Harold Pease, Ph. D
If California is the pace setter state, what has just happened there could soon be at the doorstep of all state legislatures or imposed on all gun owners at the federal level. With one political party significantly dominating all branches of government in California, Democrats effectively control the state. With such power they have passed a litany of new laws on magazines, ammunition, gun registration, ownership and lending firearms. In essence they have shot (excuse the metaphor) so many bullets in the 2nd Amendment as to render it impotent.
All this legislation has resulted despite the clear language in the Constitution prohibiting government infringement on your right to bear arms. The anti-self defense people despise the following language therein found, “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.”
There exists no sentence in the Constitution that was more understood at the time. A militia then was the people and an armed populace was understood to be necessary for a free country in two ways: an armed populace could assist the military against foreign invasion and/or would be in place should the biggest enemy to liberty be ones own government as in the American Revolution against British tyranny.
Certainly, when enacted, there was no thought of restricting type of firearm, amount of ammunition, or where, or who could carry. So its placement as the second most valued freedom in the Bill of Rights had nothing to do with personal safety, or hunting, these were already assumed. Founding documents show it specifically placed right after freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly to make certain that these freedoms were never taken from us. It was aimed (no pun intended) squarely at the government should it become tyrannical as before under the British. But certainly we need have no fear of the government today? Given California’s new gun laws, which follow, perhaps we should.
Background checks on all ammunition purchases within the state will be required under Senate Bill 1235 effect in 2019. As patrons may make several purchases a year this is likely to overwhelm a background system already overwhelmed over gun purchases alone resulting in long delays. The new law also requires all ammunition vendors to submit sales reports to the California Department of Justice for the creation of an ammunition registration system. The anticipated effect for gun rights haters is that smaller outlets will cease selling ammunition because of all the paperwork. But this restriction gets worse, you may not give friends or family members ammunition without going first to a gun store for the gift to be processed. Hereafter it is a crime to “transfer more than 50 rounds of ammunition within a 30-day period.” Should you opt to purchase ammunition in another state you may not bring more than 50-rounds into California unless you are a licensed ammunition vendor.
Self defense advocates are now more restricted in gun ownership and use than ever before. Starting January 2017, “all semi-automatic centerfire rifles that do not have fixed magazines will be illegal if they have a bad ‘feature,’ such as a thumbhole stock, a telescoping or folding stock, or a pistol grip.” Moreover, such weapons may not be transferred as part of an inheritance. California already had a gun law prohibiting the lending of a firearm for more than 30 days between friends or family members. That too is now forbidden. Instead, you and your brother or friend must both go to a gun shop and submit to a background check and 10-day waiting period for him to use it and when it is returned both have to return to the store with a new background check and 10-day waiting period on you the lender.
In California gun magazine sales have been limited to ten rounds for the last 17 years but persons already in possession of magazines exceeding this number could keep them. Now, State Senate Bill 1446 requires the confiscation of all by July 1, 2017. To get rid of them owners may turn them in to law enforcement for destruction, destroy them themselves, remove them from the state and/or sell them to licensed firearms dealers.
Imagine how these restrictions might emasculate citizens in their ability to assist the military against a foreign invasion (as in the case of citizens stopping the British invasion in the Battle of Saratoga) and/or to oppose our own government should it become tyrannical as also happened once before. Our Founders did not deny future generations the same means of resisting tyranny that they used themselves.
All these new laws violate the Second Amendment, which placed bearing arms off-limits to government and used the strongest language possible, “shall not be infringed,” in doing so. If the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution is felt to be inadequate for the needs of today the only constitutional option available is another amendment abolishing this one and state approval of another as outlined in Article V of the Constitution, as was the case ending prohibition. Any legislation, state or federal, cannot undermine or destroy an amendment to the Constitution.
Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.