Seeing as how I live in California, a state whose legislators have, for the most part, taken a strict anti-gun rights stance, I have always kept my radar focused on anything regarding the infringement of our Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Therefore it should come as no surprise to anyone that the events currently unfolding in the state of Connecticut have been of great interest to me.
Unfortunately, the network news, being the lackeys they are, have yet to do any reporting on what is going on in Connecticut. By virtue of their silence on the matter, the vast majority of Americans who rely upon their 30 minutes of news a day are completely unaware of what is happening in Connecticut. Therefore a bit of background may be necessary to bring them up to speed.
After the shooting at Newtown Connecticut, commonly referred to as the Sandy Hook shooting, on April 3, 2013 Connecticut passed a new law entitled, An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety. It appears that only a fraction of the owners of the assault weapons covered by this new law have applied for the long gun eligibility certificate as required by law.
Recently, Connecticut’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, a division of the Connecticut State Police, sent out letters to many residents who failed to file the proper paperwork by the deadline, stating that these people need to: a) render their weapon and/or magazines inoperable, b) sell the weapon/magazine to a licensed firearms dealer, c) move the weapon out of the state, or d) turn the weapon in to law enforcement, or the Dept. of Emergency Services.
There is no telling at this point as to whether the governor of Connecticut will order the State Police to confiscate the weapons/magazines of those who filed the paperwork late, or even make an effort to discern who may have these banned long guns and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Yet the stage is set, the players are in position to repeat what happened at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. It would indeed be ironic if things move past the current stalemate on the same date in 2014. But, I get ahead of myself.
Although a large number of Americans support stricter gun laws as a means to prevent the type shootings such as that which has taken place all over the country, at places such as Sandy Hook, Aurora, and Columbine, there are also a large number of people who realize that guns don’t kill, it is the people wielding them that do.
We also realize that the purpose and intent of the Second Amendment was not so that we could hunt, target shoot, or even defend ourselves or our homes against crime. The Second Amendment was written so that the people could remain armed, in a sufficient manner, that should their government become tyrannical and oppressive they could rise up and fight back against it. With a government that has the latest in military weaponry at its disposal that would be very hard to do were the citizens deprived of the right to own any of these so-called assault weapons there has been so much talk of banning.
Over the course of my fifty some odd years on this planet I have watched as laws have been passed which limit that right, and as the attitudes of the people of this country have been manipulated into a state of almost manic fear of guns and those who own them. Yet while the people have been brainwashed into believing that an armed society is a dangerous society, they flock to theaters where gun violence is the norm, and their children grow up playing video games where the object is to go out and kill the enemy. With our youth being raised by parents who keep their guns locked away from their kids, and their constant exposure to violence in the media, we are only asking for problems. The solution, in my opinion, is not to ban guns, or restrict our kids from access to them, but to educate them from an early age as to their function, and safe handling. I find it ironic that the schools teach sex education yet they say they are not teaching our kids to be promiscuous, yet they won’t teach or kids how to safely handle a firearm. The hypocrisy is so thick I could not cut it with a chain saw.
Getting back to Connecticut, a blogger, who I will leave nameless at this point, recently posted an article that contained the names, AND home addresses of all the Connecticut state legislators who voted in favor of this assault weapons ban. Some people are saying that should the Connecticut State Police attempt to confiscate these weapons and fire upon anyone who resists that those who voted in favor of this new law may find themselves victims of retribution by folks who are fed up with the continued infringement of their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
This article is not addressed to my friends who own guns, although they are more than likely to be the only ones to agree with me. Instead, it is addressed to those who favor stricter gun laws. I am well aware that it will probably do no good, your minds are simply not wired to understand facts. Instead they are wired to react emotionally without regard to whether the things you expect your government to do to make you safer will infringe upon anyone’s rights. Yet try I must, because you see, if I were living in Connecticut I WOULD be among those who refused to obey the laws they have passed, and I can see the day when this could happen in California, or any other state for that matter.
The reason I would not obey is not simply a matter of disrespect for authority, it is a matter of respect for the law. The Second Amendment states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
That is the law. It was duly ratified by the requisite number of states and added to the Constitution, which is the Supreme Law of the Land. There has been much argument regarding the meaning and intent of the Second Amendment. Most recently in the case of D.C. v Heller, the Supreme Court ruled that the right of citizens to own firearms is not tied to service in the milita, that it is an individual right. However, they also said that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited.
By doing so they left a loophole in their ruling that leaves it wide open for states to pass firearms laws which they deem is within their power. This is exactly what Connecticut did, and which was upheld by U.S. District Judge Alfred Covello when he ruled that Connecticut’s ban on assault weapons was within their authority to protect its citizens.
Judge Covello’s ruling is no different than the ban California has imposed on certain weapons within California which are perfectly legal to own in other states such as Nevada, Colorado, and Texas. By not stating that the Second Amendment included all types of arms, or by specifying which arms the people are permitted to keep and bear, the Supreme Court has left it up to each state to decide for itself which guns its citizens are allowed to purchase and possess.
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution, Section 1, in part states, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
By leaving the question of which firearms the citizens of one state may own unanswered the Supreme Court has ensured that we DO NOT have equal protection under the law. After all, the Second Amendment is part and parcel of the Constitution, and the Constitution IS the Supreme Law of the land. And in 1886 the Supreme Court ruled that “The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and peace and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances.” Ex parte Milligan
In numerous discussions with friends I have been asked if the government can pass laws such as the one passed in Connecticut, which makes it a crime to do something which wasn’t a crime before. I have also been asked what can we do to fight these laws, if they be unconstitutional.
In answer to the first question, as far as the federal government goes the Constitution declares that no ex post facto laws shall be passed. An ex post facto law is one in which retroactively changes the legal consequences of actions that were committed before the law was enacted. Therefore they may pass a bill which bans the sale of certain types of firearms, but they cannot make it a crime for those who had already purchased that type weapon before the law was enacted. I would have to say that since the federal government is prohibited from doing so, the states would also be prohibited. But of that I cannot be certain.
As to the second question, this is where it gets tricky. In 1821 James Madison delivered a speech to the Virginia constitutional convention, where he said, “The essence of government is power; and lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever by liable to abuse.”
However, in 1824 Thomas Jefferson penned a letter to John Cartwright in which he said, “We established however some, although not all its [self-government] important principles . The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.” (my emphasis)
It is basic human nature that those in positions of power and authority will seek to expand their power over others, and that they will guard jealously any power they have acquired. Two hundred twenty five years ago the people of this country created a system of government; they gave it certain defined powers while limiting its power in other regards; furthermore they later passed certain amendments which were designed to protect the rights of the people from encroachment by this newly created federal government.
That is why the Bill of Rights ALSO has a preamble, stating its purpose. “THE Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added…”
In 1943 the Justice Robert H. Jackson of the Supreme Court ruled, “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.”
Let that sink in. By saying that the Bill of Rights withdrew certain subjects from vicissitudes of political controversy and placed them beyond the reach of majorities and officials, he meant that the rights protected by the Bill of Rights could not be legislated upon, and it did not matter that the entire nation clamored for laws infringing upon a certain right, they simply could not do so.
But we are no longer a Republic, in which the rule of law guides our elected officials. We have become a true democracy where the majority can overrule the minority…even when it comes to infringing upon our unalienable rights.
Maybe I’m just stupid, but by Justice Jackson saying that I understand the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed to mean exactly what it says, that no lawmaker can pass a law saying what kind of guns I may own, demand that I register them, or require that I obtain a permit to carry them on my person. Therefore I need not obey any law which does so.
Numerous court rulings have declared that our rights cannot be legislated away from us. In Miranda v. Arizona the Court ruled, “Where rights as secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making or legislation which will abrogate them.”
In Miller v. U.S. the Court ruled, “The claim and exercise of a constitutional right cannot be converted into a crime.”
In fact, the courts, and individual justices have declared that we do not have to obey laws which violate our rights.
Justice Potter Stewart ruled, “The right to defy an unconstitutional statute is basic in our scheme. Even when an ordinance requires a permit to make a speech, to deliver a sermon, to picket, to parade, or to assemble, it need not be honored when it’s invalid on its face.”
Justice William O. Douglas declared, “When a legislature undertakes to proscribe the exercise of a citizen’s constitutional rights it acts lawlessly and the citizen can take matters into his own hands and proceed on the basis that such a law is no law at all.”
American jurisprudence is the Encyclopedia of U.S. law. From the Sixteenth American Jurisprudence I quote, “The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and name of law, is in reality no law, but is wholly void, and ineffective for any purpose; since unconstitutionality dates from the time of its enactment, and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it. No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law, and no courts are bound to enforce it.”
From a strictly legal standpoint, the Second Amendment, and the entire Bill of Rights for that matter are off limits to lawmakers and judges. They cannot define what is meant by arms and then pick and choose which arms they will permit us to own, and which ones they won’t. One of the lesser known Founding Fathers, Tenche Coxe, once wrote, “Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American…”
Coxe began his statement by saying, “Who are the militia? are they not ourselves.” To which he concluded by saying, “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.”
But still this does not answer the question of what can we do if the government passes laws which violate our rights. This is where each and every person reading this is going to have to make a decision. As long as a majority of the people continue to ask their legislators, at both the state and federal levels, to enact laws which they feel will make them safer and more secure, the government will gladly oblige.
As I said, those in power will seek to enlarge their power, and they will jealously protect whatever power they have over us. Something Malcolm X once said bears considering, “Power never takes a step back–only in the face of more power.”
We cannot expect our government to simply back down and restore those rights they have trampled upon. If we want them back we are going to have to show them that we will not tolerate any infringements upon them. That can be done by either one of two ways; either by massive civil disobedience by the people, or by revolution where we throw all the corrupt lawmakers out and hope that we can replace them with ones who will support and defend the Constitution, and safeguard our rights.
With the large number of people who simply don’t understand our system of government, who don’t care about protecting their rights, let alone ours, we simply cannot expect to win a battle of this magnitude at the ballot box.
I’m not suggesting to anyone that they take up arms and revolt against the government, I am simply saying that I only see two options, and this is one of them. To most people me saying that makes it sound like I am some kind of terrorist and a threat to national security. But our nation was established by armed resistance against its existing government.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
In Federalist 28 Alexander Hamilton wrote, “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government…”
Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas wrote, “The right to revolt has sources deep in our history.” Source: An Almanac of Liberty, 1954
Even Abraham Lincoln said, “This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it.”
What I’m trying to say is that our government is not going to give up the power it has usurped, and restore the rights it has violated without a fight. The people of this country, for the most part, are too fearful of an armed citizenry and would gladly see all of our guns taken from is if they could possibly do so. They do not realize that if we were to lose our guns there would be no one left in this country to protect the few rights they do care about.
As James Madison said in his Memorial and Remonstrance, “The preservation of a free government requires, not merely that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained, but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great barrier which defends the rights of the people.
The rulers who are guilty of such encroachment exceed the commission from which they derive their authority, and are tyrants. The people who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them and are slaves.”
Each of us must decide how much we value our rights, and how far we will go to protect them against tyranny. You may not call gun control tyranny, but when a law makes it a crime to exercise a right, I call it tyranny. And I include among the tyrants not only those who enact these laws which oppress us, but each and every other who has sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution, yet through their position as agents of the government, or law enforcement officers enforce these laws which limit our ability to freely exercise our rights.
Just remember something our second president John Adams said, “But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” At some point in time we must all make a decision as to when and where we will take a stand, or as George Washington said, “The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves.”
It is you who will have to decide whether you wish to fight for your rights and remain free, or live as slaves without the means to resist oppression. I have already made my choice…