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When sexual assaults started rising in Orlando, Fla., in 1986, police officers noticed women were arming themselves, so they launched a firearms safety course for them. Over the next 12 months, sexual assaults plummeted by 88 percent, burglaries fell by 25 percent and not one of the 2,500 women who took the course fired a gun in a confrontation.
And that, says a new brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court by police officers and prosecutors in a controversial gun-ban dispute, is why gun ownership is important and should be available to individuals in the United States.
The arguments come in an amicus brief submitted by the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, whose spokesman, Ted Deeds, told WND there now are 92 different law enforcement voices speaking together to the Supreme Court in the Heller case.
That pending decision will decide whether an appeals court ruling striking down a District of Columbia ban on handguns because it violates the Second Amendment will stand or not. The gun ban promoters essentially argue that any gun restriction that is ruled “reasonable” is therefore constitutional, such as the D.C. handgun ban.
Deeds said this probably is the largest unified law enforcement statement in support of the Second Amendment ever, and includes nearly a dozen organizations that represent tens of thousands of police officers across the country, dozens of state attorneys general, dozens of prosecutors and a long list of federal law enforcement experts up to and including federal judges.
Oral arguments in the case are scheduled on March 18, and the LEAA brief is just one of 46 that have been filed on the side of seeking affirmation that the Second Amendment does, indeed, document a right for individuals to own guns in the United States.
The brief notes when the Georgia town of Kennesaw decided to require all residents, with exceptions for conscientious objectors, to keep a firearm at home, home burglaries fell from 66 to 26 to 11 in consecutive years.
In Orlando, the deterrence to criminals who simply knew that their victims may have a gun and may know how to use it and may be willing to do just that had a significant impact, because while Orlando’s rapes were plummeting, assaults were up 5 percent across the state and 7 percent nationally.
The brief cites a study that discovered, based on interviews with felony prisoners in 11 prisons in 10 states, one third of the felons had been “scared off, shot at, wounded or captured by an armed victim,” and nearly four in 10 had decided against committing a specific crime because they thought the victim might have a gun.
“Seventy-four percent agreed with the statement that ‘One reason burglars avoid houses where people are at home is that they fear being shot,'” the study said.
The brief suggested the nation’s crime rate could rocket should more restrictions be placed on guns.
“Numerous surveys show that firearms are used (usually without a shot needing to be fired) for self-defense at least 97,000 times a year, and probably several hundred thousands times a year. The anti-crime effects of citizen handgun ownership provide enormous benefits to law enforcement, because there are fewer home invasion emergencies requiring an immediate police response, and because the substantial reductions in rates of burglary, assault, and other crimes allow the police and district attorneys to concentrate more resources on other cases and on deterrence.”
“Guns save lives,” the brief said. “In the hands of law-abiding citizens, guns provide very substantial public safety benefits. In all 50 states – but not the District – it is lawful to use firearms for defense against home invaders. The legal ownership of firearms for home defense is an important reason why the American rate of home invasion burglaries is far lower than in countries which prohibit or discourage home handgun defense.”
The brief said handgun ownership reduces the number of confrontational home invasions, so “the total U.S. violent crime rate [is reduced] by about 9 percent.”
Deeds said it’s always hard to predict the U.S. Supreme Court, but ideally the ruling would clarify the Second Amendment means exactly what its words say: that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed.
He compared it to the discussion of freedom of religion, should the Bible be banned. “For Christians there’s no effective freedom of religion if they didn’t have a Bible,” he said.
“To have the Second Amendment right on paper, but to be denied the effective means of exercising that right at a moment of truth, when you’re trying to defend yourself or your loved one from an aggressor, [is wrong,]” he said. “The gun is the only answer.”
Where the rubber meets the road, he said, is when a good guy needs to survive an encounter with a bad guy, he said. There are two possible results: Police arrive on the scene later to have the innocent victim hurt or killed, or they arrive on the scene to “find the victim hearty and the offender on the floor.”
“Every cop in American is going to pick the second closing of the story,” Deeds said.
He said gun control originally was sold to Americans as a way to lower crime, but he disagreed. “People who sell this idea that bad guys are going to stop because of one more law are just full of it,” he said.
“That’s a lie. That’s a fraud,” he said. He also said it’s a terribly slippery slope to say that under the Second Amendment, some gun restrictions are good because they are “reasonable.”
“We are hoping that they [the Supreme Court] make a very clear, very unambiguous decision in favor of the Second Amendment,” Deeds told WND.
Montana officials already have argued the U.S. already resolved any dispute about the meaning of the Second Amendment when it defined in Montana’s compact under which it became a state that “any person” has the right to bear arms.
And U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., has led a congressional delegation in asking President Bush to order the U.S. Justice Department to submit a brief to the high court supporting the rights of individuals under the Second Amendment.
A similar request already has been submitted by officials for the Gun Owners of America, whose executive director, Larry Pratt, warned: “If the Supreme Court were to accept the Solicitor General’s line of argument, D.C.’s categorical gun ban of virtually all self-defense firearms could well be found to be constitutional. …”
The government’s position is available in a document submitted by by U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement. He said since “unrestricted” private ownership of guns clearly threatens the public safety, the Second Amendment can be interpreted to allow a variety of gun restrictions.
“Given the unquestionable threat to public safety that unrestricted private firearm possession would entail, various categories of firearm-related regulation are permitted by the Second Amendment,” Clement wrote in the brief.
Because of the specifics of the D.C. case, the ultimate ruling is expected to address directly whether the Second Amendment includes a right for individuals nationwide to have a gun or whether local governments can approve whatever laws or ordinances they desire to restrict firearms.
The amendment reads, “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”