As the Supreme Court Ponders Oral Arguments in a Second Amendment Case, We Call for an End to the Fraud

A Message from the President of Americans Against Gun Violence

During an interview on the PBS News Hour in 1991, the late Supreme Court Chief Justice called the gun lobby’s claim that the Second Amendment was intended to confer an individual right to own guns “one of the greatest pieces of fraud – I repeat the word, ‘fraud’ – on the American people by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

On December 2, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a Second Amendment case for the first time since the 2008 Heller decision, in which a narrow 5-4 majority of the Court endorsed the gun lobby’s fraudulent misrepresentation of the Second Amendment in overturning Washington DC’s partial handgun ban; and the 2010 McDonald decision, in which the same five member majority ruled that Heller applied to the states as well as to the District of Columbia. During oral arguments in the case of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. New York City on December 2, the fraud was compounded, and not just by the attorneys for the gun lobby. Americans Against Gun Violence was the only gun violence prevention organization in the entire country to file an amicus (friend of the court) brief in this case calling on the Court to end the fraud....

 

Read the full message

Preventing Firearm Related Deaths and Injuries in the United States of America
Mission Statement of Americans Against Gun Violence

Revised February 17, 2019

 

Firearm related deaths and injuries are a serious public health problem in the United States of America, and the rate of gun related deaths in our country is currently at least ten times higher than the average rate for the other high income democratic countries of the world. It is the position of Americans Against Gun Violence that we have not only the ability, but also the moral responsibility, to reduce rates of firearm related deaths and injuries in our country to levels that are at or below the rates in other economically advanced democratic countries.

Like other gun violence prevention organizations, we support common sense firearm regulations. We believe, however, that common sense dictates that in order to reduce rates of gun violence in the United States to levels comparable to other high income democratic countries, we must adopt comparably stringent gun control laws – laws that go far beyond the limited measures currently being advocated by other U.S. gun violence prevention organizations. Specifically, we believe that we should follow the examples of Australia and the United Kingdom, both of which reacted swiftly and definitively following mass shootings in their countries over two decades ago, by banning civilian ownership of all automatic and semi-automatic rifles, as in the case of Australia, and by banning civilian ownership of all handguns, as in the case of the United Kingdom. We also believe that we should follow the example of every other high income democratic country in requiring registration of all firearms and licensing of all firearm owners. Finally, we believe that in the United States, as in all other economically advanced democratic countries, the burden of proof  should be on any person seeking to acquire a gun to show convincing evidence that he or she needs one and can handle one safely, not on society to show evidence that he or she should not have a gun. And given the large body of evidence showing that there is no net protective value from owning or carrying a gun, “self defense” should not be automatically accepted as a reason for owning a gun in the United States, just as it is not accepted in most other high income democratic countries.

In the United States, like in other economically advanced democratic countries, stringent gun control laws need not prevent legitimate hunters and target shooters from pursuing their sports. As in those other countries, though, stringent regulation of civilian firearm ownership should be accompanied by stringent regulation of the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers.

The Second Amendment, as it was interpreted repeatedly by the Supreme Court and almost every lower court for the first 217 years of our nation’s history, is no obstacle to the adoption of the stringent gun control laws advocated by Americans Against Gun Violence. The 2008 Heller decision, however, in which a narrow 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court ruled that the District of Columbia’s partial ban on handgun ownership violated the Second Amendment, is a significant obstacle. In the Heller decision, five justices endorsed an interpretation of the Second Amendment that the late Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger had called “…one of the biggest pieces of fraud – I repeat the word, ‘fraud’ - on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.” It is the position of Americans Against Gun Violence that the Heller case was wrongly decided. In the short term, Heller should be overturned. In the long term, Americans Against Gun Violence advocates the adoption of a new constitutional amendment that clarifies the Second Amendment in a manner consistent with the following statement in the majority opinion in the Supreme Court’s 1980 Lewis decision:

The Second Amendment guarantees no right to keep and bear a firearm that does not have “some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.”

We are confident that one day, the United States will adopt stringent gun control laws comparable to the laws that have long been in effect in every other high income democratic country of the world. The only question is how many more innocent Americans will be killed and injured by guns before that day arrives. It is our mission to make that day come sooner rather than later.

Click on this link for a fully referenced, downloadable version of this mission statement in PDF format.