I am a resident of the community, and have been working and around in the city of Birmingham since 2006. In 2001, I had the opportunity to live for a month in Hoover, Alabama. Since that time, I have seen the murder and violent crime rates drop, independent of the President, forces of economy, legislative, or police activities. The one reason why the rates of these violent crimes have dropped is because of one thing:
Not guns in the hands of criminals -- guns in the hands of the law abiding citizen. If firearms are outlawed, only outlaws will have firearms. I know, I know, that's an outdated maxim and doesn't bear any relevance to today. Bear with me, please. Criminals will do whatever they please regardless of laws. They are called scofflaws because they "scoff" (an expression of scorn, derision, or contempt OR an object of scorn, mockery, or derision) at THE LAW. Criminals have never ceded the right to bear arms -- ever. All the way back to Pirates and before that, people have carried arms to commit crimes. While deadly force may be used to achieve criminal goals, deadly force applied in a defensive way raises the opportunity cost of the criminal action and forces the criminal to decide if he wants to live to see another day. Since written history, men have carried arms to wage wars, to enslave and terrorize, to commit criminal acts and to defend and protect against each of those acts individually or together.
In the face of no resistance, criminals get BOLD. We've seen this in Birmingham. We know it well. If one weighs 120 lbs and is 5'4" and a 275 lb man who is 6'6" comes along and decides he wants your car -- how are you going to resist? As the police and other "advisors" have told us, we are to comply, and give the criminal what he wants. However, complying with a criminal demand only makes the criminal more bold. If you don't resist in any way, who is going to stop him when he decides to kill you with an already illegal firearm? When seconds count (and anyone who has EVER been in a boxing ring or a fist fight can tell you -- every second counts), police are MINUTES away. Discharging a firearm in the city of Birmingham, even with a state-of-the-art Shot Detection System (gunshot detection, ranging, and direction-finding system), it takes more than fifteen minutes to get an officer to the APPROXIMATE scene of a gunshot sound. Some parts of Birmingham aren't even covered by this system. A 6'6" 275lb man can literally rip a 120 lb person out of a car and throw them down the road. With more than double the mass and a foot in height difference, martial arts don't work on this criminal. As hard as you can hit him, he has already been hit before. He knows what to expect. He is no stranger to violence. He is capable of using his bare hands to cripple, maim, or kill. The one tool that puts him on even ground with a person half his size: A GUN. Not a sword, not a knife -- no, both of those require physical agility and years of practice and training. A gun is the one tool that can immediately neutralize any size or speed advantage an attacker has.
I know this because I have been there, personally. I was assaulted in the parking lot of Banana Joe's at Five Points South several years ago by an angry mob of seventeen and eighteen year olds. The only thing that stopped them was a single police officer -- a man with a gun -- who happened to be looking out the window at the time and saw me hit the ground. He ran out the door and yelled "HEY!" When they -- the mob -- realized that they were up against immediate rebuke (arrest) for the crimes they had just committed (assault), they scattered and ran in ten different directions. One police officer in his early forties in average shape cannot chase ten men who are eighteen and in peak physical condition. But law and case law have proven that the police have no INDIVIDUAL duty to protect me. I will freely admit that I was EXTREMELY lucky that day. I have never been so glad to see a police officer in my life as I was in that night. And the craziest part is that at the time -- he was being paid to work uniformed SECURITY for Banana Joe's -- not to protect and serve the citizens of Birmingham -- he was being paid to provide SAFETY and SECURITY to the OPERATORS of a bar. I don't know what those enraged boys wanted that night. I don't know if they were possessed by a dark spirit or if they just wanted their pound of flesh for a perceived insult. But I am forever indebted to the police officer for simply being there -- but again, he had no duty -- either on-duty or off-duty -- to intervene. That's real life. He could have stood back and watched them kick and punch me into a bloody pulp. But he didn't. I'm thankful for that. At the time I didn't own or carry a gun. Having been assaulted once more since that time, and having trained two years of my life since then in martial arts, my sidearm and martial arts training provide me with comfort knowing that -- should that situation ever happen again -- I will not be a victim, and the people committing that crime will have to think twice before they think of doing it ever again.
Being helpless is not a nice feeling when someone is actively involved in pummeling the snot out of you. When there is no one around to come to your aid -- when people are around and no one is coming to your aid -- when police are over twenty minutes away and your assailant already has experience being charged for assault and other crimes of violence -- you are left with your own devices, your wits, and anything you can fit into your hands to assure your own survival. You are literally at the mercy of the other person. And he has none at that exact moment. He is in control. He has the power. He controls the situation. He RULES your life and if you chose to disobey his will, he will arbitrarily enforce his will with any level of force he choses to use -- and you will be powerless to stop him. If you live, or what injuries you sustain are purely based on HIS actions. That's not a comforting feeling. I've felt it. I don't care to ever experience it again.
Even with my martial arts training, I was completely defenseless: my second assault happened as I was seat-belted into the back seat of a compact sports sedan. Locked in my seat-belt, I had no option to retreat. I had no option to free myself and block the blows my assailant was landing. My hands were completely absorbed in protecting my body from further blows, my legs stuck in the floorboard and useless because of the seat-belt. I had no option to attack my assailant because I was stuck in my seat position by the seat-belt. I was completely at his mercy. I could offer no ground nor take no ground. I was rendered ineffective and defenseless.
The police report read that I suffered multiple "abrasions" -- the one time my training helped was when he attempted to push my elbow backwards against the outside of the car -- to break my elbow, to cause me permanent bodily injury -- I fought his efforts with every ounce of force I could muster because I had been warned multiple times in class of the seriousness of a broken elbow. Broken elbows do not mend. Doctors insert a steel pin in the joint to allow it to function in a similar fashion, but the capability is never restored to "original" functionality -- it is an injury that says with a person for life. Had he suceeded in breaking my arm, he would have gone to jail that night. But he would have made bail the next morning, and I would have still had a broken arm. A permanently damaged limb. For what? One man's anger problem. I would have been deprived of LIMB because one man decided his ability to touch me exceeded my rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This assault occurred in Hazel Green. Even after this, I still didn't own a gun.
What made me purchase a gun and start carrying it? Two of my friends, one white female, one make Indian were robbed at gunpoint walking home all of two blocks from Five Points South. The total take? Twenty-three dollars, two debit cards, and a credit card. Less than two hundred feet from his house, he was simply followed home by two men in a car, who jumped out and put a gun to his neck. That man is 5'4" and 120 lbs. His female friend is 5'6", 160 lbs. She couldn't outrun them. He couldn't outrun them. Neither of them had the option to overpower the muggers. The Indian has been told he is not allowed to carry a firearm because he is not a citizen of this country. The Female has been told she cannot carry a firearm for self-defense because she has nowhere to put the gun while she is in class at a local college. Both of them were completely defenseless, despite the Constitution of The State of Alabama supposedly providing otherwise. Another of my friends was robbed while taking the trash out from her apartment. A female followed her up to the porch asking to use her phone to call someone. Once the individual was on the porch, she produced an unlawfully-carried concealed handgun and demanded both of the laptops on the porch. The woman robbed refuses to own a gun for any reason. She was, and is still to this day completely shaken by the entire experience. She no longer enjoys sitting on her large open porch in Birmingham -- she stays inside and lives in fear that the next person to get out of a car on her block will rob her. And the irony of the entire experience is that she has observed a police car driving around her block as many as twenty times in a single night. Yet, that police officer and car were nowhere near her when someone produced a gun and demanded portable computers. In less than two minutes, two laptops valued at $2500 had disappeared into the night without a trace. The only thing that remains are the scars on her psyche and a police report. She had no option to retreat. She had no means of defense. At over two hundred pounds she was unable to run, or retreat. Her 130 pound 5'9" athletic unlawfully-armed attacker held all the advantages. She was defenseless. Her attacker could have ordered her inside and taken other valuables. Next crime, she probably will. For these two reasons, I own a gun, am armed, and carry a firearm with me most places I go in Birmingham. I will not be a victim. I will not be a slave to any man or woman.
Since 1251, the Swiss have carried arms for protection. In the 1500s, the Emperor of Japan had to collectively bargain with the Samurai -- a group of armed men who would fight the Emperor's own armies -- for their rights. The Samurai carried arms and fought for what they believed in. To accomplish the goals of running the country, the Emperor found he could not work without the Samurai, he could only work with them and tried his best not to. Hence, an armed man in the 1500s in Feudal Japan without a "master" -- without a superior in the Government (a feudal lord to report to) -- was a 'ronin'. A ronin carried no honor; he had no legal means to support himself and often killed other and stole to make his living. He retained his arms until his death, often at the hands of other Samurai. A ronin was a man separated from law; when he became a ronin, he became a criminal under law. Even in Feudal England, men with arms were Knights, Dukes, Barons -- men of "honor", a separate society class above the peasant or serf. The peasants carried no arms -- they could only do what they were told by the people above them -- who carried arms -- or be subjected to rough treatment, abuse, or outright death for an arbitrary reason. The history lessons are clear -- men without arms are not citizens. They are RULED by those with weapons -- with arms -- of every imaginable alignment: Good, Bad, and Chaotic. Leonidas, Xerxes, or The Joker (to borrow from recent movies).
As long as laws are written to take LAWFUL guns out of the hands of LAWFUL owners, the UNLAWFUL guns in the hands of UNLAWFUL owners will be used to enslave, terrorize, rape, and pillage the unarmed peoples. We don't have to go far to see this lesson -- we don't even have to leave the city to see that neighborhoods where the residents who own no guns, make no resistance, and support illegally armed individuals are de facto ruled by those armed men. We don't have to travel to Africa to Sudan to see where unarmed villages of people are simply raped and pillaged to support warlords with guns. Yet since 1251, no country has ever invaded Switzerland. Since 1792, no country has ever invaded The United States. The one thing in common between the USA and Switzerland is that we have a right to bear arms individually. In the state of Alabama, the Constitution of 1901, Section 26 protects this individual right to self-defense: http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.../CA-245557.htm
SECTION 26Further, in section 35, the objective of our State Government is explained clearly: http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.../CA-245566.htm
Right to bear arms.
That every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.
SECTION 35And it is so noted in the Criminal Code of the State of Alabama that the deprivation of life, liberty, and property are unlawful:
Objective of government.
That the sole object and only legitimate end of government is to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property, and when the government assumes other functions it is usurpation and oppression.
Section 13A-8-1"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." To deprive one of Life is Murder. To deprive one of Liberty is Imprisonment. To deprive one of the pursuit of Happiness is Slavery. We hold these deprivations to be crimes against the highest of legal and moral codes in this land without reservation. The right to bear arms as recognized by the Alabama Constitution of 1840 and every Alabama Constitution since then as well as the US Constitution is to provide for the safety, security, self-defense and protection of We The People INDIVIDUALLY and for the preservation of order and The State (both The State of Alabama and The State as in the seated US Government). It is not to provide meat to put on the table. It is not to provide guns for police officers. It is not to provide for law enforcement (law enforcement as we know it didn't even exist before 1850). The right to bear arms is meant to allow for people to be Free from Criminals, Warlords, and Kings!
The following definitions are applicable in this article unless the context otherwise requires:
(2) To "DEPRIVE ..." means:
a. To withhold property or cause it to be withheld from a person permanently or for such period or under such circumstances that all or a portion of its use or benefit would be lost to him or her; or
b. To dispose of the property so as to make it unlikely that the owner would recover it; or
c. To retain the property with intent to restore it to the owner only if the owner purchases or leases it back, or pays a reward or other compensation for its return; or
d. To sell, give, pledge, or otherwise transfer any interest in the property; or
e. To subject the property to the claim of a person other than the owner.
Theft of property - Definition.
A person commits the crime of theft of property if he or she:
(1) Knowingly obtains or exerts unauthorized control over the property of another, with intent to deprive the owner of his or her property;
(2) Knowingly obtains by deception control over the property of another, with intent to deprive the owner of his or her property;
(3) Knowingly obtains or exerts control over property in the custody of a law enforcement agency which was explicitly represented to the person by an agent of the law enforcement agency as being stolen; or
(4) Knowingly obtains or exerts unauthorized control over any donated item left on the property of a charitable organization or in a drop box or trailer, or within 30 feet of a drop box or trailer, belonging to a charitable organization.
(Acts 1977, No. 607, p. 812, §3201; Act 2003-355, §1; Act 2004-297, p. 449, §1.)
Criminal trespass in the first degree.
(a) A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the first degree if he knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a dwelling.
(b) Criminal trespass in the first degree is a Class A misdemeanor.
(Acts 1977, No. 607, p. 812, §2605.)
Criminal mischief in the first degree.
(a) A person commits the crime of criminal mischief in the first degree if, with intent to damage property, and having no right to do so or any reasonable ground to believe that he or she has such a right, he or she inflicts damages to property:
(1) In an amount exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500); or
(2) By means of an explosion.
(b) Criminal mischief in the first degree is a Class C felony.
(Acts 1977, No. 607, p. 812, §2705; Act 2003-355, p. 962, §1.)
(a) A person commits the crime of murder if he or she does any of the following:
(1) With intent to cause the death of another person, he or she causes the death of that person or of another person.
(2) Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life, he or she recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to a person other than himself or herself, and thereby causes the death of another person.
(3) He or she commits or attempts to commit arson in the first degree, burglary in the first or second degree, escape in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree, rape in the first degree, robbery in any degree, sodomy in the first degree, any other felony clearly dangerous to human life and, in the course of and in furtherance of the crime that he or she is committing or attempting to commit, or in immediate flight therefrom, he or she, or another participant if there be any, causes the death of any person.
(4) He or she commits the crime of arson and a qualified governmental or volunteer firefighter or other public safety officer dies while performing his or her duty resulting from the arson.
(b) A person does not commit murder under subdivisions (a)(1) or (a)(2) of this section if he or she was moved to act by a sudden heat of passion caused by provocation recognized by law, and before there had been a reasonable time for the passion to cool and for reason to reassert itself. The burden of injecting the issue of killing under legal provocation is on the defendant, but this does not shift the burden of proof. This subsection does not apply to a prosecution for, or preclude a conviction of, manslaughter or other crime.
(c) Murder is a Class A felony; provided, that the punishment for murder or any offense committed under aggravated circumstances, as provided by Article 2 of Chapter 5 of this title, is death or life imprisonment without parole, which punishment shall be determined and fixed as provided by Article 2 of Chapter 5 of this title or any amendments thereto.
(Acts 1977, No. 607, p. 812, §2005; Act 2006-427, p. 1057, §1.)
Assault in the first degree.
(a) A person commits the crime of assault in the first degree if:
(1) With intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, he causes serious physical injury to any person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument; or
(2) With intent to disfigure another person seriously and permanently, or to destroy, amputate or disable permanently a member or organ of his body, he causes such an injury to any person; or
(3) Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby causes serious physical injury to any person; or
(4) In the course of and in furtherance of the commission or attempted commission of arson in the first degree, burglary in the first or second degree, escape in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree, rape in the first degree, robbery in any degree, sodomy in the first degree or any other felony clearly dangerous to human life, or of immediate flight therefrom, he causes a serious physical injury to another person; or
(5) While driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance or any combination thereof in violation of Section 32-5A-191 he causes serious bodily injury to the person of another with a motor vehicle.
(b) Assault in the first degree is a Class B felony.
(Acts 1977, No. 607, p. 812, §2101; Acts 1987, No. 87-712, p. 1259.)
Kidnapping in the first degree.
(a) A person commits the crime of kidnapping in the first degree if he abducts another person with intent to
(1) Hold him for ransom or reward; or
(2) Use him as a shield or hostage; or
(3) Accomplish or aid the commission of any felony or flight therefrom; or
(4) Inflict physical injury upon him, or to violate or abuse him sexually; or
(5) Terrorize him or a third person; or
(6) Interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function.
(b) A person does not commit the crime of kidnapping in the first degree if he voluntarily releases the victim alive, and not suffering from serious physical injury, in a safe place prior to apprehension. The burden of injecting the issue of voluntary safe release is on the defendant, but this does not shift the burden of proof. This subsection does not apply to a prosecution for or preclude a conviction of kidnapping in the second degree or any other crime.
(c) Kidnapping in the first degree is a Class A felony.
(Acts 1977, No. 607, p. 812, §2210.)
Rape in the first degree.
(a) A person commits the crime of rape in the first degree if:
(1) He or she engages in sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex by forcible compulsion; or
(2) He or she engages in sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex who is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless or mentally incapacitated; or
(3) He or she, being 16 years or older, engages in sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex who is less than 12 years old.
(b) Rape in the first degree is a Class A felony.
(Acts 1977, No. 607, p. 812, §2310; Act 2000-726, p. 1557, §1.)
Finally, Section 36 of the Constitution of 1901 declares that all rights mentioned prior to section 36 "is excepted out of the general powers of the government, and shall forever remain inviolate."
SECTION 36I don't know how else to put this, but the above Section pretty well declares that a modification of Code of Alabama 11-45-1.1 which declares that the right to bear arms may be removed by an individual city is outright UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
Construction of Declaration of Rights.
That this enumeration of certain rights shall not impair or deny others retained by the people; and, to guard against any encroachments on the rights herein retained, we declare that everything in this Declaration of Rights is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall forever remain inviolate.
Our present law, Code of Alabama 11-45-1.1, provides state-wide pre-emption on the matter of handguns. What this law means is that -- anywhere one goes in the state of Alabama, the laws are the same. In some states this is not true. In a few states, individual cities set laws regarding the carriage of firearms. Those cites that have chosen to ban handguns, such as New York and Chicago, both have a history in being towns where organized crime has a large presence. Al Capone ran Chicago. Sammy Gravano ran New York City. The Mafia takes an estimated 12% out of every dollar spent in New York City simply by graft. One of the blessings we have here is that our right to bear arms is protected; we do not need to memorize a byzantine series of laws regarding how to carry, when to carry and so on. (Well, we do anyway, but to a lesser extent as those in other places). We know that anywhere we go in the state, we will not be committing a crime unless we carry in specific places: Federal properties like military bases, Courthouses, and so on. Without a second thought, I can carry my gun from stateline to stateline to stateline to beach and two hundred miles of ocean and beyond and not be committing a crime. I can keep myself safe from any person who would do me harm regardless of what part of the state I am in or what part of the state I am from. SB31 threatens this ability to freely travel and allow me to keep myself safe from anyone who might want to do me wrong, regardless of whether I am on foot, on a bicycle, or dragging a Cross down the road after me on a mission trip.
You may be aware that a Congresswoman of the Democratic party -- the same party to which you identify -- was shot in Arizona. The facts of this case are certain: The killer was taken into custody because an armed citizen in the process of taking aim on the shooter -- noticed the shooter's gun was jammed and took him to the ground instead of "neutralizing the threat" and shooting the man until dead. Because of the actions of that armed private individual (not a cop), Jarad Loughner is now in prison. As a former NASA contractor, I feel for her family very deeply for her husband is an Astronaut -- in those circles, that almost makes him family. Space Travel is something taken very seriously by anyone who has been part of that family. In one of the freest states in the Union, an illegally armed crackpot took aim at a Congresswoman, and several other civil servants and only lived because one lawfully armed man didn't pull the trigger when Loughner's gun jammed. Gun laws didn't stop Loughner. Gun laws didn't stop the children that caused the massacre at Columbine either. A lawfully armed man stopped Loughner. And this bill threatens to make lawful owners of firearms into criminals, and to provide no security or protection for law-abiding, God-fearing folk. Men ruled by Criminals are SLAVES. I refuse to be a slave and therefore respectfully request that you withdraw your bill posthaste.
Respectfully and sincerely,