Our country has suffered through a series of tragic shootings in recent history, the mass murder at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school being only the latest. Innocent children lost their lives at the hands of a deranged killer and Americans began to ask themselves a series of questions: What could have been done to prevent this calamity, and how do we ensure something like this never happens again?
President Obama and liberal policymakers in Washington believe they have the answer: a series of new gun control regulations and an outright ban on semi-automatic rifles. These new laws, however, take sensible gun regulation too far. President Obama is pushing measures which will violate our constitutional right to keep and bear arms, further overreach into the affairs of Alaska, and target law-abiding citizens while ignoring criminality.
The 2008 Supreme Court case of District of Columbia v. Heller upheld an individual's right to keep and bear arms as established by the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Americans should be able to keep firearms in the home without unreasonable interference from the government. Our Second Amendment has its roots in the natural right to self-defense, which was originally codified in the English Bill of Rights of 1689 following the overthrow of King James II during the Glorious Revolution. Americans use their arms for a variety of purposes, but we must not forget the right to keep and bear arms was originally intended to be a check on government power.
Some policy makers in Washington are painting semi-automatic rifles as weapons with no legitimate purpose. Alaskans know better. We have a long tradition of responsible gun ownership and understand a semi-automatic rifle is not an unusual weapon outside the purview of the Second Amendment. We use and enjoy semi-automatic rifles every day for hunting, sport, and self-defense. As in many of our resource-related issues, the federal government is overreaching into the affairs of Alaska and forcing their misguided policies onto us.
A one-size-fits-all approach to gun control will not work because Alaska is radically different from the streets of New York or Los Angeles. We have a unique situation as the Last Frontier, where guns played a significant role in our history and culture. For too long, policy makers in Washington, who do not understand Alaska, have tried to tell us how we ought to live our lives.
Enough is enough. We're not going to sit back and simply allow them to violate our constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
Instead of violating our rights, policy makers should be addressing criminality. According to a recent Gallup Poll, 47 percent of Americans reported having a gun in their home. Although this number has remained relatively steady over the past two decades, overall crime has declined. What's important to recognize is the vast majority of gun owners are responsible, law-abiding citizens and most gun-related murders occur in inner cities where gang violence is prevalent.
As parents and grandparents, we believe the protection of children ought to be our top priority, which is why it is essential for law-abiding citizens to have the means to defend themselves against violent criminals. If Congress were to pass President Obama's gun control initiatives, it is incredibly unlikely criminals would suddenly lay down their arms and obey the law. These new gun control measures will only inhibit our ability to defend our families.
President Obama and his allies have taken former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's words to heart, to never let a "serious crisis go to waste" by using tragic events to push their political agenda.
We who love liberty, conversely, heed the words of the great patriot Patrick Henry: "If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?" As Alaskans, it's time we stand up to federal encroachment and assert our rights as free people.
Sen. Mike Dunleavy is in his first term representing District D in the Mat-Su Valley. Rep. Wes Keller has represented District 7 since 2007. Rep. Shelley Hughes is in her first term representing District 8, as is Lynn Gattis representing District 9. Rep Mark Neuman had served District 10 since 2005.
By SEN. MIKE DUNLEAVY and REPS. WES KELLER, SHELLEY HUGHES, LYNN GATTIS and MARK NEUMANN