Mike Barkley, Candidate for Congress
(c) 2011, Mike Barkley


[ H.J.Res.81, 103d Congress ]
[Page: H536]
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from New York [Mr. Owens] is recognized for 60 minutes.

Mr. OWENS. Madam Speaker, last week I reintroduced the resolution to repeal the second amendment. The second amendment is construed to be the amendment which gives everybody the right to own a gun. It is really not the case, because the language talks about the right to maintain a well-organized militia.

A well-organized militia in this day and age should be interpreted as a police department or a National Guard unit. Those who wish to justify the proliferation of guns in our society, continue to manufacture guns, and sell them as if they were a piece of hardware. Those persons insist on distorting the Constitution and distorting the second amendment, making it appear that the second amendment gives every American the right to own a gun, and anybody who tries to control or regulate guns is automatically considered unpatriotic, or in violation of the Constitution. That is not the case.

The Supreme Court has ruled on several occasions that government has the right to regulate guns and the use of guns in any way it wishes, that the second amendment does not rule out a State government, a city government, or the National Government from regulating guns. But as long as the second amendment is there, there are those who will insist that they have the right and the duty to defend the right to maintain guns for every individual who wants to carry a gun and to minimize the regulation of guns.

Even the very moderate piece of legislation known as the Brady bill, a very conservative, very modest piece of legislation which proposes to do no more than to require that anyone who obtains a gun must wait 7 days, who wants to buy a gun must wait 7 days before they can actually secure the gun, that there must be a period, a waiting period between the time they make the first attempt to purchase a gun and the time the gun is delivered to them, a simple 7-day waiting period. That has been made an impossibility to pass. That has been impossible in the last few years here in Congress.

So I am aware, as I propose the repeal of the second amendment, that not much is going to happen in that direction for a long time. The repeal of the second amendment, or repeal of any amendment, would take a long process. Congress would have to pass it, of course, with a two-thirds majority, and the States would have to ratify it. It is a long process, but I want to begin the debate now. I want to force those who care about our civilization and the direction our society is taking to look very carefully at this amendment which has led to the proliferation of guns in the American society as in no other industrialized society.

No other industrialized society has such an escalating proliferation of guns. No other industrialized society has the problems related to the proliferation of guns as a result of our allowance of the manufacture and sale of guns as if they were vacuum cleaners or hair dryers, just another piece of hardware. As a result of that, we have an escalating situation with respect to deaths by gunshot, with respect to serious wounds. Violence committed with guns is escalating at a very rapid rate.

Consider for a moment the fact that we have sent detachments of Americans to a nation that has been overrun with citizens who had guns, where guns became the means to settle disputes, the means to govern. Somalia had a complete collapse of civil rule. The society has crumbled. The society has completely been torn apart by men with guns.

You might say that is an extreme example, and how dare you compare that with anything that ever could possibly happen in the United States of America. Well, already in the United States of America, we have some Somalia-syndrome situations. We have some situations that are as bad as Somalia in New York City.

In New York City, there are housing projects, public housing projects, where gunfire is a problem every night, where parents have sawed off the legs of the beds so their kids sleep closer to the floor in case bullets come through the windows, where people are scared to go out in the daylight as well as in the night.

In December, the principal of a local elementary school was murdered in the daytime. He was out looking for a youngster who had left school, and as a result of him being out there, he got caught in the crossfire between some drug racketeers, and he was killed. It is known as the Red Hook Housing Project, and Red Hook Housing Project for the last 10 years has been complaining about the fact that they are terrorized by sporadic gunfire day and night. And there are other housing developments, and there are some blocks, where there are complaints that there is gunfire frequently.

You might say, well, that is New York City, and there are people in the Congress who would like to depict New York City as something out of this world, a something foreign to the United States. I assure you that the number of people killed by guns, the ratio of the number of victims killed by guns to the total population of New York is not the highest. There are places in the country where the number of victims from gunfire per 1,000 population is far greater than New York City. There are places in rural America where large numbers of incidents are occurring all the time. There are places in suburban America, in our schools.

You know, you have an incident in New York City, and in the schools, and it begins a very dramatic coverage by the press, the TV. It gets national coverage. So, you know, when a youngster is murdered in school, and there was a dramatic incident that took place just outside my district last year at Thomas Jefferson High School. It was just outside my district in terms of geographical boundaries, but the two young people killed were constituents of mine. They lived in my district. That got a lot of publicity, as it should have: Two young men shot down by a third one in a dispute which, if it had taken place 10 years ago, might have been violent but it would have been settled in a way which would not have caused the deaths of two young men as well as ruin the life of a third one, because he is finished after having murdered two of his peers. There is no future for him either.

They might have settled it with fists 20 years ago; 10 years ago they might have settled it with knives. But now you put a gun in the hand of any coward, and that makes him a king. Everybody out there is looking for a gun.

Over the weekend, one of the newspapers, `Newsday,' in New York, ran a story about a youngster who was renting guns. You can rent a gun for $25 a night, and if you kill somebody, he charges you extra when you bring the gun back. It is $100, or if you shoot somebody, it is $100.

You know, we have come to that point, but it is not just New York City. When those two youngsters were killed in New York, and I went to their wake, and just outside the funeral home, I was accosted by a group of young people who asked me, `Congressman Owens, what are you going to do about it?' You know, I was for a moment not able to answer, because New York State has one of the toughest gun control laws in the country.
[TIME: 1810]
New York City has a gun control law which is one of the toughest of any city in the country. There is not much more in terms of gun control that you can do in New York City or New York State. Yet we have the problem proliferating all the time. So when the young people accosted me and said, `What else are you going to do? Surely there must be something else,' the question in my mind is what is it that a Congressman can do at the Federal level?

We are trying to pass this feeble little Brady bill, which would call for people to wait at least 7 days before they can take a gun out of the store. Am I going to tell these young people, `Well, I am fighting for the Brady bill and I am a cosponsor of the Brady bill and voted for the Brady bill every time it was on the floor, and we cannot get that passed. That is all we are going to do'?

I do not think the Brady bill is the answer. The answer must be far more comprehensive. We must, as a Nation, face the threat that guns present to our society. We must determine that the manufacture, sale, distribution of guns must be regulated by the Government from beginning to end. We must determine that the manufacture of guns should not be a profit-making enterprise, the sale of guns should not be like the sale of hardware. We are going to have to come to grips with that and determine now, before our society degenerates any further. Nobody is exempt and no institution is exempt. Let me just give you a concrete example of how the guns go everywhere. In the courts, in a very short period of time we have had a number of incidents where guns have been taken into the courthouse. Recently we had a strike by judges in Dallas, TX. Now, Texas is one of the places where you can freely buy guns. Texas is one of the major sources of guns that flow into New York City and other large east coast cities.

Now, Virginia is a State where most of the guns, the largest percentage of the guns in New York City, come from; that is Virginia. They have been tracked by the U.S. Firearms Bureau. But Texas, a large number come from Texas, too. In Dallas, TX, the judges went on strike because of several incidents that took place in courtrooms and they had not been able to get the kind of protection that they needed, with metal detectors and guards in the court. They went on strike. Over the past year there have been at least 12 murders in courthouses with guns.

January 1992 a man killed his wife and brother-in-law in a Cleveland family court. This is America.

March 1992 a man fatally stabbed his girlfriend--that was not with a gun.

May 1992 a man shoots his wife to death and wounds lawyers at a divorce hearing in Clayton, MO.

July 1992 a man kills two lawyers and wounds two judges and a prosecutor in a Fort Worth, TX, courtroom.

September 1992 a man fatally shoots former girlfriend in San Bernardino, CA, courthouse.

Friday, January 15--we move from the courthouse and the situation there--we had a situation in New York where an assemblyman recently elected, serving in the New York State Legislature, was accosted while he sat in a barbershop, accosted by a group of young men with guns. He was pistol-whipped, a gun was put to his head and he was robbed. It happened to be his brother's barbershop. That is January 15 of this year, just to give you a rundown on the sampling of the different variety of incidents that do take place. They are everywhere.

Monday, January 20, 1992, and many of you may have seen this on television, a man shot and killed his wife in front of a TV camera; that is, his ex-wife. We have not had an incident like that, I think, since Jack Ruby murdered Lee Harvey Oswald. Now, that was in front of a television camera, man shot and killed his wife on Monday, January 20, 1992.

Tuesday, January 21, at Los Angeles Fairfax High School, a student carrying a gun to school for protection--he felt he had to be protected--accidentally shot two classmates. One of those classmates died.

A 357 magnum was what he was using. It went off accidentally. But he felt he had to have it because he needed protection. One of his classmates died and the other was seriously wounded.

On Wednesday, January 27, in Fort Green, right on the edge of my district, in Brooklyn, NY, a man was shot five times with a machine pistol in full view of the police. It was at a meeting called to discuss the crime situation. Right there in full view of the police outside the meeting, the man was shot five times. Fortunately, he did not die but is in serious condition in the hospital.

On Thursday, January 28, the New York police, as I said before, discovered and revealed the fact that they had closed down a rent-a-gun operation. The rent-a-gun operation was operated by a 16-year-old.

As I said before, you could rent a gun for about $25 a night, but if you shot somebody before you brought it back, it was extra, $100, this with a used gun.

On Saturday, January 30, you might have read about this in the paper, in Eustis, FL, two teenagers were charged with murder in a carjacking, rape, and shooting. They abducted the mother, her two daughters age 7 and 3. They drove to an isolated area where they raped the mother. They shot the mother and shot and killed both children. The mother was shot but was, fortunately, able to get help.

Sunday, January 31, in Washington, DC, a 19-year-old boyfriend takes two women and a 3-month-old baby hostage in a 19-hour police standoff. He killed his girlfriend and he killed her roommate's infant daughter and wounded the other woman before being shot to death by the police.

Monday, February 1, Amityville High School, out in the suburbs on Long Island, not in the big city, an 11th-grader killed another student and wounded a second student as a result of an argument they had.

These are boys in high school, with arguments; one killed, the other shot. The existence of guns transforms the situation that has existed since the beginning of civilization; ever since there have been human beings there have been arguments, there have been conflicts. Young men are very aggressive, they argue, there are conflicts, but the gun introduces a new element. The gun introduces a deadly element from which there is no return. The gun is what I am talking about today.

Our civilization must take steps, we as a legislative body must take steps, to deal with the fact that guns are a very deadly menace to the social order.

Mr. Speaker, I yield to my colleague, the gentleman from American Samoa.
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Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Speaker, I commend the distinguished gentleman from New York for bringing this longstanding issue, which has been discussed and deliberated certainly not only by this body but seemingly throughout the country. As the gentleman has distinctly stated, in terms of what happened both in the State of New York and the city of New York, it certainly prompts all of us as Members of this body to devote our full attention concerning the problem of gun control.

As the statement goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Perhaps this is one of the areas that we, as a burning issue, as the gentleman well knows, that we have our friends from the National Rifle Association always pressing the issue of a constitutional question of the right to bear arms; there seems to be an ongoing controversy as to why there should be no limitation in allowing the citizens of this great country of ours to bear arms. The gentleman also referred earlier to what is happening in Somalia. I was there recently with our good friend from Georgia, Congressman John Lewis, and other Members. Even right in the city of Baidoa, where, and the gentleman is absolutely correct, the number of arms that were present throughout the whole country ultimately translates into complete chaos. If it had not been for the recent intervention of military forces of our own country, that we finally brought some sense of order to that country and the problem faced by the people of Somalia.
[TIME: 1820]
Mr. OWENS. You know, I have seen many TV presentations and photos of young people, children, dying in Somalia, older people dying from starvation, and I have certainly been moved as most other people have; but the scene that really hurt me the most and really frightened me the most was a scene on television which depicted the parliament building in Somalia, what is left of the parliament building. It is just one wall with a mural on it and the rest has been bombed and gutted. They have just torn it to pieces.

You talk about the collapse of a civilization, there is nothing more symbolic than to see what has happened to that parliament building, and it is all the result of gun power and the proliferation of weapons in that society.
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Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Speaker, I would say to the gentleman that I really appreciate him bringing this issue again to the forefront. Hopefully in the coming weeks and months with the advent again of the Brady bill that we can provide some stronger measures in terms of how we can best prevent this. It seems to me that prevention seems to be the key word in my mind on how we can best control this very, very serious issue now affecting the lives of the people in our country, and I want to thank the gentleman for bringing this issue for discussion in the Chamber.

Mr. OWENS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman. That is what I am here for in memory of all those who have been slain, the mass murders that have taken place.

In a cafeteria, a man killed 20-some people.

In a post office, a man went in to get even with his colleagues for some grievance he had.

Recently another one of those situations where a man took a rifle and came after his colleagues outside the gates of the CIA. They still do not know who it was that murdered two people on a morning when they were on their way to work. This maniac, who under any other circumstances would just have been a maniac on the loose, but with a rifle he became a deadly menace and two people are dead as a result.

On and on it goes, the escalation of it. It is happening more and more.

It might be a surprise to most Americans to know that if you compare the number of people who died in the Vietnam war, about 57,000 people died in the war, compare that to the number of people who were killed by guns in homicide situations, not accidentally, homicides in a 6-year period, 2 1/2 times more people were killed by guns, civilians, 2 1/2 times more Americans than died in the 6-year period in Vietnam.

It is a shocking statistic. Again it is escalating. It gets worse every day. The number of guns in our society is increasing, not arithmetically, but geometrically. There are twice as many guns out there as there were 5 years ago and the sales are booming. The legal sales are booming and the illegal sales are booming.

As we heard before, there are now people who rent guns.

You cannot solve the problem with one city government taking strong measures or the police in one place taking strong action. You cannot solve the problem with one State of the Union. We do not have boundaries or border police at each State to search cars or trucks as they come in. That is not the solution. It has to be a national solution.

There have been steps taken. The Brady bill is a very conservative moderate step. I am all for the Brady bill. I will vote for the Brady bill. I am a cosponsor of the Brady bill, but we have to do more.

Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island last year introduced a more comprehensive law which would regulate the manufacture and sale of guns. He talked about the Government even offering to buy all the guns out there now that people would sell back. They would buy them to get some of them out of the society in that same law.

A number of people have proposed--I am not alone--a number of people have proposed that the second amendment be repealed so that we can clear the deck philosophically and ideologically and we can get it out of people's minds that there is some kind of right to carry this deadly weapon, that there is some kind of right to have our society move closer and closer to a situation where it may become impossible to retrieve all the guns or to regulate guns because there is going to be such a proliferation that nobody will feel safe without one, that nobody will be safe without one.

We will have to send in the Marines to certain sections of our own country in order to disarm people. It is getting that bad. It is not an exaggeration.

So I am not here because I have some kind of wish to tamper with the Bill of Rights or the second amendment. I am here because I am frightened. I am here because my constituents are frightened. Businessmen are very frightened. They feel that they are totally defenseless against any amateur. There are a lot of amateur crooks, people who would not dare to rob a store if it were not for the gun and they believe that the gun will protect them and that the gun is magic. A lot of amateur crooks, a lot of teen-age crooks, a lot of people normally who would not be out there, store owners and business people, they are out there now.

I am not here because I want to do damage to the Constitution or repeal any amendment for the sake of repeal.

I would very much like to have a dialog with members of the National Rifle Association that is a civilized dialog. I introduced this amendment, this bill to repeal the second amendment last year. I have a mountain of mail that does not involve civilized dialog at all. There is all kinds of name-calling, all kinds of retreats to bigotry, all kinds of things that happen in the mountain of mail opposed to the amendment. There are, of course, people who are for it, but those who oppose it are particularly violent, particularly profane, particularly racist. I do not want to confront those people. I am not interested in furthering that kind of dialog. I would like to have a dialog with the leaders of the National Rifle Association, with the leaders of sports associations, pistol clubs, hunters. There ought to be a way and there is a way, without question to have people who want guns and will use guns for sport and use guns in a responsible way to maintain guns and to keep guns without having a blanket situation where anybody can get a gun, without having a wide open situation where the criminal, the insane, the children, can all have guns. We ought to be able to come together.

I challenge the National Rifle Association and the leadership there to deal with the fact that

more children are dying, more students are dying every day as a result of this proliferation of guns.

What positive stings can we do together or can we do alone, given your vast resources and your influence to deal with the fact that a large number of the victims of gunshot wounds and large numbers of victims dying from gunshot wounds are young people.

Do you have an educational program? Do you have something that you will propose to keep guns out of the hands of students and children?

I appeal to the National Rifle Association, because I assume they are adults, to join me in a dialog. Let us figure out a way to guarantee that those people are going to act responsibly and use guns responsible for support or for protection or whatever always will have them and they will be regulated in a way to keep them out of the hands of the people who are going to use them in irresponsible and deadly ways.

It is no small matter. In the weeks and the months to come, I intend to maintain a body count. We maintained a body count in Vietnam where we would announce periodically the number of people who had been killed. I would like to maintain a body count on the victims of gunplay in this country.

It is impossible, I find, to get running statistics, but we will do the best we can.

I would like to alert the American people to the seriousness of the situation.

I want to show the escalation factor. I want to show how it is increasing. I want to show the danger of the Somalia syndrome, where we have situations that have become so bad as result of this unchecked proliferation of guns that you have to send in the National Guard. You have to send in the Marines. You have to deal with it in ways which are totally un-American. We do not want to do that, but you are going to have that situation if you do not take action now.

It is the duty of the Congress to exercise the kind of wisdom that is necessary to prevent these kinds of situations. Preventive legislation, preventive action is what we should be all about.

The repeal of the second amendment is not the solution. The repeal of the second amendment, however, is something we should look at in order to begin to arrive at a comprehensive solution.
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--Mike Barkley, 167 N. Sheridan Ave., Manteca, CA 95336 (H) 209/823-4817
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