Not only did we have the chance to meet Emily at her book signing, but she was also kind enough to join us for an interview after we finished her book. We focused on questions we thought would help readers interested in helping to support gun rights and other freedoms in a world that seems to be tangled in red tape. If you haven’t read her book, Emily Gets Her Gun but Barack Obama Wants to Take Yours, you can read our review here (and then you should read her book!)
FFP: We love the last line of your book: “A gun is just a tool. The fight is for freedom.” It’s exactly what Freedom Forge Press is all about—preserving and extending freedom for individuals.
Emily: I was struggling to write the last line. One day, I was running outside to clear my mind, so I thought, “what is the big picture here? Is this about guns?” and it struck me, the Second Amendment isn’t about guns, it is about preventing government tyranny. And we’re witnessing a period in which the federal government has invaded all parts of our lives — our health care, spying from NSA, persecuting through the IRS, taking more taxes to have more spending in Washington. Grabbing guns is part of this whole Obama philosophy of taking power away from the people and putting it into Washington. Whether people individually choose to arm themselves is less important than preventing the federal government from taking over our lives.
FFP: So should everyone have a gun?
Emily: People ask me what guns do I like or recommend. I repeatedly say: owning a gun is a huge responsibility, not one to be taken lightly. It is much more more responsibility than having a dog. A gun is a lethal weapon—you have to train, store it safely, know where it is when you are home or away. Not everyone wants that responsibility, but those of us who chose to get a gun should not have to fight through red tape set by the government to exercise this right. Personally, I feel much safer having a loaded gun by my bed, but it’s not for everyone.
FFP: Would you say that the right to defend oneself is a natural right? Not one granted to citizens by a government?
Emily: Yes, I put that in my book. I am a Christian. So were the Founding Fathers. When they wrote the Bill of Rights, they believed we had certain rights from God, which the government had to respect. A lot of people have this backwards. They think the Constitution gives us these rights as opposed to knowing that we, as human beings, were given certain rights by God.
One of these rights is self defense.. That’s why I printed the Second Amendment in the front of my book. It’s short. It’s simple. It’s not complicated: “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.” That’s it.
So if the government infringes on this right, as we have done already in ways like prohibiting felons and drug addicts and the mentally ill from owning gun, it was because as a society we decided these limits made us all safer. But none of the gun control laws — like banning guns, or requiring a reason to get a carry permit or registration – has ever reduced crime. The simple reason is that criminals don’t care what the laws are — that’s why they are criminals. Do you think any criminal is going to go through the 17 steps that I did to register a gun in DC? Of course not.
In the end, all the gun-control laws on the books and the new ones in the states from 2013 have to get sorted out by the courts, and I believe you’ll find that they violate the Constitution.
The problem is that the courts take a long time. It took 30 years for the courts to overturn the handgun ban in D.C.
This goes to show how easy it is to take away a constitutional right and how hard it is to get it back. It’s so easy to take away a constitutional right. It took less than six months in Colorado to change the laws in a state that is historically pro-hunting, rural and pro gun with things like like arbitrary magazine size and so-called universal background checks. These laws are not stopping any criminals. They aren’t going to go to a dealer to get NICS check before transferring a gun. It’s the law-abiding citizens who will follow them.
And while the lawsuit filed against Colorado is very strong, the citizens there are stuck living under those new laws until it is resolved. They did a great job with the recall elections this summer, but still it didn’t change the laws.
FFP: What can the average citizen do to help [the trampling of individual rights]?
Emily: Stay educated from really good resources. Journalists are required to source their information first hand and get second sources. Don’t use random blogs and forwarded emails to get your information. I see this strain of conspiracy theories that really don’t help anyone — like Homeland Security buying up all the ammunition or the Newtown murderer really using a handgun. These are internet rumors that don’t help change the real problem that citizens need to address.
There are real, genuine things going on infringing on the Second Amendment. In California, there’s a ban on traditional lead ammo in hunting, so the price of ammo is going to go through roof; steel ammo is banned, so supply is going to go down, availability is going to go down for everyone who hunts. I wish Second Amendment advocates had been more able to stop this before it became law.
I know there is a bias in the mainstream media, but The Washington Times gives straight news on gun issues. So do other conservative print media outlets, and Fox News for TV. But you can also get information from the advocacy groups emails like NRA, Second Amendment Foundation, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Gun Owners of America.
There are so many attacks on the Second Amendment right now that people really need call their congressman and get active on the grassroots level. Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were not able to get their agenda to 60 votes last year, but they will keep trying until they do. Pro-gun people need to support those who are getting whacked by political ads paid for by Mike Bloomberg, pressuring them to change their vote.
FFP: You mention this in your book, but do you think people should just vote with their feet, moving to gun-friendly states if they are so inclined?
Emily: Maryland has seen a huge amount of people leave after the recent gun restrictions became law. A lot of them moved to Virginia and saw Terry McAuliffe get elected and are now frustrated with that.
People have different reasons for staying, like having a job. I understand people don’t want to live under governments that don’t have the same views as them. But personally, I’d rather see people stay in those states and fight for change than just leave. My expose on D.C.’s gun registration scam has already forced the city to change the laws twice. You can make an impact if you fight back.
I’d rather live in Virginia and be able to easily exercise my Second Amendment rights, but I also think that fighting and winning for everyone to get their rights reinstated is the ultimate goal there. We all want to bring America back to the intention of the Founding Fathers.
FFP: How do you recommend speaking to liberals or someone who is against guns about gun rights?
Emily: I know how it is extremely frustrating to talk to anti-gun people. This is what I suggest:
First, when dealing with someone who is black-and-white anti-gun, they are going to throw emotional stuff at you and they’ll focus on gun tragedies and the rare mass shootings from the headlines. Their argument isn’t factual. So the way to disarm that is to meet them on an emotional level before anything else. Say: ‘I know, isn’t it horrible what happened in Newtown, those poor children, it breaks my heart.’ Because that is how you really feel, but you need to say it. Be genuine. Then it breaks down the barriers, so they don’t feel like you’re a cold-hearted person who wants to go shoot people. This disarms them a bit, and then you have the opportunity to give them some facts.
There are three facts people can hear to change their minds: First, no gun control law has ever reduced crime. You can look at the two-year study by the Centers for Disease Control or the Harvard study.
Second, more guns does not lead to more gun crime. Gun ownership is the highest it’s ever been — with over 300 million guns in this country and about half the household reporting a gun in the home. However, gun crime rate has gone down continually for 20 years. The murder rate from 1992 to 2013 has gone down 50 percent. Non fatal shootings have gone down 75 percent. Third, mass shootings have not increased—just because in the past year there have been people talking about it in the media, it’s not fact. Congressional Research Service did a study looking at 30 years of mass shootings and concluded that although they haven’t decreased, they haven’t increased either.
Over the course of 30 years, mass shooters kill 18 people a year. Even though you hear about them all the time, it seems more frequent because of the news coverage; it’s not increasing. In studies, it’s proven that mass shooting events are completely unavoidable. No one sees it coming. These severely mentally ill are completely unpredictable, but we do need better treatment. I also believe in making it easier to put people inpatient mental hospitals when they are a threat.
Finally, give the anti-gun people something actionable that they can do. Tell them to fight to get the mental health records into the NICS [National Instant Criminal Background-check System]. So many states are not doing this, and every state needs to. Their records need to be put into the system so gun dealers can know not to sell to the mentally ill who have been adjudicated or forced inpatient.
The world is broken. Unfortunately, people do want answers to all things that are sad and awful in the world. Why can’t we cure cancer? Why did someone get into a car crash? You always want to find an answer to things that are uncontrollable. Part of life is accepting that bad things can happen, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s just part of life.
We can look at the mother of the Newtown shooter and say she should have had him in more treatment, but she didn’t know he was violent. None of his doctors knew he was violent. It’s hindsight. It’s hard to say to people, and this is why I won’t talk to people about this who are anti-gun, but as much as you feel so strongly about these types of bans, they think they will solve the problem, but it’s not going to. It’s been proven over again. Every time we make a new gun control law, crime does not go down in those places.
There is evil in the world. We can fight it where we can. I wish that day, there had been a police officer parked at front when the shooter showed up, but there was no reason to suspect a shooter that day, so we’re left in that uncomfortable place. It’s that bad things happen in the world.
FFP: Do you believe teachers should be allowed to have concealed-carry permits to have guns in the classroom?
Emily: The NRA had supported this idea. For me, it goes back to the teachers. I don’t think you want to put that onus on the teachers. If they want to be, if they’re trained, that’s fine, but I don’t think overall we should put the onus of safety on the teacher. They have enough to do.
But we have this great program, a Clinton program actually, where we put former law enforcement and armed guards in schools, and it’s become defunded over the years, but I think it’s something to look into. Over half the schools in this country have armed guards. Schools are a major place where we want to have protection, especially over vulnerable children. An armed guard’s presence alone can deter crime. It’s a great program and should be considered. I think every community should have the right to armed guards at schools.
Most offices have armed guards. Schools should have the same right.
FFP: In your book, you mention many veterans who get into legal trouble—civil and criminal—for having ammunition or weapons somewhere, like at the bottom of a travel bag, just because they didn’t know the gun laws. What can people do to help these veterans, who volunteered their lives for ours, and who now have a legal mess because of a legislative mess?
Emily: There are so many more cases like Sgt. Corrigan or Spc. Meckler, who I write about in my book. A lot of people don’t want to go public. It does change your life when you’re featured in a newspaper story. I’m grateful to those who told me their stories and gave permission for me to use them in my book.
They’re the ones who did the thing that needs to be done, which is tell others so they don’t make the same mistakes. I was so proud of those guys. The chairman of the city council read aloud my stories in a hearing about a new law that would have let them get civil disposition. I emailed each of them afterwards, telling them that the laws changed because of you, and that was so admirable to come forward with your stories. I thank those vets so much for what they’ve done so that someone who gets caught in one of these bizarre laws in DC doesn’t have a criminal record.
I’m covering a story now about someone – Mark Witaschek– who is charged with possessing unregistered ammunition in his house. He’s facing two years in jail! There’s no way these laws can hold up in court, and they are being challenged. I’m glad these guys have come out publicly so more people are aware of these crazy laws and that pressures the courts to rule that the registration requirement and the lack of carry laws is a violation of both the Heller decision and the Second Amendment.
Emily Miller is the Senior Editor for Opinion with The Washington Times. You can (and should!) like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and of course check out her Washington Times articles.
Emily Gets Her Gun is published by Regnery Publishing, Inc.