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Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Second Amendment – Not Just For Hunters

by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, Warren, PA, Dec. 22, 2007.)
Hunters are only a fraction of the complete set of people
who benefit from the right to bear arms.
A mistaken assumption is floating around America -- that the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States relates to hunting.

The Second Amendment says nothing about hunting.

Of course, hunters are huge beneficiaries of the right to keep and bear arms. Without the Second Amendment, widespread hunting would not be possible. But hunters are only a fraction of the complete set of people who benefit -- the entire United States population.

Gun grabbers tell hunters not to worry about gun regulations. “We’ll leave hunting guns alone,” they say. “We only want reasonable restrictions on handguns and military style weapons -- the kinds of guns most commonly used in crimes.” Don’t believe it.

The fact is that the weapons the gun grabbers want to outlaw are functionally identical to the ones millions of hunters use, along with countless other weapons people use to resist crime. For example, when laws against sinister-looking semi-automatics are proposed, the description of those guns includes the guns that the majority of bird hunters and trap shooters use, and guns that law-abiding people use for self-defense.

That’s because semi-automatic firearms, whether rifles, handguns, or shotguns, all use excess gas from burning gunpowder to cycle the gun’s action. The pressure of the gas ejects a spent cartridge and positions a new round ready to fire at the next pull of the trigger. It doesn’t matter whether one gun has an ugly black synthetic stock and another has beautifully figured walnut.

Don’t be confused that outlawing such guns is the same as prohibiting them. Outlaw them and you’ll get citizens who want to obey the law to relinquish them, but you will not prohibit people with criminal intent from acquiring them and using them. And they’re more likely to use them against unarmed innocents.

That was amply illustrated two weeks ago when a man, bent on mass killing, entered a Colorado Christian mission organization that he had a beef with and killed two innocent people. He then drove to a church in a neighboring town and entered the church with weapon drawn, backed up by as many as 1000 rounds of ammunition.

Fortunately, unlike schools, post offices, hospitals, many office buildings and other commercial establishments, that church was not declared a gun-free zone. And fortunately, someone was there who carried a handgun for self-defense. A responsible gun owner named Jeanne Assam courageously fired her personal weapon and ended the carnage after just two people were killed.

Had bad laws prevented Jeanne Assam from carrying her weapon, many more would undoubtedly have died. Instead, the killer’s life was ended before he could accomplish all he had set out to do.

Back in 1991 a bad law did enable a gunman to murder 23 people at Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas. The killer crashed his truck through the window of the restaurant where 80 patrons were enjoying lunch. In addition to the 23 he executed, he wounded at least 20 more before being cornered and committing suicide.

One of the patrons of the restaurant was Suzanne Gratia Hupp, a citizen gun owner who was prohibited by law from carrying her gun inside. Both her parents were among the dead. Had she, or anyone else, been legally permitted to carry a weapon, 80 law-abiding citizens eating a peaceful meal at Luby’s would have been much safer. Instead, Luby’s didn’t turn out to be gun-free at all -- it turned out to be a victim disarmament zone.

Until the massacre of 32 people earlier this year at Virginia Tech University (another victim disarmament zone), the Luby’s incident was the deadliest mass shooting by a lone criminal gunman in United States history.

The lesson of Luby’s, Virginia Tech and the Colorado church should be obvious. As long as criminals believe that good people are not likely to be armed, those people are not safe. We need fewer victim disarmament zones, and more responsible citizens like Jeanne Assam who are willing to stand between criminals and their targets.

Gun free zones are a failed policy. Luby’s Cafeteria, Columbine, Virginia Tech and a long list of places became sites of horrendous tragedy because killers could be confident that no one would fight back.

It’s time Americans learn that the Second Amendment is not just for hunters. It’s for all of us.


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