The right to keep and bear arms, codified in the Second Amendment, has been under attack in the United States since the 1830s, as power hungry governments found ways to infringe on the right under various pretexes, excuses, and fear mongering. First came . . .
the attacks on concealed carry. That was justified under the pretext that it gave an unfair advantage to people with nefarious intent. It was portrayed as a way to prevent free blacks from carrying defensive weapons. Laws against concealed carry, and the requirement for a government permit to carry, proliferated after the war between the states as reconstruction governments sought to disarm former Confederates; and then southern governments sought to keep freed slaves disarmed.
The next wave of infringements occurred as a part of a desire to protect organized crime and political corruption (with some fear of immigrants thrown in) in New York City with the Sullivan Act. Laws requiring a permit for concealed carry, or banning it altogether, were passed from New York to California. Only Vermont escaped the onslaught of “progressive” propaganda.
While it was legal to openly carry arms in most of the country, extra-legal means were used to smash attempts to exercise Second Amendment rights. Police routinely charged open carriers with “disturbing the peace” or “disorderly conduct.”
The carry laws were aimed at those in society who were deemed untrustworthy: blacks, immigrants and vagrants. The majority was generally unaffected. As a Florida judge famously said: “The statute was never intended to be applied to the white population and in practice has never been so applied.”
In the middle 1960’s, the makeup of society changed. The National Rifle Association (NRA) had been part of the established elite, which included military officers and businessmen. The new elite in the media and academia demonized big business and the military. The new elite didn’t value an armed citizenry, it feared it. The “untrustworthy” became the majority of the population; everyone who wasn’t part of the elite or their power structure. The passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968 was a watershed event.
The NRA became the nucleus of the resistance to the new elite. It was reformed into the leader of a national resistance movement. As an old, established organization, it was slow to learn, slow to move, and attempted to regain its position as a member of the elite. But pressures from the membership, and constant threats of new infringements on the Second Amendment forced it to become more active and effective.
Farsighted freedom fighters eventually formed more agile and focused resistance groups such as the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), the Gun Owners of America (GAO), and the Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO). These groups kept the pressure on the NRA to become an effective resistance force while focusing on their own efforts.
The resistance gradually gained members and strength. It formed cells in every city, village and hamlet, managing to slow the pace of infringements. It made the new elite fight for every inch of ground taken. And it learned.
A pivotal moment came in 1986-87. The resistance, lead by the NRA and pushed by its membership, forced the leadership in Congress to vote on a bill that reformed some of the worst excesses of GCA 1968. The bill passed.
In 1987, Floridian and NRA executive Marion Hammer organized a real victory. Florida passed a “shall issue” concealed carry bill that insured that non-criminal adults could obtain a permit to carry concealed weapons for self defense. Hammer’s well organized state group was key. It was the first of many such victories.
The peak of infringements on the Second Amendment occurred seven years later when President Bill Clinton pushed through an “assault weapon” ban on an unwilling population along with the Brady Bill, designed to set up a national gun registration system.
But the resistance, already organized, pushed back. The Democrats lost the House and the Senate for the first time in over 40 years. All across the country, the resistance coalesced. The use of the nascent internet was seized by the resistance as a means of communicating outside of the elite controlled media.
Activist state groups formed all over the country. Most did not trust the NRA, claiming that it was too willing to compromise. The resistance gained victories in state after state, some with no help from the NRA, then, more and more, as the NRA joined forces with independent state organizations. Together they removed idiotic infringements on the right to arms. They restored freedoms lost over a hundred years of oppression, they used the terms and tools of elite propagandists against the elite.
In the 10 years from 1994 to 2004, permitless or “Constitutional” carry states, where most adults could carry concealed without a permit, doubled from one state to two. Shall issue states went from 20 to 36, may issue decreased from 17 to 9, and states with no permit system decreased from 12 to four.
In 2004, the elites were unable to prevent the “assault weapon” gun ban from sunsetting.
From 2004 to 2016, there have been a string of victories. No shall issue state has lapsed back to the corrupt status of “may issue”. Seven more states have gained “Constitutional” carry status, shall issue states have increased to 41. May issue dropped from 9 to 8, and there are no more “no issue” states. Totals are more than 50 because 8 “Constitutional” carry states are also shall issue.
A hard fight against an elite counter offensive was won in 2013. In spite of an all out onslaught by the elites in the media and academia, led by President Obama, no new federal infringements were passed into law. The state offices and congressional seats lost by the elites in the response to the counter offensive have fueled a new set of victories in the states.
The brilliant graphic at the top showing the progress in right to carry across the United States was designed and is maintained by Jeff Dege, who joined the resistance after educating himself about the realities of guns and gun control.
Those who claim that disarmament is our future are on the wrong side of history. Their time in the sun is done. They gained ascendency when the elites had the greatest control over the information flow in the United States, from the middle 1960’s to 1994.
This does not mean that the resistance is in control, and has taken the levers of power. Everyone knows the price of liberty. The war to maintain freedom is never ending, but freedom fighters everywhere should be heartened by the progress that has been made. On the Second Amendment front, the freedom fighters are winning.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.