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Gun Ownership
Are We Fit to be Free?

by Phil Brennan
Wednesday on the Web - Dec. 19, 2001

It happened again. Some poor guy caught in a love triangle he couldn't handle went berserk and shot a number of co-workers before killing himself.

These things are happening more and more frequently, the list of victims continues to grow, and much of the blame for the deaths and woundings can be laid squarely at the doors of the nation's rabid anti-gun zealots.

If that sounds harsh keep in mind the fact that in every single instance of mass shootings, the victims were all defenseless, largely because anti-gun laws and irrational anti-gun sentiments kept victims and bystanders from having weapons that could have been used to stop the killers in their tracks.

That could have been true at Columbine high school where had just one teacher had a concealed handgun kept to protect his students, the killing spree could have been ended and the list of victims sharply diminished.

In every single case, by the time police arrived on the scene the damage had been done, dramatically underscoring the fact that Americans cannot rely on the police to protect them in such circumstances. As a result, laws banning or prohibitively restricting citizen gun ownership are putting   Americans at the mercy of murderous crackpots and felons.

Had pilots  on the three hijacked planes on Black Tuesday been armed there is every chance that the twin towers at the World Trade center would still be standing, the Pentagon would be intact, and thousands of innocent victims would still be among us, alive to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones. That they aren't is largely the fault of the fascististic anti-gun fanatics who have used dishonest statistics and outright lies to cast firearms, and not those who criminally use them, to create a national distaste for  firearms.

A February 2000 study  by acclaimed researchers  John R. Lott, Jr. and William M. Landes  concludes "that the only policy factor to influence multiple victim public shootings is the passage of concealed handgun laws." In the study it is conclusively shown  that such crime deterrents as more police and wider use of the death penalty  tend to curb "normal" instances of murder. However they do   nothing to prevent such school shooting tragedies as have occurred in a number of the nation's public schools since 1997.

To support their insistence that the availability of guns in or near public schools prevented more death and injury,  Lott and Landes cited a number of examples, including the following:

  • In the Pearl, Miss., shooting, an assistant principal retrieved his gun from his office and used it to physically immobilize the shooter before he caused additional harm.
  • In Edinboro, Penn., which left one teacher dead, "a shotgun pointed at the offender while he was reloading his gun prevented additional harm. The police did not arrive for another ten minutes" after the assailant was apprehended by school staff.
According to Lott, far and away the best informed scholar on the subject, "in the U.S., the states with the highest gun ownership rates have by far the lowest violent crime rates. And similarly, over time, states with the largest increases in gun ownership have experienced the biggest drops in violent crime.

"Research by Jeff Miron at Boston University, examining homicide rates across 44 countries, found that countries with the strictest gun control laws also tended to have the highest homicide rates," Lott wrote. News reports in Britain showed how crimes with guns have risen 40% since handguns were banned in 1997. Police are extremely important in stopping crime, but almost always arrive on the scene after the crime occurs... Passive behavior is much more likely to result in serious injury or death than using a gun to defend oneself. The only serious research on this issue has been conducted in the United States.

"The National Crime Victimization Report, done by the U.S. Department of Justice, indicates consistently that women who behave passively are 2.5 times more likely to be seriously injured than women who defend themselves with a gun. It is the physically weakest people (women and the elderly) who benefit the most from having a gun. Criminals, overwhelmingly young males, like to attack the targets that will give them the least trouble. A gun represents a great equalizer. Defensive gun uses are almost completely ignored by the media, but Americans use guns defensively about two million times a year, five times more often than guns are used to commit crimes."

Lott takes aim at the media, pointing the finger of blame for the disinformation that abounds about gun ownership directly at those who report the news.

"No one would ever learn this by simply watching the news. In part this disregard by the media might arise because an innocent person's murder is more newsworthy than when a victim brandishes a gun and an attacker runs away with no crime committed.

"Unlike the crimes that are avoided, bad events provide emotionally gripping pictures. But covering only the bad events creates the impression that guns only cost lives. Even the rare local media coverage of defensive gun use in the seldom involves more than very brief stories. News worthiness also dictates that these stories are not the typical examples of self-defense, but the rare instances where the attacker is shot. In fact, in up to 98% of the cases, simply brandishing a gun is sufficient to stop a crime.

"Fewer than one out of 1,000 defensive gun uses results in the attacker's death. World-wide we hear about crimes like the public-school shootings, as we should, but we never even hear locally about the many more lives saved. Since the well-known public shootings started in the fall of 1997, 32 students and four teachers have been killed in any type of shooting at elementary or secondary schools, an annual rate of one death per four million students. This includes deaths from gang fights, robberies, accidents, as well as attacks such as the one at Columbine.

"But some sense of proportion is needed. During that same period, 53 students died playing high school football."

Shall we ban high school football?

Noting that he analyzed the FBI's crime statistics for all U.S. counties by year from 1977 to 1996 as well as extensive cross-county information on accidental gun deaths and suicides he explained that his study examined states that adopted so-called "objective" or shall-issue concealed handgun laws. Thirty-one states, he wrote,  "now have shall-issue laws, while another 12 permit citizens to carry guns if they can demonstrate a need to public officials. "

The findings of the study, he said,  were dramatic. The more people obtain permits over time, the more violent crime rates decline. For each additional year that these laws are in effect, murders declined.

"Giving law-abiding adults the right to carry concealed handguns had a dramatic impact. Thirty-one states now provide such a right under law. When states passed right-to-carry laws, the number of multiple-victim public shootings plummeted below one-fifth, with an even greater decline in deaths. To the extent attacks still occur in states after enactment of these laws, such shootings tend to occur in those areas in which concealed handguns are forbidden. The drop in attacks in states adopting right-to-carry laws has been offset by increases in states without these laws.

He cites the following incidents where citizen gun ownership proved decisive.

Clearwater, Fla.: At 1:05 a.m., a man started banging on a patio door, briefly left to beat on the family's truck, but returned and tore open the patio door. At that point, after numerous shouts not to break into the home, a 16-year-old boy fired a single rifle shot, wounding the attacker.

Columbia, S.C.: As two gas station employees left work just after midnight, two men attempted to rob them. The sheriff told a local television station: "Two men came out of the bushes, one of the men had a shovel handle that had been broken off and began to beat [the male employee] . . . about the head, neck and then the arms." The male employee broke away long enough to draw a handgun from his pocket and wound his attacker, who later died. The second suspect, turned in by relatives, faces armed robbery and possible murder charges. 

Detroit: A mentally disturbed man yelled that the president was going to have him killed and started firing at people in passing cars. A man at the scene, who had a permit to carry a concealed handgun, fired shots that forced the attacker to stop shooting and run away. The attacker barricaded himself in an empty apartment, fired at police and ultimately committed suicide.

West Palm Beach, Fla.: After being beaten during a robbery at his home just two days earlier, a homeowner began carrying a handgun in his pocket. When another robber attacked him, the homeowner shot and wounded his assailant.

Grand Junction, Colo.: On his way home from work, a contractor picked up three young hitchhikers. He fixed them a steak dinner at his house and was preparing to offer them jobs. Two of the men grabbed his kitchen knives and started stabbing him in the back, head and hands. The attackers stopped only when he told them that he could give them money. Instead of money, the contractor grabbed a pistol and shot one of the attackers. The contractor said, "If I'd had a trigger lock, I'd be dead."

Columbia Falls, Mont.: An ex-boyfriend is accused of entering a woman's home and sexually assaulting her. She got away long enough to get her handgun and hold her attacker at gunpoint until police arrived.

Salt Lake City: Two robbers began firing their guns as soon as they entered a pawn shop. The owner and his son returned fire. One of the robbers was shot in the arm; both later were arrested. The shop owner's statement said it all: "If we did not have our guns, we would have had several people dead here."

Baton Rouge, La.: At 5:45 a.m., a crack addict kicked in the back door of a house and went in. The attacker was fatally shot as he charged toward the homeowner.  What advice would gun control advocates have given these victims? Should they have behaved passively? Unfortunately, by making it difficult for law-abiding people to get the most effective tool to defend themselves, gun control often puts victims' lives in jeopardy.

On the other side of the coin, gun control has proved deadly, as is the case in England where, under the Firearms Act of 1997, all handguns and most rifles were outlawed and confiscated.

Wrote Richard Poe in his best-selling book The Seven Myths of Gun Control:

"What happened next is something most Americans know nothing about because the press has not reported it in this country. A terrifying crime wave swept England. Stripped of the ability to defend themselves, Britons were  left helpless against criminal attacks.And the criminals knew it. Their attacks grew bolder, as well as more frequent."

To prove how true is the old adage "If guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns," Poe reports that "Between April and September 2000, street crime in London rose 32 percent over the same period in 1999."

Aside from keeping such vital information from their fellow Americans, the mainstream U.S. media has shamefully promoted anti-gun propaganda and lies. Take for example Professor Michael Bellsesiles' book in which the author claims that the idea of a well-armed America in revolutionary times and afterward was a myth.

As News Max reported at the time "Frenzied anti-self-defense zealots hailed his book as proof that colonial Americans owned few guns and that the idea of a nation of well-armed citizens was a myth, and he won a prestigious award for his rooting out the truth about guns in early America. But new research indicates that in many instances historian Michael A. Bellesiles simply twisted the facts to fit his own agenda.

"In a blockbuster expose published in the Boston Globe, much of Bellesiles' book ''Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture'' was called into question.

"According to Bellesiles he examined more than 11,000 probate records of more than 1,200 counties, counting the number of guns listed in probate inventories. He wrote that he learned that between 1765 and 1821, no more than 17 percent of the inventories listed guns. He claimed that the rate of gun ownership was even lower in the 1760-1795 period - a mere 14 percent, he said. "[O]ver half of these guns were listed as broken ... "

According to a December 9 story in the New York Times "Emory University professor Michael Bellesiles, whose book "Arming America: The Origins of the National Gun Culture" caused a sensation with Second Amendment foes last year with its claims that gun ownership in the U.S. was "an invented tradition," may have perpetrated what the Times described as "one of the worst academic scandals in years."

According to the Times, scholars who  examined  Bellesiles' data were unable to  substantiate his claim that 11,000-plus probate records from 40 counties in colonial America showed that fewer than 7 percent actually owned working guns. Those scholars who tried to  corroborate the book's  sensational findings were stunned by "an astonishing number of serious errors," the Times reported. "almost all of them intended to support [Bellesiles'] thesis."

"In some cases his numbers were off by a factor of two or three or more,"  Randolph Roth, a history professor at Ohio State University told the Times.

"The number and scope of the errors in Bellesiles' work are extraordinary," Roth told the Times, saying they include misinterpretation of militia returns, literary documents and data from many other sources."

The academics who studied Bellesiles' contentions found that his book was filled with blatant misrepresentations.

For example, Bellesiles told one critic that he'd managed to obtain detailed probate records from the 1850s from the San Francisco Superior Court. But the courthouse said all probate data from that decade had been destroyed in the great earthquake of 1906.

"[The San Francisco records] were not available in two other Bay area libraries, either," the Times said. "Mr. Bellesiles now says he must have done the research somewhere else and cannot remember where."

"Arming America" won Columbia University's prestigious Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy. Before the book's rampant errors were discovered, legal scholars had said Bellesiles' work could impact on several court challenges to Second Amendment protections.

Despite this obvious fraud, the U.S media has failed to apologize for initially giving the book such wide publicity and praise.

Finally, the gun control nuts and their socialist allies in the media have sought to distort the meaning of the Second Amendment's provisions which guarantee the right of the citizens to bear arms even though the intent of those who wrote the Bill of Rights is crystal clear.

Wrote Patrick Henry, for example, "The great object is that every man be armed ..."

Then  there was  Richard Henry Lee, who said, "To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."

In his book, Richard Poe  cited a speech in the House during the debates concerning adoption of the bill of rights that sets out the clear meaning of the Second Amendment:

"As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must occasionally be raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms."

Poe explores the history of the militia concept, showing how it applied, for example, in the case of the Minute Men, armed citizens who formed the backbone of the colonial forces who won our liberty. After the American Revolution it was understood that the militia - specifically consisting of men between the ages of 16 and 60 as mentioned above - constituted the force that would prevent the new government from becoming a tyranny.

Said Noah Webster, "The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword because the body of the people are armed ..."

During the debates about the adoption of the Bill of Rights delegate members of the Anti-Federalist forces demanded that the 10 amendments include one that would guarantee the right, as Patrick Henry put it, "that every man be armed ..."

The result was the Second Amendment, and its meaning was as clear as a bell - that all Americans have the right to keep and bear arms. All Americans!

We live in dangerous times. The threats we face are more numerous than merely those posed by al Qaeda and other terrorists groups. We live in a society where hordes of conscienceless criminals are armed. Not a single gun control measure has changed that fact. Their effects have been to restrict gun ownership by honest Americans. In short, these laws have allowed the outlaws to have guns while depriving honest Americans of their Second Amendment rights of self defense.

Sure, there are dangers inherent in widespread gun ownership. Accidents will happen. Some people will do stupid things with their guns. Some people are simply unfit to own weapons.

There are dangers inherent in widespread ownership of automobiles. Accidents will happen. Some people will do stupid things behind the wheels of their cars. Some people are unfit to own cars.

Let's ban autos - after all they kill tens of thousands of Americans every year - far more than are killed in firearms accidents.

Citizens gun ownership is a feature of a free society. We are either fit to be free or we aren't.


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