact.

Such language has created considerable debate regarding the Amendment's intended scope. On the one hand, some believe that the Amendment's phrase "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms" creates an individual constitutional right for citizens of the United States. Under this "individual right theory," the United States Constitution restricts legislative bodies from prohibiting firearm possession, or at the very least, the Amendment renders prohibitory and restrictive regulation presumptively unconstitutional. On the other hand, some scholars point to the prefatory language "a well regulated Militia" to argue that the Framers intended only to restrict Congress from legislating away a state's right to self-defense. Scholars have come to call this theory "the collective rights theory." A collective rights theory of the Second Amendment asserts that citizens do not have an individual right to possess guns and that local, state, and federal legislative bodies therefore possess the authority to regulate firearms without implicating a constitutional right.

In 1939 the U.S. Supreme Court considered the matter in United States v. Miller. 307 U.S. 174. The Court adopted a collective rights approach in this case, determining that Congress could regulate a sawed-off shotgun that had moved in interstate commerce under the National Firearms Act of 1934 because the evidence did not suggest that the shotgun "has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.” The Court then explained that the Framers included the Second Amendment to ensure the effectiveness of the military.

This precedent stood for nearly 70 years when in 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court revisited the issue in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller (07-290). The plaintiff in Heller challenged the constitutionality of the Washington D.C. handgun ban, a statute that had stood for 32 years. Many considered the statute the most stringent in the nation. In a 5-4 decision, the Court, meticulously detailing the history and tradition of the Second Amendment at the time of the Constitutional Convention, proclaimed that the Second Amendment established an individual right for U.S. citizens to possess firearms and struck down the D.C. handgun ban as violative of that right. The majority carved out Miller as an exception to the general rule that Americans may possess firearms, claiming that law-abiding citizens cannot use sawed-off shotguns for any law-abiding purchase. Similarly, the Court in its dicta found regulations of similar weaponry that cannot be used for law-abiding purchases as laws that would not implicate the Second Amendment. Further, the Court suggested that the United States Constitution would not disallow regulations prohibiting criminals and the mentally ill from firearm possession.

Thus, the Supreme Court has revitalized the Second Amendment. The Court continued to strengthen the Second Amendment through the 2010 decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago (08-1521). The plaintiff in McDonald challenged the constitutionally of the Chicago handgun ban, which prohibited handgun possession by almost all private citizens. In a 5-4 decisions, the Court, citing the intentions of the framers and ratifiers of the Fourteenth Amendment, held that the Second Amendment applies to the states through the incorporation doctrine. However, the Court did not have a majority on which clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the fundamental right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense. While Justice Alito and his supporters looked to the Due Process Clause, Justice Thomas in his concurrence stated that the Privileges and Immunities Clause should justify incorporation.

Bart Wilburn writes in American Thinker:

“The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was derived from our understanding of the British experience that militias were necessary to curb the tyrannical powers of the king. In our case, 'well regulated militias' were necessary as a condition of the colonies to agree to subordinate their sovereignty to a federal government. They wanted a guarantee of power to insure that some future federal government could not egregiously exceed its powers prescribed in the body of the constitution they agreed to. Furthermore, like the militias of the English barons, these state militias were formed ad hoc from the populace as needed on short notice and therefore depended on the populace being already proficient in the art of arms. The only way the Founders of America could guarantee this capability was to encourage civil proficiency in arms and make private ownership and use of arms a tenet of the constitution establishing the government. For these reasons, it should come as no surprise that the rights of freedom of speech and to 'keep and bear arms comprise the first and second amendments to the constitution establishing them as rights of citizenship. We should not consider this rationale archaic. Democracy is fragile and always susceptible to despotism, and we should not be so arrogant as to suppose we are not equally susceptible.

Limiting the power of the federal government to subjugate the populace is the primary purpose of the 2nd Amendment, and nothing in it restricts the use of arms consistent with maintaining proficiency consistent with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What we do with guns is the subject of existing criminal law, but having them is not. Arguments against the 2nd Amendment based on recreational use of arms and the futility of home defense are deflections. Under the 2nd Amendment, owning and using guns is not simply permitted, but is presumed; local, even federal, laws and regulations cannot lawfully infringe on it. The 2nd Amendment is always susceptible to tyrants, but is vulnerable if too many of us are ignorant of its purpose.”

As an update to the Court’s action regarding state’s violation of the Second Amendment it should be notes here that yesterday (December 11, 2012) a federal appeals court struck down Illinois' ban on carrying concealed weapons — the only total concealed-carry ban in the country. Fox News reported:

“The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals gave state lawmakers six months to come up with their own version of the law that legalizes concealed carry.

"We're extremely pleased with the ruling," Illinois State Rifle Association leader Richard Pearson said. "Now that the court has ruled we will work as soon as possible with legislators to craft a concealed-carry bill for the state of Illinois."

The 2-1 decision marks a huge win for gun rights advocates who have argued that the ban on concealed weapons violates the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment and what they see as citizens' right to carry guns for self-defense.

A new law could be in place by January, Pearson said. A bill has already been written by Rep. Brandon Phelps that includes background checks, field provisions and other issues.

"Christmas came early for law-abiding gun owners," said Phelps, whose proposed legislation came within three votes of passing in 2011.

"I said on the floor, `A lot of people who voted against this, one of these days, you're going to wish you did, because of all the limitations and the safety precautions we put in this bill, because one of these days, the court's going to rule and you're not going to like the ruling.' Today's the day. The court's pretty much said there's no restrictions," he said.

Judge Richard Posner wrote in the court's majority opinion that the state "had to provide us with more than merely a rational basis for believing that its uniquely sweeping ban is justified by an increase in public safety. It has failed to meet this burden."

According to a 2005 Gallup Poll shows that 3 in 10 Americans personally own a gun; most gun owners say they use their guns to protect themselves against crime, for hunting, and for target shooting. Gun ownership varies by different groups in the country, with men more likely to be gun owners than women, Southerners and Midwesterners more likely than Easterners or Westerners, Republicans more so than Democrats, and older rather than younger Americans. In the past five years gun ownership has skyrocketed with more gun sales to women than men. Today it is estimated that there are 100 million legal owned guns in the United States.

Every time there is a widely reported shooting at a public place or involving a celebrity the anti-gun lobby gets on its high horse and begins attacking the people who own guns and the Second Amendment. I am sure there will be a flood of anti-gun rhetoric pouring out from the liberal progressive media and their fellow travelers after this latest shooting at the Clackamas, Oregon Town Center Mall where a gunman, who witnesses say, was wearing camouflage and a white plastic mask opened fire in the shopping mall near Portland, Ore., killing two and wounding one other before killing himself.

We don’t, and may never know, why this whack job decided to do what he is accused of doing, but I am sure in days to come there will be more news about this shooting than the case of Jill Khawam Kelley who was the hand-picked lobbyist for Muslim nations and their agenda at Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Florida. (Kelley is part of the soap opera that the Petraeus scandal spawned).

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