Keyes: Constitution protects machine gun ownership
August 25, 2004
BY SCOTT FORNEK Political Reporter Advertisement
Declaring "the front line of the war against terror once again involves the citizens," Republican Alan Keyes said Tuesday he believes the U.S. Constitution grants properly trained private individuals the right to own and carry machine guns.
"You're not talking about giving citizens access to atom bombs and other things," the former presidential candidate said. "That's ridiculous."
But the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate argued the founding fathers intended the Second Amendment to allow people to carry the types of weapons "customarily carried in those days by ordinary infantry soldiers."
"And, yes, does that mean that in this day and age people would have the right to have access to the kind of the weapons our ordinary infantry people have access to? With proper training and so forth to make sure that they could handle them successfully, that's exactly what was meant."
Keyes made the remarks at a news conference he called to attack the "ideological extremism" of his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Barack Obama.
The Republican lit into Obama for voting against a bill in Springfield earlier this year that would have allowed people who use handguns to fend off home invaders or attackers to argue self-defense as a possible legal defense against prosecution for violating any local anti-firearm possession ordinances.
The measure passed the Legislature with bi-partisan support, but Gov. Blagojevich vetoed it last week.
Keyes called Obama's vote against the measure an "appalling . . . lack of common sense."
"This seems to be a man who is absolutely determined to make the world safe for criminals, while making sure that law-abiding citizens have no opportunity to defend themselves against the criminals," Keyes said.
Keyes said he supports a system in which guns would be treated similarly to automobiles, with people being required to undergo different levels of training before they would be allowed to own and carry various sorts of weapons.
"I always remind -- even people who support the Second Amendment -- that it has two parts: the right to keep and bear" arms, Keyes said. " 'Bear' means to carry, to carry around. . . . I think it has been proven empirically that . . . allowing law-abiding citizens this access to conceal-carry actually reduces crime."
Keyes said he owns two firearms himself: a 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol and a .38-caliber "six-shooter." But he said he does not keep them at his new home in Calumet City.
Keyes only indirectly answered a reporter's question about whether he would "be comfortable if the entire society was walking around with Uzis, as long as they were properly trained."
"Have you ever been to Israel?" Keyes asked the reporter. "Because if you've ever been to Israel, you wouldn't ask that question. And in the midst of terrifying dangers, you walk around the streets of Israel and you see every other person carrying arms and Uzis and so forth and so on, and believe me, you do not feel less safe on that account."
Machine guns, or fully automatic weapons, are firearms that fire multiple shots with a single pull of the trigger.
Thomas Ahern, a spokesman for the Chicago division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said private individuals can only own such weapons if they apply with the bureau and clear a series of hurdles, including a background check, fingerprinting and the OK of local law enforcement officials. Additional paperwork is required any time the weapon is to be transported.
"It is heavily regulated," Ahern said.
A spokesman for Obama defended the Democrat's record on guns.
"Certainly he believes in the Second Amendment, but he also believes in common-sense gun safety laws, such as the federal ban on military-style assault weapons." said spokesman Robert Gibbs. "If Alan Keyes truly was concerned about public safety, that would be his position, as well."