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Guns and Freedom
    The text of the Second Amendment reads: "A well-regulated militia being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." One simple sentence with no big words and no really difficult concepts, but oh what a storm of controversy, and what a polarization of people it has produced. This is one of the most hard fought and emotional issues of the day. Only the abortion, and the race issues can generate such an intensity of feelings. As a result, the 27 words in the above statement have been picked apart, analyzed, defined and redefined, compared, recombined, and interpreted in every conceivable way. The results of all of these explorations has been that both sides disagree more strongly than ever about the meaning of the Second Amendment, and the desirability of private gun ownership in this country.
    There are several different levels at which individual ownership of firearms may be examined. The first would the issue of whether we have the right, legally to posses, own, and even use a gun, and what legal authority federal and local governments have over this right. The second would be the issue of whether, outside of whatever legal rights there might be, we have a reason or a need to own a gun, and what practical steps might be taken by authorities regarding this. The third would be, exclusive of need, what possible harm private gun ownership might do, and what steps might be taken to minimize it. Combining the second and third issues, brings up the question of whether the good done by firearms outweighs the possible harm, and whether the benefits of outlawing their ownership would be worth giving up the benefits provided by them. Adding the first issue to this, one could ask whether the government has the legal authority to ban or restrict them, once the decision has been made to do so. My personal bias should be plain to anyone who has seen the rest of this sight, but I will try to be as fair as possible. I certainly do not propose that guns carry with them no element of evil or harm, though like most tools, they only reflect the motivations of the user, and the circumstances under which they are employed.

That pesky Second Amendment
    The second amendment, quoted above, would seem to make gun restrictions unconstitutional, but there are some questions about the phrasing and about some of the definitions which have cast some doubt upon this interpretation. The main arguments center around the reference to the militia. There are some who argue that the reference to the militia narrows the scope of the Second Amendment to the Army, or at most, to the National Guard. Diligent mining of the phrasing has brought forth a bounty of meanings, and a number attempts to read the minds of the framers of the constitution. No such effort is required, as the authors themselves explained quite clearly what their intentions were in The Federalist Papers. Those unfamiliar with this work, and interested in the foundation of this nation's government should know that this is a detailed examination of the meanings, workings and intentions of the Constitution, written by the Constitution's authors. Springing right from the source, it is a shame that this book is not more widely read, as it would put an end to much of the legal haggling over the meanings of laws and the spirit under which this country was founded. On closer thought, perhaps this is the reason it is not more widely read. Before citing quotes from The Federalist Papers, and other early works by the framers of our government, I would like to make a few comments of my own upon the wording of the Second Amendment, and upon some well known attitudes of the founding fathers. Though the need for a militia is cited, it is clearly stated that it is the right of the people, not of the militia, to keep and bear arms. It is also interesting to note that the right is to "keep and bear arms", rather than the right to have arms issued in time of need. The final part of the statement clearly illustrates the all inclusive nature of the amendment when it directs that this right "shall not be infringed". You do not need to have a right completely taken from you in order to have it infringed upon. An infringement is any interference or obfuscation. Those that are in disagreement with me on this are directed to consult the nearest dictionary. Certainly, liberal lawyers and judges, when defining, and discovering all kinds of new rights, use the broadest possible definition of this word. It seems as if even a thought or consideration of restricting the first or fifth amendments, under which so much of liberalism has shielded itself, is considered an infringement. It should also be noted that there is no mention of this right being granted by the Constitution. This is because it is considered to be a natural right which predates the Constitution, and is merely reaffirmed by it. The Second Amendment does not grant this right, as it is a right that free citizens are assumed to naturally have; it merely promises that the government will not infringe upon it. One other consideration which should be addressed, is the well known fear of the founding fathers in regards to a large standing army. Does it seem logical that, feeling as they did, they would draft an amendment in support of providing arms for just such an army? In point of fact, no amendment is necessary for a nation to form and arm a body of citizens for it's defense, but one might seem very necessary to prevent a large government from disarming it's population as a first step towards a tighter control of them. The mention of the militia in the Second Amendment does bear witness to the fact the arms to be kept should be military arms. This is a clear illustration of the inappropriateness of the assault rifle bans, and of much legislation directed at banning guns because they are considered to have little sporting purpose. The Second Amendment was not made for the protection of sport shooting any more than it was made for the protection of the army. Now for the proof: 
Quotes from the framers of the Constitution
Little more can reasonably be aimed at with the respect to the people at large than to have them properly armed and equipped
                                       -Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Papers, No. 29
No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms.
                                      -Thomas Jefferson: Draft Virginia Constitution, 1776.
[The Constitution preserves] the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other
          nation...(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.
                                     -James Madison
"[T]he supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while, on the other hand,
     arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve
     order in the world as well as property. The same balance would be preserved were all
     the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare
     not lay them aside. ...Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the
     use of them; ...the weak will become a prey to the strong."
                                -Thoughts On Defensive War, (1775) in 1 Writings of Thomas Paine
"This will not only lessen the call for military establishments, but if circumstances should
     at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can
     never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens,
     little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to
     defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only
     substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against
     it, if it should exist."
                          -Alexander Hamilton,Federalist Papers, Article 29 January 10, 1788
"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that
     jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up
     that force, you are ruined."
                        -Patrick Henry During Virginia's ratification convention, (1788)
"Are we at last brought to such a humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot
     be trusted with arms for our own defense? Where is the difference between having our
     arms in our own possession and under our own direction, and having them under the
     management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in
     whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our
     own hands?"
                      -Patrick Henry During Virginia's ratification convention, (1788)
False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or
     trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water
     because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils, except destruction. The laws
     that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm those only who
     are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Can it be supposed that those
     who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, the most important
     of the code, will respect the less important and arbitrary ones, which can be violated
     with ease and impunity, and which, if strictly obeyed, would put an end to personal
     liberty -- so dear to men, so dear to the enlightened legislator -- and subject innocent
     persons to all the vexations that the quality alone ought to suffer? Such laws make things
     worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than
     to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence
     than an armed man. They ought to be designated as laws not preventive but fearful of
     crimes, produced by the tumultuous impression of a few isolated facts, and not by
     thoughtful consideration of the inconveniences and advantages of a universal decree."
                        -Thomas Jefferson Quoting 18th Century criminologist Cesare Beccaria in On Crimes and Punishment (1764)
"And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to
     time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms... The tree of
     liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is
     its natural manure."
                         -Thomas Jefferson Letter to William S. Smith, January 30, 1787

Relevance of the founders today
    The preceding string of quotes from those who actually wrote the Constitution, show pretty clearly that the intent was to have the population as a whole arm themselves for their own defense and for that of the nation. These were to be arms suitable for military use, and were for carry as well as home defense. It is also interesting to note that, besides foreign enemies, they also saw a great threat to liberty from those running the domestic government. I could have filled pages full of similar quotes in the same spirit, and the reader is directed to The Federalist Papers, and to other writings by the founders of this nation and writers of the Constitution. Having proven (or so I hope) that the epidemic of poorly thought out, restrictive gun laws are unconstitutional, it remains to be shown that this has any relevance. The Constitution was drafted in a world quite different than the one we live in, or so some would tell us. Certainly, times change, and governments must be flexible enough to change with them, while remaining stable enough to provide the order and security needed for true freedom to exist. There are two factors to consider in this. The first is, as mentioned, whether or not this is the same country as that of two hundred years ago. The second is whether, whatever changes might have occurred, the Bill of Rights, Constitution, and other historical documents are simply historical documents, or living functioning parts of our nation. We might also want to consider whether we should be subject to laws made hundreds of years ago by men long dead, and if the original intent of these laws should be ignored in the name of pragmatism.
    As a conservative, and a gun enthusiast, I support a literal reading of the Constitution. Personal bias aside, though, we arbitrarily interpret laws at our peril. Certainly, as individuals, we are not allowed to interpret the meanings, and applications of laws. There is a word for a citizen who decides independently whether, and how laws are to be obeyed --- criminal. There are some pro-gun people who ignore many of the nation's gun laws, citing the protection of the Second Amendment, and labeling these laws as unconstitutional, and illegal. They may be correct in their interpretation of the validity of the laws, but they are wrong in taking it upon themselves to disobey them. In this regard they are no better than those whom they oppose, in that both sides have taken it upon themselves to disregard components of the law which they deem to be unacceptable. The correct approach for the anti-gunners, would be to attempt repeal of the Second Amendment, something which they clearly will not be able to do. The pro-gunners should attempt to fight these unconstitutional measures through the courts, and through the  election of men of character and sincerity into positions of power. The whole point of having representative government, with a constitutional framework over it, is to prevent individuals in office from taking on tyrannical or dictatorial powers, and ignoring the law of the land if it interferes with their own personal wishes, desires or beliefs. It is not proper to ignore the law. It is proper and acceptable to change it according to need, and mechanisms exist to do this, but the whole foundation of government crumbles if those who are entrusted with it's care do not work within it's limitations. A mechanism is in place to remove the Second Amendment, or any of the others, from the constitution. I certainly hope that this never happens, but it would at least be legal. What is not legal, and not proper, is to ignore, or strike down these amendments in the name of some perceived advantage.
    Representative government is set in place to moderate the public will. In turn, at least in this country, constitutional government, as outlined in our Constitution, is set in place to moderate our representatives. It is a very frustrating, cumbersome way to manage a government, and thank God for that. Without this moderating force, this nation would quickly become a shambles or a dictatorship, perhaps both. It seems to many that this is happening anyway, but think of how quickly and completely it would have happened under the direct rule of the mob, or the direct unshackled rule of the representatives of the mob. With no moderating forces applied to the public, the public soon becomes the mob, and the mob soon brings about anarchy. Far from being a state of freedom, the loosening of restraints ending up in anarchy permits no freedom of any kind, as all of life becomes a constant struggle for self preservation. Without the framework of a constitution to work within, representatives, legal officials, judges, even bureaucrats become the law incarnate. The first state, anarchy, was the situation in the dark ages after the fall of Rome, and the freedom from it's government; it is not remembered fondly in history. The second, feudal rule, and rule by monarchy, though a bit more stable was only marginally more secure. The line between the two extremes of total rule, and total lack of rule is the one which a well moderated representative government seeks to tread. The best guaranty of this, at least in the minds of the founding fathers, is a representative government where as much power and independence is vested in the citizenry as possible. This would mean the vote, secure private property, free enterprise, and the freedom and independence of a force of arms welling up from within the general citizenry itself. The spreads the power of the state throughout that citizenry which comprises it, and serves as a protection to the public, and assures the support and popularity of the government. This idea of all power rising up through the general population, and of a government deriving it's powers from the governed, is a precious thing. This same idea is an abhorrent thing to those who would grasp for power, who would set themselves as an elite, or who seek to dominate their fellows for the sake of their own gain. To these people, private firearms ownership by the general population, whom they consider to be beneath themselves and subject to their will, is a very threatening thing.

Relevance of gun ownership today
    Assuming that we have decided to ignore the wishes of the founders of this country, along with the idea of Constitutional law, and the freedom of the states to legislate for themselves, should we ban guns? If we were to remake the nation tomorrow, would it be a good idea to pass something like the Second Amendment? Have we become an irresponsible citizenry, not to be trusted with firearms? Have we become a kind, gentle, and perfect society in which there is no need for firearms? If there is no need for a Second Amendment, then how have we changed, and when did this happen? Questions, questions, and no objective answers for them, at least not any that can be accepted by both sides of the issue. Those who would ban gun ownership generally present it as a safety and crime issue. They propose that guns have become so dangerous, and most people so criminal or stupid, that it is no longer safe to allow the public to own them. Interestingly, the pro-gun argument also cites safety and crime as reasons to continue and extend the right to own and carry firearms. In this case it is claimed that some people have become so criminal or stupid that the rest of us need firearms as a means of protection against them. The fascinating thing about this issue is the way that both sides can use and present the same facts in support of their views.
    Liberal policies in general seem to be formed out of the opinion that the public at large can not look after itself, make important decisions on it's own, or in general be trusted with their own well being. As a natural extension of this set of beliefs, there should be no personal firearms ownership. Outside of the possible harm that could be done by the weapons themselves, there is a disturbing attitude of independence, even self direction which is at odds with the socialistic viewpoint most of the opponents of gun ownership hold. It is obvious that the only way to reduce violent crime is to pass strict gun laws which will disarm as many people as possible. There are a number of accidents every year which could be prevented by keeping guns away from children, and limiting their ownership among adults who are unfamiliar with them. It should be obvious that not every one should be allowed to own a gun, and that only certain people should be allowed who can prove need, and competence.
    Conservative policies tend to arise from the belief that the government should not look after us, make important decisions for us outside of the national interest, or in general, be trusted with our well being. As a natural extension of this set of beliefs, there must be personal firearms ownership. Besides the obvious security of the weapons themselves, there is an upbuilding attitude of independence, and self assuredness which fits in well with the spirit of democracy upon which this country was founded. It is obvious that the only way to reduce violent crime is to promote responsible gun ownership, allowing law abiding citizens to arm themselves as a deterrent to criminals. There are a number of accidents every year which could be prevented by familiarizing children with guns, and educating them in their proper handling. It is obvious that not everyone should be allowed to own a gun, and that certain people who have shown themselves  to be a danger should have their firearms rights curtailed.
    As can be seen by the preceding two paragraphs, facts do not really enter into this argument to the extent that opinion, attitude, and personal preference do. Both paragraphs address the same problems, implied by the same sets of facts, but the approach and conclusions are quite different. It is not so much the problems, or the need to solve them that sets these two groups at odds with each other, rather it is the means of their solution. Assuming that both sides have valid solutions, it is a matter of what should be sacrificed, and what responsibilities need to be taken on to implement these solutions. There is also the possibility that one side or the other may be wrong, and that implementing their ideas will not solve these problems at all. There is increasing statistical evidence that there is only a casual linkage between guns and violent crime. It seems that, though guns are a preferred tool for violent crime, they do not motivate it. On the other hand guns, in the hands of law abiding citizens, are a great deterrent to crime, and a great comfort to those who own them.
    There are essentially three major non-sporting uses for firearms: the commission of crimes, self defense, and suicide. War can be considered as either self defense or the commission of a crime, depending on your attitude toward the warring country. Hunting, target shooting, and other sporting uses of forearms do not really enter into any of these arguments, and certainly have no bearing on the Constitutional issues. There is also the matter of the dangerous nature of firearms, and of the prospect for accidental shootings. Each year about five hundred children under the age of five accidentally drown in residential swimming pools, compared to about forty killed in gun accidents, despite the fact that there are only about five million households with swimming pools, compared to at least 43 million with guns. Thus, based on owning households, the risk of a fatal accident among small children is over one hundred times higher for swimming pools than for guns. I see no million mother march to restrict swimming pools, nor do I see a politically driven coalition to ban them. Fatal gun accidents declined by almost sixty percent from 1975 to 1995, even though the number of guns per capita increased by almost forty percent. Fatal gun accidents involving children (aged 0-14) have fallen dramatically, from 495 in 1975, to under 250 in 1995. These decreases in accidental shootings may be related to the increase in gun ownership. As more people familiarize themselves with firearms, the instances of careless gun handling, and the resultant injuries, would be expected to decrease.
    In 1992, 55 killings occurred in America's schools. In 1997 it was down to 25. By contrast, 88 people were killed by lightning in 1997. Recent studies estimate that gunplay at school kills 20 to 30 youths a year, though there is no evidence the toll is higher today than in the past. By contrast that 2,000-3,000 children and youths are murdered each year by parents or caretakers, a toll that clearly is rising. Annual surveys... report that weapons-related violence in schools is no higher today than in the 1970s. But the rate of children being murdered by their parents, other than those being murdered in abortion,  doubled during that time. The school shootings by students over the last eight months killed 11 youths and six adults. That is fewer kids than are murdered by parents , and fewer adults than are killed by partners, in just two days of household violence in the United States.
    The use of firearms as a deterrent to crime has been estimated to occur anywhere from 800,000 to 3,000,000 times a year. Most people knowledgeable on the subject, put the amount at about 2,000,000 times a year. The low numbers tend to come form government studies, and should be considered to be much lower than the true number. The reason for this is quite simple. Most people are unwilling to tell a government officer with a badge and an official I.D. that they have threatened the life of another human being with a gun, whatever the circumstances of the encounter may have been. It should be noted that guns are an excellent deterrent to crime, as in virtually every instance, criminal activity was prevented by the threat of firearms. In stark contrast to this, may be seen the marginal deterrent effect of the police and of the legal system. It should also be noted that in the states where new legislation has been enacted to allow carry permits to be issued, crime has dropped, and has dropped faster than the national average. This is particularly noticeable in Florida, where the crime rate was actually rising, before the concealed carry law went into effect. It is also interesting to note that 33% of robbery victims are injured, but that this number drops to 17% in the case of victims who are armed. The number injured during instances of assault is 30%, which drops to 12% if the victim is armed. Wright and Rossi, after compiling statistics from prison interviews, reported that 34% of the felons said they personally had been "scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim"; 69% said that they knew at least one other criminal who had also; 34% said that when thinking about committing a crime they either "often" or "regularly" worried that they "[m]ight get shot at by the victim"; and 57% agreed with the statement, "Most criminals are more worried about meeting an armed victim than they are about running into the police."
    The most feared, and brazen crimes are the ones most likely to be deterred by large scale gun ownership. Concerning "hot" burglaries, in which a burglary is committed while the occupants are at home, the statistics are telling. Britain and the Netherlands have a "hot" burglary rate near 45% versus just under 13% for the U.S., and in the U.S. a victim is threatened or attacked only 30% of the time during a "hot" burglary. This should come as no surprise considering the attitude expressed by criminals regarding the possibility of encountering armed citizens. It is unlikely that a criminal would attack an armed citizen, and that measure of doubt offers those of us who do not carry or own a firearm, just that much more security. An old saying tells us that "An armed society is a polite society." Criminal activities are, to put it mildly, impolite, and violent crime could be thought of as down right rude. There were 13,790 firearm homicides in 1995, including police shootings, and justifiable homicides. Many of the non police, or justifiable shootings were drug related. Compare these numbers  to the millions of times, guns have defended their owners, and prevented injury or death, and you must ask, how many normal people do we want to put at risk to save the lives of drug dealers and criminals? Much higher numbers are given by the press, because they include suicides in these calculations, though what effect suicide has on violent crime, I am sure I don't know. Those who consider the banning of guns as a solution to violent crime should note that murder and violence are not exactly something new on the horizon of human events. There have been murders, wars, and violent crime since the time men were hitting each other over the head with sticks.
Banning Assault Weapons
    Though I am, in general, against restrictive gun legislation, there are certain types of assault weapons that I think should be banned, or at least greatly restricted. I suspect that anyone with any sense would agree with me once made aware of the statistics. There is an entire class of weapons which I think are far too dangerous, and have too little practical usefulness to justify their continued presence, even in a free nation such as ours. Before listing the weapons by name, or giving my suggestions for their removal from our streets, and from the homes in which they are kept, I wish to present the argument. If you could prevent between 75%, to 88% of all murders, and an uncountable number of other violent crimes, would you do it? If so, what sacrifices would you be willing to make, or ask others to make to accomplish this? This is far greater than the number of homicides claimed to be prevented by the Brady Bill, the assault rifle ban, and all of the licensing proposals combined. Unlike most anti crime measures, it would virtually guaranty that these crimes would never occur, even if other types of weapons were still available. This ban would affect far fewer people than the current, and proposed bans do, and it would not turn law abiding citizens into criminals, nor would it violate their Second, and Fifth Amendment rights as most of the gun laws now on the books do. There would be little effect on the economy, and it would not interfere with a citizen's right to self defense. This would not be a total ban on all weapons, and so, those who wish to be armed would still present a deterrent to criminals. This ban would also be very unlikely to act as a base for expansion into more pervasive, restrictive, or arbitrary weapons bans. This would seem to be the ideal weapons ban. It would reduce crime greatly, without really endangering or infringing upon the rights of the majority of citizens. This would not effect me, or most other people directly, and would not apply to a single one of the many weapons that I own. So what kind of gun is this; can you guess? It is not a gun at all. It is a ban of the criminal who would use a gun. A new law would not even have to be made. The present laws would merely have to be enforced.
    Overall, 75% of murderers, and the vast majority of violent criminals, have previous, adult criminal records. Murderers average a prior adult criminal career of six years, including four major adult felony arrests. Studies also found that when the murder occurred "[a]bout 11% of murder arrestees were  actually on pre-trial release"--that is, they were awaiting trial for another offense. The fact that only 75% of murderers have adult crime records should not be misunderstood as implying that the remaining 25% of murderers are non-criminals. The reason over half of those 25% of murderers don't have adult records is that they are juveniles. Thus, by definition they cannot have an adult criminal record. So there you have it, 88 percent of all of the murders, and a majority of violent crime will simply never happen if we put these people where they belong, and keep them there. These are not statistics taken from some pro gun group, but are FBI crime statistics. An estimated 67,898 of the 108,580 prisoners who were released in 1983 were rearrested and charged with 326,746 new offenses by year end 1986. More than 50,000 of the new charges were violent offenses, including 2,282 homicides. This is roughly twenty percent of all murders committed, and this was from the men released in a single year. This also only reflects the men who were caught. It should also be noted that for every murder these men commit, they commit over twenty other, violent crimes. Those released after serving time for murder or non negligent manslaughter were nearly 5 times more likely than other prisoners to be rearrested for homicide.  There is presently a 10 year penalty for a felon found in possession of a firearm. This penalty, directed at convicted felons, is rarely imposed by an administration which, at the same time, continually proposes new firearms laws directed at law abiding citizens.
In Conclusion
    I hope that this essay has provoked some thought, and maybe even changed a mind or two. I have attempted to demonstrate that there is no logical, legal, or security reason for the government to decide for us, the suitability of personal firearms ownership. On the other hand, I hope that I have demonstrated a number of reasons for the continued support of personal firearms ownership. I do not pretend to know the motivation behind the organized, and well financed anti gun effort now being thrust upon the nation. There have been a number of theories put forth by pro gunners as to what is fueling this. Some make sense; others sound down right crazy. I believe that, at least at the grass roots level, much of this is well intentioned. In other cases this could be a reflection of the need for power and control over other people's lives, which often colors the motivations of many who enter into government.  It could also be an indication of the contempt and distrust which some may feel for the electorate. There are many bad people, and many good people in the upper echelon of our government, but there are few stupid people residing there. The facts, for those who care to examine them, show that there are no real safety or crime prevention elements directly related to forearms ownership, as objective consideration of these facts will show. Subjective considerations are another matter. Some people simply do not care for firearms, and they have a right to feel that way. I do not feel that their right to an opinion on this subject outweighs my right to look after my own security.
    There are other considerations though. It may be that a disarmed people is a more easily managed people. This sounds like paranoia, but how can anyone look at the picture of the submachingun toting officer in Florida, threatening a frightened child and the man holding him, without having this thought come to mind? When considering criminals, and threats to our individual security, it should be remembered that not all criminals are out on the streets, in the inner city, or breaking into our homes at night. Many hold public office, or work for government agencies. The man who authorized the use of military level force against an unarmed family looking after a small child, occupies the White House. This same man has committed two documented, provable, felonies while in office, and has been implicated in a number of others before, and after taking the oath. Though personal firearms are useful in protecting ourselves from street criminals, it is the criminal in public office that the Second Amendment was designed to protect us against. It may be just a coincidence that so many of this type of criminal seek to outlaw or restrict the private ownership of firearms.