September 9, 2009
A Sheriff Who Dislikes the Second Amendment
When a sheriff gets so many facts wrong about gun ownership, as does Juan M. Perez of Hudson County Jersey City in a recent op-ed piece on NJ.com, it underscores the need for this blog and at the same time makes us recoil in disbelief as to how far off base a member of the law enforcement community can be about the Second Amendment and what it means to citizens of this country.
Sheriff Perez writes, "It is most certain that handguns and other types of weapons only belong in the possession of law enforcement and military personnel." If the sheriff lived in a country run by a dictator or a totalitarian regime, that would be the case, but in the United States the Constitution's Second Amendment provides the fundamental right for citizens to keep and bear arms, and the vast majority of law enforcement officers and military officials we've ever met strongly support that right. It’s certainly a right they enjoy when they leave those professions. We wonder if the law-abiding, gun-owning citizens of the communities that Sheriff Perez is responsible for know that their sheriff thinks this way, and if so, we wonder why they would re-elect him?
We sympathize with Sheriff Perez over the loss of an officer who was slain by "career criminals," and we share his frustration over the criminal acquisition of firearms, yet blaming the right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms as the cause of that tragedy and wanting to strip citizens of their Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms is not the answer to reducing gun crime.
Characterizing the gun used in the crime (a pump shotgun) as an "automatic type of shotgun" mislabels a type of firearm commonly owned and used for sporting purposes and home protection. Mr. Perez is off base when he says "these types of weapons should be prohibited from being manufactured, imported, or sold in the United States of America." Such firearms are widely manufactured and sold under the regulation of the federal government and are responsibly owned by millions of Americans.
The sheriff opposes legislation that would modernize the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' regulation of federally licensed firearms retailers. The ATF Reform bill would revise penalties for violations of firearms laws and the outdated procedures for determining such penalties. This legislation has in the past been co-sponsored by a majority of the House and passed that chamber. It is sponsored this year in the Senate by liberal senator Pat Leahy (D-VT), who chairs the Judiciary Committee. None of the legislation's proposed changes would hinder the ATF from performing the duty that Congress has charged it with–that of regulating the sales of firearms and ammunition through licensed retailers.
Mr. Perez demonizes firearms and says that guns harm humanity, when in fact firearms have for centuries helped protect people from the inhumanity of criminals and oppressors who attempt to prey on people they assume are weak and defenseless until they learn otherwise.
We remind the sheriff of a national survey conducted by Dr. Gary Kleck that revealed approximately 2.5 million defensive gun uses per year by law-abiding citizens.