Dear Representative or Senator,
My name is delNbones and I am a graduate student at Oregon State University. I am currently working toward my PhD in physics and I would like to discuss the current proposed legislation regarding the lawful ownership of firearms, namely HB 3200. I shall make my case using cited facts about crime and gun ownership.
Over the past 20 years, the discussion about reducing violent crime has centered on the regulation of firearms. During this period the number of violent crimes in the US has dropped from 1.9 million (1991) to 1.2 million (2011) while the population has increased from 252 million to 311 million . This equates to a violent crime rate of 758 (crimes per 100,000 people) in 1991 to 386 (crimes per 100,000 people) in 2011 . During this time we have seen a federal assault weapons ban, 1994-2004. Many like to point out that this spurred the drop in crime, which is not the case. The firearms listed in the ban have become more popular than ever and there are more of these firearms in civilian hands than prior to the ban. Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook, the NICS, the free FBI background check system, has had over 2.7 million checks  mostly due to fear of a permanent ban on semiautomatic firearms.
Many people argue that registration does not lead to confiscation. The rebuttal for this argument points to historical incidences of where a national government has disarmed their own citizens by enforcing registration. I will forgo the usual foreign examples and instead use domestic examples of confiscation. In 1967 New York City enacted comprehensive firearm registration, this included long-guns and handguns. At the time politicians spouted how this would not lead to confiscation, however in 1991 the city council made private possession of certain semiautomatic rifles and shotguns illegal, similar to those banned between 1994 and 2004, and confiscated them using random searches of people’s homes. This however did little to curb crime as a vast majority of firearms used in crimes were not lawfully registered nor were they rifles or shotguns. The FBI Uniform crime reports show that a vast majority of firearms related crimes are committed using handguns. Current legislation in California is threatening to collect the state’s 167,000 registered “assault weapons” without compensation for their owners. Current New York legislation has lowered the magazine limit from 10 to 7 rounds, which is receiving fierce opposition on the county level. Looking beyond the violation of the Second Amendment, these laws also violate eminent domain as they do not compensate the owners for their property.
The state of Oregon has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the country at 248 violent crimes per 100,000 people , comparatively New York and California have violent rates of 398 and 411 per 100,000 respectively . I would also like to note that roughly 40% of Oregonians own firearms  . This gives credence to the idea that possession of firearms does not lead to crime.
We can also delve into firearms case law. In 1939 a case, US v. Miller, came before the Supreme Court of the United States questioning if the 1934 National Firearms Act (NFA) violated the Second Amendment. The court ruled that the Second Amendment applies to “ordinary military equipment.” Semiautomatic firearms fall under this because their fully automatic counterparts are standard issue in all branches of the armed services. The next landmark firearms case in the nation’s highest court was the widely publicized DC v. Heller (2007). The decision in Heller expounded upon Miller by stating that the Second Amendment applies to the firearms that used by militia, in other words, it applies to those which have common use for lawful purposes. Next I’d like to mention McDonald v. Chicago (2010), which did set the standard that firearms can be regulated, more specifically: "prohibit...the possession of firearms by felons or mentally ill" and "laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms." This, however, is not a license for bans on types of firearms, only reasonable restrictions on whom may possess them and where they may possess them. Lastly, I would like to note that in Haynes v. US (1968), the Supreme Court ruled that felons have no duty to register their weapons because it violates their Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination. These all address the restriction layed out in HB 3200 as being unconstitutional based upon the Second Amendment but it also violates firearms owners’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizures. The text in HB 3200 explicitly states that an “inspector” can “inspect” the firearm and its storage container without a warrant (Sec 4.5.b. and Sec 5.4). This places an undue burden upon lawful gun owners while not curbing a criminal’s ability to acquire guns.
I would also like to address the misnomer that the police have the duty to protect civilians. The Supreme Court and the DC Court of Appeals have ruled that the police only have obligation to enforce the law. In Warren v. DC (1981) the DC Court of Appeals held that the police have no obligation to provide protective services to an individual except when police develop a special duty to particular individuals. This is interesting because it stated that police have no duty to victims of criminal acts. In the case of Castle Rock v. Gonzales (2005), the Supreme Court found that the police had no obligation to enforce a restraining order and therefore could not be deprived of their Fourteenth Amendment rights (due process clause). These rulings affirm the concept that the individual is ultimately responsible for their own safety.
I implore you to vote against any and all new firearms legislation that restricts the ability of law-abiding citizens to acquire them, especially HB 3200. None of the provisions in the bill stop criminals from acquiring firearms. This bill unconstitutionally serves to only restrict the lawful use of firearms by law-abiding citizens and by definition criminals do not adhere to laws. Instead, please focus on mental health reform so that those who need treatment can receive help, not only from medication, but also through psychiatric help. The lack of follow-up mental care needs to be addressed. Another useful reform would be to institute stiffer penalties for those who break the law using a firearm. It will help curb the violence and will not hinder the law abiding citizen defending themselves.
Oregon Constitution Section 27:
The people shall have the right to keep and bear arms for the defence [sic] of themselves, and the State, but the Military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power[.]
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing your reply. If you would like to discuss the finer points of firearms ownership or the current laws, I will gladly either meet with you or discuss them over the phone. Sincerely,
1. FBI Uniform Crime Reports: http://www.fbi.gov/a...e/violent-crime
Edited by delNbones, 25 February 2013 - 02:33 PM.