Over and over again, "gun rights' organizations and the gun and ammunition manufacturing companies that bankroll them have used the term "law-abiding citizens' to argue against new restrictions on assault-style rifles, high-capacity ammunition magazines and even closing loopholes in the country's background check laws.
These regulations only harm "law-abiding citizens,' they argue, not the "criminals' who are causing the gun violence in America's cities and in mass shooting murders such as Aurora and Sandy Hook.
The overwhelming majority of gun owners, including those who testified before the Connecticut General Assembly earlier this year, respect the law, are the "good guys with guns,' and shouldn't be given a bad name due to the law-breaking actions of a few, they claim.
The problem, of course, is that everyone is a "law-abiding citizen,' until they are not. That includes Nancy Lanza and her son. That includes the people who bombed the Boston Marathon last week and murdered a police officer (who was not saved by being armed, nor by 9,000 "good guys with guns' who were after the "bad guys with guns')
The other problem is that when some gun activists say "law-abiding,' they are referring only to laws they agree with.
Gun manufacturers themselves are actively looking for ways to break the spirit of Connecticut's new law. The Hartford Courant's Dan Haar reported April 12 that gun makers were already working on prototypes for a gun that would allow the basic AR-15 to be sold in Connecticut through creative compliance with the law's ban on pistol grips and other features.
And at a rally in Hartford Saturday organized by the "Connecticut Citizens Defense League,' the crowd cheered when speaker Michael Vanderboegh, a gun rights activist from Alabama, urged residents to break Connecticut's new gun laws.
"They will only pay attention to what you do. So defy them. Resist these laws. Evade them. Smuggle in what they command you not to have,' Vanderboegh said.
According to the New Haven Register's report of the 1,500-person rally, "The loudest cheers came when he told them that on Thursday he smuggled a half-dozen 30-round magazines into the state.'
"To Martin Looney, Don Williams, Larry Cafero and John McKinney, I'd like to say this: I just committed a class D felony, you tyrannical morons. ... Catch me if you can,' Vanderboegh said
He talked of a "civil war' brewing over gun regulations such as those passed in Connecticut.
People attending the rally held a large sign that showed the now-banned AR-15 assault-style rifle that was used to murder 26 children and educators in less than 5 minutes at Sandy Hook Elementary School with the words, "Come and take it.' Another person held a picture of Gov. Dannel Malloy with a Hitler mustache and hair-style with the words, "Sieg Heil Malloy.'
And Vanderboegh wrote in November: "VOTE: At least later on you can say you tried everything else before you were forced to shoot people in righteous self-defense of life and liberty.'
All extremely troubling considering the arrest of a Barkhamsted man last week for threatening to kill Gov. Malloy. John Montysko was found in possession of an illegal AK-47 assault rifle when police questioned him about that threat. Gun rights activists such as Vanderboegh and the cheering crowd in Hartford Saturday would likely say that Montysko was right in keeping that AK-47 because it was wrong for the government to have a law against it.
These laws are unconstitutional, they argue, according to their interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.
And if a court finds that they are constitutional, as one recently did in refusing to hear a challenge to New York's new gun control law, well, then, the court is the problem!
Picking and choosing to obey the law based on which laws you agree or disagree with, and not accepting the constitutional process for reviewing the constitution, unless it agrees with you, is anarchism, not being a "law-abiding citizen.' It's not even on the same playing field as those who respect the law and American democracy, and it's why rational discussion of this issue has been so elusive.