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[Ben]:Message From Congressman Steve Buyer Discuss This [0 comments so far] View Comments
I received the following message via email yesterday:
Dear Ben:

This morning, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 majority to uphold the District of Columbia Circuit Court's ruling that the ban on handguns was a violation of the Second Amendment. In delivering the opinion of the Court, Justice Antonin Scalia held that "the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home."

The court's decision reinterprets the Second Amendment for the first time in nearly 70 years and strikes down the District of Columbia's strict gun ban as an infringement on fundamental rights.

Earlier this year, I joined several of my colleagues in submitting an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court in support of the Court upholding the Second Amendment as a fundamental individual right. Today's ruling is a clear victory for the Constitution and the wisdom of our Founding Fathers'.

As you know, I believe that law-abiding citizens have the right to own firearms for reasons of personal safety, recreation, or sport. These are legitimate and lawful reasons. As a Member of Congress and as a former member of the House Judiciary Committee, I have heard testimony from ordinary citizens who have exercised their Second Amendment rights for the protection of themselves, their loved ones, and their property.

Today's Supreme Court ruling clearly supports the arguments that have been made before Congress in recent years. The current Democrat majority in Congress has tried to push off this important issue as recently as last year, but their efforts have been defeated largely by Republican and conservative Democrat efforts. During consideration of H.R. 1433, the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act, the Republican leadership planned to offer a motion to recommit the bill, with instructions, sending H.R. 1433 back to committee for amendment. This motion to reconsider, which would have repealed the D.C. gun ban, was never voted on. Instead, it was pulled from the floor by the Democratic majority because it would have had the votes to prevail.

Today's ruling is a victory for the protection of American's Second Amendment rights. We must remain vigilant to counter further efforts in Congress that could threaten the Second Amendment rights of Americans.

Please be assured of my continued support for the Second Amendment and the right of law-abiding American citizens to keep and bear arms. As always, should this right or other personal liberties be attacked, I welcome your suggestions on how to counter them.

Best Regards,
Steve Buyer
Member of Congress


My response follows:
Congressman Buyer,

Thank you very much for your email. It was good to hear from a legislator who is supportive of the simultaneously least popular and most important of civil rights.

I view this court case as a very good, and very important first step. What I am interested to know is how you feel we should proceed from here. What is the next step that you will be taking to help bring this much-beleaguered "right" back from the brink on which it has sat for so long?

Currently, there are dozens upon dozens of Federal laws and Presidential edicts capriciously restricting the safe, lawful and Constitutionally protected ownership of weapons. A few examples follow:
1. The Gun Control Act of 1968 which, among other things, provides for import prohibitions based on a weapon's "sporting purpose." This law ignores the fact that identical firearms can manufactured domestically for sporting purposes and arbitrarily prohibits their import.
2. The National Firearms Act of 1934 (as amended by the 1968 Gun Control Act and an amendment found in the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act) which places prohibitively restrictive "taxes" on sound suppressors - an item akin to the muffler on a motorcycle - designed to protect the hearing of shooters not to make the gunshot silent. The NFA also places similar restrictions on "short barreled shotguns" and "short barreled rifles." The theory behind prohibiting short barreled shotguns and rifles was that gangsters during the prohibition would cut such weapons down in order to conceal them. Unfortunately, the law doesn't prevent criminals (who, by definition, have no compunction against breaking the law) from doing just that. Indeed, the way the law is written, it is actually illegal to make a handgun MORE difficult to conceal through adding a buttstock (at one time a relatively common technique for improving the stability of a handgun during shooting.) Additionally, the NFA as amended in 1986, effectively bans new machine guns altogether. Again, though, criminals are not concerned with the legality of modifying their firearms to become fully automatic, and aren't worried about possessing an illegal machine gun. Thus, the only people affected by such a prohibition are law-abiding collectors and enthusiasts.
3. In 1988, the House voted to ban "plastic guns" that were undetectable by metal detectors ... except such a gun has never existed. This rather demonstrates the lack of reasonable consideration behind many Federal gun laws.
4. The 1988 Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act banned "cop killer" ammunition on the grounds that bullets produced from certain materials might penetrate a police officer's bullet-resistant vest. Ironically, this law brought to the attention of criminals the fact that police were beginning to wear bullet-resistant vests. Sadly, this lead to more officers being shot fatally as criminals fired at their unarmored heads. There are a number of lawful reasons why ammunition might be made out of prohibited materials - not least of which is cost. In today's economy, lead is becoming more and more expensive. Many countries routinely manufacture steel-cored bullets for practice - not to penetrate police vests, but because they are less expensive to manufacture. Oddly, while the law bans a pistol bullet made from brass that would be stopped by most well-designed police vests, the very same vests would be easily perforated through both sides by the very hunting rifles that politicians often claim to want to protect.

These examples show only a few of the many, many laws - to say nothing of the hundreds of rulings and regulations - that seek to in one way or another infringe upon the right that the Supreme Court has recognized in Heller vs DC. Once again, Congressman Buyer, what is the next step you plan to take to help restore that right?

Kind regards,
Ben Swenson
  2008-06-28
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