This will effectively be, my last article for 2012. The ONLY reason I am writing it is because in January, the Wicked Witch of the West, Senator Diane Feinstein, plans on introducing a bill which would ban on the manufacture and sale of, so-called, assault rifles, but would also require the registration and fingerprinting of ANYONE who had legally purchased one after the 2004 expiration of a ban on them expired. My intent is, hopefully, to introduce some facts, and common sense, (something that is far too scarce these days), into the argument before the Senator is successful in ramming this bill through Congress to the desk of, a more than willing, President for his signature.
First of all, some history. In 1994 the Congress passed the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, or Public Safety and Recreation Firearms Use Protection Act, which provided a ten year ban upon, so-called, assault rifles. It was signed by President Clinton, and then expired in 2004. Now this new bill, which will be introduced in January, will ban the same type rifles, close loopholes in the 1994 law, while at the same time ban other semi-automatic pistols. It will also require that the owners of those weapons purchased during the time they were legal to be fingerprinted and registered with the government. This, being pushed by the same Senator Feinstein, who on 60 Minutes, stated, “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them — Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in — I would have done it.”
As I stated, if passed, this bill will go to a president who is, more than willing, to sign it into law. This same president who said, “Weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets.” The president went on to say, “And so what I’m trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced.”
What exactly is an assault rifle? According to the government, in the context of an assault weapons ban, an assault weapon refers primarily, (but not entirely) to semi-automatic firearms that possess the cosmetic features of an assault rifle that fully automatic. However, there is a huge difference between what they consider an assault rifle, and WHAT IS an assault rifle. A true, if you can even classify them as so being, assault rifle has the capability of firing on full automatic, that is the rifle will continue to fire as long as you hold the trigger down, or until the magazine is empty, unlike a semi-automatic rifle in which you have to pull the trigger to fire each round.
Our government would have you believe that these massacres, like the one that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School, were committed by some kid with a fully automatic rifle, spraying bullets wildly, when in fact fully automatic rifles HAVE been illegal for anyone, other than a few registered owners who have to pass strict background checks, be registered with the government, and pay heavy licensing fees to own. And it is a misrepresentation of fact, if not an outright lie, to say that these shootings were committed by people wielding ‘machine guns.’ Nonetheless, to calm the public, and tighten their control over the people’s ability to exercise their Constitutionally protected Second Amendment right, Senator Feinstein wants to ban anything that LOOKS like a machine gun.
That’s the history, now let me provide you with a few facts. After the shooting, Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice-President of the National Rifle Association, appeared on Meet the Press and declared that we should have armed guards in our children’s schools. He was immediately the recipient of criticism and called crazy for wanting MORE guns in our schools. Yet, according to some reports, Sidwell Friends School, in Washington D.C. just happens to have 11 armed security guards on its staff to protect the students. It may be coincidence, but isn’t that the school the president’s children attend? Yet they say armed guards at our schools is not the answer, and they always bring up what happened at Columbine. Yet if it DOES NOT work, why bother putting 11 of them at the school Sasha and Malia Obama attend, not to mention the Secret Service detail which probably guards them as well? Have the people of this country become so obtuse that they cannot see the hypocrisy?
Now, a few more facts. In his Letters of Novanglus, John Adams once said that this country is “a government of laws, and not men…” with the Constitution being the Supreme Law of the Land, as per Article 6, Clause 2.
The Bill of Rights, being duly ratified as per Article 5, became part, and parcel of the Supreme Law of the Land. The second of these amendments clearly states that “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Are you with me so far? Okay, in 1994 Congress passes a law making certain types of firearms illegal to purchase. In 2004 that law expires and those type firearms then become legal once again to purchase. Now, next year Senator Feinstein wishes to introduce a law tightening the restrictions on semi-automatic rifles and pistols, once again making them illegal to manufacture and purchase by civilians.
Now, either it IS LEGAL, or IT ISN’T to own a semi-automatic rifle, according to the intent of the founders when they ratified the Second Amendment. Which is it? I ask, because if the intent of the founders was that we be allowed to have any type weapon that we deem is in our best interest to protect ourselves, and defend against tyranny, then it IS NOT in the power of Congress, or the states for that matter, to infringe upon, (to make it illegal for those who don’t understand infringe), the right to own those type firearms.
Logic, (and this is something else that is in very short supply it seems), would indicate that, if prior to 1994, when the FIRST assault weapons ban was passed, these weapons were LEGAL to own, then by passing the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban our government was limiting a previously existing right, in other words INFRINGING UPON IT.
Please, put aside all your emotions and think about it for just one moment. If you have the freedom to speak as you will, and then suddenly government passes a law saying you cannot use words with more than 3 syllables, or words that begin with the letter H, are they NOT infringing upon your freedom of speech? Either you can speak, or you can’t. Either you can own semi-automatic rifles, or you can’t. It can’t be for now you can, but next year you can’t.
Former Supreme Court Justice, Joseph Story, who also was the first Dane Professor of Law at Harvard University, once said, “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers…“
Now, seeing as how that would imply that people have the right to be armed in a manner that provides them the ability to fight tyranny, wherever it may be found, including in their own government, does it not seem logical that they should be on equal footing as those who they may one day have to fight? Tell me this, would you want your son or daughter going off to war with a small caliber single shot rifle when you knew their enemy was armed with automatic rifles? Why then limit the ability of a people to fight against government when their government is armed with the latest high tech weaponry, while they can only own single shot rifles?
Over the course of our nation’s history courts have ruled on the issue of the right of the people to keep and bear arms, although it still seems that legislators refuse to accept these legal precedents as binding, and continue to pass laws which violate the scope and intent of the Second Amendment.
For instance, in 1822, in Bliss v. Kentucky, the court ruled, “For, in principle, there is no difference between a law prohibiting the wearing of concealed arms, and a law forbidding the wearing such as are exposed; and if the former be unconstitutional, the latter must be so likewise. But it should not be forgotten, that it is not only a part of the right that is secured by the constitution; it is the right entire and complete, as it existed at the adoption of the constitution; and if any portion of that right be impaired, immaterial how small the part may be, and immaterial the order of time at which it be done, it is equally forbidden by the constitution.” Yet how many states have made it illegal to carry, concealed or open, a firearm?
In Wilson v. State, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled, “To prohibit a citizen from wearing or carrying a war arm . . . is an unwarranted restriction upon the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. If cowardly and dishonorable men sometimes shoot unarmed men with army pistols or guns, the evil must be prevented by the penitentiary and gallows, and not by a general deprivation of constitutional privilege.” Yet war arms are now illegal to own, and if something isn’t done, so will be anything that RESEMBLES a war arm.
Furthermore, in Nunn vs. State, the courts, once again, ruled, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.’ The right of the whole people, old and young, men, women and boys, and not militia only, to keep and bear arms of every description, and not such merely as are used by the militia, shall not be infringed, curtailed, or broken in upon, in the smallest degree; and all this for the important end to be attained: the rearing up and qualifying a well-regulated militia, so vitally necessary to the security of a free State. Our opinion is that any law, State or Federal, is repugnant to the Constitution, and void, which contravenes this right.“
In People vs. Zerillo, the court ruled, “The provision in the Constitution granting the right to all persons to bear arms is a limitation upon the power of the Legislature to enact any law to the contrary.”
Finally, in Cockrum v. State, the court ruled, “The right of a citizen to bear arms, in lawful defense of himself or the State, is absolute. He does not derive it from the State government. It is one of the “high powers” delegated directly to the citizen, and `is excepted out of the general powers of government.’ A law cannot be passed to infringe upon or impair it, because it is above the law, and independent of the lawmaking power.“
Do you understand that? It says “A law CANNOT be passed to infringe upon or impair it, because it is above the law…” Can you hear me Senator Feinstein?
Thomas Jefferson once said that “nothing is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man.” Yet lawmakers at the state, and federal levels, have decided that THEY are above the law which they are sworn to uphold, that their sacred duty to protect and defend our Constitution, and our God-given unalienable rights is no longer binding upon them. Is that not the very definition of an arbitrary government, the one for which the Second Amendment was written to protect us against?
In the Supreme Court case of Ex parte Milligan, the Court ruled, “The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under ALL circumstances.” Well, as our government seems to think that the Constitutional limitations upon their powers to infringe upon our rights is no longer valid, then has not our Constitution, for all intents and purposes, been overthrown by our government?
Remember, no matter what they teach you in school, we do NOT live in a democracy where 51% of the people can dictate their will upon the remaining 49%. We are a Constitutional Republic where the rule of law covers, and protects, the rights of all. And even if only 1% of the people care to exercise a Constitutionally protected right, the remaining 99% CANNOT abrogate, (to officially get rid of a law or political arrangement, often without the agreement of the other people, groups, etc. involved) it.
It does not matter if Senator Feinstein, if the entire Congress, thinks it is in our best interest to limit the ability of hundreds of thousands of law abiding citizens to own assault rifles, they cannot do it, no matter how many times they try to convince you otherwise. In the court case of Amos v. Mosley, the court ruled, “If the legislature clearly misinterprets a constitutional provision, the frequent repetition of the wrong will NOT create a right.“
In the case of Bell v Hood, the court ruled that, “History is clear that the first ten amendments to the Constitution were adapted to secure certain common law rights of the people, against invasion by the Federal Government.”
In 1943 Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson said, “The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”
In a 1911 edition of the North American Review, Horace H. Lurton once said, “The contention that…the Constitution is to be disregarded if it stands in the way of that which is deemed of the public advantage…is destructive of the whole theory upon which our American Commonwealths have been founded.”
So, if Diane Feinstein wants to pass a law saying that we cannot own these semi-automatic ‘assault’ rifles, who will be breaking the law? The people who refuse to obey her dictatorial fiat, or her for authoring; for Congress passing; or for the president for signing, a law they simply DO NOT have the Constitutional authority to do?
I don’t know about you, but I tend to believe what Edward Abbey once said, “If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military. The hired servants of our rulers. Only the government-and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws.“
Far too many people in this country no longer think about things this way. They believe that our Constitution is a living document which can be interpreted to suit current times. That is not the case. In South Carolina v. United States the court ruled, “The Constitution is a written instrument. As such, its meaning does not alter. That which it meant when it was adopted, it means now.”
There are those of us, and yes we are a minority, who believe as did our founders, that our rights are unalienable, and worth dying to defend. We hold firmly to the belief that “Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them.” Declaration of the Causes and Necessities of Taking Up Arms – July 6, 1775
If you, and your elected representatives continue your attempts to infringe upon, what we consider to be an unalienable right, you may soon find yourselves victims of the law of unintended consequences, meaning that one of these days we will fight back.
I am not saying that these school shootings are not tragic and horrible. I AM saying, that by trying to take away, or infringe upon our God-given right to keep and bear arms, you are messing with a hornet’s nest, and you may one day come to regret it.
Ponder that while you get ready to celebrate the New Year…
December 30, 2012
~ The Author ~
Neal Ross can be reached for comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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