Upon returning home, an NRA Life member received some alarming news. His wife had just seen people running in and out of her father's home. Retrieving a pistol and a shotgun, the man drove his pickup the short trip to the house in question and cornered three suspicious men sitting in a car. "I jumped out of the truck and they stuck their hands up in the car. I made the driver get out," he told a local newspaper. As he held the suspects at gunpoint, they told him they had stopped to urinate, but he didn't believe their story. "I said, 'You don't need to talk to me because the sheriff's coming and you need to talk to him.'" When police arrived, they charged the men with third-degree burglary and recovered several stolen items. (The Selma Times-Journal, Selma, AL, 01/26/06)
While sitting on her couch working on her computer in the early morning hours, a woman heard a noise at her front door. According to police, she saw two men through the peephole, so she grabbed her shotgun and chambered a shell. The would- be burglars kicked the door open only to find themselves staring down a gun barrel. "Get the [expletive] out of here!" the woman shouted, according to a police report. The men fled the scene. (Gazette-Journal, Reno, NV 01/18/06)
A man asleep in his apartment was awakened by a knock at his door. Police said that when he answered it, no one was there. Then a man shattered a window in the home and began entering through it. The resident armed himself and ordered the intruder to leave. When the alleged burglar failed to comply, the resident shot him. The suspect was treated for wounds to his leg and hand at the hospital and charged with burglary. (Deseret Morning News, Salt Lake City, UT, 02/01/06)
A 22-year-old man confined to a wheelchair had just returned home from work when he heard a noise outside. According to police, he peered outside though his bedroom window and saw two people climbing into his house. When the intruders kicked open his bedroom door, the victim opened fire on them with a semi-automatic handgun. One of the alleged burglars was hit and his accomplice ran out the front door. Authorities said the suspect who was shot would be charged with first- degree burglary upon his release from the hospital. His accomplice was arrested after a brief foot pursuit. (The Huntsville Times, Huntsville, AL, 01/07/06)
When two masked men—one of them armed with a pistol—entered a Birmingham, Ala., convenience store and demanded money, the 29-year-old clerk grabbed his own pistol. Police said that when the armed robber pointed his gun at the clerk, the clerk shot the masked gunman, killing him. The clerk then held the second suspect for police. The second man was charged with first-degree robbery. (Associated Press, 12/30/05)
According to police, a man stole a fire extinguisher from a dialysis center, then attempted to use it to break into a nearby home. A detective responding to a burglar alarm at the dialysis center witnessed an armed citizen thwart the alleged home invader. "While [the detective] was waiting for uniform patrol, he noticed a commotion across the street at a home," said a police spokesman. The detective reported that the man was allegedly trying to break through the front door using the fire extinguisher, but was shot in the groin by one of the occupants. The suspect was arrested on multiple charges after his release from the hospital. (The Advocate, Baton Rouge, LA, 01/14/06)
Carlton Whitted, Sr., woke up after hearing a loud noise reverberate throughout his home. "It sounded like a bomb went off," he said. What he heard was two men in their 20s kicking in the door of the isolated, rural North Carolina home. Police say the men shot Whitted's wife and daughter in the legs. Whitted then grabbed his .22-cal. rifle from the corner of his bedroom and shot both intruders, who fled on foot. The suspects turned up at a hospital where they faced several felony charges upon their release. (Associated Press, 01/17/06)
In the coming months—as we move toward the critical Congressional elections where pro-Second Amendment majorities in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives hang in the balance—expect to see a big lie campaign led by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, joined by urban machine politicians, federal career bureaucrats and anti-gun blue- state governors. The campaign centers around the fraudulent notion that the freedom residents enjoy in states such as Florida, Idaho or New Mexico is the cause of armed criminal violence in places such as New York City, Chicago, Boston or Washington, D.C.—jurisdictions boasting the most repressive "gun control" laws in the nation.
Bloomberg, in a declaration of war on millions of law-abiding Americans elsewhere in the nation, defined his big lie in a radio address that came in the wake of the cold-blooded murders of two NYPD officers. Police identified one accused killer as a drug user, drug dealer and fugitive from justice who would have been—should have been—rotting away in a federal prison had existing federal laws been applied before he pulled the trigger.
The second murder suspect has a long criminal record and is an admitted drug abuser. He is also being investigated in the shooting and wounding of another brave police officer just a month earlier.
But in New York City, the accused cop killers repeatedly worked the system to their advantage.
Yet, given that record of failure, Bloomberg shifted the blame from the accused criminals and his administration's ineptitude onto the backs of innocent citizens in other states, saying, "[g]uns are flooding into the City from states like Pennsylvania and Virginia, where people can buy guns easily and then sell them in cities like New York to those who cannot legally acquire them, including drug dealers and other dangerous criminals."
You and I know that everything he describes is a crime under federal law, amounting to serial mega-felonies with mandatory penalties. There is nothing that has to do with criminals acquiring, transporting, possessing, transferring or using guns of any kind that can be made any more unlawful.
Bloomberg—a billionaire Wall Street financier who reportedly used $80 million of his personal cash to pay for his election—was immediately joined in his big lie by New York Governor George Pataki, touted as a Republican presidential candidate.
Anti-gun politicians like Bloomberg and Pataki just don't get it. The only thing that will stop criminals with or without guns is real enforcement— arrest, prosecution and mandatory jail time. But that's where the Bloombergs of this nation fail miserably.
Bloomberg's New York City "enforcement of the law," according to a March 10, 2004, New York Times account, means "Only about 10 percent of felony arrests in Manhattan reach a court room ...." And of 100,000 misdemeanor cases, only 300 went to trial. Robert M. Morgenthau, Manhattan district attorney, blamed the decrease in cases going to trial on deep budget cuts that force prosecutors to accept plea bargains instead.
The Times article quoted Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, saying that "there are already signs on our streets that criminals are becoming more brazen about dealing drugs and carrying weapons." Had New York City officials been prosecuting criminals like they should, repeat felons would not have been on the street free to kill.
They're not enforcing tough laws on the books against criminals, yet they demand more gun laws targeting what innocent, good people do in exercising their Second Amendment rights.
Just look at the dark years of the Clinton Administration when enforcement and prosecution were abandoned—a time when nearly 1 million fugitives, felons and drug dealers were not arrested and prosecuted even though they committed multiple felonies in breaking our nation's firearm laws.
You can't "prevent" a violent criminal from violating the law unless you lock him up. Human beings possess free will, exercised for evil or good. And in our system of justice, the guilty should pay the price for the evil they inflict upon the innocent. That's what NRA stands for. Until Bloomberg and Pataki understand that principle, criminals will laugh at their misguided rhetoric all the way to the next crime scene.
The truth is, when it comes to criminal trafficking, criminal possession and criminal use of any firearm, the laws are already on the books. The punishments mandated in that single federal law cover, every armed, violent criminal in every corner of the nation. That's the truth Bloomberg and Pataki just don't get.
Your NRA is involved in four significant lawsuits, any one of which could go all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. If any one of them reaches the high court, the decision could forever change the debate over the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Each of these cases deals with our core issue, the Second Amendment, in a different way.
In San Francisco, we have brought suit in California state court over Proposition H, the ban on handguns and ammunition. We may have a ruling by the time you read this. While it is bad policy to deny people the Right-to-Carry, that has been the reality for most Californians for years. But to deny people the right to have a firearm for self-defense in their own home is to deny them their civil liberties under the Second Amendment. And when government can confiscate their handguns without compensation, as authorities believe they can if Proposition H is implemented, that taking of citizens' private property violates other constitutional rights as well. NRA will aggressively pursue this case on behalf of San Francisco's gun owners.
In New Orleans, we've made great progress in going after the government gun banners who executed illegal firearm confiscations. NRA has already won a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction to stop such confiscations and require return of the firearms. But the anti-Second Amendment politicos in New Orleans persist in their belligerence and rejection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, forcing NRA to continue the case.
Legally, they don't have a leg to stand on. This matter is in Louisiana federal court. In United States v. Emerson, the Fifth Circuit correctly held that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms. This holding is controlling authority for all states in the circuit, including Louisiana. New Orleans officials are flaunting a binding legal precedent, and NRA is not going to let them get away with it.
In the District of Columbia, we are still pursuing court challenges to the D.C. gun ban, which strips D.C. residents of their Second Amendment right of self-defense. NRA is pursuing the legal remedies at the same time that NRA-ILA is moving forward with a legislative solution, the D.C. Personal Protection Act.
In New York, we are fighting to uphold the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush last year. Federal judge Jack Weinstein is ignoring the law, claiming that it does not apply to certain aspects of the case before him, and is proceeding with the case, which could bankrupt the firearm industry defendants that the law was designed to protect.
Comparing New Orleans to New York shows again the profound difference a single judge can make in the protection of your rights. Contrast Judge Weinstein's attempt to circumvent the new federal law with the order by Judge Jay Zainey halting the New Orleans gun confiscations.
We do not want federal judges who will try to rewrite our Constitution and Bill of Rights as a means of social engineering or who rely in interpreting these sacred documents on "international opinion" or U.N. treaties never ratified by Congress.
President Bush did well in choosing our newest Supreme Court Justice, Samuel Alito, and so did those 58 Senators who voted to confirm him. We hope our new justice will join Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas and Scalia in bringing an originalist point of view to the Court. By "originalist" I mean a judge who will interpret the text of the Constitution and Bill of Rights in accordance with their original meaning.
There are nine justices on the Supreme Court, so we need one more justice to create a solid majority of originalists. Only then can we hope for a ruling on a Second Amendment case, possibly one of those I've mentioned above, in which the Court will hold once and for all that the Second Amendment guarantees to individual citizens a personal Right to Keep and Bear their private arms.
As NRA members, we must stay informed on matters relating to the federal courts and we must be ready to weigh in on these issues.
We must never forget that it is the Second Amendment—our First Freedom—that keeps America free and secure. It is what protects all our other rights as well as our American way of life. And the NRA, as it has faithfully for the past 135 years, stands guard to protect the Second Amendment.