Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again Hardcover Donald Trump (2016)

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THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS

THE SECOND AMENDMENT IS clear to me: “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.”

Period.

The fact that the Founding Fathers made it the Second Amendment, second only to our First Amendment freedoms of speech, religion, the press, and the right of assembly and to petition the government, shows that they understood how important the right to bear arms would be for all Americans.

James Madison pointed out that this right was a unique historical protection when he said that the Constitution preserves “the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation . . . [where] the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

We all enjoy this fundamental right in order to defend ourselves and our families. The Founding Fathers knew it was essential to a free society and passed this amendment to make sure the government could never take it (or our arms) away. Throughout history, we’ve seen oppressive governments consolidate and ensure their control over those they govern by taking away the means necessary for citizens to defend themselves.

I own guns. Fortunately, I have never had to use them, but, believe me, I feel a lot safer knowing that they are there.

I also have a concealed-carry permit that allows me to carry a concealed weapon.

I took the time and the effort to get that permit because the constitutional right to defend yourself doesn’t stop at the end of your driveway. That doesn’t apply just to me either. It applies to all our driveways or front doors.

That’s why I’m very much in favor of making all concealed-carry permits valid in every state.

Every state has its own driving test that residents have to pass before becoming licensed to drive. Those tests are different in many states, but once a state licenses you to drive, every other state recognizes that license as valid.

If we can do that for driving—which is a privilege, not a right—then surely we can do that for concealed carry, which is a right, not a privilege. That seems logical to me.

The Second Amendment has been under attack for a long time. Throughout the years, state governments have chipped away at it, adding restrictions. No other right in the Bill of Rights has been attacked as often as the Second Amendment. Some of these restrictions obviously make sense. For example, felons and mentally ill people should not have access to guns.

A purpose of a gun among other things is to offer protection, to warn those people who would try to harm us that we are carrying a weapon and that we will use it.

In order to protect the Second Amendment, there are several significant steps we need to take. Most important, we need to start getting serious about prosecuting violent criminals. Sometimes it looks to me like the Obama administration has made only a token effort to take violent offenders off our streets.

The problem is compounded by the pressure being put on police departments by community organizations who seek to make our police do their jobs with one hand tied behind their backs.

Violent crime in our inner cities is out of control. Murder rates are way up. There are far too many hardened drug dealers and gang members who are repeatedly involved in burglaries and drive-by killings. We need to get them off the streets so that they don’t continue to terrorize their neighborhoods and ruin more lives.

Here’s an example of what can work. In 1997, a program called Project Exile was started in Richmond, Virginia. It mandated that if a criminal was caught committing a crime with a gun, he had to be tried in federal court rather than city or state court. If convicted, there was a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in a federal prison without a chance of parole or early release.

This was such a sensible program that it was supported by both the NRA and the Brady Campaign, sponsors of the Brady Bill, which had fought for restricted gun ownership.

The Project Exile program was enacted and it worked. This message was posted on billboards around the city: “An Illegal Gun Gets You Five Years in Federal Prison.” In the first year, homicides and armed robberies declined by about a third, and 350 armed criminals were taken off the streets.

A decade later, when the primary elements of the program had been supplemented by a somewhat less tough state law, the number of homicides in Richmond had still been cut by more than half.

Why is this important to law-abiding gun owners? First of all, it offers an intelligent approach to reducing crime, something we all want. Second, it clearly shows that guns are not the problem—dangerous, unstable criminals are the problem.

The antigun lobby still seems to be confused about this distinction.

We don’t need to keep guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens. We need to crack down harder on the career criminals who traffic in guns illegally. Programs like Project Exile will help make our communities safer.

Another important way to fight crime is to create an environment where our law enforcement officers are appreciated for all the good work they do as opposed to being singled out and criticized for the few bad officers who give police a bad name. I realize—and deeply regret—those situations where a police officer acted poorly under pressure and used unnecessary force.

These incidents always draw much more attention than the exemplary police work that goes on day-to-day.

Let’s be clear about one thing: Our police do an amazing job in dealing with all the potentially explosive situations they face on a daily basis. We know, for example, that most crime is committed locally, within a neighborhood or even a household, where an argument can escalate into violent anger and action.

Who gets called into these situations? The police, of course. It is their job to rush in and calm things down. They are protecting neighborhood residents from the criminals in their midst. Detectives have to pick up the pieces when a robbery or murder occurs, so that the perpetrators of crimes can be brought to justice. Our law enforcement officers are very professional and well trained.

Ultimately, protecting ourselves and our families is our own responsibility. I know that. We have to be alert and report suspicious strangers or packages. We have to create community boards that can work in tandem, not in “gotcha mode,” when dealing with local authorities. As relatives and friends, we have to be vigilant when someone close to us is suddenly showing deep signs of depression or erratic behavior while posting threats on social networks.

We also have the right to protect ourselves with gun ownership. It’s as fundamental as choosing our type of religious worship or allowing the press to be critical of our government.

What is foolish and unnecessary is the media criticism that immediately ties a well-publicized crime to the gun rather than to the criminal.

There are a number of steps that can be taken that will benefit all Americans, including the millions of law-abiding gun owners as well as those people who believe wrongly that guns are the source of our crime problems.

We have to keep guns out of the hands of people with mental health issues. The fact that people with mental health problems can obtain guns is not right. We all agree about that and we have to stop it, but there are some big hurdles.

Let’s deal with reality: Our mental health system is broken, and it needs to be fixed. Politicians have ignored this issue because it is such a complex problem, and it might cost some big money.

But the fact is we need to fix this problem now.

Many of the mass murders that have taken place in this country over the last several years have one glaring fact in common: There were red flags that were ignored, and warning signs about the future “murderers” that were ignored. Parents and close friends, even Facebook friends, chose not to say anything or to look the other way. Denial is not responsible behavior.

Most people with mental health problems aren’t violent; they just need help. We have to invest the money and resources to expand treatment programs that can provide that help. But there are people who are violent. They are a danger to the community and they are a danger to themselves.

There are people who should be institutionalized and not living on the streets. Judges say they are entitled to their rights, which of course is true. They are entitled up to the point when they become dangerous to others and themselves. Then the situation changes. Then we have to protect the rights of young children going innocently to school or families out for a relaxing evening at a movie.

Why is this important to law-abiding gun owners? Because you are the citizens the antigun movement and the media blame when a deranged madman uses a gun to commit a horrific act. When one of these tragedies occurs, you can be sure two things are going to follow. First, opponents of gun rights will immediately exploit the situation to push their antigun agenda, and second, none of their proposed restrictions would have prevented the tragedy from taking place.

We need real solutions to solve real problems. We don’t need advocates of useless gun restrictions taking advantage of emotional situations to push their agenda.

So how can we protect and extend the rights of law-abiding gun owners? We accomplish that by educating all Americans about the facts. For example, there has been a long and expensive campaign to find different ways to ban guns or gun hardware. In effect, just get rid of guns. That’s the answer gun control advocates give.

This tactic is a road to nowhere.

Opponents of gun rights often use a lot of scary descriptive phrases when proposing legislative action against various types of weapons. Ban “assault weapons” they say, or “military-style weapons,” or “high-capacity magazines.”

Those all do sound a little ominous, until you understand what they are actually talking about are common, popular semiautomatic rifles and standard magazines that are owned and used by tens of millions of Americans.

I worry when our social-policy makers, looking for a “cause,” pick on guns. The Supreme Court has made it clear that the government simply has no business and, in fact, no right to dictate to gun owners what types of firearms law-abiding Americans are allowed to own. Gun owners should be allowed to purchase the best type of weapon for their needs, whether it’s for self-protection, sport shooting, or any other purpose.

There has been a lot of speculation about background checks, as if researching the background of everyone attempting to legally purchase a gun will somehow keep guns out of the hands of criminals. The national background-check system has been in place since 1998. Every time a gun is purchased from a federally licensed gun dealer, which is how the overwhelming majority of all gun purchases take place, they have to go through a federal background check.

Unfortunately, as expected, bringing more government regulation into the situation has accomplished very little. The main “benefit” has been to make it difficult for a law-abiding American to buy a gun. As study after study has proven, few criminals are stupid enough to try to pass a background check or have their names in any kind of system.

So they get their guns the same way bad guys have always gotten their guns—by stealing them or by buying them from an unlicensed source or getting them from family and friends.

This system is another example of federal regulation that has turned into a complete failure. When the system was put in place, gun owners were promised it would be instant, accurate, and fair. That isn’t what has happened at all.

One final caveat. We need to allow our military members to carry firearms on bases and at recruiting centers. As we have seen, our current policies leave our military members—and their families—defenseless on their own bases. They can be sitting ducks for one crazy person with a machine gun.

In the end, we must understand and appreciate why the right to keep and bear arms is so essential for law-abiding citizens. And we must recognize that the red tape proposed to infringe upon that right is a tremendous waste and possible danger to us all. My sons Donald and Eric are members of the NRA—and so am I—and proud of it!