L. Neil Smith's

Number 1, October 1995

How Do We Reduce Gun Violence In Maryland?

Testimony to The Governor's Commission on Gun Violence

September 6, 1995

By John C. Taylor
Maryland Coordinator
Libertarian Second Amendment Caucus

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

         Ladies and Gentlemen of the Commission: thank you for allowing me to speak to you today. My name is John Taylor, from Columbia, Maryland. According to the commission's guidelines for testimony, speakers " ... should address the question: 'How do we reduce gun violence in Maryland?'" I believe that the question (indeed the very name of this commission) reveals a fatal flaw that prejudices the outcome of this investigative process.
         In the Governor's Executive Order that establishes this commission, we find the following in the opening paragraphs of the Order:

         "The alarming increase in gun violence and gun-related accidents threatens the lives, health, and safety of Maryland's citizens; ... The safety of our communities, and especially our children, can be improved by sound measures to reduce gun violence and by raising the public's awareness and support of gun laws ..." [emphasis added] (1)

         It strikes me as quite remarkable that our system of government in Maryland has deteriorated to the point that such blatant hypocrisy is passed off as good governance, and is accepted as such, for the most part, by many legislators and other public officials, and even some elements of the general populace. Not only is this Executive Order false in its premise, but it shamelessly announces its true agenda, clearly not caring whether anyone notices -- not to mention takes exception to -- its fundamental assumptions.
         "How do we reduce gun violence in Maryland?"
         The problem to which the question really refers is not one of gun violence -- the problem is violent crime of all kinds. To focus on gun violence as if it were the sole source of our crime problems is disingenuous at best, and I suspect, far, far worse in this case. The issue of crime has nothing to do with guns.
         Discussions of statistics will not sway any advocate from either side, but that does not mean that we should let truth languish as a result. The facts are that so-called "gun violence" (and violent crime in general) is declining, rather than undergoing an "alarming increase". The same is true of "gun-related accidents", and has been for years. It is also a fact that "gun laws", through their enactment, have failed to reduce crime of any kind anywhere they have been implemented. But those facts, and the countering appeals to emotion from the elitists and the prohibitionists, have already been extensively covered.
         "How do we reduce gun violence in Maryland?"
         Members of the Commission, there exists no problem that is addressed by such a question -- therefore, it is unrealistic to expect that any answer given to the question as intended would be of any real value to the citizens of this state. Let me offer a few observations that are perhaps more pertinent to the true discussion at hand.
         We all want to reduce crime -- that's a given. In order to reduce crime, we will have to start somewhere. A logical place to start would be with the criminals. Who are the criminals? Who are these people who use guns to force us to live in fear of losing our property and our lives? Who are these criminals who prey on our apprehensions? Who are these people who use force to achieve their criminal objectives?
         Well, in part I suppose it's true that they include a few -- and, I emphasize, a small minority -- of the kids on the streets of our cities; I suppose it's also true that they include the adult recidivists, psychopaths, and sociopaths who invade our homes and neighborhoods and make them unsafe.
         But the real criminals -- the ones who are the role models for street crime -- the ones who set the standard which leads most directly to the deterioration of our society -- the ones who are at the root of the problem ...
         Well, they're not the street thugs and dope dealers, nor the gang members, nor the nuts and kooks and perverts.
         No, the felons we should really go after first if we want to break the cycle of crime are the hard core career criminals ... among our public officials.
         How dare I say such a thing? How dare I impugn the integrity of our public servants? I'm glad you asked!
         Maryland's Declaration of Rights states:

"The Constitution of the United States, and the Laws made, or which shall be made, in pursuance thereof, ... are, and shall be the Supreme Law of the State; and the Judges of this State, and all the People of this State, are, and shall be bound thereby; anything in the Constitution or Law of this State to the contrary notwithstanding." (2)

         And furthermore:

"That all persons invested with the Legislative or Executive powers of Government are the Trustees of the Public, and, as such, accountable for their conduct: ..." (3)

         And finally:

"That the provisions of the Constitution of the United States, and of this State apply, as well in time of war, as in time of peace; and any departure therefrom, or violation thereof, under the plea of necessity, or any other plea, is subversive of good Government, and tends to anarchy and despotism." (4)

         Anarchy and despotism, ladies and gentlemen. Anarchy and despotism. Maryland's elected officials are sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of the State of Maryland. Those who do not do so are criminals and despots. More insidiously, those who do not do so weaken the fabric of society by engendering disrespect for government and for the system of laws that was intended to protect the rights of the citizenry.
         "How do we reduce gun violence in Maryland?"
         Let's start by holding public officials accountable for their actions. Let's arrest, try, convict, fine, and imprison any official who ever introduced, supported, voted for, or enforced unconstitutional laws that disarm the potential victims of crime. Where a violation of individual or constitutional rights has resulted in an injury or fatality, let's impose a commensurate penalty on the responsible officials.
         Public officials who introduce, sponsor, advocate, or vote for laws that restrict the rights of citizens to provide for their own defense should be removed from office under the provisions of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (5), and should be prosecuted under felony statutes for violation of both their oath of office and violation of the unalienable rights of the people.
         "How do we reduce gun violence in Maryland?"
         There are already more than 22,000 so-called "gun control" laws on the books in the United States. Not one of these laws is constitutional. Not one of these laws is consistent with individual human rights. Not one of the various agencies charged with their enforcement is acting lawfully under the United States Constitution. No state or locality is acting constitutionally in restricting, or infringing in any way, through act of law or bureaucratic regulation, the individual's right to purchase, keep, carry (openly or concealed), or use a firearm for purposes of defense of self, family, or others from criminal acts.
         The right to self-defense, defense of family, and defense of others against predation has nothing to do with measures taken to reduce crime. Any laws that are passed with the expressed intent of reducing crime by seeking to disarm victims of crime are, by definition, unconstitutional and therefore criminal in and of themselves.
         "Gun control" is misdirected -- its net effect is always felt most by citizens who are otherwise among those most supportive of law and order, of our system of government, and of the rights and liberties that we all (presumably, at least) hold dear.
         "Gun control" is elitist -- its net effect is to disarm those who are likely to be victims of crime, while elected officials rest secure in their upscale neighborhoods with high-level security protection, or who move behind a phalanx of taxpayer-funded security personnel who are armed with automatic firearms that are too expensive, due to "gun control" regulations, for most ordinary citizens to own.
         "Gun control" is racist -- its net effect is to disarm the urban poor who are at the greatest risk of victimization, who can least afford to provide their own personal protection, and who are accorded the least protection by the state.
         "Gun control" is counterproductive -- its net effect is not to deter crime, but instead to engender a general level of disrespect for law; furthermore, its very introduction inevitably leads to more and more citizens feeling the need to arm themselves.
         "How do we reduce gun violence in Maryland?"
         Repeal each and every one of the unconstitutional victim-disarmament laws already on the books in Maryland, and reject all new efforts to impose them. Abolish all agencies whose sole responsibility is to enforce these unconstitutional gun laws, delete that responsibility from agencies that remain intact, and destroy all records collected in the administration of victim-disarmament laws. Decriminalize concealed weapons carry and the acts of self-defense and defense of others, and impose no restrictions on them whatsoever, either by act of law or by bureaucratic regulation.
         Pardon and provide restitution to anyone ever harmed (or even merely inconvenienced) by victim-disarmament laws.
         "How do we reduce gun violence in Maryland?"
         Citizens can and should take responsibility for themselves and for their own actions. This includes responsibility for their own defense.
         The right of self-defense is inherent in the basic nature of each and every individual human being. It is not dependent on conditions imposed by society or on political consensus.
         These hearings have produced a number of people whose stories are evocative of sympathy -- the appeal to emotion is a strong one, calculated to sway the opinion of the most hardhearted among us.
         These hearings have produced a number of people who have cited their religious, moral, ethical, and social principles as justification for imposing increased controls over the rights of all citizens.
         These hearings have produced a number of people, on both sides, whose testimony has been full of conflicting studies, polls, and statistics. All of these people have a right to speak and to be heard -- and, to its credit, this commission has afforded them a unique opportunity to publicly exercise that right. But it appears that this commission was in fact designed to allow these people's testimony, to conduct its meetings, and then to derive conclusions and make recommendations that were fore-ordained by the Governor's office.
         This repugnant strategy overlooks one small, but highly significant point -- to the great peril of all involved.
         Even if each and every person who testified had come forward to say that Maryland needs more "gun control" ...
         Even if each and every person who testified had suggested additional victim-disarmament laws as the sole answer to the question, "How do we reduce gun violence in Maryland?" ....
         Even if each and every commission member had been convinced by these hearings that additional restrictions on the rights of the citizens of the State of Maryland was the way to stop crime dead in its tracks ...
         Neither you, nor any agency of the State, has permission to do such a thing -- period.
         This republic, founded in the principles of common law, was designed with unprecedented built-in safeguards to prevent the usurpation of power, by the government, from the people. Chief among these provisions was the original "Contract With America" -- the Bill of Rights. As long as this republic is constitutionally intact, any attempt to usurp the power of the people is unconstitutional, criminal, and punishable.
         This issue has nothing to do with guns.
         This issue has nothing to do with violence.
         This issue has nothing to do with crime.
         This issue has to do with control.
         This issue has to do with power.
         And we, the people, intend to keep control of the power of government firmly within our grasp.
         "How do we reduce gun violence in Maryland?"
         We start by punishing those officials who deny their oath and who infringe on citizens' rights.
         "How do we reduce gun violence in Maryland?"
         We start by repealing unconstitutional victim-disarmament laws, and rejecting any new proposals for such laws in future legislative sessions. "How do we reduce gun violence in Maryland?"
         We start by retaining the power of government -- of, by, and for the people -- in the hands of the people.
         Thank you.


(1) Executive Order 01.01.1995.09

(2) Constitution of Maryland, Declaration of Rights, Article 2

(3) Ibid., Article 6

(4) Ibid., Article 44

(5) Amendment XIV
Article 1. " ... No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. ..."

Article 3. "No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. ..."

John C. Taylor
10554 Jason Lane
Columbia, Maryland 21044-2213
(410) 730-1265 [home]
(410 290-2535 [work]
[e-mail]: 76470.3001@compuserve.com.

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