The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence assigns grades to individual states based on their compliance with Brady Campaign thinking on various gun rights issues. California scores the highest grade for having the most gun controls, even though its murder and violent crime rates are higher than those of the rest of the country. Utah receives the lowest grade, and the first-ever zero. Not surprisingly, as an excellent article in America’s First Freedom notes, Utah also has murder and violent crime rates 76% and 56% lower, respectively, than Florida.
The nation’s murder rate has been cut in half since 1991, as gun laws have been cut in half by Congress and state legislatures, and the number of guns, gun owners, Right to Carry states, and carry-permit holders have risen to all-time highs.
Having passed Florida’s NRA-sponsored safety course, Debbie and I both hold Florida concealed weapons permits. We took the NRA course in the Florida Keys, and I’d recommend it to anyone. I’m a life member of both the NRA and the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, and since Debbie and I own semiautomatic shotguns, safety is a subject that’s always front and center with us. One of the many benefits of the Florida concealed weapons permit is its reciprocity with so many other states. Since 1992, we have logged over 100,000 miles on our Harleys, so having the freedom to enter other states with the knowledge that our concealed carry permits will be valid is very important to us.
As I write, the Supreme Court is about to decide if the Second Amendment applies to the states, considering arguments in McDonald v. City of Chicago. Without a doubt, it does. The Second Amendment says, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Our founders meant this amendment to mean exactly what it says, with no chin-stroking interpretation required. There is zero doubt that an enormous percentage of Americans would not tolerate any fiddling with the Second Amendment. A Stamp Act (1765) sort of revolt could be expected following any such sabotage of the Second Amendment.
America’s founders couldn’t have been clearer on anything than they were on the liberty and freedom guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Boston Tea Party and Sons of Liberty leader Samuel Adams believed that the Constitution should “never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.” Founding Father Richard Henry Lee said, “to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.” Thomas Jefferson believed that laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants.” George Mason, framer of the Declaration of Rights for the Virginia Convention, said, “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials…. To disarm is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”
These words from our Founding Fathers are quoted in the book From My Cold Dead Fingers, by former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona, Richard I. Mack. This book is essential reading. Mack introduces readers to Aaron Zelman, a Holocaust historian and founder of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO). Mr. Zelman suggests that the entire Holocaust was the result of disarmament, and his argument is persuasive. Also in Sheriff Mack’s excellent book, Barry Goldwater notes that “Fanaticism in defense of liberty is no vice.” Finally, Sheriff Mack himself concludes, “Our constitution is hanging by a thread. It is our right, it is our DUTY, to make sure the tenets of freedom as proclaimed by our Founding Fathers shall not perish from the earth.”