Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Gun rights should know no borders

From the 31 May 2010 Lockport Union Sun and Journal (Lockport, NY)

By Bob Confer

Last year the U.S. Senate voted to defeat a promising gun rights provision. Introduced by Senator John Thune, it would have granted national reciprocity for concealed-carry permits, requiring all states that allow concealed firearms to honor those permits of other states. A majority of the senators — 58 in total — voted in favor of the amendment. Another 39 did not and the bill saw defeat as this tally put the measure 2 votes short of the 60 required for passage by Senate rules.

The 39 "no" votes got a lot of help from an organization called the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, which, prior to the vote, claimed, "…(recognizing concealed-carry permits) would threaten the safety of our police officers, by making it far more difficult for them to separate law-abiding gun owners from common criminals."

That statement, in one form or another, is a misguided talking point commonly used by gun-control advocates. They fail to see that it recognizes only a distinct minority of our population (the police) who are granted special privilege to carry guns while the average citizen cannot. That selectivity begs the question: why should their safety be any more important than that of every one of us; shouldn’t the average citizen also be empowered to deal with the common criminal in issues of self-defense? Unfortunately, in many states, we are not. Taking away our guns has, ironically, granted a special privilege to lawbreakers as well. The predators have the distinct advantage of being armed while their prey is not.

Granting pistol-permit reciprocity could easily be deemed a necessity because, unfortunately, evil can be found everywhere in our country, and we are a very mobile people who, not of our own deliberate doing, have the potential to find ourselves in some unpleasant situations during our travels for business or pleasure. Typically, the vacationer, the truck driver, and the businessman are all unfamiliar with the far-flung cities to which they travel. One wrong turn or innocent stroll into a crime-ridden locale could easily put them into harm’s way. Under such circumstances, Thune’s amendment would have given these travelers much-needed peace of mind while enhancing their ability to exercise their natural right to self-defense.

Our Founding Fathers, even back in the 1700s, knew that tempering of this right could occur, so they added the Bill of Rights to the Constitution, ensuring that the loss of certain rights would never occur. Among them was the Second Amendment, which says: "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Some of the senators who voted against the Thune’s concept said it broke another amendment, the Tenth, which noted that powers not delegated to the United States belong to the states themselves. It was quite the turning of tables, because those who evoked the Tenth Amendment in this case are typically the officials who defy it through the unabated expansion of the federal government.

While mentioning the Tenth Amendment, the anti-gun crowd failed to look further into the Constitution. In application, the Fourteenth Amendment has required that the states recognize the Bill of Rights within their realm of governance, meaning that the Thune Amendment would have had legs because it negates the overbearing rule of any state that has a concealed-carry permitting process because such a process infringes on one’s Second Amendment rights.

Despite the Fourteenth Amendment's passage in 1868, the Second Amendment has yet to be incorporated into the Fourteenth because the Supreme Court has declined to hear any cases that would do so. The Thune Amendment’s passage would have finally forced the court’s hand in this matter and, based on past rulings, the right to carry would have to be recognized as a universal right.

Unfortunately, it never got far enough to be tested. But, what happened with the vote does give those who believe in the right to protect themselves and their families some hope for the future. A bill that was so close to fruition (2 votes short) deserves another look next year after the House and Senate are cleaned out this November. That said, gun rights activists need to keep national reciprocity on their radar and push hard for its passage. Only then will we be able to claim the right to freely — and safely — move about the United States of America.