English for Congress Position Paper  (January 2020)



The second amendment discussion about the right of individuals to purchase and possess firearms has become polarized between those whom want almost complete elimination of the individual’s right to purchase and possess firearms, especially those with rapid fire multi-round capability, and others whom demand almost no regulation of firearm possession.  What is missing is the appreciation of the historical background of firearm ownership and use from the beginning of European settlement of the continent. The fact is that patriot ownership and use of superior firearms such as Pennsylvania and Kentucky rifles was crucial to the success of the violent birth of our nation.  The need for longer range and precise targeting was essential for survival in frontier areas as they were being settled during the Westward expansion of our nation. 

The Brown Bess smooth bore muskets of the British redcoats were totally inadequate for hunting and personal defense when threatened by animals or others because they could not strike targets accurately more than 25 yards away.  A demonstration of the accuracy and lethality of the Americans’ rifled barrel weapons in London’s Hyde Park by captured frontiersmen, which resulted in the destruction of jug the size of a man’s head at 100 yards distance, awed an observer from a London newspaper.  He advised his readers that those of the King’s gentlemen wishing to serve in America should first make final settlement of their affairs before taking ship.

The other reality is that gun ownership is a cultural rite of passage for young men as they mature into adults, especially those living in rural areas or within the Southern and Western states.  At age sixteen, I received a 22 caliber repeating rifle for my birthday that I was able to use for target practice in an extensive wooded area near my home in Virginia.  There is also the reality that many home owners want to be able to defend their homes from intruders and protect their families from harm.  The fact that many homes are likely to have residents able to defend themselves is a strong deterrent to criminal intrusions. For many years, Washington. D. C. had an ordinance prohibiting all gun ownership until it was overturned by a court decision about fifteen years ago. The strongest proponent of that law was the late columnist, Carl Rowan, whom repeatedly railed against gun ownership until he was exposed as having a gun in his home.  Then there is Chairman Mao’s dictum that “political power comes from the barrel of a gun”!  It must be remembered that the first action of tyrants is to disarm the populations they enslave.

Finally, firearm possession and use are highly valued cultural matters that is literally a “single bullet issue” for many that takes precedence over every other concern which must be seriously considered. Most firearms owners support reasonable laws regarding background checks and restriction of sales to the mentally ill and persons with violet backgrounds. Unfortunately, persons with extreme views on both sides of the issue regarding the sales and ownership of firearms have prevented reasonable discussion of the constitutional right to acquire and possess firearms.

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