MY WORD: Setting history straight on gun control

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By Linda Humphress

I do not like to publicly attack others on their letters to the editor, but since Eugene Maynard has made a career of doing just that, a past letter of mine included, I feel I am justified to “do to him what he has done to me.” Maynard’s rant (“The Presidential gun-grab,” My Word, Jan. 30) is nothing more than a rant.

In doing a little research on the Internet, I found Sen. Rand Paul’s untruthful scare letter sent to supporters in which the senator and Eugene Maynard give out the same misinformation.

First, according to my trusty Snopes.com: The “UN has been studying the feasibility of effecting a United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (UNATT), – one which supposedly provides a legal way around the 2nd Amendment and will result in a complete ban on all weapons for U.S. citizens – is erroneous in all its particulars.”

The UNATT, if enacted, is supposed to combat the illegal international trade of small arms by setting standards to close gaps that allow weapons to pass onto the illicit market. It has nothing to do with restricting the sale or ownership of guns inside the U.S.

Furthermore, the Obama Administration has stated that mandatory conditions for U.S. approval of such an Arms Trade Agreement include the following:

  • The Second Amendment to the Constitution must be upheld.
  • There will be no restrictions on civilian possession or trade of firearms otherwise permitted by law or protected by the U.S. Constitution.
  • There will be no dilution or diminishing of sovereign control over issues involving the private acquisition, ownership, or possession of firearms, which must remain matters of domestic law.

In other words, no such treaty could bypass the normal legislative process in Congress, as all treaties to which the U.S. is a signatory must first be approved by a two-thirds vote of the U.S. Senate before they are considered to be ratified and binding.

The President of the United States cannot enact a complete ban on all weapons for U.S. citizens through the signing of international treaties with foreign nations. The right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States, and in the 1957 case Reid v. Covert, the U.S. Supreme Court established that the Constitution supersedes international treaties ratified by the U.S. Senate. This court has regularly recognized the supremacy of the Constitution over a treaty.
So the U.S. Senate and U.S. Supreme Court have say on all treaties.

Second, our government (and President Obama) are not going to come into your home and take away the guns you now have. This is a scare tactic the NRA has been using for years. They are not going to ban rifles or handguns. What they want to limit are the military assault guns and magazines holding more than 10 bullets. I agree with this. Neither my husband nor I are antigun, but we  believe military weapons need to stay out of the wrong hands.

Third, Maynard said the president was so worried about protecting himself and his family he had legislation passed for lifetime Secret Service protection instead of 10 years after leaving office. Well, lifetime Secret Service protection was the law of the land from 1901, after the assassination of President McKinley, until 1997. That’s when Congress passed legislation limiting Secret Service protection to 10 years after leaving office. Former presidents before 1997 still were covered with lifelong protection.

The new law brings back this much-needed protection. This means all former presidents from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush, including the present and all future presidents, have this coverage the rest of their lives.

I feel the scare tactics of the far right and the NRA should not be happening. What ever happened to the “middle of the road” and cooperation of Congress to do what is best for all of America and not just a few?

Linda Humphress is a resident of Simpsonville