The Fragility of Our Right to Keep and Bear Arms

bill of rightsFrom the time Bill of Rights was drafted, Americans have known that it is their right to “keep and bear arms”. Unfortunately, over time, we have begun to take that right for granted and many believe that no one can take that from us. However, in this day and age that right is being threatened, and in some states, blatantly stripped away. New York is one of the states in which gun confiscation is being implemented under the guise of the “SAFE (Secure Ammunition & Firearms Enforcement) Act”.

Just a few months ago, a 30-year police veteran had his four legally owned and registered firearms confiscated because he was declared “mentally defective”. Well, that makes sense, right? It would if he actually met the criteria for such a determination, but he does not! This man voluntarily sought treatment for insomnia and was diagnosed with “mild depression”, with his record explicitly stating “Patient has no thoughts of hurting himself. Patient has no thoughts of hurting others. Patient is not having suicidal thoughts. Patient is not having homicidal thoughts…there is no evidence of any psychotic processes, mania, or OCD symptoms. Insight, judgment and impulse control are good.” So how did they make the leap to mentally defective and unable to own firearms?

Five days later, members of the local sheriff’s department showed up at this man’s door to seize his guns after they were informed by the New York State Police that he had been declared mentally defective and involuntarily committed to a mental institution! Needless to say, this man, who served his country in the military as well as in law enforcement has filed a lawsuit against Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Sheriff of his county, and the Superintendent of the New York State Police, citing violations of the safeguards for the right to bear arms, for privacy, against unwarranted search and seizure, for due process, and for equal protection under the law.

On a similar note, the Department of Health and Human Services is said to be developing a National Database Warehouse for the storage and analysis of information collected under the Affordable Care Act. While this could have great value in the right hands, unfortunately it will more likely be used to infringe on people’s privacy and right to bear arms. It will also probably result in people with legitimate needs avoiding medical treatment out of fear of a police visit or an “official classification” that misrepresents their status, as in this case. As they pointed out in American Thinker, during the Cold War, the Soviet and East German police kept secret files on thousands of ordinary citizens which often led to house calls by the authorities. What’s more, during the late Soviet era, the leadership relied on medical professionals to classify “enemies of the state” as insane (or mentally defective).ab

In February 2014 a disabled New York Firefighter had his legally owned firearms confiscated after his wife called the police because he was arguing with his son. Even though the argument ended peacefully, and everyone (including the wife and son) denied violence, threats of violence, and brandishing of weapons, the police officer asked to see the man’s pistol license, after which he requested that he surrender all of his firearms. Three hours after the New Yorker refused to surrender his firearms, five police officers arrived at his home and demanded that he turn over all firearms, as well as his permit; under duress and threats of unspecified criminal charges, he complied. Over a year later, although he has not been convicted of anything that would prohibit him from owning firearms, he has not been returned any firearm or permit. He has now filed suit against the acting commissioner, chief, several police officers, and the County of Nassau due to the violation of his First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

In Arizona, a 56 year old Navy veteran had a neighbor who continually parked his landscaping dump truck in front of his home, for which he complained. Because of this, the neighbor got a harassment order against the veteran, for which police arrived and seized his $25,000 gun collection. The founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, which is helping him appeal the judge’s order, stated, “We seem to live in an environment when someone’s life can be turned upside down on an allegation that should have been thoroughly investigated before any action was ordered by a court.”

In Connecticut, after the Sandy Hook shooting, gun owners were given a deadline by which to register any and all AR-15’s and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Failure to comply required that their firearms be subject to confiscation and is considered a felony. However, the 50,000 gun owners that did comply with the mandate have already received letters instructing them to get rid of these firearms. It is estimated that between 50,000 – 350,000 gun owners did not register their guns in Connecticut.

katrinaIn 2005, after Hurricane Katrina destroyed large part of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, then-mayor, ordered all legally owned firearms seized. While the Second Amendment Foundation successfully sued on behalf of many of these gun owners to stop or reverse the confiscations, many more were forced to surrender their firearms. In 2011, Lakewood, Ohio In 2014, Kentucky passed a law that allows law enforcement to confiscate firearms from those accused, not yet convicted, of domestic violence.

Historically, every episode of genocide has been preceded by gun confiscation, and gun confiscation, in turn, has been preceded by gun registration. In 1929, the Soviet Union instated gun control which was followed by the murder of about 20 million dissidents over the following 44 years. Only four years before Turkey exterminated 1.5 million Armenians in 1915, they established gun control. Before the murder of 13 million Jews between 1939 and 1945, Germany established gun control in 1938. In the 20th century alone, approximately 56 million people were killed after the institution of gun control.

Knowing all of this, is it far fetched to conceive that this may be happening right here in the United States of America, in the 21st century? As George Washington once said, “Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence…from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to ensure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable…the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”

So every day that you are able to go to the range or carry your gun, remember that it is more than just your right; it is also your responsibility. As you live your day to day life, remember that those who know you are a gun owner will be watching you to see if what they hear about gun owners on TV is true. Remember that it is up to us, the people of this country, to defend our rights, and it is our responsibility to stand up to those who would trample them.