LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ‘Gun safety laws’ nothing more than gun control

After reading Mr. Pritchett’s letter of Dec. 2, 2015, “Second Amendment and ignoring common sense,” I feel compelled to respond.

First of all, the Supreme Court did not ignore the opening clause of the Second Amendment. If one reads the entire decision, instead of relying on liberal anti-gun advocates such as Michael Waldman, with whom Mr. Pritchett seems to be quite enamored, it is clear the court carefully considered the opening clause and concluded the “right of the people,” which is also mentioned in two other amendments, means an individual right. The framers were very careful in the use of the term and used it sparingly, in the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 10th amendments, to refer to “… all members of the political community.”

Secondly, Mr. Pritchett, I am totally aware of the Miller case that you refer to in support of your argument that the first clause of the Second Amendment refers to a collective right and not an individual right. The primary holding of the Miller case was that sawed-off shotguns are not protected under the Second Amendment and can be regulated by means of the National Firearms Act of 1934. The opinion actually reinforces my argument about the meaning of a well-regulated militia.

As I mentioned in my previous letter, “a well-regulated militia” does not mean a standing army. A “well-regulated militia” does not refer to the type of regulations we are familiar with today, as Mr. Pritchett would suggest. Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist Paper No. 29, indicated that a well-regulated militia is a state of preparedness obtained after rigorous and extensive training.

Justice McReynolds even mentions this concept in his opinion in Miller. “The Militia which the States were expected to maintain and train is set in contrast with Troops which they were forbidden to keep without the consent of Congress. The sentiment of the time strongly disfavored standing armies; the common view was that adequate defense of country and laws could be secured through the Militia — civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion.”

This quote, taken in conjunction with what Alexander Hamilton stated in the Federalist, actually reinforces the argument that the first clause of the amendment does not infringe on the individual right. Contrary to what you state, the case was a precedent only for determining what type of firearms were good for general use, not for treating the 2nd Amendment as a collective right.

Thirdly, Mr. Pritchett, it seems you conveniently chose to ignore the fact that two cases, that I mentioned in my earlier letter, directly addressed the issue of whether the 2nd Amendment talks about an individual right. Bliss v. Commonwealth in 1822 declared that similar language to that contained in the 2nd Amendment in Kentucky’s constitution referred to an individual right. The second case was Dred Scott v. Sandford in 1856. That was the first federal case to uphold the right to keep and bear arms as an individual right.

Mr. Pritchett goes on to paraphrase Michael Waldman when he states that “four times between 1876 and 1939, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule that the 2nd Amendment protected individual gun ownership outside the context of a militia.”

One could also conclude that in those four instances, the Supreme Court declined to rule that the 2nd Amendment referred to a collective right. Bear in mind that Michael Waldman is a fervent anti-gun advocate and in no way presents an unbiased viewpoint. In reading Mr. Waldman’s article, he seems to conclude that the NRA is totally responsible to the Supreme Court ruling in Heller. How about this conclusion: Heller was the first instance where the Supreme Court found it necessary to definitively rule that the 2nd Amendment defined an individual right, in order to reconcile the various disparate decisions around the country.

Lastly, Mr. Pritchett, contrary to your statement that the NRA holds the radical position opposing any law, no matter how mild or sensible, I offer this fact: Firearms are already the most heavily regulated consumer product in the United States; there are over 25,000 laws, rules and regulations governing the manufacture, sale and possession of firearms.

I would also point out that the NRA has been teaching, preaching and advocating firearm training, safety and proper use for over 100 years. The NRA provides the most training for law-enforcement officers anywhere in the country. The Eddie Eagle program has taught tens of thousands of children about firearm safety and what to do if they come upon a firearm.

One further point. When Mr. Pritchett uses the phrase “reasonable gun safety,” he is being disingenuous. His entire letter, with the exception of the last two sentences, is advocating for gun control. Only at the end does he switch tactics and refer to “gun safety.” The two terms are mutually exclusive.

All supporters of the Second Amendment, from myself to the NRA to the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association, are in favor of gun safety. Safety is preached and practiced in every aspect of the shooting sports. Personally, I find it an insult when pundits, from President Obama on down, begin to interchangeably use the phrase “gun safety” when they really mean “gun control.”

The term “gun safety laws” is nothing more than the liberal left attempting to disguise their true agenda, “gun control.” Mr. Pritchett, I challenge you to provide one of your “reasonable gun safety” laws that is nothing more than gun control in disguise.

Jeff Hague

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