This is a letter I have written addressing Governor Gary Herbert.
I recently read your "first shots" in the battle over gun control and Utah's gun legislation. To say I was disappointed in its compromising tone is an understatement. There cannot be any compromise on the Constitution . . . something is either Constitutional or it isn't, if it isn't then it is not lawful and should be nullified by both the people and the states. These are your five key points void of your expansions on each point, the comments are mine.
1. "Respect the Second Amendment" - Respect for not just the Second Amendment but all of the Constitution is the obligation of all Americans. All current firearm control statutes diminish our fundamental right to bear arms and disrespect the Second since they have been instituted outside of the Constitution. The Second Amendment guarantees us the right to keep and bear arms and places no restrictions or conditions on that right and specifically and clearly states that the right "shall not be infringed". All current and proposed firearms control statutes infringe on this right. The Constitution allows for only one way to change anything in it and that is through Article V, the amendment process. If, with the passage of time, limitations or conditions need to be placed on this most basic right they cannot be legitimately introduced through legislation, from the bench, nor through "executive order" since the authorities for modification of the Constitution are not enumerated to the legislative, judicial, or executive branches by Articles I, II, or III which enumerate the powers of these branches.
2. "Find rational solutions" - Finding rational solutions is an important consideration Mr. Governor, but it is the Federal Administration and its left-wing, liberal anti-gun attack squads that are acting without careful consideration and in a reactionary mannerÂ marked by a hatred and contempt for the Constitution in proposing extreme measures designed to not only politicize and polarize the debate but also to inflame those who support the Second Amendment. Additionally, we do not need to find solutions that protect Second Amendment rights, they are built into the Constitution in Article V which provides the only lawful means to change or add any amendment.
3. "Enforce existing laws" - As you know, Mr. Governor, laws do not stop any anti-social behaviours, they only provide penalties for violating acceptable social standards which when violated are deemed criminal. It is an indisputable fact that it is only the law abiding that obey laws, those with malevolent criminal intentions do not. The view that new, more restrictive gun laws will somehow cause criminals to be deflected from committing criminal acts is not just naÃ¯ve but verges on criminal malfeasance when that view is held by elected officials.
If stringent gun laws actually reduced violence then Chicago and New York City with among the, if not the most, stringent gun laws would be the safest cities in America . . . they are not!
As you've said, preventing firearms access for violent criminals and the violent, or potentially violent, mentally ill is necessary to protect society. I would pose that there must be some rational relationship between public safety and such restrictions. There is absolutely no rational relationship between someone who is convicted of a non-violent felony, for example tax evasion, and the probability that such a felon will commit a violent act in the future nor is there any rational relationship between someone who suffers from a benign mental disorder such as obsessive compulsive disorder, for example, and the probability that the sufferer, due to this relatively benign mental condition, will commit a violent act with a firearm in the future. When establishing restrictions specificity must be used to protect the rights of individuals rather than painting members of a class with a broad brush for the purpose of political expediency.
4. "Protect the vulnerable" - As you've stated, protection of the vulnerable is an imperative but to quote Cesare Beccaria "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed one." The events that have spurred these most recent attacks on the Second Amendment played out in "gun free" zones, areas where the attackers could be relatively assured that their targets would be unarmed and unable to defend themselves. These events are proofs of Beccaria's admonition. Increased gun control will serve to make the vulnerable more vulnerable not less.
5. "Address a growing culture of violence" - As much as the liberal-left, anti-gun/anti-Second Amendment movement would like to convince Americans differently, the truth is that violence in American Society has actually declined, not increased over the past quarter century. Between 1991 and 2011, the lastest years I could find data for, the violent crime rate decreased 51 percent to a 41-year low (including a 51 percent decrease in the murder rate, to a 48-year low). The original "Assault Rifle" BanÂ was signed into law in 1994 and expired in 2004, in other words the decline in violence began 3 years before the ban was enacted and has continue for the 7 years (now 9 years) after the ban expired.
Mr. Governor, there is a growing divide in this nation based not on race, religion, or even class but between those that support the Constitution and those that would have us abandon it with the Second Amendment being the current skirmish. In Utah the Utah Sheriffs Association as well as a majority of law enforcement, the Utah Legislature as well as our Federal Representatives and, I believe, the majority of Utahans are standing on the side of the Constitution. I ask you most respectfully to stand with the Constitution and the people you serve and sign HB114, the Protection of The Second Amendment Act, and any other legislation supporting the Constitution when they appear on your desk even if they inflame those that favour abandonment of the Constitution.