First, my many thanks go out to Larry for the opportunity to post here and also know that I am rather novice to the whole idea of Blogs. Call me a Constitutionalist if you must apply a label to me for identification purpose (Larry said ‘Libertarian’…hmmm, food for thought?). I have followed the constitutional issues in our great state and nation with some interest for a long, long time and found yet another frightening example of our constitution’s wane in the shadow of legislation that flies in the face of our guaranteed protections.
I thought I would add my cherished ‘axe’ to the grindstone of discussion here with you good folks on ‘The Bastidge’. It is a bit of a long read but I feel it is worth it.
Very recently, I felt compelled to respond to a rather injudicious soul on another web site (the thread has now expired and is no longer available to link to [ed.]) who, like many lemmings that feel the only way to safety and security is to abrogate the rights of themselves and others, was intent on attacking the people’s right of bearing arms specifically as covered under Article 1, Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution.
In light of our government hacking away at the Bill of Rights, judges sapping and mining to weaken the foundations of the constitution with each passing ruling, and legislators intent on making some very undemocratic revisions in this country, many Americans are now raising the call for a return to our basic protections as guaranteed by our founding documents. I am reminded of a very famous quote by Benjamin Franklin who once said “Those who are willing to sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither”. It is because of these very occurrences, that I make every attempt to present a balanced, unemotional argument (imho) in favor of our constitution and its intent and to explain why I believe what I do. I personally have very strong feelings about our constitutional protections and I believe that when more people embrace the sacred precepts of our founders, the more secure we will be in our freedoms.
Below is my response to four questions posed to the Washington state discussion site. Note - this person’s favorite comeback when presented any and all constitutional arguments was to simply respond with a “Bla Bla Bla” besmirching of the constitution and its proponents.
Enough history, here are my answers… (click 'read more' at bottom of post)
I will make an attempt to answer these in hopes that you will not flame my well documented sources and laws as blablabla as you have with other posts. They are, after all, the basis upon which our land and laws are based and as such are clearly the basis upon which we proceed. Every citizen in this land and abroad has a direct responsibility to thoroughly understand our founding documents or forever loose the ability to determine what rights they have and those they need to protect. Even if there are disagreements as to intent, the content cannot be disputed. Let me add a sort of qualifier. I have studied our constitution and made it a passion in my life for over 35 years and although not doctored by degree in its study, I feel quite comfortable discussing it at length. That said...
1) Do you agree with the current ban on automatic weapons? If so, why? If not, why not?
Absolutely not. I will explain although it could get a bit wordy. My explanation will however, meld over into some of your other questions.
I feel that when a right is guaranteed in the constitution, with specific verbiage designed to secure certain rights specifically, such as owning something, believing something, or any of the other guarantees made by our constitutions, that those are undeniable as written. The constitution allows for changes to be made by due process through the legislation and ratification of making amendments, changing amendments, or repealing amendments but not by the enacting of any law. Those are my beliefs. Let us explore how the law parallels my beliefs.
Legal precedents are many in which the intent and provision of protections under the constitution are solidified and reinforced:
"The Constitution is a written instrument. As such, its meaning does not alter. That which it meant when it was adopted, it means now." South Carolina v. United States, 199 U.S. 437, 448 (1905).
"The primary principle; underlying an interpretation of constitutions is that the intent is the vital part and the essence of the law." Rasmussen v. Barker, 7 Wyo. 117; 50 p 819
In Federalist essay #47, James Madison states "All legislative Powers, herein granted shall be vested in a Congress..." Art. I, Sec. 1, US Constitution. "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."
This is further enforced by Title 18, Chapter 13 of the U.S. Criminal Code, sections 241 and 242 that provide severe penalties for those who, under the guise of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, would deprive any rights or the free exercise thereof as guaranteed by the constitution.
Specifically with regard to this ongoing thread, the verbiage of the second amendment, although under fire (pardon the pun) from many sources as to the intent of a collective right vs an individual right, was clearly intended to be an individual right should a person avail his or herself to read the original writings of those in the Continental Congress and equate these writings to the meanings and language of the time in which they were written. That is why the words "Right of the people" were used in many other amendments as well as the second. The meaning in those other amendments is never questioned; it is only in the second amendment, that they endure never ending scrutiny and conjecture. Recent studies have further substantiated its meaning using studies of parliamentary procedures, and colloquial use of language practiced at the time it was written.
Closer to the home of this thread, the Washington State Constitution leaves no such room for debate. It's intent and meaning is clearly and incontrovertibly stated as an individual right with no qualifiers or restrictions as to the kind of arms, size, or function.
So many are the precedents in fact, that one could spend days weeding through them should one desire. The resulting journey will open ones eyes to many of the problems inherent in today’s legal system and provide clear direction on how to proceed back on course should we desire to do so. Here are a few more of the precedents with regards to illegal laws:
"All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution, are null and void." Chief Justice Marshall, Marbury v. Madison, 5, U.S. (Cranch) 137, 174,176
"Where the meaning of the constitution is clear and unambiguous, there can be no resort to construction to attribute to the founders a purpose of intent not manifest in its letter." Norris v. Baltimore, 172, Md. 667; 192 A 531.0.
"Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making or legislation which would abrogate them." Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 491.
"If the legislature clearly misinterprets a constitutional provision, the frequent repetition of the wrong will not create a right." Amos v. Mosley, 74 Fla. 555; 77 So. 619.
Why then, you might ask, is there so many examples of unconstitutional laws that are still in existence and unchallenged? My friend, I believe it is because not enough people seek the knowledge by which to challenge them and some more simply do not seem to care as long as they have a roof over their heads, food on the table, and enough left over to provide entertainment and enjoyment. It is a common misconception that the people have no power to change anything in the legal system. Quite the contrary, we have more power than we can imagine but just do not know how to properly wield it. But I wander to another forum.
Throughout the history of the world, items and activities have been banned. These bans only forced possession of the banned items underground, and subsequently increased the desirability and price on the underground market. Among others, the most failed example of this was prohibition in the early 20th century, the results of which this country is still not fully recovered from. The one thing collectively different about prohibition was that it was enacted the correct way, by the amendment process, and repealed in like manner; so even though it was an absolute failure, it was legal and binding.
Back to your question: Laws are only bound to be obeyed by those with a propensity to obey them in the first place. Criminal justice has long known that the criminal will always find a way to obtain that which is illegal. Machine guns, that is, fully automatic guns, as compared to so called assault weapons which are all semi-automatic, were banned in 1934 and yet remain available on the street to any criminal who would want one and are willing to pay the price. It is only the lawful citizens, on the other hand, who obey the ban even though it is technically unconstitutional. I feel it is much better to focus attentions on the criminal and the penalties and enforcements thereof, than to waste valuable time and resources banning inanimate objects.
2) Are there any conditions under which you'd support a ban on semi-automatic weapons (don't use Senator Kline's definition, use your own)? If so, why? If not, why not?
No, I feel the same protections apply as stated above. Banning inanimate objects, especially from law obeying citizens, is a useless, feel good venture in futility. Severest of penalties inflicted upon the criminal is the solution as I see it. You have nothing to fear from the citizen who stays within the law owning his/her choice of weapons; nothing. Now the criminal on the other hand, is free to possess and use any weapon they choose. We have pages of laws on the books that already make the illegal possession and use of firearms by convicted felons or those convicted of a number of other misdemeanors relating to civil and domestic violence, sexual predation, and other related crimes, a grievous felony. There are undeniably cases where lawful citizens go off the deep end but these are the exception not the norm and in those cases, a ban would most probably not stopped them anyway.
The Brady Gun Control organization touts thousands of cases where felons and other likewise forbidden persons have been stopped from purchasing firearms illegally. How many have been prosecuted? Sadly, only paltry, small numbers have even been arrested. Therein again, lays the root of the problem. Crimes committed with guns are already illegal and carry stiff penalties. The key however, is enforcement and sentencing. Prosecute and make the sentences stick. Take away the free ride in the prisons, the pool tables, game rooms, and cable television. Make jails a horrible place to be and we begin to make that proverbial dent in crime.
3) Why do you believe that my desire to raise my kids in a gun-free society (except for military and law enforcement) to be paranoid?
1) A psychotic disorder characterized by delusions of persecution with or without grandeur, often strenuously defended with apparent logic and reason.
2) An Extreme, irrational distrust of others.
I do not believe you are paranoid to desire that and I do not think others on this post do either. Your right to raise your children in a free and safe society is not only your desire; it is your unrelenting duty as a father and husband. Your right in this is as solidly supported and protected as is the people’s right to own arms. It is your right to desire a gun free society if you like and, I might add, a laudable one, just not a realistic one unless you can somehow make it so that the criminal has none. Banning them certainly won’t. That is the reason I left out the words “gun free”. It is because I feel that it does not represent a realistic goal. A desire, yes, a dream, perhaps, but a reality, unfortunately not; there will always be guns, whether they be for LEO or military use, they will always be an ever present object in society. As such, they can be stolen, smuggled, or even made as a zip gun in ones garage. Anyway they go, a criminal is going to get one. Even a school kid can make black powder and hence, a pipe bomb or primitive muzzle loader. Ludicrous you say – Remember, in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. The criminals certainly realize this and would exploit it at society’s expense.
Even if they could all somehow become legally banned, a concept many believe to be an underlying objective of certain government officials and private organizations (that is where much of the presumed “paranoia” you see comes from), the criminal element will always be able to get them and with them, threaten society as a whole. Great Britain and Australia tried to realize that end and are now rampant with armed criminals preying on the public at will because they know they have virtually no chance of getting any effective defense from the unarmed populace.
4) Do you believe there's a possibility that your desire to possess weapons in order to defend your family in the event of a criminal break-in is rooted in your own paranoia?
Given that definition of paranoia as shown in the previous question, no. My fear or distrust is not irrational. Criminals exist; attacks, assaults, robberies, rapes, murders happen. That is factual. Our prison system bears stark witness to that fact. To fear those things is not irrational nor is the desire to have at ones disposal, the means by which to defend ones self and family should the need arise. Dependency on police protection is reactive at best, rarely do police arrive in time to prevent crime, in the vast majority of cases they get there in time to investigate and clean up. We are not trigger happy, eagerly waiting, chomping at the bit to ‘pop’ some criminal. Being armed is the most serious responsibility anyone can have, just ask any soldier or LEO. We hope to never have to use deadly force, the very thought even makes many break out in waves of scruples. When I was in the Army, something BTW, I did for almost 30 years, I often thought about the use of deadly force and prayed daily to be spared its curse. That does not mean I was not prepared to use it, only that I sincerely hoped I wouldn’t have to.
How would you defend yourself and family if one day, you found yourself face to face with some criminal that wants to rape your wife, molest your children and ravage your home all while you watch? That is a question only you can answer but whatever way you choose within the boundaries and protections of the supreme law of the land, be assured your right to choose shall not be restricted, denied, or impaired nor should it be.
Because one wants to freely exercise constitutional guarantees does not make one paranoid just as your desires to raise your children freely and safely does not make you paranoid. It makes us Americans, with a constitution unlike any in the world, with freedoms secured by it that we all share. Why go after each others rights when our true enemy, the criminal does a good job of that on his/her own.
I sure hope this helped to answer your questions. I’m sure there are still areas left open for discussion. I can only hope that my answer to the first question helps explain why we gun owners feel the way we do and fight back so hard in the face of the gun banning onslaught of a sometimes flawed and oppressive legislative process. That BTW is another reason the founders penned the constitution the way they did. Subject for another post perhaps.
May we be always blessed by freedom…every one.
-End of Response-
Hope you found something of value here. I more sincerely hope you get involved in the move to take back America. For some very good reading and study, try these:The Constitution of the United States, Its sources and its application
, By Thomas James Norton, 19th printing 1961An Introduction to the Study of the American Constitution
, by Charles E. Martin, Ph.D., New York Oxford University Press, 1926Citizens Rule Book *Jury Handbook*
, Editoral Work by Webster Adams
PAPER-HOUSE PUBLICATIONS "Stronger than Steel" 4th Revision
Quality pocket sized hardcopies of this booklet may be obtained from:
1001 S 5th St.,
Phoenix, AZ 85004
An online version resides at http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/7006/rulebook.html
Another great read is at the same site http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/7006/guns-against-army.html
-I make no endorsement as to the content or purpose of the website, just the fact that a valid copy of the handbook can be found there as well as an interesting editorial on freedom.
Good day to all.