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Sen. Craig, U.S. Senate, 6/6/00

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    Well Worth Reading Sen. Craig, U.S. Senate, June 6, 2000 Mr. President, I appear on the floor to speak about a provision of the Constitution of our country
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 17, 2000
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      Well Worth Reading

      Sen. Craig, U.S. Senate, June 6, 2000

      Mr. President, I appear on the floor to speak about a provision
      of the Constitution of our country that has been under nearly
      constant attack for 8 years. In fact, we heard on the floor this
      morning two Senators speak about provisions in law that would
      alter a constitutional right.
      The provision I am talking about is part of our Bill of Rights--
      the first 10 amendments to our Constitution--which protect our
      most basic rights from being stripped away by an overly zealous
      government, including rights that all Americans hold dear:
      The freedom to worship according to one's conscience;
      The freedom to speak or to write whatever we might think;
      The freedom to criticize our Government;
      And, the freedom to assemble peacefully.
      Among the safeguards of these fundamental rights, we find the
      Second Amendment. Let me read it clearly:
      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.
      I want to repeat that.
      The second amendment of our Constitution says very clearly that
      'A well regulated Militia' is 'necessary' for the 'security of a
      free State,' and that 'the right of the people to keep and bear
      Arms, shall not be infringed.'
      What we heard this morning was an effort to infringe upon that
      right.
      Some--even of my colleagues--will read what I have just quoted
      from our Constitution quite differently. They might read 'A well
      regulated Militia,' and stop there and declare that 'the right of
      the people to keep and bear Arms' actually means that it is a
      right of our Government to keep and bear arms because they
      associate the militia with the government. Yet, under this
      standard, the Bill of Rights would protect only the right of a
      government to speak, or the right of a government to criticize
      itself, if you were taking that same argument and transposing it
      over the first amendment. In fact, the Bill of Rights protects
      the rights of people from being infringed upon by Government--not
      the other way around.
      Of course, we know that our Founding Fathers in their effort to
      ratify the Constitution could not convince the citizens to accept
      it until the Bill of Rights was established to assure the
      citizenry that we were protecting the citizens from Government
      instead of government from the citizens.
      Others say that the Second Amendment merely protects hunting and
      sport shooting. They see shooting competitions and hunting for
      food as the only legitimate uses of guns, and, therefore,
      conclude that the Second Amendment is no impediment to
      restricting gun use to those purposes.
      You can hear it in the way President Clinton assures hunters that
      his gun control proposals that will not trample on recreation--
      though his proposals certainly walk all over their rights.
      In fact, the Second Amendment does not merely protect sport
      shooting and hunting, though it certainly does that.
      Nor does the second amendment exist to protect the government's
      right to bear arms.
      The framers of our Constitution wrote the Second Amendment with a
      greater purpose.
      They made the Second Amendment the law of the land because it has
      something very particular to say about the rights of every man
      and every woman, and about the relationship of every man and
      every woman to his or her Government.
      That is: The first right of every human being, the right of
      self-defense.
      Let me repeat that: The first right of every human being is the
      right of self-defense. Without that right, all other rights are
      meaningless. The right of self-defense is not something the
      government bestows upon its citizens. It is an inalienable right,
      older than the Constitution itself. It existed prior to
      government and prior to the social contract of our Constitution.
      It is the right that government did not create and therefore it
      is a right that under our Constitution the government simply
      cannot take away. The framers of our Constitution understood this
      clearly. Therefore, they did not merely acknowledge that the
      right exists. They denied Congress the power to infringe upon
      that right.
      Under the social contract that is the Constitution of the United
      States, the American people have told Congress explicitly that we
      do not have the authority to abolish the American people's right
      to defend themselves. Further, the framers said not only does the
      Congress not have the power to abolish that right, but Congress
      may not even infringe upon that right. That is what our
      Constitution says. That is what the Second Amendment clearly lays
      out. Our Founding Fathers wrote the Second Amendment to tell us
      that a free state cannot exist if the people are denied the right
      or the means to defend themselves.
      Let me repeat that because it is so fundamental to our freedom. A
      free state cannot exist, our free state of the United States
      collectively, cannot exist without the right of the people to
      defend themselves. This is the meaning of the Second Amendment.
      Over the years a lot of our citizens and many politicians have
      tried to nudge that definition around. But contrary to what the
      media and the President say, the right to keep and bear arms is
      as important today as it was 200 years ago.
      Every day in this country thousands of peaceful, law-abiding
      Americans use guns to defend themselves, their families, and
      their property. Oftentimes, complete strangers are protected by
      that citizen who steps up and stops the thief or the stalker or
      the rapist or the murderer from going at that citizen.
      According to the FBI, criminals used guns in 1998 380,000 times
      across America. Yet research indicates that peaceful, law-
      abiding Americans, using their constitutional right, used a gun
      to prevent 2.5 million crimes in America that year and nearly
      every year. In fact, I believe the benefits of protecting the
      people's right to keep and bear arms far outweighs the
      destruction wrought by criminals and firearms accidents. The
      Centers for Disease Control report 32,000 Americans died from
      firearm injuries in 1997; under any estimate, that is a tragedy.
      Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control do not keep data
      on the number of lives that were saved when guns were used in a
      defensive manner.
      Yet if we were to survey the public every year, we would find
      400,000 Americans report they used a gun in a way that almost
      certainly saved either their life or someone else's. Is that
      estimate too high? Perhaps. I hope it is, because every time a
      life is saved from violence, that means that someone was
      threatening a life with violence. But that number would have to
      be over 13 times too high for our opponents to be correct when
      they say that guns are used to kill more often than they are used
      to protect. What they have been saying here and across America
      simply isn't true and the facts bear that out.
      We are not debating the tragedy. We are debating facts at this
      moment. They cannot come up with 2.5 million gun crimes. But
      clearly, through surveys, we can come up with 2.5 million crimes
      thwarted every year when someone used a gun in defense of
      themselves or their property. In many cases, armed citizens not
      only thwarted crime, but they held the suspect until the
      authorities arrived and placed that person in custody.
      Stories of people defending themselves with guns do not make the
      nightly news. It just simply isn't news in America. It isn't hot.
      It isn't exciting. It is American. Sometimes when people act in
      an American way, it simply isn't reportable in our country
      anymore. So the national news media doesn't follow it.
      Yet two of the school shootings that have brought gun issues to
      the forefront in the last year, in Pearl, MS, and Edinboro, PA,
      were stopped by peaceful gun owners using their weapons to subdue
      the killer until the police arrived. How did that get missed in
      the story? It was mentioned once, in passing, and then ignored as
      people ran to the floor of the Senate to talk about the tragedy
      of the killing. Of course the killing was a tragedy, but it was
      also heroic that someone used their constitutional right to save
      lives in the process.
      A third school shooting in Springfield, OR, was stopped because
      some parents took time to teach their child the wise use of guns.
      So when that young man heard a particular sound coming from the
      gun, he was able to rush the shooter, because he knew that gun
      had run out of ammunition. He was used to guns. He was around
      them. He subdued the shooter and saved potentially many other
      lives. We have recognized him nationally for that heroic act,
      that young high school student of Springfield, OR.
      For some reason, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle
      never want to tell these stories. They only want to say, after a
      crisis such as this, 'Pass a new gun control law and call 9-1-1.'
      Yet these stories are essential to our understanding of the right
      of people to keep and bear arms.
      I will share a few of these stories right now. Shawnra Pence, a
      29-year-old mother from Sequim, WA, home alone with one of her
      children, heard an intruder break into the house. She took her .9
      mm, took her child to the bedroom, and when the 18-year-old
      criminal broke into the bedroom, she said, 'Get out of my house,
      I have a gun, get out now.' He left and the police caught him.
      She saved her life and her child's life. It made one brief story
      in the Peninsula Daily news in Sequim, WA.
      We have to talk about these stories because it is time America
      heard the other side of this debate. There are 2.5 million
      Americans out there defending themselves and their property by
      the use of their constitutional right.
      In Cumberland, TN, a 28-year-old Jason McCulley broke into the
      home of Stanley Horn and his wife, tied up the couple at knife-
      point, and demanded to know where the couple kept some cash.
      While Mrs. Horn was directing the robber, Mr. Horn wriggled free
      from his restraints, retrieved his handgun, shot the intruder,
      and then called the police. The intruder, Jason McCulley,
      subsequently died. If some Senators on the other side of the
      aisle had their way, perhaps the Horns would have been killed and
      Jason McCulley would have walked away.
      Earlier today, we heard the Senator from Illinios and the Senator
      from California read the names people killed by guns in America.
      Some day they may read the name Jason McCulley. I doubt they will
      tell you how he died, however, because it doesn't advance their
      goal of destroying the Second Amendment. But As Paul Harvey might
      say: Now you know the rest of the story.
      Every 13 seconds this story is repeated across America. Every 13
      seconds in America someone uses a gun to stop a crime. Why do our
      opponents never tell these stories? Why do the enemies of the
      right to keep and bear arms ignore this reality that is relived
      by 2.5 million Americans every year? Why is it that all we hear
      from them is, 'Pass a new gun control law, and, by the way, call
      9-1-1.'
      I encourage all listening today, if you have heard of someone
      using their Second Amendment rights to prevent a crime, to save a
      life, to protect another life, then send us your story. There are
      people here who desperately need to hear this in Washington,
      right here on Capitol Hill. This is a story that should be played
      out every day in the press but isn't.
      So let's play it out, right here on the floor of the Senate. Send
      me those stories from your local newspapers about that law-
      abiding citizen who used his constitutional right of self-
      defense. Send that story to me, Senator Larry Craig, Washington,
      DC, 20510, or send it to your own Senator. Let him or her know
      the rest of the story of America's constitutional rights.
      Having said all of this, let there be no mistake. Guns are not
      for everyone. We restrict children's access to guns and we
      restrict criminals' access to guns, but we must not tolerate
      politicians who tell us that the Second Amendment only protects
      the right to hunt. We must not tolerate politicians who infringe
      upon our right to defend ourselves from thieves and stalkers and
      rapists and murderers. And we must not tolerate the politician
      who simply says: 'Pass another gun control law and call 9-1-1.'
      I yield the floor.



      Published in the Jun. 12, 2000 issue of The Washington Weekly
      Copyright 2000 The Washington Weekly. Now Free Access to All Stories at http://www.federal.com

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