From our revolutionary roots, Americans have sought to limit government and have rejected attempts to restrict our individual freedoms. The Second Amendment safeguards our personal liberties and freedoms. The latest attempts, whether in Washington or Denver, to erode our Second Amendment rights are totally unacceptable.
I oppose new gun control bans not only because they are ineffective at reducing crime, but because they threaten our Constitutional rights.
As a parent, the Newtown massacre horrified me. My heart goes out to those families who lost children and loved ones. We have no greater duty than to protect our children. But even Vice President Joe Biden has conceded the administration’s new gun proposals would not necessarily prevent another Newtown-type shooting. But that isn’t stopping gun control advocates from pushing an agenda under the guise of “doing something,” to help children. This is a cynical exploitation of a tragedy.
As a member of Congress I will honor my oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The Second Amendment, as ratified by the states, reads “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.” In 2008, the historic Supreme Court case of D.C. vs. Heller reaffirmed the Second Amendment as an individual right to bear arms. It is not a collective right given only to states.
I believe that responsible gun owners should not be penalized for the actions of one deranged person. I think we need to take a thoughtful approach and look at all of the facts in order to avoid passing law with unintended consequences.
As we review the facts and study this issue, I hope we also review the effectiveness of current efforts to control gun use. The killer in Connecticut, a state with some of the most stringent gun control laws in the nation, stole the guns from his mother after brutally murdering her. He illegally carried the guns into a place where no one had firearms because he knew there would be no one to stop him.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a majority of guns used by criminals are stolen, bought on the black market, or obtained in other illegal ways. Most, if not all, of the laws being proposed by gun control advocates, such as expanded background checks, assault weapon bans, or high capacity magazine bans, would not have made any difference in Connecticut.
A better approach would be to enforce the thousands of gun laws already on the books. In recent years, there has been a sharp decline in federal gun prosecutions. Overall, federal weapons prosecutions per capita were down 35 percent in 2011 from their peak during the Bush administration. According to one government report, out of more than 76,000 firearms purchases denied by the federal instant check system, only 62 were referred for prosecution, and only 44 were actually prosecuted. We can do better. It makes no sense to add new gun laws when we are not fully enforcing our current laws.
Action can also be taken at the local level without the need for any new federal laws. Local school boards may want to consider armed security in our public schools. According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, about a third of our schools have armed security already. Right now state officials, local authorities, and school boards nationwide are considering their own plans to protect children in their schools.
What we must not do is pass more laws that restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens and erode our constitutional rights. Gun bans have not worked in the past. There is no reason to think they will work in the future.
Like our founding fathers, I am unwilling to give authority and power to government, except when absolutely necessary. I have sworn to uphold the Constitution and I am opposed to any attempts to erode it. Our right to bear arms is a vital protection against threats to our personal freedoms and liberties.
Doug Lamborn is the representative from Colorado’s 5th Congressional District.