The Des Moines Register, Sunday, January 4, 1998, Page 7AA


Disarm America?

Should we repeal Second Amendment

Gun debate

    On Dec.28 the Register published an Iowa View essay by Ivan T. Webber, a Des Moines attorney, in response to the murders of schoolchildren in Kentucky that the Second Amendment be repealed.  "Even talking about repeal will at least move the discussion to the right arena," Webber wrote.  These letters are a beginning of that discussion. - Editor.

    If Ivan T. Webber wants to see twisting and perversion of fact, he need look no further than his diatribe of Dec. 23 calling for repeal of the Second Amendment.  As an NRA member, sportsman and responsible gun owner, I don't appreciate his loose play with the facts or being labeled a "lackey."
    It's just selected sound bites from a spin doctor or, in this case, a spin shyster trying to sway opinion in his favor.  If Webber wants to have "discussion," he'll have to see and understand the whole truth, not only half-truths that support his position.  It's not the NRA this country should fear, it's people like Webber who are arrogant enough to think they have the right to edit the Constitution to suit their particular position on an issue.
    -- Scoff W. McIntire,
    1602 E. 148 St. S., Grinnell.

    It never ceases to amaze me how elected officials and lawyers can do their jobs with such a limited understanding of our Constitution. Ivan T. Webber is a perfect example.  He claims that the answer to the problem of people being killed with guns is to repeal the Second Amendment.
    Our founding fathers understood the need for an armed citizenry, not only so they could defend their lives and property from thieves, but also so they could defend themselves from government tyranny.  They understood that their right to keep and to bear arms was inalienable, and not a right granted to them by the Constitution.   That is why they did not give the federal government that authority. Repealing the Second Amendment would not give them that authority.  That would require another amendment.
    The prospect of repealing the Second Amendment is noxious to begin with.  One might as well solve the problem of deaths caused by drunken drivers by banning cars.
    Clearly the solution is not to take away the means of self-defense from
law-abiding citizens.  The answer is to punish those who abuse their rights, and make their punishment swift, sure and severe; something it presently is not.
    -- D. J. Schachtner,
    209 W. Main, Marshalltown.

Gun ban is constitutional

    For years the NRA has told people that gun-control laws violate the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  But this is simply not true.
    As a matter of law, the meaning of the Second Amendment was settled in United States vs. Miller in 1939.  Miller was convicted of carrying a sawed-off shotgun across state lines in violation of the National Firearms Act of 1935.  He appealed his conviction on the basis of the Second Amendment.  The Supreme Court, in rejecting Miller's appeal, wrote that the "obvious purpose" of the Second Amendment was "to assure the continuation and effectiveness of the state militia" and that "the Amendment must be interpreted and applied with that end in view."  Other courts have ruled that the militia referred to in the Second Amendment is today's National Guard.  Thus, the Second Amendment only guarantees the right of states to have an armed National Guard - not private citizens to own guns.
    In 1983, Morton Grove, Ill., passed a city ordinance that banned hand-guns within the city limits.  The ordinance was challenged on the basis of the Second Amendment.  The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ban, writing, "We conclude that the right to keep and bear handguns is not protected by the Second Amendment."  The U.S. Supreme Court let the Circuit Court's ruling stand without comment, indicating its concurrence with the Circuit Court's decision.
    The private ownership of guns is a "privilege" granted by governments - not a constitutionally protected "right."  And when that privilege is abused, or becomes a danger to the public, then governments have a duty to pass laws to protect the public.  The state of Iowa or the federal government could pass a law that totally banned handguns, and such a law would be constitutional.
    -- John Johnson,
    state coordinator, Iowans for
    the Prevention of Gun Violence,
    3575 Rimrock Dr. N.E.,
    Cedar Rapids.

The Des Moines Register, Sunday, January 4, 1998, Page 7AA
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