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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.
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44 Responses to A Brief History of Gun Control

  1. Interesting seeing how Vermont remained so unscathed despite the unabashed tendency towards socialism.
    I know I’d sure rather Feel the Bern than the other… less desirable option from that side of the aisle.

  2. While history is positive, in CA I fear the worst when democrates control the legislature. The willingness of a body politic to create bills specifically controlling approved guns, proposed license to purchase ammo, may issue fallback onto county sheriffs, magazine sizes…means your 2A hinges on your zip code and the whim of an elected law officer.

    Whole lot of left coast infringement going on and government giving citizens the finger.

    • I’ve tried to contact the owner of that graphic, his website is gun-nuttery, but I can’t find any contact information.

  3. Wonder if our resident 2A hating troll will care to comment on this. I bet it gets his knickers in a wad 😉

  4. Excellent article.

    At the end of the day, disarming the population is always about centralizing power in the hands of the establishment and suppressing the establishment’s political and cultural opponents, be it the sword laws in Scotland and Japan, the Sullivan laws in New York, the Reconstruction gun laws in the South, or modern legislation (think Leland Yee).

    The pro-gun side, on the other hand, is all about empowering the individual, be it against foreign invaders, the state, or freelance criminals. The American people have finally realized this, which is why we are wining, and we are going to keep winning.

    • I’d be perfectly happy with a short barreled, suppressed 300 BLK semi auto free of NFA registration. But hey if the ammo prices get back to where they should be I’d buy a few full autos. Is for fun!

  5. I hope they start working on universal reciprocity seriously so I can exercise my rights in NYC while giving the finger to the elites that run it and who have created a back door ban. Tired of this BS.

    • Be careful what you wish for.

      Licensed POTG think national reciprocity will just let the carry their firearms with the alacrity of driving cross-country on the Interstate. It won’t.

      The only way that could happen is if the bill were but a single sentence long and read something like “Each state must recognize as lawful within its own state every other state’s license to carry a firearm”, or similar. No bill, except maybe something ceremonial or paying tribute to something, is ever that simple. Such a bill would certainly be packed with “compromises” (read: infringements) and last minute tricks that you never expected. That’s how we lost machine guns in 1986’s FOPA.

      I want nationwide reciprocity, instituted multilaterally by the states themselves in the simple, single page letter manner they currently are. I don’t want to open the door to massive federal intrusion and infringement, for something minimally inconsequential to most gun owners and already largely within our power at the state level.

      Sign “national reciprocity” into federal law, and within six months people will be asking themselves “Hey???? What happened to ‘If you like your carry license, you can keep it?'”

      • The only response from the Federal Level should be a SCOTUS ruling stating that citizens of the United States must not, cannot, be infringed in the slightest manner by any governmental agency concerning their right to keep and bare arms.

      • A single sentence like, perhaps, this one?

        “Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.”

        Really, the way I see it, if the feds just stuck to the Constitution as written, we would not have the problems we do now.

        • I always thought of it like this: MA gives full faith and credit to and recognizes the legitimacy of my CT carry permit… as valid in CT only.

  6. The graph is wrong, or at least highly ‘selective’ . E.g. Louisiana has always been an unlicensed right to carry state – openly. The may-issue CHL was mostly for women who carried in their purse. Classifying it as may-issue on a graph labelled “right to carry” is pretty misleading.

  7. And meanwhile the civilized world’s crime rates continue to drop while america’s crime rates are on the rise due to easy access to guns.

    I feel sorry for you yanks knowing that your too brainwashed into believing heavily debunked garbage from the gun lobby.

    • Hope no one carves you up there, Aussie. And don’t act like you’ll fight off a group of criminals who invade your home. Oh, that’s right, thought we hadn’t heard about home invasions there? Ha ha, enjoy being a serf instead of a citizen.

    • Bahahahaha

      Found another troll who uses emotion, not facts when all of his studies have been debunked as cherry-picked hogwash nonsense. Another useful idiot who thinks government is the solution to all of life’s problems. The same country who can’t keep guns from popping up left and right from your own corrupt government allowing gun smuggling unabated. The same place that routinely has lots of homemade guns in the news. I thought guns were banned Aussie? How can there be “gun crime”, another Progressive pseudo-intellectual bullshit mental gymnastic to justify your own slavery but too stupid to realize it while your own government takes your rights away but I guess to you the only right you have is sexual perversion which you leftists love to tout as the epitome of human freedom while routinely throwing the others under the bus for “feelings” and “hope”, when you restricted them? Guess you gonna make more laws right that don’t do anything but make you feel good right?

      No, the crime rate in America is going down you moron but you leftists can’t take it that a country that isn’t a “socialist paradise” as well as the most powerful in the world can make it on its own without having the government wipe your ass since you all are a bunch of weak-willed children. The fact you lash out at us shows us your own insecurities and shortcomings that you can’t deal with the real world but people like you love giving criminals and bureaucrats carte blanche to destroy our lives because hey, government is the solution to everything right?

      Just remember the next time you call the police while they take an hour or more to show up that they use guns to save your pathetic life that you are too scared and cowardly to do for yourself expecting someone else to do it for you like a cowardly socialist loser that you are.

      • He’s not an Australian. This troll has posted here under several different names. I remember he posted a lengthy screed under one of his Australian names, and he using American spellings of words.

      • Things are so bad in Europe that even if they could carry firearms, they(Europeans) would very likely be prosecuted for defending themselves.

    • All crime has been steadily dropping for over 20 years there guy. Meanwhile gun ownership has increased exponentially. Perhaps you should try reading a book before you go off on such an uneducated tirade.

    • Even if that were true, which i sincerely doubt, it’s no legitimate excuse to try and take our arms. See, if we remain armed, we know that when push comes to shove, we will always be certain that our government belongs to us and not the other way around.

      If the price of liberty and freedom means slightly more crime, so be it. But in truth, an armed society is a polite society.

  8. Great graph and article. But was Clinton really the biggest infringement with the graph showing all those years of no issue and may issue? Biggest catalyst or spark for resistance but I don’t understand the statement

    Were some of those laws prohibiting carry on the books since the beginning so there was no new infringement making them?

    • Yes in other ways.

      -’93 “Assault pistol” ban
      -Steel core 7.62×39 added to the ban list
      -’94 AWB (with many provisions still in effect today like the Chinese and Russian bans)
      -’98 import ban
      -Was about to sign another executive order gun law in 2000 but spent too much political capital to do so we were luckily spared that.
      -Pushed companies like S&W and Colt to sell out sucking up to gun controllers
      -Brady background check (hasn’t done anything to prevent bad people from getting guns)
      -Inspired many lib states to enact more draconian laws than the federal level that are still in effect today and growing.

  9. Dean, good article but let’s not forget the Hughes Amendment which unconstitutionally banned full-autos in the 1986 Gun Owners Protection Act you mentioned and the 1989 “assault weapons” import ban signed and pushed by Republican George Bush the 1st which is STILL in effect today (although many younger gun owners think that it expired by confusing it with the 1994 domestic AW ban which Ronald Reagan supported and George Bush the 2nd stated that he would renew ). The NRA did a crappy job in the past as you point out especially in 1989. The way things were headed back then, we figured that the NRA would become nothing more than a national trap & skeet club.

    • Very good points! I would love to have the ability to purchase a full-auto made after 1986! Then I could afford one. Also remember that both parties can be enemies of our 2nd Amendment! Also beware of local government. Never forget what happened to New Orleans’s gun owners after Katrina.

    • True. I watched the Huges amendment be put into the law, in a very underhanded fashion, on C-Span.

      But there are limits to what can be put in the article. I also did not mention Ruby Ridge, Waco, Heller or McDonald.

      Books can and have been written.

  10. The phrase “the wrong side of history” is generally used by communists, socialists, or others of the fascist ilk. Seeing it used here illustrates how their consistent use of that phrase has wormed its way into ignorant acceptance just like the term “assault weapon”.

    • I dunno. I think it’s used by the loser of any particular argument whose policy suggestions are not just ignored but insulted as well by the exact opposite policy being enacted. Basically it’s like running back into a room 5 minutes after having lost an argument in there and yelling, “And another thing.”

      With a tip of the hat to Douglas Adams and a nod Eoin Colfer.

  11. I’d love to see that unrestricted green take over the board the same way shall issue replaced may issue. Let’s keep it up!

  12. Thank you
    I also read the 1993 Clayton E Cramer racist roots of gun control. After hearing Aaron Zelman of JPFO on the radio in tide water Virginia I joined the group in 1994.
    My education continues about my gun civil rights.
    Thanks again.

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