Presenting Reasoned Positions on Firearms Legislation
The Shooters Committee on Political Education was founded in 1965 by a group of
firearms owners in western New York. SCOPE is a civil rights organization
focused on the protection and preservation of the right of firearms ownership as
guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The
founding of SCOPE and its subsequent growth were in response to the attacks on
the Second Amendment as being outmoded in modern times or not being applicable
to the rights of individuals.
While SCOPE role is focused primarily on the political process, it is an issues oriented organization. It does not align itself with any political party nor does it endorse
any candidates for elective office. Our function is to counter assaults on the right of firearms ownership. This entails providing legislators and executives with timely
and accurate information.
The SCOPE legislative team reviews all proposed
firearms legislation for its impact on the legitimate firearms owner, its economic cost to the state, and its potential for achieving its stated objective. All regulatory
proposals are examined in light of their relationship to legitimate state interests and their potential for achieving objectives substantially related to satisfying those
SCOPE’s positions are then developed based on the best information we can assemble as to the legitimacy of the objective, the effectiveness of the proposal to achieve the
intended purpose, as well as the impact on and cost of the proposal to firearms owners.
SCOPE’s purpose is to maintain the right of individuals to own and use firearms for lawful purposes. The Supreme Court in its landmark 2008 decision in District of Columbia
v. Heller clearly upheld this right. Any regulation by the state, however, must serve an important government objective and must be closely related to the achievement of that
objective. SCOPE will oppose, with all its resources, any proposal that is not based on sound technical grounds or that infringes on the rights of firearms owners for
the purpose of promoting a political philosophy, a social theory, or an emotional response and is not based on clear Constitutional grounds.
The SAFE Act is an example of felon friendly legislation that results when politicians, without any clear understanding of the complexities involved, react
precipitously to a horrific incident. The desire “to do something” overcomes the preferable path of dispassionate evaluation of real problem and a reasoned discussion of
solutions. The result is legislation that abridges the rights of the law-abiding majority and burdens the exercise of those remaining while producing a minimum of
inconvenience to the “criminal classes.”
The common thread that runs through mass shootings is that the perpetrator was known to be mentally ill. In several of these highly publicized incidents, as well as less
well reported non-firearms homicides, the individual had already been through the criminal justice system, a system that is poorly equipped to deal this problem, and
released with the admonition to “seek treatment.” This problem has been building since the 1960’s when the mentally ill were deinstitutionalized without any real
outpatient treatment infrastructure to help them. The answer put forth by this legislation is “we will make a list.”
Rather than deal with these admittedly difficult issues, many political leaders have chosen to substitute their perception of public opinion for the Constitutional rights
of the firearms owner. They seemed to have forgotten that rights are constitutionally protected to deal with just such situations. Governments cannot abridge fundamental
rights just to show that they “are doing something.” Courts have repeatedly held that governments must have a compelling governmental purpose when they
infringe on basic rights. And that their action must be the least restrictive way of fulfilling that purpose. The
SAFE Act legislation fails to meet those standards.
All SCOPE Position Papers are available in pdf format on our website: