Beaman: POWER to the People
...with guns and juries
By Roderick Beaman
John Lennon's 1971 revolutionary mantra was a chant of frustration that libertarians can take for their own. Lennon never made it exactly clear what kind of power to what people he wanted but he was wrapped up in a lot of New Left causes at the time.
Mao Ze-Dong once observed that political power comes from the point of a gun. He was right, of course, for the essence of government power is coercion. It's very difficult to coerce anyone without the threat of violence.
It's incredible sometimes how the goo-goo left tries to ignore that reality. Tom Wicker, the southern liberal journalist of The New York Times, wrote a book, A Time To Die about the prisoner uprising at Attica in 1971. During the publicity tour, he appeared on The Merv Griffin Show and regaled the audience with the insight that when one person possesses a gun and another doesn't, it has some profound effect on their relationship. Griffin, adopting a thoughtful countenance, fawned as if that was some new truth of biblical proportions. Having experienced a gun pointed at me and a knife held to my abdomen, I was less than impressed with the profundity his insight. Any two bit punk could vouch for it.
But what is power for the people? I have two suggestions. The first is weapons and the second jury nullification. What power do the people truly have if they don't have both of these options?
Jury nullification has been a topic that has interested me for quite a while and I've been ambivalent about it. After all, the law is the law and is the glue that holds society together. Jury nullification seems to violate that.
But, at the same time, it serves notice on the government that the people are its final source of legitimacy and that it must be able to satisfy them of the propriety of its laws in an ultimate forum. Government, then, may find itself forced to not only prove that the accused violated the law but also facing a debate, in open court, over whether the law does not violate the common sense of the ordinary citizen. This could be the ultimate check on government's power to legislate, prosecute and tyrannize its people. It means that the accused can appeal to the jury and say that although he may have broken the law, as written, that law is unreasonable and wrong. This is heady stuff; the people as the final arbiter of the law.
This principle is a thumb in the eye or a knee in the groin to the government. It usurps the entire judicial system and leaves judges and attorneys helpless against an outraged jury. Judges, who have heretofore thought of themselves as the sacrosanct vicars of the law, are threatened. The results have been predictable.
Judges are outraged. Many are horrified at the thought that they might, after all, be overruled by what they regard as their mere subjects. Some have gone so far as to forbid the jury nullification approach by the defense. This principle may go to the Supreme Court for a final decision. We should all hope that for once the Supreme Court comes down on the side of common sense. Personally, I endorse jury nullification for when the law veers from the common sense of the common man, it has gone a long step from legitimacy.
It impresses me that this would be an especially useful argument for defenses in cases of government arrogance; income taxes and the Patriot and RICO Acts come to mind. In income tax cases, the government has relied on taxpayer resentment among jurors who pay their taxes to prosecute its cases. Jury nullification allows the defense to appeal to the citizens' resentment of the whole system and point out to them that, under the current system, they could be next if they convict.
Weapons are another matter. If Mao's dictum is true, then unlimited weapons must remain with the people. One of the best treatments of this subject I have ever read is 'All Guns To The People' by William Tonso in the current issue of Liberty Magazine. Tonso goes to great lengths to demonstrate, conclusively, that throughout much of our history, our citizens had better arms than the military. The article made me even more resolute in my conclusion that there is no constitutional justification for any interference by any government at any level in this country in the right of the people to possess any kind of weapon and that includes nuclear weapons. And the people include felons who have served their time and even the insane. I am somewhat uneasy with that especially with the latter but the blanket wording renders them that right.
Oh, there are many who will rail at the dangers of that but if everyone is armed, as is their option also, they will be able to respond to the excesses of convicted felons and the insane a long time before local law enforcement can as the goo-goo Left tells us. In some cities, the police departments have become such jokes, street lore has it that you could shoot someone in his house and you would have time to prepare yourself a meal, clean up the place and clear out before the police would arrive. That is hardly an immediate deterrent.
It is no accident that totalitarian states first disarm their citizens. The Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto knew why. It was for the same reason that many southern states forbade blacks from owning firearms. The courage of hobnail boots and sheets with burning crosses dissolves rapidly when looking down the wrong end of a gun barrel.
The National Rifle Association, contrary to being an advocate of arms rights, is actually an unwitting agent of the conspiracy to strip us of our constitutional rights. No restriction of weapons rights, of any type, against any person is permitted by the Constitution. It lists no exclusions. Our citizens have the right to arm themselves, in any manner they deem appropriate, to protect themselves from harm.
So I return to my original point: Jury nullification and weapons of any type. Power to the people.
About the Author
Dr. Roderick T. Beaman is a board certified family osteopathic physician who practices in Jacksonville, Florida. He is a published poet, has composed a blues song and is trying to have his first novel published. It deals with the dangers of big government. He offers anyone who wishes to dignify the trash he writes with a comment, to do so.
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