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Harry Browne Blasts LaPierre for Unconstitutional 'Enforcement'

by Ari Armstrong, August 23

On March 6, the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre joined hands with anti-gun lobbyists and politicians at a Denver press conference to announce the NRA's plans to financially support "Project Exile," a propaganda campaign backing the full enforcement of the "gun laws on the books."

Unfortunately, LaPierre failed to distinguish between the "laws on the books" which target violent, inherently criminal behavior; and those "laws on the books" which persecute peaceable gun owners through arbitrary, Unconstitutional statutes. (See Project Exile archives.)

Finally, American gun owners have found a champion with the courage and convictions to argue the Unconstitutional laws on the books don't work, increase crime, and should be repealed. In May, Libertarian Presidential Candidate Harry Browne published the article, For Safety's Sake, Repeal All the Gun Laws.

On August 8, Browne took the opportunity to criticize LaPierre directly. At a Little Rock, Arkansas Second Amendment rally hosted by the Dixie Southern Shooting Association, attended by a thousand gun owners, Browne and LaPierre sat on a panel with various Republican officials. In reply to the first question put to the panel, Browne said (in paraphrase from his campaign journal)

[The Second] Amendment doesn't allow for exceptions -- or else it would have read that the right "to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, unless Congress chooses otherwise." And because there are no exceptions, I disagree with my fellow panelists who say the existing gun laws should be enforced. Those laws are unconstitutional. Those laws are wrong -- because they put you at a disadvantage to armed criminals, to whom the laws are no inconvenience. And saying those laws should be enforced is a statement that the Second Amendment isn't absolute, and that there's nothing wrong with 'reasonable' gun controls. This allows your favorite politicians to compromise on new laws and then claim victory for preventing something worse. I want to repeal all the existing gun laws.

Browne added that the Second Amendment is only an additional safeguard. Beyond the Second Amendment, "the Ninth Amendment would clearly protect an individual's right to defend himself -- because nothing in the Constitution has taken that right away."

Browne contrasts his approach with that of the NRA spokesperson: "LaPierre has set the tone by saying that the Clinton administration should be enforcing the existing gun laws, rather than proposing new ones. The other panelists pretty much accept that approach as a given."

Browne's views on government as Constitutionally limited are radically different from those of George W. Bush, who told the Denver Post that he favors licensing private gun sellers at gun shows, a step even more draconian than the proposal advocated by Republican Governor Bill Owens.

In his campaign book, The Great Libertarian Offer, Browne outlines his proposals to return to a government restrained by the "chains of the Constitution." Browne's central campaign issues include repealing the income tax, selling federal lands to pay off Social Security benefits and end the system, and repealing drug prohibition.

Browne is scheduled to address the Constitution Monday rally on October 2 on the West Steps of the State Capitol in Denver. Browne will be joined by a diverse group of civil rights advocates and political candidates and office holders. The event, to be held from 4:30 to 7:30 pm, is partly a response to Janet Reno's proposed "First Monday," a day Reno hoped would be devoted to rallying against the Second Amendment. Instead, Constitution Monday seeks to celebrate the entire Bill of Rights.

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