We Have a Right to Bear Arms; We Also Have a Right to Live

By Allan Lengel

I’m all for the right to bear arms. The constitution says we can.

That being said, guns and semi-automatic rifles are a dangerous enough commodity — like prescription morphine and oxycodone — that they need to be regulated — particularly when they end up in the hands of the violent Mexican cartels.

I bring this up because the NRA and other gun rights groups like the National Shooting Sports Foundation are up in arms over a newly implemented ATF regulation that requires U.S. gun dealers in U.S. states bordering Mexico to report the sale within five business days of two or more semi-automatic rifles capable of using detachable magazines.

The problem is that many of those guns from those states like Texas and Arizona are flooding into Mexico and into the hands of drug cartels, who are committing mass murder at a staggering rate. The cartels have also spread their tentacles into the U.S.

The new ATF regulation is not magic bullet to stop the flow of illegal guns to Mexico. But every little bit helps. And reporting multiple sales of assault rifles raises a red flag. Sorry. But if you buy 10 assault rifles in two days, the government should have the right to ask WHY?

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has filed a lawsuit to try and block the regulation, which took effect Aug. 14. It says it abhors the violence in Mexico, but says ATF is violating peoples’ rights.

NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane issued a statement this week about the ATF requirement for border states: “This is the proverbial ‘slippery slope.’ Our industry abhors the criminal misuse of firearms, whether on the streets of El Paso or in Juarez, Mexico. Though we can understand ATF’s motive is to try to curtail violence in Mexico, Congress simply has not granted ATF regulatory carte blanche.”

It’s hardly carte blanche.

Maybe Mr. Keane should head to Juarez, Mexico and see what carte blanche really is. Carte blanche down there is what the Mexican cartels have, killing at will, intimidating and murdering police, thanks, at least in part, to the steady flow of our American guns that wind up in Mexico.

That’s carte blanche.

Sure, we as Americans have a right to bear arms. But we as Americans have a right to live — as do our neighbors to the south.


I wanted to voice concerns about several of the implicit viewpoints expressed in your article. I think if you read what I have to say, and my references, you will likely come to agree with me.

1. Semi-automatic rifles are a danger to society.
FACT: Semi-automatic “assault rifles” are responsible for less than 1% of all gun-related crime in the US, including mass shootings.[1]

2: US-bought guns are “flooding into Mexico” and are in some large part responsible for the violence there.
FACT: One often-misreported statistic is responsible for this claim, that “95% of all guns seized at crime sites in Mexico come from the US.” [2] The number that they are referring to is the percentage of weapons submitted to the ATF for tracing that can be traced back to the US.  However, the fact of the matter is that the Mexican State Police only submit to the ATF for tracing those weapons which they already suspect of coming from America. In other words, the sample is BADLY biased. More recent estimates for the total number of guns used in crimes in Mexico that come from the US are on the order of 30%, and most of the news agencies that previously reported the erroneous numbers on the order of 70, 90, or even 95% have been made to retract those statements.[5]

Gen. Douglass Fraser, head of the US Southern Command, confirms this “Over 50 percent of the military-type weapons that are flowing throughout the region have a large source between Central American stockpiles, if you will, left over from wars and conflicts in the past,”

And, this ties into our next discussion point, but through Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF was directly responsible for moving as many as 2,500 guns into Mexico. [4]

My main point here, however, is that the majority of the guns used in crimes in Mexico and South America come from South American governments (and in some cases, indirectly from the US government, through BATF operation Fast and Furious, and also via US government military support to countries such as El Salvador, which have a history of government and military corruption that ends up placing many of these weapons (military weapons, much more deadly in many cases than the ones sold in US gun shops) in the hands of criminals after they’re sold or stolen from the government.

3. It is reasonable for the ATF to require US gun dealers in certain states to report on certain “assault rifle” sales.
FACT: Obama is using ATF regulatory actions to enact laws and requirements that would not likely pass through congress. I will not dispute here the fact that perhaps some more gun control is needed, however this type of action should be undertaken by congress, with the consent of the people, not by executive order. When executive order by a single man is sufficient to restrict civil liberties and monitor or prosecute individuals without due process, then we all have cause for concern. Furthermore, the ATF has a long history of botching everything it lays its hands on [7], so I submit to you that the ATF as it stands today is hardly an agency to trust with our civil liberties, including the right to bear arms.

I hope that in the future, you will read up a bit more on the topics which you discuss, and hopefully fix your website so that people like myself can register and submit comments on the articles you write. In the case of this article, you’ve really missed the mark, in my opinion. The bottom line is that more government control over individuals is not the answer. If we want to help with Mexico’s problem, we should stop selling (or giving) arms to South American governments, and we should better secure our border.

Conlaw Bloganon

[1] Kopel, David. “Rational Basis Analysis of “Assault Weapon” Prohibition,” 1994 Journal of Contemporary Law; Vol. 20:381-417.

[2] http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-12-10-drugwar_N.htm

[3] http://latindispatch.com/2011/04/27/drug-cartels-in-mexico-and-colombia-allegedly-supplied-with-weapons-from-honduran-military/

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Fast_and_Furious

[5] http://www.factcheck.org/2009/04/counting-mexicos-guns/

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Firearms_Act

[7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BATF#Controversy


The bill of rights does not give the citizens anything, Instead it recognizes a basic rights of men. If you are religious a God given right.
The guns going to Mexico were sent there by the ATF, US Government . So it could enact more illegal gun control laws, such as the long gun reporting now being illegally enacted by the ATF. They have no such authority, only Congress can write laws.
I realize that you think that I am a idiot along with all my brothers whom will not submit to the the illegal laws. Molon Labe


It’s a mystery to me how anyone in their right mind could complain about this kind of minimally invasive regulation.  What legitimate gun owner could need multiple assault weapons at one time, and still worry that the government would know in five days about the purchase?  If the guns are legal, does anyone buy the silly argument that regulation means confiscation?  I mean, don’t they wonder why it hasn’t happened yet with all those “burdensome” restrictions that have been around for decades?  They’ve got to stop drinking the Kool Aid!

Attorney James Burdick

One thought on “We Have a Right to Bear Arms; We Also Have a Right to Live

  1. Allan, it’s obvious where your proclivities are, but consider this: It’s because we have a right to live that we have a right to keep and bear the arms needful to PRESERVE that life of ours. In my experience, ONLY those who have some nefarious intent want to restict the absolute, UNCONDITIONAL right of Americans to own and possess whatever arms they, IN THEIR SOLE JUDGEMENT, deem necessary for the protection of themselves and their loved ones.

    So tell us what you have in mind for us that would, in your view, necessitate a disarmed nation of sheep. I’d love to know!

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