The deadly shooting at a Hialeah apartment complex that left seven people dead, including the gunman, is not the first mass shooting in South Florida but it may be one of the worst in Hialeah’s history.
SWAT teams surrounded the 95-unit, five-story apartment complex near 1480 W. 46 Street just after 7 p.m. Friday, July 26 in search of the gunman who was later shot and killed.
Here’s a look at some other mass shootings that have taken place in South Florida.
March 30, 2012
No arrests have been made after a shooting at the Funeraria Latina Emanuel funeral home at 14990 W. Dixie Highway. When the barrage of bullets ended, two men were killed and 12 others were hospitalized including a 5-year-old girl.
June 6, 2010:
Gerardo Regalado shot 7 women, killing four of them including his wife Liazan Molina at the Yoyito Restaurant in Hialeah. After the mass shooting, he shot and killed himself.
January 23, 2009:
Nine people were shot at a dice game at the corner of NW 70th Street and 15th Avenue when two men with assault rifles opened fire on a crowd of 30 people in front of small Liberty City market. Two people died. 16-year-old Brandon Mills and 18-year-old Derrick Gloster. Both were shot in the head.
July 6, 2009:
Three people opened fire with an assault rifle at the 20th birthday party celebration for Lawrence Smith near NW 5th Street and 5th Avenue in Overtown. Twelve people were wounded and two partygoers died: Michelle Coleman, 21, a FAMU college student, and Anthony Smith, a 17-year-old football star at Booker T. Washington Senior High. Rodney Lashawn Miller was arrested about a month later for his role in the mass shooting and charged with two counts of second-degree murder. He was 18 at the time of his arrest.
November 26, 2009:
Paul Michael Merhige opened fire during Thanksgiving dinner at the Palm Beach home of his cousin Muriel Sitton. He shot 6 family members, killing 4 of them. Merhige killed his twin sisters, one of whom was pregnant, his aunt Raymonde Joseph and Muriel’s 6-year-old daughter Makayla, who had been tucked into bed. Merhige avoided the death penalty after agreeing to plead guilty in exchange for seven consecutive life sentences.
August 20, 1982:
Carl Robert Brown was a teacher turned mass murderer who killed eight people and injured another three with a shotgun in a Miami welding shop on August 20, 1982. He was later fatally shot and run down by two witnesses, when cycling away from the crime scene. The 51-year old history teacher was reportedly upset over the bill for work done on his lawnmower engine.
Repeal The Second Amendment & Regulate Handguns as Cars
Here’s the thing about gun-nuts: They are mainly fools and victims. They are fools because they spend an extraordinary amount of money on their arsenals, thus keeping the gun lobby manufacturers happy. And they are victims because if there is a necessary condition for someone being shot, owning a gun would be it.
Here’s why they’re cursed. First, as I mentioned before, cult-like adoration for the big manly guns (and ammo) basically puts the owner with the fetish for guns at greatest risk of being harmed.
Yes, we get the sporadic mass shootings by some deranged gun-nuts, but when compared with the 30,000-plus total gun deaths in the U.S. (or about 88 per day), statistically speaking, the casualties for those are minuscule (if horrendous for the people affected, of course).
Second, from what I know about the dynamics of violence, no matter the NRA bullshit propaganda, statistically speaking, a gun owner is highly unlikely to ever be in a position to use his gun to protect himself against a robbery.
The robbery is more likely to happen by surprise. You’re at an ATM, turn around, and there is a gun in your face, asking you to hand over the cash. Or you’re walking to your car while looking at your iPhone, open the car door, and out of nowhere, a guy with a gun is right behind you asking you for the keys.
To the contrary, those who own guns with the mentality to be ready for those moments, oh that glorious moment when they can actually be justified in shooting the thug that’s robbing them, may feel a false sense of security knowing they have a gun, thus increasing the likelihood to be shot by the bad guy.
Here’s the thing, when I’ve owned guns, it has never crossed my mind that I would be in a “perfect” position to ever use it to protect myself against a robbery, or something like that. It has been just a hobby; it was kind of cool to let the semi-auto 9mm do its thing at the shooting range.
My experience growing up in violent environments where shootings were almost a daily occurrence is that the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to try to avoid situations where you may become a target. So basic stuff, like just being aware of your surroundings, locking your door as soon as you get inside the car, keeping an eye on people who may be acting a little strange in public.
I estimate that those things (basic safety precautions) are more effective at keeping you safe, than any gun, by a 10 to 1 ratio. By the time the bad guy has a gun in your face, you may as well hand over the cash, and keep your life. Either way, your super-duper $2,000 dollar semi-auto is not going to do jack-shit by the time that happens.
Finally, there is a fringy element on the right, the extreme paramilitary-type guys with the semi-auto in one hand and the bible in the other, holding both tight to their chest, rocking back and forth, wild-eyed, just waiting, waiting for just the right time, the right conditions to either take on the government, or some other perceived threats, being egged on by the right wing talkers (aka gun lobby tools).
Again, they’re good for the gun lobby manufacturers and dealers, and for businesses that peddle underground bunkers, and for those who sell survivalist provisions, etc.
But it is highly unlikely that they will ever get their wet-dream realized, where their right-wing revolution kicks off, giving them the excuse they are looking for to act. It ain’t going to happen. So they will basically continue playing G.I. Joe in their camouflage garb, keeping their bunkers well-stocked, and spending huge amount of money on their arsenals, for a revolution that will never come.
Again, all the while just by having so many guns around, the only people they are endangering the most are themselves and their families (unfortunately, of course), statistically-speaking.
And yes, yes, I’m aware about the dominionists, and about the egging on by the NRA telling people that police forces can’t defend them because they don’t have any funding, and that people need to armed themselves against thugs and robbers and criminals (using lots of code language). And I’m aware about many of these people infiltrating our military, including higher echelons, etc.
Yes, there is some danger there, but guess what? If it ever got to that, which is highly unlikely, I’ll bet on the good guys, on the real men (and women) of valor, of integrity. History is on our side. It has been messy, but as a society, we’ve beaten back the racist ultra-nationalists, the religious extremists, every single time.
So, yes there are lots of guns in the U.S. (something very unfortunate). But guess what? Liberal and progressive-minded cities have less guns, and therefore less gun deaths.
Obviously, we can’t relent on pushing back on the NRA, and ALEC, and their nonstop attempt of flooding the country with guns; that’s a given.
But in the final analysis, the gun-nuts have it worst, for many reasons: On average, it is almost impossible for any given person to find themselves in a situation to use their guns to protect themselves (anecdotes notwithstanding); they are spending a fortune on useless arsenals (which at least keep the gun lobby happy); and they will never get their right-wing (dominionist) revolution; and they are putting themselves at greater danger than non-gun owners.
So keep up the fight, but do not despair… We’ll win in the long run.
Seven people were killed, including the gunman, in an overnight shooting at a South Florida apartment building, authorities said.
Police Sgt. Eddie Rodriguez told Fox News that the gunman was shot dead by a SWAT team following a standoff at a five-story building in Hialeah, just a few miles north of Miami.
Rodriguez said that when police arrived, they discovered an active shooter situation: “He’s inside the building, moving from floor to floor. Eventually he barricades himself in an apartment.”
Although a crisis team was able to briefly establish communication with the man, Rodriguez told The Associated Press talks eventually “just fell apart” with the gunman, who was holding two hostages on the fifth floor. Both of them survived when officers stormed the building, fatally shooting the gunman during an exchange of gunfire.
“They made the decision to go in there and save and rescue the hostages,” Rodriguez said. He said he didn’t have any information on how long negotiations lasted.
The dead bodies of three women and two men were found at two different apartment units inside the building, which Rodriguez said was in a “very quiet neighborhood.” Another man who was walking his children into an apartment across the street also was killed.
Rodriguez said it wasn’t immediately clear whether the gunman took aim at him from an upper-level balcony or if he was hit by a stray bullet.
“From up there, he was able to shoot at people across the street, catching this one man who was just walking into his apartment,” Rodriguez said.
WSVN.com reported that the manager of the West 46th Street apartment building and his wife were among the victims. Rodriguez said police were still investigating the motive and identifying the gunman and victims.
“Investigators are talking with families of the victims, neighbors, people that were present when all this began,” he said. “That way we can start to piece together this huge puzzle that we’re working with.”
Miriam Valdes, 70, said she lives on the top floor — one floor above where the shooting began. She said she heard gunfire and later saw smoke entering her apartment.
She described running in fear to the unit across the hall, where she stayed holed up as officers negotiated with the gunman.
From the apartment, Valdes said she could hear about eight officers talking with the gunman.
She said she heard the officers tell him to “let these people out.”
“We’re going to help you,” she said they told him.
She said the gunman first asked for his girlfriend and then his mother but refused to cooperate.
Ester Lazcano said she lives two doors down from where the shooting began and was in the shower when she heard the first shots. Then there were many more.
“I felt the shots,” she said.
Neighbors said the gunman lived in the building, but police wouldn’t confirm that information. Rodriguez said police were still investigating the motive and identifying the gunman and victims.
“Investigators are talking with families of the victims, neighbors, people that were present when all this began,” he said. “That way we can start to piece together this huge puzzle that we’re working with.”
Bloomberg Blasts NRA: ‘Connecticut Is Because of Some of Their Actions’
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today placed partial blame on the National Rifle Association for the Connecticut elementary school massacre in which 20 children and six adults were gunned down last week.
“We’re not trying to take away your right to advance the interests of gun owners, hunters, people who want to protect themselves,” Bloomberg told “Nightline” anchor Cynthia McFadden in an interview today. “But that’s not an absolute right to encourage behavior which causes things like Connecticut. In fact, Connecticut is because of some of their actions.”
In the days after the massacre, the NRA has remained silent, only speaking up Wednesday to announce it would hold a press conference on Friday morning. But in the meantime, people with various stances on guns, from stark anti-gun advocates to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a pro-gun politician who famously shot a cap-and-trade bill with a rifle in his 2010 re-election ad, are clamoring for something to be done.
“I think the public has finally come to the conclusion that, what the Supreme Court said you can do is have reasonable restrictions on the right to bear arms, is something that our society finally has woken up and said, ‘We are going to do this whether you like it or not,'” Bloomberg said.
In 2007, Bloomberg was one of 50 mayors who gathered in Washington, D.C., to demand that Congress eliminate a law that restricts the ability of local police to trace criminals’ weapons. At the time, gun advocates claimed the law, which was an amendment attached to the House appropriations bill in 2003, infringed on their Second Amendment rights.
But if he had his preference, Bloomberg said he would go farther than the 1994 ban and outlaw all automatic and semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines. The mayor said magazines shouldn’t be allowed to contain more than five or six rounds.
“If you haven’t hit the deer with three shots, you’re a pretty lousy shot. The deer deserves to get away,” he said.
Bloomberg said he doesn’t absolve the public, including himself, for waiting until a massive tragedy to take national action on gun control.
“I hold you and me responsible,” Bloomberg said. “We didn’t pay attention to what our legislators were doing, [the NRA] as well… we have let our society degenerate — our country degenerate to the point where we have a murder rate that you cannot compare it to other countries.”
Police say Adam Lanza, 20, entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on the morning of Dec. 14, and used three firearms to kill 26 people before turning the gun on himself.
The weapons police recovered from the scene included a Bushmaster .223 semi-automatic rifle, a Glock 9-mm handgun and a Sig Sauer 9-mm handgun. A fourth weapon was found in the shooter’s car in the school parking lot.
According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, 47,856 people were murdered in the U.S. by firearms between 2006 and 2010.
President Obama announced Wednesday that Vice President Joe Biden, who was formerly the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a leader on the original Federal Assault Weapons Ban in the ’90s, would lead a task force to formulate a package of gun control policy recommendations and collect proposals that will curb an “epidemic of gun violence.”
While Bloomberg, who endorsed Obama for president, praised his decision to have Biden work on a plan, the mayor took Obama to task, saying in the last four years the president has “gone in the wrong direction” on guns.
“[President Obama] signed two pieces of legislation, one which lets you carry guns in national parks where our kids play,” Bloomberg said. “And the other one, he signed a bill so that you can carry a gun on Amtrak. I assume that’s to stop the rash of train robberies, which I thought stopped in the 1800s.”
Gun Violence Victims, Survivors Share Thoughts After Newtown Massacre Watch Video
NYC Mayor Bloomberg Blasts NRA Watch Video
NYC Mayor Bloomberg: No Smoking in Homes Watch Video
Several politicians have also vowed to introduce new gun control legislation when Congress starts a new session in January. But Bloomberg called Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer’s proposalthis week to make greater use of the National Guard to provide more safety in schools “ridiculous.”
“You don’t want your kids to think that everybody in America is a bad person and that we are locking ourselves down and that we live like we’re in a prison,” Bloomberg said. “Our National Guard has other things to do. Putting more guns in schools, I mean, the National Guard is not the answer to everything.”
I’ve never been into guns. Never. I’ve never held one and never wanted to, and I don’t plan on amending my gun virgin status anytime soon. I think it’s safe to say that I am, and most likely always will be, fairly anti-gun. I hate guns.
That being said, I mostly don’t give a shit what other people do, as long as you’re not harming me or mine. So I don’t really care if you own a handgun or a rifle, because those make sense to me. Owning a handgun or a rifle makes sense to me because that’s what people protect themselves with (handguns) and that’s what people hunt with (rifles).
I don’t recall ever really thinking about guns until Columbine. And then Charlton Heston said that stupid “they’ll have to pry them from my cold, dead hands” bullshit, and then, then I started paying attention to the NRA.
The National Rifle Association was started in 1871 by and for Civil War veterans who were, apparently, really crappy shots. That should tell you something right there. When I think of the NRA today, I don’t think of marksmanship at all. The NRA has been completely perverted from its original intent, as can seemingly only happen in the United States of America.
These guys are total assholes.
Let’s pretend for just a moment that the 2012 NRA exists simply as an outfit for securing gun ownership and honoring the Second Amendment of the Constitution. Let’s just pretend here. For a minute. Alright, maybe 30 seconds. Consider 10. (I know it’s hard. Get in your imagination zone. Pretend you’re Halle Berry or Christian Bale or some shit.)
Now read this (from the above Wiki NRA link):
Instructors not only teach firearms usage, care, and cleaning, but can coach students and other persons and help them develop Marksmanship skills. In order to help encourage firearms practice, the NRA has a Marksmanship Qualification Program. This program is divided into several disciplines and each discipline has multiple awards that can be obtained. The awards are offered for successfully completing each in a series progressively more difficult courses of fire. All of these awards, except Distinguished Expert, are on the honor system. An NRA certified coach or certified instructor must witness the participant successfully complete the course of for this more prestigious of awards. The awards are provided in the form of “rockers” which are typically sewn on below a large round discipline-specific patch. The various awards are as follows:* Basic Practical
* Marksman First Class
* Sharpshooter; Bars 1–9
* Distinguished Expert
OK. Again, let’s just pretend that we’re talking about deer here. Poor, sad little Bambi, and Bambi’s mom. And Thumper. And all of Snow White’s creatures, Disney movies galore, with all the disgustingly cute animals who, unfortunately, taste like chicken to carnivores, and people hunt to put food on the table, and blah blah blah.Do you really believe that?
Yeah, me neither because SOME MOTHERFUCKING ASSHOLE SHOT UP 70, 70!, PEOPLE IN A MOVIE THEATER NOT TWO MILES FROM MY GODDAMNED HOUSE!
The NRA is all about hunting these days, sure, but not forest creatures anymore. The NRA is about hunting people. The NRA is about fear of The Other. The NRA is comprised of a bunch of white bullies who are totally pissed that the world is changing, and they can’t do a fucking thing to stop it. They want 2012 to resemble 1955, because now? The progress has been too much, see. All the gays and the blacks and the science and the cell phones and Ellen and that stupid rap music and OMG WOMEN ARE WEARING PANTS NOW! PANTS!
The NRA prevents progress on an epic scale, and they have the money to do it. From an article written by Russell Simmons:
The NRA has been successful at blocking attempts to pass reasonable legislation that would require background checks at gun-shows (currently there are none), as well as blocking people on the terror watch list and those who are mentally unstable from obtaining guns and putting an end to the sale of accessories like 100 round drums. They are also the group behind the “Stand Your Ground” law that George Zimmerman claims protects him from being convicted of killing Trayvon Martin. Our nation has been held hostage by 4 million people and $300 million dollars. The safety of our schools, our streets, our homes, our movie theaters, is being controlled by those who cling to their guns, their assault weapons and their weapons of war.
I have been really quiet about the theater shooting in Colorado, because it is actually in my neighborhood. I’ve been to that theater before, several times. Little Shiz and I saw The Hunger Games there. I eat near there pretty much every weekend. I just went to the Aurora Mall 2 weeks ago. That area is where I hang out with my friends, chill from the world, and vent. It’s my stomping ground. It’s where I live and where I hang my heart.So to see my roommate, a nurse, come home after a night of treating trauma victims with multiple gunshot wounds, and to hear her stories, and to see her cry, just break down andweep in front of me like that …
Something’s gotta be done here, people. This is awful. No one deserves this, you guys, and our country is better than this. We need stricter guns laws, goddamnit! This has got to change!
The following is written by my friend, Matthew Quirk, who posted this on his Facebook wall a few days ago:
I think it’s all up to the NRA now. They block every initiative to restrict extremely deadly weapons to individuals that should not have them. Fine. Please explain to us why mass murder is patriotic, or figure out your own way to reduce these tragedies. I’m really tired of burying people who shouldn’t have been killed. I’m really tired of mentally disturbed individuals having power far beyond their capacity to control. I’m really tired of having to fight an uphill battle to prevent children from getting shot to death in places they should feel safe. So figure it out NRA. You own it now. Do something. We’re kind of in a hurry, too. So get moving.
Washington (CNN) — Pro-gun activist Adam Kokesh, recently seen in an Internet video loading and cocking a shotgun, is being held in a Washington jail for three days pending a detention hearing on Monday, a judge ruled.
He is charged with carrying a rifle or shotgun outside a home or place of business, an offense that carries a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Kokesh, an Iraq veteran, made headlines with a July Fourth video posted to YouTube in which he loaded a shotgun in the middle of the national capital’s Freedom Plaza.
He also used Facebook to call for an armed march in Washington for the same day but called off the event in May. It is illegal to carry firearms in the District of Columbia.
District of Columbia Magistrate Judge Lori Parker said Kokesh “poses a danger” and went “out of his way” to violate the district’s laws.
Kokesh’s attorney, Peter Cooper, said after the appearance in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia that his client is making a “political statement,” but argued the government is doing the same thing.
“Their allegation about danger, I believe, is unwarranted,” Cooper said.
Kokesh was originally arrested July 9 after a police search of his suburban Washington home in Herndon, Virginia, found a firearm and an illicit drug, an illegal combination in the state of Virginia.
He posted bond on Thursday for that charge, but “never saw the light of day” as police picked him up soon afterward, Cooper said.
Kokesh has a history of publicly airing his opinions. He was discharged from the Marines in 2007 for wearing his uniform during an anti-war protest.
In his now infamous YouTube video, Kokesh states: “We will not be silent. We will not obey. We will not allow our government to destroy our humanity.”
Then, loading shells into the shotgun, he looks into a camera, saying, “We are the final American revolution. See you next Independence Day.”
The NRA’s Fraud: Fabrication of Second Amendment Rights
“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.” ~ Second Amendment, U.S. Constitution
Following the Sandy Hook massacre, gun rights, gun laws and the Second Amendment have been the subject of a national dialogue. Any discussion of these topics is severely tainted by calculated messaging by the NRA to deceive and mislead our citizens to believe that the Second Amendment grants far reaching gun rights which have not and do not exist.
The Second Amendment became part of our constitution in 1791. For well over two centuries the Supreme Court never decided that the Amendment granted a constitutional right to individuals to bear arms. The widely held notion that such a right existed was a myth fabricated by the NRA for its own self interest and for the corporate profits of gun manufacturers. This fabrication altered the mindset of most Americans to accept fictional Second Amendment rights that permitted the proliferation of all manner and kind of dangerous weapons. We became a gun culture run rampant. The gun manufacturers reaped enormous profits as gun sales soared. In 2011 industry wide gun sales were $4.3 billion. Misconceptions generated by the NRA created a warped interpretation of Second Amendment that generated these sales.
The fraud perpetrated by the NRA is patent. We do not heed the warnings of prominent citizens such as former attorneys general Nicholas Katzenbach, Ramsey Clark, Elliot L. Richardson, Edward Levi, Griffin B. Bell and Benjamin R. Civiletti. The joint statement in the Washington Post of these former attorneys general in 1992 reads as follows:
“For more than 200 years, the federal courts have unanimously determined that the Second Amendment concerns only the arming of the people in service to an organized state Militia: it does not guarantee immediate access to guns for private purposes. The nation can no longer afford to let the gun lobbies’ distortion of the constitution cripple every reasonable attempt to implement an effective national policy towards guns and crime.”
In a PBS News Hour interview in 1991, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger referred to the NRA Second Amendment myth as “one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American people by any special interest group that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”
The opinions of these distinguished legal scholars had no bearing on NRA propaganda that continued unabated. During the weeks before the 2000 general election, a self-anointed constitution “scholar,” Charleton Heston, ceremonial president of the NRA, flooded the airways to urge voters to support candidates who would protect and preserve Second Amendment rights. Little did most Americans realize that such rights did not exist. The NRA’s reading of the Second Amendment was purely fictional and unsupported by the law of the land.
Candidates for public office both state and federal reaped in political contributions from the NRA. These elected officials feared the wrath of the NRA should they stray from the NRA’s Second Amendment myth.
A norm evolved offering sanctity to gun owners and manufacturers. Gun manufacturers and the NRA prospered and profited. As one gun manufacturing executive states the equation, the NRA “protects our Second Amendment rights and those rights protect the ability to buy our products.” Elected officials stand idly by while gun deaths and massacres escalate without lasting public outcry or meaningful legislative efforts.
The statistics are staggering. The depth of lost life is evident by comparing deaths in foreign wars and firearm deaths of citizens within our borders. In all foreign wars during our history about 650,000 soldiers died. In the 45 years since Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated in 1968, there have been over 1.3 million deaths in our country caused by firearms. The fraud perpetrated by the NRA as recognized by former Chief Justice Burger is linked to these deaths. The blood of thousands upon thousands of Americans permanently stain the hands of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre.
How did the NRA gain such power and influence on our citizenry? For the first century of its existence beginning in 1871, the NRA primarily devoted its efforts to gun safety. Following enactment of new restrictive gun laws requiring gun licensing and taxes, a 1977 coup within the NRA membership led by militants resulted in a new harder edged and more aggressive NRA. The truth mattered not. The edifice of the NRA headquarters would now bear an abbreviated version of the Second Amendment: “The Right of the People to keep and Bear Arms Shall not be infringed.” The NRA amended the Constitution unilaterally to avoid even a hint that the language pertaining to a Militia had any meaning. The law of the land spoke otherwise.
In 1939 the Supreme Court issued the Miller decision. The justices ruled that “the Second Amendment must be interpreted and applied with the view of its purpose of rendering effective Militia.” That was the state of Second Amendment law until the 2008 Heller decision. Prior to Heller, the Supreme Court never recognized that individuals had an individual right to keep and bear arms. It was the NRA propaganda, not the law of the land, that led the cry for unlimited gun ownership and protection of gun owner rights. The NRA myths allowed the cycle of expanded gun sales and NRA power to purchase political influence. Democrats and Republican alike announced their allegiance to the Second Amendment and the public grew to believe that the NRA view of the Second Amendment was consistent with constitutional law. The NRA controlled too many elected officials to allow for protection of our citizens from gun violence, gun deaths and unspeakable gun horrors in schools and public places.
The NRA myths were disseminated on other fronts. Articles appeared in NRA publications and rewrote history by declaring that “Armed citizens [were] unregulated except by his own ability to buy a gun at whatever price he could afford.” This credo became an NRA rallying cry.
The NRA poured millions upon millions of dollars into congressional and state legislative campaigns. Gun owners and manufacturers poured more money into the NRA. The revisionist view of Second Amendment rights gained momentum in 1982 when a Senate judiciary subcommittee issued a report about the discovery of “long lost proof” of an individual’s constitutional right to bear arms. The chair of the subcommittee was Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. The “proof” has never surfaced.
For over three decades the NRA funded legal research, legal seminars and pushed for law review articles supporting individual rights to bear arms. This and the NRA persuasion of elected officials led to a dramatic shift in Second Amendment legal views. In 2003 the NRA established a $1 million chair at George Mason University law school. The views of NRA supported professors and legal scholars were relied on in the 2008 Supreme Court decision finding an individual right to bear arms for the first time.
What did the Supreme Court say in the 2008 Heller decision? The Court held that there existed an individual right to bear arms only for traditional purposes such as self-defense in the home. The Court declared that the Second Amendment should not be understood as conferring a “right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” The Court gave examples of firearms laws presumed to be lawful. These included laws prohibiting firearm possession by felons, mentally ill persons and possession of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings. The Court found that conditions on the commercial sale of firearms were presumptively lawful. The Court said this list was not exhaustive; and found that the Second Amendment is consistent with laws banning firearms that are “dangerous and unusual.”
The ruling in Heller was a departure from the 1939 decision in the Miller case where the court stated that the “obvious purpose” of the Second Amendment was to ensure effectiveness of the stated Militia. However, even with this departure the decision in Heller is limited in its scope. The only right specifically mentioned in the Supreme Court’s opinion is the right of an individual to possess a gun for self-defense in the home.
Did this limited decision stop the NRA from its propaganda campaign? Of course not. On Meet the Press on March 24, 2013, Wayne LaPierre declared to the nation that under the Heller decision it would be an “absolute abridgement” of constitutional rights to regulate assault weapons. That myth, heard by millions, was intended to again mislead the country into believing that there are sweeping Second Amendment rights that cannot be regulated. Nonsense. The very language of the Supreme Court opinion in Heller calls out LaPierre as a liar.
How can the American people be educated to understand the true meaning of the Second Amendment consistent with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of that Amendment? Such an education process could lead to sweeping reform of state and federal regulation of firearms. But how is the mindset of the American people to be changed? The same way our mindset about drunk driving and smoking changed over time. Let’s take a look at the circumstances involved in smoking. Smokers 35 years ago would never have believed there would be no public smoking. When harms caused by drunk drivers and tobacco users were known in clear terms, the mindset of the public changed. New reforms, enforcement of laws and demands for a safer society became reachable goals. The change in that mindset did not take place in a day a week or a year. Nor will the change in the mindset regarding Second Amendment rights change overnight. But it is the education of the citizenry and the education of our lawmakers that is necessary in order for the calculated messaging of the NRA to be known for what it is: Lies, myths and fictions that have harmed and killed our citizens and will continue to do so until an enlightened view of the very limited scope of Second Amendment rights is known, understood and acted upon.