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There are a huge number of federal and state gun control laws out there, as most of you know. However, most of the problems with gun control stem, in my view, from just a few acts of Congress on the federal level. (See below, abridged from http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/aa092699.htm)

Quote
1934
The National Firearms Act of 1934 regulating only fully automatic firearms like sub-machine guns is approved by Congress.

1938
The Federal Firearms Act of 1938 places the first limitations on selling ordinary firearms. Persons selling guns are required to obtain a Federal Firearms License, at an annual cost of $1, and to maintain records of the name and address of persons to whom firearms are sold. Gun sales to persons convicted of violent felonies were prohibited.

1968
The Gun Control Act of 1968 - "...was enacted for the purpose of keeping firearms out of the hands of those not legally entitled to possess them because of age, criminal background, or incompetence." -- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms The Act regulates imported guns, expands the gun-dealer licensing and record keeping requirements, and places specific limitations on the sale of handguns. The list of persons banned from buying guns is expanded to include persons convicted of any non-business related felony, persons found to be mentally incompetent, and users of illegal drugs.

1994
The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (Public Law 103-159) imposes a five-day waiting period on the purchase of a handgun and requires that local law enforcement agencies conduct background checks on purchasers of handguns.

Although all of these are bad for the right to keep and bear arms, are unconstitutional, and are generally against any libertarian notion of civil rights, civil liberties, and sovereign citizenship, there are two among these four which stand out to me as particularly egregious. Those are the Federal Firearms Act of 1938 and the Gun Control Act of 1968.

Why? Take a look at all the legislations and tell me what is particularly different about those two laws as opposed to the others. See it yet? Those two laws create a divide between those United States citizens who may own firearms (for whatever reason) and those who may not. They create a form of legalized discrimination against the "not allowed" group in favor of the "allowed" group. If this group division were between Latinos and everybody else (for example), everyone would be appalled. So what makes this form of discrimination okay, especially in light of the basic civil rights to self-defense that every citizen should be allowed to exercise?

Well, like many government mandates, the laws may be well-intentioned. They're trying to be preventative, but in doing so, they are depriving citizens of their basic rights and liberties. Every person has the right to defend themselves against violent attack, and yes, that even includes former felons. In fact, it can be argued that, since many felons live in poor neighborhoods with high crime rates, the need for these citizens to have access to self-defense weapons is all the more acute. I believe that every libertarian should be willing to fight for the basic human rights of even ex-felons.

Aside from only felons, however, the Gun Control Act of 1968 also creates other classes of "disallowed" people: 1.) people with a mental handicap or illness, or 2.) recreational drug users. Even if you agree that felons should be restricted from owning guns, how about these two groups of people? This legislation sticks out to me as the most discriminatory and anti-freedom gun legislation on the books. Furthermore, the terms "mental illness", "mental defective", and "mental incompetent" can be extremely subjective. Anorexia is classified as a mental illness, so is bipolar disorder and major depression. I doubt many of those diagnosed with a mental illness would be too happy about being called "incompetent", or seen as a threat to society. Further, more and more common, everyday issues in life are being called "mental illnesses" by doctors and medical academics all the time. Are we really to deny all of these people their basic 2nd Amendment rights? On what grounds?

On a personal note, I am also personally affected by this legislation. About 15 years ago, I was a patient at a mental hospital for about a month to work through some issues. I had major depression and other symptoms of mental illness. I definitely needed to seek help, and I got it at the hospital. I saw a psychiatrist for another several months after my hospital stay, and after that time both my doctor and I agreed that I was fine and needed no more medical attention. I haven't had any episodes or incidents since that time, but 15 years later, I am not eligible to own a firearm to protect my home. Considering the fact that my home was broken into last year and robbed while I was at work, I feel more than ever like a self-defense weapon is necessary. I consider the fact that I am unable to obtain one more than unfair. It's downright wrong. Is this America or not?

The reason I am writing this is not to tell you about my issues, but rather to try and understand why libertarianism is always so much on the defensive. We gripe and complain about new bills proposed in Congress and say, "Oh no! That will make things even worse!", and we oppose those current bills in hoping to stop them. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail, but that's the problem -- gradually, government always grows and nothing is repealed. Why do we allow this to continue? Why don't we take aim at past acts and legislations, and set poised to be on the *attack* for a change? Why do we always have to say "no" to the new, and forget about the real roots of the problem?

In the case of gun control, why aren't we unceasingly and unapologetically demanding the repeal of the four above federal gun control laws, and in particular the discriminatory Federal Firearms Act of 1938 and the Gun Control Act of 1968? Why are we so sheepish and complacent? I'm tired of always being on the defensive. It's time for us to rise up and start demanding our basic rights and liberties back. I'm willing to fight for it. We need political strategies to repeal. We need open dialogues about issues of real importance: Repealing old, bad laws based upon bad philosophies. We need to be talking about repealing federal gun control, repealing the New Deal, stopping the Drug War, ending the Fed, and just basically demanding our (real) lives as Americans back once again! Are we so shy and dejected that we cannot even fight for those freedoms which are rightfully ours? Why do we put up with this so much, for so many years?

Since when do we ask permission to be free? Since when do we accept "no" as an answer to that request?




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