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 self defense when threatened by animals or evil persons 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 side 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 over 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 columnist, Carl Rowan, whom repeated 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”!  

Abolition of firearms or severe weapons registration laws could result in widespread refusal to comply with them by many irate gun owners whom believe that their Second Amendment rights were being violated. With more than 300 million undocumented firearms in existence in this country, the consequence of draconian firearm legislation would be the creation of an uncontrollable massive black market underground economy for transactions involving firearms. Its existence would be impossible to abolish and the contempt for the rule of law regarding firearms could spread to other unpopular laws.  For example, the major unintended consequence was the widespread nationwide failure of the Volstead Amendment which outlawed the production of alcohol during the 1920s and early 1930s. The result was the formation of organized crime syndicates funded by illegal purchases of smuggled and/or concealed production, distribution, and consumption enterprises.  Those crime syndicates then expanded into other illegal pursuits such as illicit drug distribution.  For more than fifty years after the Volstead Amendment was rescinded, the nation was plagued by vicious criminal acts that included extortion and horrific crimes of often lethal violence.

Finally, firearm possession and use are highly valued cultural matters that is literally a “single bullet issue” for many that takes precedence over every consideration and must be seriously considered.

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