CONSTITUTIONAL CAUCUS ON THE BILL OF RIGHTS -- (House of Representatives - January 16, 2008)
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Mr. BROUN of Georgia. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, I must begin by saying that I believe in the Constitution as James Madison and company meant it. In fact, I carry a copy in my pocket at all times. It's getting a little shopworn and dog-eared. I describe myself as a Madisonian Republican. And it's interesting, most people in our country today don't realize that James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Quincy Adams all considered themselves to be Republicans because they believed in very limited government, and that's what I believe in also.
But I rise today to join in with my colleagues on this discussion of the importance of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, specifically about the second amendment.
I began to be politically active by coming to Washington as vice president for Safari Club International. And in my capacity of being a vice president, I would work on hunters' rights and gun owners' rights. And I must say that, as you look at this, as my colleague just mentioned, the militia in the days of the Constitution writing meant every single male 18 years of age and older.
In his address to the second session of the First Congress of the United States, the President, George Washington stated, ``Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence.''
He went on, ``From the hour the Pilgrims landed, to this present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to ensure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable. The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference. They deserve a place of honor with all that's good.''
When I ran for Congress, I made a commitment to the constituents in my district, the 10th Congressional District in Georgia, that if elected, I would fight to protect their constitutional rights and their pocketbooks for every American. I promised to apply a four-way test to every piece of legislation that comes before the House for a vote and everything that we do in our office. Before every vote, every vote that we take, I ask whether the legislation is moral and right, and does it fit within the constraints of what God gives us in His inherent word.
The second question, is it constitutional. And I'm not talking about this perverted idea of the Constitution that this Congress and the administration and particularly the judiciary are operating on today, but is it constitutional according to James Madison and the people who wrote it. They wrote voluminously about what they meant in the Constitution of the United States, and we in all three branches of government need to apply their writings to how we operate government.
The third question is do we really need it. And the fourth is can we afford it. I believe so firmly in those that I printed those up and it's on the desk of every single staffer in my office. Upholding and defending law-abiding citizens' rights to bear arms passes all four of those tests.
The second amendment of the Constitution declares that ``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.''
Our Founding Fathers believed very firmly that an armed populace was the only way to prevent tyranny by their own government and I, likewise, adhere to that same philosophy.
I am an avid hunter and outdoorsman, and I strongly support the Constitution's second amendment right to bear arms, and will defend the right of law-abiding citizens to purchase, use and keep firearms, as well as to bear those arms and to transport those arms. I vigorously oppose all attempts to restrict the second amendment. I believe that any law, local, State, or Federal, that infringes upon a law-abiding citizen's God-given right to bear an arm, a God-given right that's supposed to be protected by the Constitution of the United States, any law, Federal, State or local that infringes upon those rights are unconstitutional, and I'll fight to try to restore those rights that have been already put in place on all levels.
Since 1975, the residents of Washington, DC have had their second amendment right to bear arms stolen from them by the District's government. Last year, in Heller v. DC, the DC Court of Appeals ruled that the gun ban in the District of Columbia violated an individual's right to keep and bear arms that is protected by the Constitution and the second amendment; thus, nullifying the gun ban that the District of Columbia put upon its citizens.
Upon appeal by the District of Columbia, the Supreme Court has decided to consider this very important second amendment constitutional case. The U.S. Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of DC's ban on handgun ownership and self-defense by law-abiding residents in their own homes.
The Court will first address the question of whether the second amendment to the Constitution, as embodied in the Bill of Rights, protects an individual's right to own a firearm and to protect themselves, or whether it is a right of the government.
We already see that the government cannot protect citizens. In fact, the courts even ruled that the police do not have an obligation to protect a citizen anywhere. We only have that right ourselves. If the Court agrees that it is an individual right, then they will determine if the District's self-defense and handgun bans are constitutional or not.
The Supreme Court has a historic opportunity to return to the original intent and the meaning of the second amendment. The second amendment protects us. It's a fundamental and an individual right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms for any lawful purpose. Further, any law infringing upon this freedom, including the ban on self-defense and on handgun ownership, is unconstitutional.
Further, every study that's been done has shown that gun control provides absolutely no benefit in curbing crime. Rather, these types of restrictions only leave law-abiding citizens more susceptible to criminal attack. Other than law enforcement, only criminals have guns in the District of Columbia.
In fact, it was interesting, the community of Morton Grove, Illinois passed a ban on handguns. And then in response to that, a city in Georgia, Kennesaw, Georgia, passed an ordinance stating that every household should own a firearm. It was a very interesting social experiment.
And what happened? The crime rate in Morton Grove, Illinois skyrocketed. The crime rate in Kennesaw, Georgia plummeted. These bans do not protect anybody but a criminal.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit correctly ruled that DC statutes are unconstitutional. I strongly believe that the ruling should and will be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.