In episode 3 of this 3 part documentary, “The 2nd Amendment: The Gun Solution,” we explore the debate between anti gun politicians/groups vs. pro gun politicians/groups, where they both have common ground and some potential win/win solutions to prevent gun violence, mass shootings and help ensure that gun owners are safe and competent with their firearms.
We discuss the Black Panthers, Ruby Ridge, Korea Town and Waco Texas, and some instances where private citizens crossed the line between self defense into open rebellion, as well as government mistakes that got innocent citizens killed while trying to enforce questionable gun laws. The reality that criminal gangs, cartels and terrorists are working 24/7 to infiltrate the United States to sow chaos, death and destruction.
The truth about machine guns, semi-automatic guns and who can and can’t own them. The AR-15, attempts to ban them and the reality that more people are killed annually with knives and hands and feet than rifles of all types combined. Why gun laws are mostly ineffective at preventing gun crime and mass shootings. Red flag laws and the debate around them. How Switzerland has the third highest rate of firearm ownership, but the lowest rate of gun crime and mass shootings.
With every mass shooting prompting emotional calls for stronger regulation, some politicians have made it clear that disarming American citizens is a priority. They believe eliminating private gun ownership is the only way to end gun violence and is a prerequisite to creating a more peaceful and harmonious society.
“We’re going to hammer guns on the anvil of relentless legislative strategy! We’re going to beat guns into submission!” ~ Senator Charles Schumer
Some supporters of the Second Amendment have gone too far.
In the 1960s, the Black Panther party was formed in Oakland, California to oppose police abuse in black neighborhoods.
“One of the democratic rights of the United States, the Second Amendment to the Constitution, gives the people the right to bear arms. However, there is a greater right; the right of human dignity that gives all men the right to defend themselves.” ~ Huey Newton, Co-founder, Black Panther party
Exercising their second amendment right, the Black Panthers began openly carrying firearms as they patrolled the streets of their communities. But some Black Panthers ignored Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for non-violence and crossed the line into armed rebellion, engaging the police in shootouts and prompting a nationwide crackdown.
In the early 1990s, two tragic events fueled the rise of citizen militias that fear gun confiscation by the federal government.
At Ruby Ridge, Idaho in 1992, ATF agents were staking out the remote compound of Randy Weaver, a former Green Beret survivalist with apocalyptic religious beliefs who had failed to appear in court on firearms charges. An accidental encounter led to a shootout that killed one federal Marshall as well as Weaver’s wife and teenage son.
In Waco, Texas in 1993, the FBI and ATF surrounded the compound of the Branch Davidians, an apocalyptic religious cult that was stockpiling weapons. After Branch Davidians shot and killed 4 federal agents, the FBI and ATF assaulted the compound leading to a fire that burned it down and killed 76 cult members, including 20 children.
In both cases, Federal agents were enforcing firearms laws on private property and ended up killing innocents. At Ruby Ridge, a court found government agents acted improperly by failing to announce their presence and call for Weaver’s surrender.
However, in Waco, the government did call for surrender and the Branch Davidians opened fire first — crossing the line into actual rebellion as the Black Panthers had a generation before.
“Congress shall never disarm any citizen unless such as are or have been in actual rebellion.” ~ James Madison
Ruby Ridge and Waco became rallying cries for a fringe of anti-government conspiracy nuts that gun control advocates use to smear ordinary gun-owning Americans. But with some politicians openly pushing for gun confiscation, fear of the government taking away guns is not just paranoia.
“Banning guns addresses a fundamental right of all Americans to feel safe.” ~ Senator Dianne Feinstein
“If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them . . . ‘Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ’em all in,’ I would have done it.” ~ Senator Dianne Feinstein
Another compelling argument for the right to bear arms comes when law and order breaks down and people need to defend themselves from random violence. This played out dramatically in Koreatown during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
When the Los Angeles police drew a line of defense at Wilshire Boulevard, Korean business owners on the other side took up arms to defend themselves against looters and ended up saving their livelihoods.
This same threat of chaos looms large from the danger of cyber attacks on the electrical grid. With a prolonged power loss, civil society would break down and personal survival might hinge on whether you’re armed and know how to use a gun to defend yourself.
“Arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property… Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them, for while avarice and ambition have a place in the heart of man, the weak will become a prey to the strong. The history of every age and nation establishes these truths, and facts need but little arguments when they prove themselves” ~ Thomas Paine, American Revolutionary and Political Theorist, 1775
While invasion by a foreign army may seem unlikely today, it was a real threat as recently as World War II.
Admiral Yamamoto is reputed to have later wrote to a colleague about his real feelings over the danger of invading the American homeland, cautioning — that “to invade the United States would prove most difficult because behind every blade of grass is an American with a rifle.” Today, a smaller scale threat comes from international criminal gangs and terrorists.
Jon Dufresne, Former Army Ranger and owner of Kinetic Consulting, a firearms training and consulting firm: “There’s been a lot of countries on our soil, in different forms and manners, and now we have definitely a radical side of the world that hates us. And if you think the worst is going to stay at one end, you’re sadly mistaken. It’s going to constantly come further and further our way, like we were talking about with Mexico. They are right there, and there’s a bunch of people there that want their way or the highway kind of stuff.”
As the politicization and frequency of mass shootings enflames the debate, the question remains how much the government can reasonably regulate guns in the interest of public health and safety.
A Fox News poll of registered voters in August 2019 found 90% favored universal background checks, 81% supported taking guns from at-risk individuals, and 67% favored banning assault weapons such as AR-15s.
“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15.” ~ Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke
But demonizing the AR-15 and “assault rifles” in general is misplaced. Most people erroneously equate AR-15s and assault rifles with machine guns.
Manuel Gomez, owner of Palm Beach Tactical, a Class III NFA Dealer and an expert on gun laws: “A machine gun is any type of weapon with high rate of fire. What happens is, you press the trigger one time, and while you’re pressing the trigger, the weapon keeps firing. That makes it fully automatic, unlike semi-automatic, which requires an individual trigger press every time you want to fire that weapon.
Civilians are allowed to own machine guns if they are transferable. This means they were manufactured and registered pre-1986. In order to get one, you have to take your fingerprints, your photographs, fill out a questionnaire and submit it to the ATF for approval. It isn’t instantaneous. Usually, the approvals can take up to a year, sometimes even more. And there is a tax stamp associated with that. Think of the tax stamp as a licensing fee per item.”
Coach Corey Wayne: “So I can’t just walk into the store and say I want a brand new PWS fully automatic?”
Manuel Gomez: “It’s not going to happen, no.”
Coach Corey Wayne: “Who can legally buy those? Just people in law enforcement and government agencies? Because you’re a Class III manufacturer. What does that mean, a Class III manufacturer?”
Manuel Gomez: “We are allowed legally by the type of license that we hold to manufacture, in our case convert, factory weapons into fully automatic weapons. And we are able to proactively market and sell them to law enforcement departments or agencies.”
Coach Corey Wayne: “So it’s basically just different government agencies you manufacture for.”
Manuel Gomez: “Right. We could not sell to an individual. There is no way. It’s just not possible.”
Coach Corey Wayne: “So in other words, for all the people that are saying it’s easy to get a machine gun…”
Manuel Gomez: “It is not. It is absolutely false. It is not easy to get a machine gun.”
Jon Dufresne: “And they’re tens of thousands of dollars.”
Manuel Gomez: “Oh yeah, let’s talk about that too.”
Coach Corey Wayne: What’s a pre-1986 machine gun going to cost?
Manuel Gomez: “Because there’s only a finite number of these machine guns in the registry — when I say the registry, I’m talking about the NFA Registry, the National Firearms Act Registry — prices have skyrocketed… At a gun show in 1985, you could have bought a brand new Colt machine gun, an M16, for around $900. Today, $27,000, $28,000, $29,000. A new one unfired could be in the $40,000s. HK MP5s are in the high $30,000s. I mean, machine guns are very, very expensive, so not only is it cost prohibitive, but there is the paperwork and then the waiting period. It is not easy to purchase one.”
There are some 17 million AR-15s in the hands of American gun owners — but between 2007-2017, only 1/10th of 1% of all homicides were committed in mass shootings with AR-15s.
Moreover, according to the FBI, only 297 people were killed by all types of rifles in 2018, including “assault rifles” — while five times more, or 1,515 people, were killed with knives, clubs and other cutting instruments.
This highlights that blaming guns rather than the people who commit the crime misses the mark completely.
“Passing a law like the assault weapons ban is a symbolic – purely symbolic – move in that direction. Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation.” ~ Charles Krauthammer
Jon Dufresne: “A weapon is a weapon. But anything can be a weapon, right? So, bottle, [pretends to hit Manuel with bottle], I assaulted him. [Holds up bottle] Assault weapon.”
The problem remains that no matter what gun regulations are passed, they are unlikely to stop mass shootings simply because criminals don’t obey the law. What gun regulations will do is interfere with the ability of law abiding citizens to buy a gun to defend themselves and their families in times of personal danger.
Jon Dufresne: “We still use the same firearms to protect ourselves from evil humans. There’s always going to be evil. There’s always going to be bad people. Most may not want to think that way or to believe that way, but there’s evil. And one of the things I think people misinterpret is the use of the firearm. It’s not that the firearm is what gives you the self defense ability. It’s you that gives you the self defense ability — your mind, your way that you deal with things. It’s just a tool. It’s an added value to that situation.”
“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; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” ~ Thomas Jefferson, (quoting 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria)
The fact is most mass shootings are committed by mentally unstable people who shouldn’t have had weapons to begin with. In the school shootings at Sandy Hook and Stoneman Douglas, the shooters made their intent known in advance and law enforcement failed to act on red flags that could have prevented the killings.
It’s also worth noting that several FBI reports on active shooter events from 2000-2017, collectively found that when an armed citizen was present, that armed citizen was successful at stopping the active shooter 75% of the time and reducing the loss of life 18% of the time.
History shows that new gun laws are typically emotional reactions to crime trends happening in the broader culture. They are largely symbolic and rarely achieve their desired effect.
Jon Dufresne: “The only people that are going to follow laws are law abiding citizens, and law abiding citizens are usually not criminals, because those are kind of the opposite. So, being that most law abiding citizens follow the laws, the laws work. When people that are not law abiding citizens, or criminals, they don’t care. So really, laws are just there for the people that follow them.
It’s like a lock. A lock on your door is easily defeated. Anybody can get in your house. All they need is a couple of tools or a really good kick most of the time. And the only thing that lock does is keep honest people out. It doesn’t keep dishonest people out. So it’s the same concept. Whatever laws go into place, they have to be followed to actually work. If they’re not followed by the people that don’t follow laws, that they were made for, what’s the point?”
“I don’t think it’s about more gun control. I grew up in the south with guns and we never shot anyone. This is about people who aren’t taught the value of life.” ~ Samuel L. Jackson
Chicago is a good example. Always in the news for its latest shootings, the city has some of the toughest gun laws in the country. Yet, gang warfare racks up a steady body count every weekend as innocents are caught in the crossfire.
With Chicago’s murder and shooting rates higher than New York and LA combined and low rates of private gun ownership, only the criminals and police tend to have guns, and it hasn’t made the City safer.
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” ~ Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father, 1755
People who dream of a gun-free society should realize the right to bear arms is so imprinted on American culture and history, that many gun owners won’t permit their guns to be taken. As a result, any attempts at forced confiscation could spiral out of control, leading to violence as some gun owners stand on principle and resist.
Some American counties in Colorado and Virginia are already declaring themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries in anticipation of stricter gun laws.
“I thank God for all the freedoms we’ve got in this country. I cherish them. Even the rights to burn the flag, you know. I’m proud of those rights. But I’ll tell you what. We’ve also got a right to bear arms, and if you burn my flag I’ll shoot you.” ~ Johnny Cash
“If you lose the right to bear arms as a citizen, then you know what I’m saying, it’s easy to enslave. It’s easy for the government to enslave people when they don’t have the right to bear arms.” ~ T.I., American Rapper and Actor
Instead of trying to take guns away from law-abiding citizens, we should focus on creating more effective ways to identify and prevent mentally unstable and bad people from owning guns.
Some states are already instituting “red flag” laws to promptly adjudicate whether to disarm and/or take threatening persons off the streets for mental evaluation and detention. However, red flags laws present their own perils.
The challenge will be to preserve as much due process as reasonably possible and to make sure “red flag” laws aren’t abused for political or other improper purposes.
Manuel Gomez: “Yes, they can be misused and abused, and guns could be taken away from the wrong person who was doing everything right and did not have any mental illness or issues.
A lot of these laws that are in place, anyone that has an established history of some type of mental disorder or tendencies like that, well obviously they can’t get guns, but what about for example if I’m on my way home, and I get a phone call that my daughter has been killed in a car accident? I may become temporarily insane. I may not be the person that I was before. It could cause me to do something that I normally wouldn’t do, but ten minutes before that call I was normal.
There also needs to be a quick and fair process for promptly recovering weapons and restoring personal freedoms that have been taken unjustly.
“You won’t get gun control by disarming law abiding citizens. There’s only one way to get real gun control: Disarm the thugs and the criminals, lock them up, and if you don’t actually throw away the key, at least lose it for a long time… It’s a nasty truth, but those who seek to inflict harm are not fazed by gun controllers. I happen to know this from personal experience” ~ President Ronald Reagan
In the meantime, new technologies threaten to overtake the gun debate entirely. Working plastic guns have already been created with 3d printers and could be affixed to drones to launch mass casualty attacks.
It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to envision the school shooter of the future programming a drone swarm with facial recognition software to fly into a school and take out a list of targets without ever stepping foot on the grounds.
Ultimately, if enough people wish to end private gun ownership in America, that is the right of the people. But they must pursue the constitutional process for attempting to repeal the Second Amendment rather than trying to subvert it with regulation. Repealing the Second Amendment will take 2/3rds of both houses of Congress to vote for the repeal and 3/4ths of all state legislatures to ratify it — that’s 75% of the country.
With the bar set so high, a better solution might be if more Americans understand that the Constitution gives us a right and sacred duty to keep and bear arms — to be safe and responsible in their use — and to be skillful and competent if it ever becomes necessary to discharge them.
Jon Dufresne: “You need to also learn the laws. Learn what you can and what you can’t do, and learn when you are allowed to and understand that, but also protect yourself in that sense legally. You need to understand legally what you’ll have to do after you end up having to use your firearm in self defense or something like that.
If you don’t understand those things, how to use a firearm, when to use a firearm and legally what’s going to happen afterwards, you’re going to end up somewhere getting hung up in some kind of issue.”
“Although it is extremely unlikely that the fears of governmental tyranny which gave rise to the Second Amendment will ever be a major danger to our nation, the Amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic civilian-military relationships, in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of this country. For that reason, I believe the Second Amendment will always be important” ~ President John F. Kennedy
We can look to Switzerland as a successful example of how a healthy gun culture works and potentially follow their model. This European nation of 8.5 million trails only the United States, Yemen and Serbia in the total number of guns per capita — yet violent crime is only 1/10 of the United States.
What makes the difference is a culture of responsibility and safety firmly anchored in society and passed on from generation to generation. Kids as young as 12 belong to gun clubs where they learn how to safely and effectively operate firearms from an early age.
A study by the US Department of Justice on “Urban Delinquency and Substance Abuse” found that “boys who own legal firearms have much lower rates of delinquency and drug use and are even slightly less delinquent than non owners of guns.”
In the final analysis, we want a society where the laws empower the weak and vulnerable and the people have a right to protect themselves from tyranny — whether the threat comes from a would-be rapist… a local gangster… a racist cop… or an out of control government.
When used properly and responsibly, guns restrain bad actors and level the playing field for the weak and vulnerable. And most importantly, they help guarantee the rights of a free people — including the right to pursue happiness and the freedom to reach our full potential.
“Today, we need a nation of Minutemen; citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as a basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom.” President John F. Kennedy
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