With a large percentage of the public behind them, lawmakers across the country are waging all out war upon the Second Amendment. Just last Thursday the Providence City Council passed a resolution banning all semi-automatic firearms in the city. The Illinois State Legislature is now working on a bill which would ban all semi-automatic rifles, and certain semi-automatic pistols as well. Not to be outdone, Senator Diane Feinstein, of California, is planning on introducing a beefed up version of the 1994 federal firearms ban on semi-automatic firearms, which would also include certain types of semi-automatic pistols as well.
With a great deal of public support, and a spineless neutered GOP to oppose her, Senator Feinstein might actually succeed in ramming this unconstitutional law through Congress, and you can bet your ass that Barack Obama will willingly sign it. But just because they have the majority to do a thing, with the support of much of the public behind them, does it mean they have the authority to do it? And if they do enact this law, what are the implications for we the people?
Before I begin discussing the abovementioned points, I want you to understand something, and understand it fully. We DO NOT have a democracy in this country. In a pure democracy there are no limits to what those in power can do as long as they have the support of the majority. We, on the other hand, live under a Constitutional republic, a limited form of democracy where the Constitution limits the power of those sitting in our government. Upon leaving the Constitutional Convention Ben Franklin was asked what we have, a monarchy or a republic, to which he replied, “A Republic if you can keep it.”
In drafting our Constitution, the Founders had created a Republic, not a democracy. Now, upon entering office, those elected to represent us ALL swear an oath to support and defend the document which created the system of government they have been elected to represent us under. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story says this about that Oath of Office, “That all those, who are entrusted with the execution of the powers of the national government, should be bound by some solemn obligation to the due execution of the trusts reposed in them, and to support the constitution, would seem to be a proposition too clear to render any reasoning necessary m support of it. It results from the plain right of society to require some guaranty from every officer, that he will be conscientious in the. discharge of his duty.“
Let me ask you something. When you are called to be a witness in a jury trial you are asked to take an oath that you will tell the truth during your testimony. What occurs if you lie while under that oath? You are guilty of having committed a CRIME, perjury. It is a crime to violate an oath, be it an oath to tell the truth during testimony in court, or be it to uphold the Constitution.
And while I’m on the subject of oaths let me take a moment or two to talk about the Pledge of Allegiance. The pledge of Allegiance states, “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” How many times have you repeated that pledge during your lifetime, hundreds, possibly thousands? Indirectly, by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, you too are swearing that YOU will uphold the Constitution.
But getting back to our elected representatives, when they take that oath they are swearing to us, to each other, and to God, that they will support and defend the Constitution. If they violate that oath, they are guilty of a crime. The Constitution provides a means by which they can be brought to justice, by way of impeachment. Now impeachment is often thought of as something the Congress does to a sitting president. That is NOT the only instance in which impeachment may be used. Once again, according to Justice Story, “All officers of the United States, therefore, who hold their appointments under the national government, whether their duties are executive or judicial, in the highest or in the lowest departments of the government, with the exception of officers in the army and navy, are properly civil officers within the meaning of the constitution, and liable to impeachment.” Members of Congress may also be impeached, as well as judges, and anyone else who has taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution, other than military members who are tried under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Now, let’s get back to the issue at hand, the all out attack upon the Second Amendment to the Constitution. The Second Amendment states that the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. Of that there can be no argument because that is the actual wording of the amendment itself. What is under discussion is the type of arms the Second Amendment would allow us to keep and bear.
It would seem that the vast majority of the public, and our elected representatives, are of the belief that we should not be allowed to own any weapon that is capable of being fired more than once without having to reload. But, is that what was intended when the Founder’s added the Second Amendment?
Thomas Jefferson once said, “On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”
This is a concept that was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1969 when they ruled, “The values of the Framers of the Constitution must be applied in any case construing the Constitution. Inferences from the text and history of the Constitution should be given great weight in discerning the original understanding and in determining the intentions of those who ratified the constitution.” Powell v. McCormack
Furthermore, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, in 1987, said, “Judges…rule on the basis of law, not public opinion, and should be totally indifferent to pressures of the times.” If judges should only rule on the basis of law, and be indifferent to the pressure of times, then shouldn’t our legislators legislate according to the law which binds their actions, and shouldn’t they be indifferent to the pressures of the times as well?
In jurisprudence, [the philosophy, or science of law], there is something known as precedents. A precedent, as it applies to law, is an action or decision that has been rendered in the past that can be used to justify a similar decision in the future.
In the 1949 case of Bell v. Hood, the court ruled that “History is clear that the first ten amendments to the Constitution were adopted to secure certain common law rights of the people, against invasion by the Federal Government.”
Or, as Albert Gallatin, of the New York Historical Society in 1789 said, “The whole of the Bill (of Rights) is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals…. It establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of.”
The question I most often hear amongst those who would see limitations imposed upon the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to keep and bear arms is this, that for what reason do the people need these semi-automatic assault rifles, (a fabricated name to instill fear into the minds of people), so that they can hunt or protect their homes?
Sure, hunting, target practicing, and self defense are all things that are benefits of the Second Amendment, but they ARE NOT the primary reason why our Founder’s felt it necessary to protect the right of the people to keep and bear arms. The PRIMARY reason why the Second Amendment exists is so that the people would never be found lacking in arms should tyranny arise under the system of government they established. They wanted the people to be on equal footing with any army the government might raise to oppress them. So of course the government, especially one with a track record of violating our rights and usurping unconstitutional powers, would love to see the people disarmed. And of course they will always tell us it is in our best interests that they are doing it. But Daniel Webster, another founding father, once said, “Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.”
And how could the people possibly resist an army, funded and equipped by the government? Well, they could do so by the use of the militia. Oh, but when people hear the word militia it conjures up images of bearded men playing war games in the woods, with the intent of overthrowing the government. That simply is not true. While there may be some anarchists who believe that, for the most part the members of local militias ONLY want the government to limit its actions to the specifically enumerated powers found within the Constitution. If the government would do that, then they would have nothing to fear from any militia.
What exactly is the militia and what is its purpose? In the debates of the Virginia Convention on the ratification of the Constitution, George Mason declared, “I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.” In fact, title 10 of the United States Code, which covers the composition of the militia, says this:
(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members
of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.
You may have been told that the National Guard has replaced the militia, but the LAW states that all males, 17 and older, unless serving in an organize militia, ARE the unorganized militia, and they can, at any time, be called into service for the defense of their country…even if in defending it they must fight against a tyrannical government.
But, what does this have to do with these bans, and impending bans upon certain type firearms? Well, let’s see what the Founders said about the militia and the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
Elbridge Gerry, signer of the Declaration of Independence and Vice President under James Madison, declared, “What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. …Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.“
To most Americans, the name Tench Coxe may be unfamiliar, but nonetheless he was an outspoken member of the Pennsylvania delegation to the Constitutional Convention. Mr. Coxe once said, “The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American … the unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.“
Every other terrible implement of the soldier, doesn’t that sound like he means that whatever weapons might be carried by a regular soldier may also be carried by members of the militia?
Mr. Coxe also said, “The militia, who are in fact the effective part of the people at large, will render many troops quite unnecessary. They will form a powerful check upon the regular troops, and will generally be sufficient to over-awe them.” No how might that be possible if we are only equipped with single shot rifles and pistols while they are equipped with the most modern weapons known to man?
In the case of Nunn vs. State, the court 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.” This was in 1846, before Diane Feinstein was even a glimmer in her father’s eye, therefore it is a precedent to which she has sworn an oath to uphold. That alone qualifies her for removal from office.
In 1859, 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.” Did you get that? It is independent of the lawmaking power. That means that they CANNOT pass a law regarding any aspect of the right to keep and bear arms. But there is more to come.
But you say we no longer NEED a militia. Let me remind you of what Thomas Jefferson once said, “For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well organized and armed militia is their best security.”
In 1787 Noah Webster, from his An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, once warned, “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.”
William Rawle, who served as U.S. District Attorney in Pennsylvania, in 1829 wrote the following about the Second Amendment, “The prohibition is general. No clause in the Constitution could by any rule of construction be conceived to give to Congress a power to disarm the people. Such a flagitious attempt could only be made under some general pretense by a state legislature. But if in any blind pursuit of inordinate power, either should attempt it, this amendment may be appealed to as a restraint on both.“
And do you recall that little thing I mentioned earlier, the thing about legal precedents? Well, in 1787 case of Wilson v. State, the 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.” If that isn’t clear enough then I am simply wasting my time on you, as he clearly states that it is our right to own and carry WAR ARMS.
But you see, Congress doesn’t care about the law, or legal precedents. They no longer abide by the rule of law, they simply do whatever they want, or follow the overall public sentiment. And if the public demands that semi-automatic rifles be banned, well they are more than willing to do so. But there is one other minor little legal technicality that I would like to discuss before I let you go.
Does the term ex post facto mean anything to you? No, I didn’t think it would, so allow me to explain what it is. Ex post facto laws are laws which retroactively change a law to make what was once legal to do, a criminal offense punishable under the new law. Say you buy a brand new 4-Wheel drive truck on Monday. Then on Friday Congress passes a law making 4-Wheel drive trucks illegal. Under the new law you are arrested for owning a vehicle that is NOW illegal. That is ex post facto, or after the fact.
So, if Congress is somehow able to garner the votes to pass a bill banning semi-automatic rifles, and certain pistols, THEN attempt to confiscate all existing firearms it covers, then it is guilty of punishing you for owning guns that it was not a crime to own when you bought them. They cannot do that because in Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution, ex post facto laws are expressly prohibited.
Why do you think there has been such a sudden rush by gun owners to buy up every semi-automatic rifle they can find? It is because they know that, technically, the government cannot make it a crime to own them once they have been purchased. It is only AFTER the law is passed that you will NOT be able to buy them. But that in itself is a violation of your right to purchase whatever type arm you desire, as protected by the Second Amendment, and upheld by the views of our founders and legal precedents.
We, the gun owners of America, whether we be known as gun nuts, Oathkeepers, Threepers, or whatever nickname that has been bestowed upon us, realize that our government no longer cares one iota about upholding the Constitution. We have begged and pleaded with them to NOT enact any further laws which infringe upon our right to keep and bear arms. We have seen our petitions fall upon deaf ears.
In 1776, when Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, he included the following, much lesser known, clause, “In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.“
If our government attempts to, for any reason, disarm the people of this country, we will consider them as tyrants, and as our sworn enemies. We will not give up our arms as they are the badges of free men and we would rather die defending the right to carry them, than live as slaves who willingly gave up that right.
You people who only repeat what you hear on the news and fall for the lies that all this is being done to protect you are so naive and innocent. Yet you know not how perilously close this nation is to civil war should our government attempt to confiscate our guns. Regardless of what you have been told, or what you believe, we do not seek violence. Yet we are being pushed into a corner where violence may be our only recourse.
Remember what Thomas Jefferson once said, “And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms…The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
There are many in this country who are feeling that we are nearing the time when we may have to take a stand if we want to preserve all our liberties, not just those concerning our right to keep and bear arms. For how easy would it be to oppress a nation whose people no longer have the means of defense? History is full of examples of what happens when the people are deprived of the ability to resist tyranny. And let it be known, for the record, that Adolf Hitler was duly elected by the people. Do NOT fool yourself into thinking that what happened in Germany in the 30′s and 40′s could NOT happen here in America in 2013.
If it does, it will be those of us who understood our Founders intent, who exercised our right to keep and bear arms who will be fighting for those of you who didn’t. We feel, as did Samuel Adams, that “The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.”
While we live and breathe we will not let that happen. Not on our watch we won’t.
January 6, 2013
~ The Author ~
Neal Ross can be reached for comments at email@example.com.
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