Shall not be infringed, The new assaults on your Second Amendment
David A. Keene and Tom L. Mason
Skyhorse Publishing, 2016
173 pages (including endnotes), $22.95 USD
($34.95 CAD from Amazon.ca)
Dave Keene and Tom Mason wrote Shall not be infringed to alert voters that a Hillary Clinton presidency would be a disaster for law-abiding firearms owners. This book remains an eye opener. The authors provide fascinating details about Hillary Clinton’s and Barrack Obama’s willingness to undermine American constitutional protections. The authors must be pleased to have been part of a campaign that not only successfully elected Donald Trump President but also managed to win Republican majorities in both the House of Representatives and the US Senate.
Shall not be infringed is targeted at an American audience, but Canadians will be fascinated by the peek into back-room politics. It is a double-barreled book, with David Keene writes the first section about the never-ending efforts of the American gun-control movement to hobble the Second Amendment. In the balance of the book, Tom Mason, who has represented the World Forum on Shooting Activities at the United Nations for decades, reveals the inner workings of the United Nations. Mason lays out how activists, utterly opposed to civilians owning firearms, use a host of deceitful maneuvers, including twisting international treaties, to circumvent the American legal system and to undermine basic constitutional rights.
As a former president of the NRA, Keene is well placed to depict the gun-control battles since the 1990s. He is especially scathing when talking about “Fast and Furious,” where the Obama administration deliberately allowed hundreds of firearms to be sold to gun smugglers, apparently to support the fictitious claim that the bulk of the guns used by Mexican drug cartels originate in the US. These guns were later positively identified in the killing of US Border Patrol Agent, Brian Terry, a fascinating history of how the NRA transformed itself into a dynamic civil rights organization; he concludes with a discussion of the UN Arms Trade Treaty.
Canadians who want to know more about the NRA, probably the only gun-rights group that they know much about, will be fascinated by the stories Keene relates about NRA politics. Critics often portray the NRA as “the gun lobby,” insinuating that it is the creature of the firearms industry. In reality, the NRA receives less than 15% of its income from corporation and approximately 75% from the membership. (The rest comes from return on investments). It is a grass-roots civil-rights organization, with more than 5 million members. It is much larger than two other well-known civil-rights organization, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), both of which claim to have more than half-million members or supporters.
The National Rifle Association is not the only important gun-rights group in the United States. The Second Amendment Foundation is one of the more dynamic and successful organizations that defend American’s gun rights, having successfully taken the lead in both the DC vs Heller and McDonald vs Chicago cases, which together resulted in affirming the Second Amendment as an individual right to keep and bear arms and protecting that right against incursions by either the states or federal governments. SAF has over 600,000 members and is currently engaged in multiple lawsuits defending Second Amendment rights.
In Shall not be infringed, the authors reveal the underhanded ways President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton weakened basic civil rights, including gun rights. One example which jumped out at me was how they worked together on the Arms Trade Treaty. Secretary Clinton deliberately abandoned language in the ATT that had previously been negotiated over years of discussions with the United Nations that had protected American Second Amendment rights. In addition, Obama asked the UN to postpone acting on the controversial Arms Trade Treaty so that his betrayal remained concealed until after the 2008 vote. Fearing objections, Obama and Hillary next urged the UN to abandon the traditional requirement of “consensus” for international agreements in passing the ATT.
In the second half of the book, Mason relates his personal experiences at the United Nations, where he’s represented the NRA since the 1990s. I was shocked by his revelations: the UN is just disgusting. Personal disclosure, I worked with Tom as a representative of a Canadian NGO with the World Forum for Shooting Activities, which included presentations at the UN. From my own experience, I can confidently say that international politics is more repellent than domestic politics. The more one knows about the UN, the less respect anyone can have for it. No one at the UN has ever been punished for their disgusting actions of the UN peacekeepers who were responsible for killing more than ten thousand Haitians by causing a cholera epidemic. After years of denial, medical researchers finally proved that the UN was responsible: the peacekeepers had contaminated the island’s main water supply by ignorantly placing their toilets upstream from Port-au-Prince.
Rampant corruption at the UN is not new, but it is routinely ignored by the media. Don Kates, a constitutional scholar, who is credited with initiating a revival of respect for the Second Amendment, long argued that international bodies are much more corrupt than state (or provincial) politics, or even national governments. The UN enjoys an undeserved reputation for being idealistic, but since there are few if any controls on spending, it has developed into the most corrupt political organization in the world.
I learned a lot about the ATT process, and UN politics. I am amazed that the authors were willing to share so much. I am shocked by the idea that treaties could undermine domestic legislation, even constitutional protections such as those enshrined in the Bill of Rights. The situation is even worse in Canada, where treaties fall outside of parliamentary control as they are the exclusive prerogative of the Prime Minister.
In Shall not be infringed, Dave Keene and Tom Mason throw open the doors to the National Rifle Association and the United Nations to give us a peak behind closed doors. The authors share fascinating personal stories about the key players and internal machinations. If you are interested in American gun politics, then you need to know these back stories to major news events. It’s not ideology that often drives politics, but personal quirks. No one should be surprised that personal animosity (and greed) can overshadow political philosophy in shaping important national or international policy.
I must say I was disappointed that this book lacks an index. That’s a problem because Shall not be infringed is packed with juicy tidbits and fascinating stories so an index would be invaluable for finding key references. Do not let the missing index keep you from purchasing this book. It’s a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in international firearms politics.
Many retiring politicians and executives write a book reviewing and extolling their career. But one of the downsides to such insider stories is that they tend to fall into two boxes: the gossipy “kiss-and-tell” kind which seems designed to settle old scores, or to reveal secrets most insiders would prefer remain private, or, the other kind that is padded with a boring list of compliments to all the “wonderful” people the author “successfully” worked with during his or her life. The first burns bridges while the second insults the book buying public. This book clearly falls into the first category.