I'm not a firearm enthusiast, but I am a staunch defender of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
Based on years of watching the gun control debate in the public square, my conclusion is that some Second Amendment opponents clearly advocate disarming all law-abiding citizens. Adding to their clout is the fact that all court victories by these groups are widely covered while coverage of the legal victories of pro-Second Amendment organizations are seldom, if ever, reported.
While I normally stay away from controversial issues, a recent flurry of letters and columns in the media from anti-Second Amendment groups deserves my response.
In October of last year, the popular left-wing theory of a "collective right" was rejected by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of U.S. v. Emerson. In other words, the court upheld the fact that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right. In that case, "collective right" advocates insisted that the Second Amendment didn't apply to individual citizens. They lost.
In another recent case, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a ruling by the Louisiana Supreme Court on a lawsuit brought by New Orleans against gun manufacturers. The lower court ruled that a lawsuit against gun manufacturers was unfounded, and the subsequent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court dealt a major blow to anti-Second Amendment activists at the state level. Did you read about these decisions? You had to look hard to find coverage of them, despite their importance.
As an American of African ancestry, I find it disturbing to see so many liberal black leaders supporting anti-Second Amendment groups. Have we forgotten what history teaches us about being disarmed? In the past, when our people couldn't rely on the law to protect them and the situation was tense, guns have been the equalizer.
Have we been so brainwashed that we will blindly follow any agenda even when it's clearly not in our best interest? Do we, as a people entering the 21st century, have the courage to break with the political left-wing on at least this one important issue and voice support for the Second Amendment?
Although it might affect one segment of citizens more than another, this issue cannot be couched as belonging to just one race, gender or ethnic group. This is an American issue - one that touches every red-blooded, law-abiding citizen.
On many issues, the possibility of being proven wrong carries only embarrassment and maybe having to eat a little crow. On the issue of gun ownership and use, however, the stakes are much higher - and the consequences much more serious.
The next time someone preaches on "gun control" to you, you might want to ask him or her, "whose gun and under whose control?"
Jimmie Lee Hollis, a retired U.S. Air Force Senior NCO, is a member of the National Advisory Council of the black leadership network Project 21.
JIMMIE LEE HOLLIS
National Center for Public Policy Research