America’s R(ev)olving Family

This Christmas card says everything you need to know about guns in America. Guns are part of the family.

Card

The relationship was set up right in America’s founding document. The right to self defense was so important it was made the second right, the 2nd amendment. We’ve already teased out whether or not the 2nd amendment was referring to individual arms ownership or just a militia. And we concluded the right to bear arms is an individual right. The Supreme Court came to the same conclusion.

So whatever you think about guns in America, they’re here to stay. It would be easier for you to relocate than try to get guns banned. Because to do so, you need to do the following:

If you want to ban guns in all fifty states, you’d have to get a majority of Congress to vote to repeal the 2nd Amendment. Then you’d have to get a majority of the States to sign off on it. And if you got all that done, there would still be guns in America.

From January 1920 to December 1933, the 21st Amendment was in effect, making alcohol illegal. But alcohol was still in America. People were threatened with prison and fines if they made it, drank it or transported or housed it yet, many people still engaged with it. Law enforcement and courts was subject to corruption while attempting to enforce the law by taking bribes or outright taking a drink themselves. When things are illegal, the money gets good and going to jail becomes an acceptable cost of doing business. Those who really want to still be involved with those illegal things will always find ways of avoiding the law. And this is where it gets dangerous because, as in the case of Prohibition, that “bathtub gin” was killing people. Killing from drinking it, transporting it and fighting in the streets over sales.

In 1933, it was clear Prohibition wasn’t working so the 21st Amendment was repealed. And now a days, you can go to the store where the alcohol manufacturers are still fighting it out but through fancy labels and advertising to win your business. Quite frankly, Budweiser and Miller are not shooting it out on the streets any more. They’re hiring hot women in bikinis. (Still not sure how this sells to women).

Well the same applies to the drug war today. We have all the problems regarding marijuana and heroin and cocaine that alcohol prohibition brought us and we’ve yet to learn the lesson that we should just legalize it all. But this essay is on guns. What’s the lesson?

If guns were like drugs or alcohol; in that, those participating in the sales and use were the only ones involved in a risk, then only busy bodies would want to make them illegal. (As only busy bodies do regarding drugs and alcohol). But what makes guns different is that it seems like a daily occurrence, and living just outside of Detroit it is, that a gun is used to harm and/or kill other people that have no say in that gun.

On December 2, 2015, a husband and wife shot and killed fourteen people in San Bernadino, California. All evidence points to a radicalization to the tenets of Islam and an allegiance to ISIS. But their radicalization has been set aside by some in favor of calls to ban guns. Perhaps this is just another straw, a last straw. Because there are plenty of mass shootings having nothing to do with religion. There’s James Eagan Holmes who shot up a movie theatre during a screening of the Dark Knight Rises in 2012. His motive seems to be a loss of reality, finding too much in common with the Joker. Then there’s all those school shootings motivated by bullying or just a wish to out do Columbine. So perhaps San Bernadino was a last straw.

Is banning the solution? Let’s recap:

Get Congress to overwhelmingly vote to repeal the 2nd Amendment. Then get the majority of the States to agree. Then…What?

Guns will still be in America.

There’s two solutions: You can either enact a buy-back program or have law enforcement engage in Prohibition style raids and door to door seizures. You could do both, but I’m betting like all other buy-back programs, you’ll get low participation. That means the only solution to truly rid America of guns is the door to door seizures. And that means…

Civil War II.

Look at the Christmas photo again. This is a family, like many other families and individuals, who identify so much with their firearms that trying to forcefully take them away would not be easy. It would be literal war. Remember the saying, “From my cold, dead hands”? Also consider that it wouldn’t be the military and police against the civilian. It would be the military and police who want to retain the right to bear arms against other military and police who fall in line with the seizure order. Again, Civil War II.

For fun, let’s assume that after the war the anti-gunners win and there are no more guns in the United States. Like when the prohibitionists won and there was no more liquor or drugs (uh huh). This doesn’t touch the manufacturing off shore, nor the smuggling in that would come after. It’s how heroin and cocaine get here. Guns would still come to America.

So banning is not an option.

Does this mean we’re stuck with guns and violence?

I say we’re stuck with guns, and violence will always be part of humanity. But gun violence is going down. In fact, violent crime in general is going down. Think of how much better life is, how much more civilized than just fifty years ago. One-hundred years ago? It’s almost as if it’s going to have to play itself out. Sort of, run a course. Maybe using guns for stupid reasons will just become as frowned upon as Speedos on men. No one looks like a hero like that. I don’t know.

You can’t separate a close family by force without a confrontation. Look at that Christmas card one more time. Then consider being smarter than banning something. It’s a lazy, feel good, do nothing solution. As I’ve said in essays before, I’m open to suggestions.

And please don’t come at me with the “We banned slavery, we can ban guns”. If you can’t see the difference between owning things (guns, drugs, etc) and owning people, I don’t think we can talk any more. And that was Civil War I.

The Left already has plenty of examples of their version of gun control

Obama-Angry1The typical knee-jerk reaction is already in full force. Less than six hours after the last shell casting hit the ground on the campus of Umpqua Community College, our President was at his pulpit, once again demanding the further erosion of our Bill of Rights. Beyond talking about himself at least 28 times in his 12 minute diatribe, he gave us a clear glimpse into the future he wants for America — to make it more like Australia. He used the phrase, “common sense gun control,” within the same breath of our allies like Britain and the land down under. It may sound innocuous, but Charles C. W. Cooke extols the danger of such a comparison. When used this way, the president is advocating the confiscation of guns.

Pandering to the emotions of the moment, it’s hard not to get caught up in the zeal to “do something” to prevent another gun-involved tragedy. Rather than spend a lot of time showing how the data of Australia’s great gun grab of 1996 shows a negligible, if non-existent, improvement in homicides and suicides by gun, as demonstrated by Mark Antonio Wright, let’s look at how the Left’s policies are already in place in tens of thousands of locations here in the United States.

The Left has already begun to implement their desired goal of removing all guns. Unfortunately, in all but 8% of the public mass-shootings in this country (defined by the FBI as 4 or more killed in a public space) in the last decade, their solution fails. Much like Australia’s goal, to eliminate the citizenry from owning firearms, the creation of the gun-free zone is the penultimate step to a repeal of the 2nd Amendment. However, 92% of these mass-shootings in the last 10 years have all taken place right where Leftists believe they will not.

No-GunThe purpose of the gun-free zone is to prohibit any unauthorized individual from knowingly possessing a firearm at a facility or location so designated. Many of these are schools, but there are thousands of businesses, both public and private, that have adopted this policy to insure safety and security. They post the familiar sign of a gun with the red circle and slash on walls, doors and hallways, designating firearms are not allowed. And, as law-abiding citizens are wont to do, those who normally carry or posses a firearm leave those weapons at home or, at the very least, in their vehicles parked outside of these marked zones.

It’s Nirvana. Ambrosia flows through the drinking fountains and manna falls from the heavens. Never again will anyone within these magic zones have to fear the threat of coming face-to-face with a gun-wielding perpetrator.  The power of these signs, coupled with strongly worded regulations and policies, proves as effective as a John Kerry speech. It doesn’t matter how many adjectives, adverbs and interjections you include, just saying something out-loud (or in print) does not make it reality. I’m reminded of my old middle school history teacher’s favorite phrase, “If all the if’s and but’s were candy and nuts, what a nice world it would be.”

Often with the policies of the Left, it’s all about the intentions and never about the results. They always want to “do” something, but they never look at the consequences of their actions. They simply pander to the tyranny of the emotions of the present, slap themselves on the back for “doing” something and then they move along to the next issue, never looking back at the damage left in their wake.

In November of 2013, Interpol’s secretary general, Ron Noble, noted there are two ways to protect people from mass-shootings: “One is to say we want an armed citizenry; you can see the reason for that. Another is to say the enclaves [should be] so secure that in order to get into the soft target you’re going to have to pass through extraordinary security.” At issue, how do you put enough armed security forces around any possible soft target? He made those comments following the terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, where 68 people were killed. (One should not that Kenya bans both open and concealed carrying of firearms by civilians. Apparently that ban didn’t apply to terrorists.)

We can look back at all of the recent mass-shootings and see the pattern. They plan their attacks months (sometimes years) in advance. The perform detailed surveillance over the targets they choose and in 92% of the cases, they pick places where they are comfortable knowing no one will be able to shoot back.

How many remember the shooting at Clackamas Town Center Mall in Portland, Oregon in December of 2013? A shooter opened fire during one of the most crowded times of the year, killing two people before a concealed-permit holder stopped him by drawing and pointing his own gun at the assailant. That simple action halted what was sure to become a scene of mass-shooting. The national media, as they typically do, ignored the event. After all, it goes against the narrative that guns are bad.

These incidents share the same modus operandi. A crazed, mentally ill individual chooses a location where the odds of armed retaliation are small and proceed to immortalize themselves in the annals of mainstream and social media. Yet, when they do come across one of the “good guys,” the human toll is always mitigated if not eliminated. I could list instance after instance where a licensed and armed citizen in recent years prevented a mass-shooting tragedy.

We’ve seen the results of the gun-free zone. We see how these locations succeed at doing just one thing — disarming those who then line up to be perpetual fish in a barrel. Criminals, by their very definition, do not follow the law. A sign is not going to stop a criminal from following through on their designs. Einstein once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. We know what will happen to a disarmed citizenry. History is replete with the machinations of dictators whose first task it to remove the threats of the people. It’s why our Founding Fathers were adamant about the Bill of Rights, including the 2nd Amendment. As Thomas Jefferson noted, quoting the 18th century criminologist, Cesare Beccaria:

False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that it has no remedy for evils, except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.

I could not have said it better. The experiment of the gun-free zone has run its course. If we are ready to face this issue with a serious, logical and reasoned disposition, it is long past time to bring this practice to an end and focus on the treatment of the mentally ill and insuring adequate training of law-abiding citizens. Banning guns is not only a facile argument, but also one meant only to pander to the low-information crowd in hopes of political gain. After all, that’s what President Obama himself said was his goal — the politicization of this issue, not it’s actual solving.

Facts get in the way of the mainstream media agenda

Generally, I would not choose to respond to a horrific event so quickly after it happened. There is still too much to learn and we need to let the investigators in Aurora, Colorado have the time they need to paint the full picture of the story of Jim Holmes.

What I did want to respond to was yet another example in an exceedingly long line of news reporters (and I use that term with the greatest amount of trepidation) who will not let facts stand in the way of an agenda. When something as sensational as a mass shooting breaks on the newswire, the hammerheads come cruising.

I choose that analogy because these reporters are not sharks swimming alone. Hammerheads swim in large schools and when they sense blood in the water, they go into a frenzy. They will blindly thrash and bite at anything that moves, regardless of whether or not what they are biting is, in fact, food.

Case in point: The smoke from the theater had barely cleared when Brian Ross from ABC Morning News speculated, along with George Stephanolpoulos, that the suspect, Jim Holmes, was affiliated with the Colorado Tea Party. During this morning’s coverage, Ross and Stephanolpoulos had this exchange:

Stephanolpoulos: I’m going to go to Brian Ross. You’ve been investigating the background of Jim Holmes here. You found something that might be significant.

Ross: There’s a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year. Now, we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes. But it’s Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado.

Stephanolpoulos: Okay, we’ll keep looking at that. Brian Ross, thanks very much.

Now, those on the left will say he did use the words, “…we don’t know…,” as if this somehow should absolve the reporter of such a grievous error in journalistic practice. He wasn’t speculating on what kind of weapon was used or if the suspect picked his targets randomly or not — suggestions that don’t make wild leaps in logic from the facts at hand. In this case, the reporter intentionally made a direct connection to the Tea Party, a grassroots organization that touts itself as freedom-loving Constitutionalists. It is well-known the Tea Party reveres the Bill of Rights, of which the 2nd Amendment is always a target for the liberal left.

Without a shred of vetted information, Brian Ross chose to make the connection for the news-watching audience that Jim Holmes might be a member of the Tea Party. He couldn’t help himself because the agenda has already been established: Tea Party members love guns and are crazy because they disagree with the current administration, making them all dangerous. Brian Ross can’t stop himself from seeing such a connection because he believes in the narrative. Facts are superfluous to what he knows must be true.

Unfortunately for Ross, he was forced to retract his statement and apologize on behalf of the network when it was discovered the “Jim Holmes” mentioned on the Tea Party site was a middle-aged male, more than twice as old as the suspect police had in custody. Apology or not, this is emblematic of what former CBS newsman, Bernard Goldberg, revealed in his book, “Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News.” Goldberg says, in his book, that often the bias isn’t intentional, but results from everyone in the newsroom living in the same thought bubble. This is akin to what psychologists call, groupthink. It happens when a group of people of like-minded views become so inculcated in their worldview that there is no room for facts that run contrary.

Now, if you are writing an opinion piece, fine, let your bias take over. But, when you put on the news hat, you are expected to report the news, not interpret it. Like Joe Friday, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

One additional thought on this shooting and the subsequent reporting from the mainstream media. Not that long ago, Major Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, decided to go on a shooting spree in Ft. Hood, Texas, yelling, “Allahu Akbar!” killing 13 and wounding 30. Not only was there a delay from the media in calling that incident a terroristic act (by the way, the regime made a point of calling it an incident of workplace violence), but also, they made sure to tell the public at large that the Hasan shooting was an isolated incident, focused solely on one disturbed individual.

Why am I bringing this up?

In the Hasan case, the media did all it could to keep his islamic background and his shout of ‘Allahu Akbar’ out of the news, while reassuring folks that it was one individual, acting alone and in a vacuum. They couldn’t even call it domestic terrorism.

Yet, in the Aurora shooting, key figures in the news media, only hours after occurring, had no problem linking Jim Holmes to the Tea Party movement, painting the entire group with the same brush as a mass-murderer.

Until the reporters in the mainstream media learn to stop filtering events through the prism of a political agenda, they will continue to lack credibility. As far as I’m concerned, for most, it’s already too late.

Interpreting the United Stated Constitution

It is argued that the United States Constitution is open to interpretation, thus implying that the words on the paper are not an end in themselves. This suggests that the Constitution is flexible and not concrete and indirectly suggests that it needs supporting documentation in order to explain itself. That supporting documentation would be made up of well-defined comments regarding each of the various points and rights laid out in the Constitution. Without such defining tools to consult, we may end up interpreting away our very liberties that the Constitution guaranties. In order prevent such measures, we must examine how we should go about interpreting the Constitution.

At this point, a brief look at interpretation is necessary. There are basically two ways to go about interpreting something. Either you can do it by seeking the truth about what it was originally intended to mean, as created; or, you may go looking for an explanation that fits your viewpoint, in other words, the one that makes you feel best about the subject in question.

First and foremost, interpretation is only necessary when the piece in question has not been explained by those who created it. Stated differently, if the creator of the piece in question told us exactly what it meant, then there would be no need to engage in the art of interpretation. If that author is kind enough to tell you exactly what it means, then there is nothing to discuss after that. But if the creator is unreachable, and did not leave any supporting documentation behind, then interpretation becomes a requirement for understanding.

When you are reviewing a poem or piece of music, or even a painting on the wall, you will most likely never know what the author intended unless you ask him or her directly. With art forms, there is rarely a time when misinterpretation leads to something tragic. Therefore, it does not matter in the case of art whether or not you ever get the chance to question the designer. In fact, part of the enjoyment of art is to come to your own conclusion regarding the piece in question and no harm is done when your wrong.

This liberty is unacceptable when considering more important matters such as the Constitution. If we want to understand it, we would be in error to read it with modern eyes and modern thoughts. If we want to know exactly what the founding fathers intended, then it is required that we read the Federalist Papers and other supporting documents prepared by those who constructed the Constitution. We would be poor scholars not to consult their commentary on the document they helped create. Only by reading their own words can we know exactly what they were saying when they wrote things like “A well regulated Militia…” and “…regulate commerce with foreign nations…” Therefore, documents like the Federalist Papers are as important as the Constitution itself. These secondary documents act like a glossary for the Constitution and must be consulted along side it. Luckily for our understanding of the United States Constitution, we do not have to engage in intellectual jousting to find meaning in it. The founding fathers were kind enough to leave papers and speeches to explain exactly what the words in the Constitution meant.

In order to have unity in the federal government, as well as to ensure the liberties provided by the Constitution, we can not approach the Constitution in the same manner we approach art. We must consult the writings of those that prepared the Constitution and observe their explanations. Only then will we know exactly what they expected of the United States Federal Government. In a letter to William Johnson, Thomas Jefferson remarked, “On every question of construction 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 can be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one that was passed.” (1)

Let us take a look at what happens when the supplemental documentation is not consulted. 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”. Modern day gun control advocates claim that this amendment applies only to the modern day National Guard and that it does not apply to individuals when it comes to owning firearms. But when we examine the writings and speeches that were taking place during the debates on the Constitution, we find that this amendment refers to every American citizen who owns personal firearms. It does not apply to a standing army of any kind. It refers to people as individuals. Space does not permit me to quote every possible source but one from Alexander Hamilton says everything necessary. He remarks, “Little more can reasonably be aimed at with respect to the people at large than to have them properly armed and equipped;…This will not only lessen the call for military establishments; but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights and those of their fellow citizens.” (2) Here, Hamilton is clearly calling for the right of each individual citizen to own firearms in case their government attempts to suppress them. But why then did they refer to the Militia and not “the people”? Les Adams, who has examined the documents relating to the issue, informs us that the Militia was the term used to represent all the people, or at least all full citizens of the community. (3) Adams quotes George Mason, a Virginian who refused to sign the Constitution because, at that time, it lacked a Bill of Rights. Mason observed, “Who is the Militia? They consist now of the whole people”. (4) The reason the founders did not say “the people” and said “Militia” is because the people were the Militia, and everyone understood that so no explanation was necessary at the time. This has become confused in modern times because many critics have failed to heed the words of Thomas Jefferson when he said, “…let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted…”

Some may disagree with Jefferson’s argument and complain that if we are always required to go back to the time when the Constitution was created, then this means that the Constitution, along with the United States Government, is unchangeable. They may argue that we will never “move ahead” and they may say that Jefferson’s argument is an egotistical remark concluding that the Constitution is next to godliness in design. Usually, an argument like this comes from those wishing to rewrite or revise government to suit their own needs and desires. The Constitution was created with great care to respect the individual liberties of the people and to restrict the power of government. This must be preserved at all costs and I believe that this was Jefferson’s intention when he said what he did. The Constitution, along with the supporting documentation like the Federalist Papers and other writings by the founding fathers, does not need to be changed. These documents secure our rights and liberties perfect without need for reinterpretation. If we heed and implement their words, we will maintain our liberties and fear not an obtrusive government. Therefore, despite objections, I believe that Jefferson was right when he said what he did about the matter.

Now a time may come, as it did in the past, when the Constitution does need to be revised. Clearly, when the Constitution was created, the horror of slavery was not prohibited. However, in keeping with the spirit of individual liberty, the Constitution was eventually modified.

It may also happen that an entirely new event or situation, which was unforeseeable by the founding fathers, will arise whereby the Constitution and it’s supplemental documents fail to help solve. During the process of reviewing the Constitution and it’s complementary documents, if it is found that the writer’s were in error or mistaken on an issue, or a matter need be added or deleted, then those parts must be re-written through the process of amendment. Although the Constitution is indeed flexible in the sense that it can be changed, it should not be flexible to the point where no one is right and no one is wrong, like in the case of art criticism. By this I mean to say that if there are many interpretations offered to explain a new situation, it is best kept in mind that the best interpretations, will always be those that keep closest to the spirit of the Constitution, to preserve the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

1 Thomas Jefferson cited in: Les Adams, The Second Amendment Primer, P. 71: Palladium Press
2 Alexander Hamilton cited in: Les Adams, The Second Amendment Primer, P. 101: Palladium Press
3 Les Adams, The Second Amendment Primer, P. 200: Palladium Press
4 George Mason cited in: Les Adams, The Second Amendment Primer, P. 200: Palladium Press