NRA Explore

Standing Guard June 2007

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA Executive Vice President

“The Right To Ban Arms”

hat March 14, 2007, New York Times headline trumpeted an editorial excoriating the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for declaring Washington D.C.’s 31-year-old ban on handguns in the home as unconstitutional under the Second Amendment.

The Times ranted that the decision “would imperil needed gun controls in place … .” But if the ruling imperils anything it is the tyranny such laws impose.

In writing for the majority in the 58-page ruling in Parker v. District of Columbia, Senior Judge Laurence H. Silberman was unambiguous: “We conclude that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms.

“In determining whether the Second Amendment’s guarantee is an individual one, or some sort of collective right, the most important word is the one the drafters chose to describe the holders of the right--‘the people.’ That term is found in the First, Second, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments.

Guns in the homes of law-abiding Americans is the issue here. Nothing more. And nothing less.

“It has never been doubted that these provisions were designed to protect the interests of individuals against government intrusion, interference or usurpation.” (Emphasis added.)

Juxtapose that with the Times’ assertion about the government’s “Right to Ban Arms.” How about a government “right” to close down newspapers? A government “right” to deny the vote because of race? What about denying rights for those practicing religion? All of those actions were taken by oppressive government and were stopped when protections of the people were ratified by the U.S. Constitution and applied. But the enemies of freedom do not care about that.

In its brief filed in support of the D.C. gun/self-defense ban, the Brady Campaign’s lawyers cited a pre-American Revolution royal edict as an example of precedence for gun control: “In the mid-eighteenth century, for example, Maryland prohibited the ownership of guns by Catholics … .” (Emphasis added.)

Yet that was the very reason the American colonists fought and died to throw off the yoke of the English Crown.

Reacting to the Parker decision, the Brady Campaign screeched that the ruling was “depriving D.C. citizens of a strict handgun law enacted thirty years ago.”

The truth is that D.C. residents--good, honest, hard-working families and individ-uals--were deprived of their right to be safe in their homes.

The Times got one thing right: The law the court struck down barred “residents from keeping handguns in their homes.” (Emphasis added.)

This law was never about armed predators. It was about criminalizing any prudent preparations for protecting one’s family and home. D.C.’s law punished the innocent and encouraged armed assault, rape and murder. It created thousands of victims. Since the ban, D.C. has consistently led the nation in criminal violence.

The Court of Appeals also nullified D.C.’s self-defense prohibition that made keeping any long gun functional and in the proximity of ammunition a criminal act. Unfortunately, the court left the city’s registration law unscathed. In truth, registration as “crime control” is a fraud. It cannot be applied to criminals--only to the law-abiding.

Haynes v. U.S., the seminal January 1968 Supreme Court opinion on crime and firearm registration, ruled: “We hold that a proper claim of the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination provides a full defense to prosecutions either for failure to register a firearm … or for possession of an unregistered firearm … .”

So the District’s draconian registration law only applied to those citizens who could lawfully own guns prior to 1976. When the D.C. City Council enacted the ban, a Washington Star headline said it all: “gun law upheld, but no searches yet.” Matter of factly, the Star spoke about house-to-house searches and sweeps by police, using firearm registration lists as a start for confiscation.

D.C. is a shameful example of that insanity on our shores. It is even more insane in light of what is happening in the rest of the nation. The same day I read the “Right to ban guns” headline in the Times, another headline stood in bold counterpoint. It said, “New Orleans Residents Arming Themselves.”

Katrina. New Orleans. For American gun owners, those words conjure the nightmare of government agents disarming residents, then utterly failing to protect them and leaving good people to the mercy of predatory criminal violence.

Americans are not stupid. They will not willingly become the victims The New York Times would like them to be. Instead, in huge numbers, they are affirming the right of armed self-defense--a right inherent in their overwhelming support of the Second Amendment. This is a time when legislatures across the nation--by wide margins--are enacting “no-retreat” laws, “Castle Doctrine laws,” and 48 states now affirm Right-to-Carry.

Perhaps soon our hard-fought efforts to secure a fair judiciary--one that interprets the Bill of Rights as it was intended by the Founders--will bear the fruit of true liberty.



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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.