The Ivory Tower of Pisa — Welcome to PCU

The 2015-16 school year started a few months ago. It was my turn to spend a day offering my wisdom and experience in the day-to-day activities of the students. As I walked into the first classroom, I felt like I had been transformed into the role of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie, Kindergarten Cop. Everywhere I turned, it was mayhem. One girl kept yelling, “Mine!” Another child was sprawled on the floor, refusing to listen to anyone. There were three boys in matching shirts shoving a fourth, telling him his color didn’t match and he couldn’t stand with them.

As I made my way through this throng of wild and emotionally charged students, I found the teacher. To my surprise, she wasn’t doing anything to rein in the chaos. Instead, she issued one affirmation after another about the importance of feelings and embracing them. She continued to let the students know, free expression of their emotions is what made them special.

Befuddled, I left to see if I could help with phys ed.

When I arrived, I saw a group of students shooting baskets. Some were going in easily. Others could not even hit the backboard. After a few moments, the coach blew his whistle, called them over and told them how outstanding they did. He reminded them that results are not what mattered, but that they tried real hard. He then added, declaring someone a winner was tantamount to saying everyone else was a loser, making such a statement both hurtful and unfair. As all the students smiled, he concluded by saying the important thing to remember was being part of one big village where everyone remembers their place. At that, he handed each of them a gold star and told them to get changed.

I headed for another classroom, hoping I’d be more help there. As I entered, I was delighted to see the topic being discussed was the formation of our nation and the role the Founding Father’s played in developing the Bill of Rights. The teacher was discussing the Second Amendment. As she talked, I realized she was quoting it incorrectly. She told the students the amendment called for the right to create a militia and only those in the military had a right to be armed. She smiled sweetly and added that it made sense to let the Army have that power and the Founders were very smart to make sure no one could take away the means for the military to protect the people. I began to interject, but was quickly shushed. She told me the First Amendment didn’t give me the right to create a climate of disagreement within the room. She said the Founding Fathers understood a need for harmony and to create a safe place to be free of harassing ideas and hurt feelings.

I turned on my heels and left. I couldn’t believe what these first-time students were being taught. I headed to another room, my thoughts whirling through my head. This time I entered a room where the discussion was basic economics. On the board was a lone stick figure, drawn rather large and with a big sack in his hand and a dollar sign on it. Next to it was written, “The 1%.” Underneath the figure, as though perched on the top of a pyramid, two lines created a triangular wedge, where dozens of smaller stick figures were drawn. None of them were holiding anything in their hands. Next to them was written, “The 99%.”

The man teaching the class then explained that there are a select few in the community, represented by the lone stick figure, who were lucky and able to take home more wealth than others. He went on to caution them not to think that the 99% work less or not at all. On the contrary, he told them, many who are not as fortunate work even harder, but have more of their money taken away by the 1%. Because of such fortune, it was only right that those with less should get their fair share, to create an equal and balanced society. He said it was important, in a healthy society, that those with exceptional gifts, should give to others, based on their needs.

I interjected. I pointed out that wealthy individuals in our country, by an overwhelming majority, had earned their wealth through hard work, long hours and taking risks on innovative ideas. Because of that, they are able to provide jobs to many others. The teacher was polite and allowed me to finish. He then addressed the class. “See boy and girls? This is what we’ve been talking about. This myth of success is designed to keep the 1% from sharing with those less fortunate. They don’t want to give back to others after so much was given to them.” He shook his head with an air of condescension. “Boys and girls, let’s illustrate and you tell me which is fair. When Johnny goes out to the playground, he has all the kickballs, while everyone else has none. No one but Johnny can play. But, if Johnny gives a ball to each student, everyone gets to play. Which way is better?” The room erupted with cheers about Johnny sharing with everyone.

I tried to explain that taking something that belonged to someone else was theft. If someone chooses to share, that makes them a charitable person, but to make them give away their possessions was the same as stealing. The teacher, with less patience this time, pointed out that it is only stealing if one person takes from another and then keeps it for themselves. But, if someone was helping to redistribute wealth from the more fortunate, then that would be the true definition of charity.

I left. It was disheartening. Everything seemed upside down and backwards. I decided to try one last classroom to see if I would be of any help.

When I entered the last classroom, the teacher had moved all the desks and chairs to the edges of the room. The students were playing some kind of game. My heart began to lift. As I came closer, the teacher continued talking, holding her arms out wide, moving in a slow circle, while children moved out of her way. “Safe spaces are very important. Think of it as your special barrier surrounding you on all sides. It is all yours and only you get to choose what can be allowed to enter. You have the right to stop people from judging you, hating on you or even not liking you. It’s a bullyproof space where you can be safe from anyone different than you.”

The kids’ eyes were wide in awe as they smiled, imagining the power of their own safe spaces. She went on. “When large groups of people share the exact same views, it can be even more powerful. For example, no one likes guns because of how dangerous they are. When we all come together, we can create a safe zone where no one will be allowed to bring in something so threatening.” They were delighted, filling the room with the, “Ooos,” and, “Ahhs,” of children being shown a wondrous, magical object.

My heart fell. What was this person teaching these children? They were not being challenged to see multiple points of view. They weren’t being exposed to various cultural differences or traditions. They weren’t even allowed to hear criticisms or learn how to accept skepticism of their own ideas. They were being fooled to believe they would never have to listen to anyone else who was different. Her lesson ran contrary to the entire foundation of the philosophy of education!

Before I could object, they formed a circle and began to sing, “Safe Space,” from the creators of South Park. As they finished, they were all filled with that same sense of inner pride and empowerment as before. I could not control myself. “Don’t you understand that song is a parody?!”

They looked at me with quizzical stares. The teacher cleared her throat and was polite (too polite) and asked me to explain what I meant.

“Parody!” I yelled. “To imitate something for the purpose of ridicule or satire! It’s meant to get you to see just how silly the notion of a ‘safe space’ is by pretending to be in favor of it. Don’t you see?”

A stern look fell over her face. She put her arms out and came toward me. “You are not allowed in my safe space. It’s time you left.” She continued advancing, swinging her arms. I had no choice to but to retreat from her, not wanting to be hit by her ridiculous gesticulations. “You are the reason we have to protect these children,” she snarled.

I left. I had never before experienced such a display in my life. These students were not being given any of the tools necessary to deal with reality. They were being told their invisible bubble would be an ever-present, all-protective layer, keeping them from having to be challenged, questioned, offended or harmed by anyone, nor forced to relate to different races, origins, religions, traditions or views for the rest of their lives if it made them uncomfortable. They had become cry-bullies, embracing a life of victim-hood and self-imposed disenfranchisement. It was an entire generation of Regressive Leftists, ready to abandon all of the hard-fought gains of those who came before, in exchange for the cozy, warm blanket of their own ignorance.

On my way out, I noticed a poster on the wall with a picture of Shakespeare in the center and the familiar red circle and slash overlaid. Underneath were the words, “No more old, dead, white guys.”

No, for all its similarities, I had not visited a preschool. This was a college campus, where the once shiny Ivory Tower of high-minded, thoughtful and enlightened principles of education had given way to a dingy, leaning, corrupted and crumbling structure, ready to fall under the weight of it’s own irrelevance.

As I left the campus, I recalled the words of Aristotle, who reminded his students repeatedly that the highest virtue in the pursuit of knowledge was courage, because, without it, how could anyone embrace any other virtues at all?

Until we teach our young to be courageous in the face of Regressive Leftist cry-bullies (and their nonsense), the world of Academia will forever remain the final resting place of the weak, the insecure, the petulant, the self-absorbed and the pathetic, always holding a stack of victim cards, with no one left willing to care enough to listen to their plight.

Don’t our children deserve better?

 

 

 

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.

What freedom is not

us-constitution-pdf-logoHappy birthday, America!

It’s been 238 years since the Declaration of Independence put a series of events in motion that forever changed the face of the world and redefined how government could be structured around the concept that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights and chief among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. However, our Founding Fathers recognized that man is fallible and clearly stated that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. braveheart-1-1024

At the heart of this is one word — Freedom. (Let’s all take a moment and reenact that scene from Braveheart. Ahh! Now we can continue.)

I could spend the next few hundred words or so describing what freedom means to me, but I thought a more interesting approach would be to reflect over the last few years and provide illustrations of what freedom is not. It’s not depriving a group of citizens the right to form political organizations just because they disagree with your point of view. It is not using the IRS to create a “be on the lookout” list for groups who’s names or descriptions include tea party, patriot, Israel, freedom or any other “conservative” sounding terms. It’s not forcing private businesses to discard their religious beliefs while demanding they help pay for abortifacient drugs. It is not drafting executive orders requiring businesses with federal contracts to disclose independent expenditures on federal elections. It is not an infringement of the press — the fourth estate — by seizing emails or tapping phones of reporters whose jobs it is to keep tabs on government.

The First Amendment to the Constitution was written in order to prevent all of the above from ever taking place. Yet, under our current administration, each of these has occurred.

Freedom is not a gun running scandal that ends up with at least two American border patrol agents killed as well as untold others in a foreign nation. It is not about finding creative ways of eliminating the right of every citizen to own a gun. It is clearly not the use of executive privilege to restrict over 1,300 pages of documents related to Fast and Furious from being handed over to the House Committee on Oversight and Government. It is not in demonizing a rifle simply because it’s painted black and looks scary. It is not in the issuing of at least 23 executive orders designed to further gun control and provide mandates in the Affordable Care Act allowing doctors and hospitals to ask patients if they own a firearm.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution was written in order to prevent all of the above from ever taking place. Yet, under our current administration, each of these has occurred.

Freedom is not the indiscriminate filtering of emails and the capturing of meta data, text data, social media interactions or any other forms of online communication activities. It is not the tapping or recording of cell phone calls, either of American citizens or foreign leaders. It is not the infiltration of online computer games.

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution was written in order to prevent all of the above from ever taking place. Yet, under our current administration, each of these has occurred.

Freedom is not creating a “kill list” of American citizens by drone if they are involved in terrorist actions outside of the United States, without due process.

The Firth Amendment to the Constitution was written in order to prevent the above from ever taking place. Yet, under our current administration, this has happened.

Freedom is not bailing out General Motors and Chrysler with taxpayer dollars and in the process violating creditor rights and ignoring hundreds of years of established bankruptcy law. It is not creating a command and control economy where unproven “green”  technology companies are granted millions, and in some cases billions, of taxpayer dollars only to have those companies go out of business without any hope of repayment. It is not found in ignoring the Constitution’s Taking and Due Process clauses.

The Constitution provides clear guidelines to prevent the above from ever taking place. Yet, under our current administration, each of these has occurred. 

Freedom is not found in allowing the Chief Executive to determine which laws are going to be enforced, which can be ignored and which can be modified based solely on a speech. It is not in the creation of multiple revisions of a law without any involvement by the legislative branch. It is not allowing the president to arbitrarily decide to delay employer mandates, out-of-pocket caps, insurance requirements, exemptions for Congress and staff and the IRS’s role in the regulation of penalties for the Affordable Care Act.  It is not in letting the president negotiate the release of five terrorist commanders in exchange for one captured American deserter without notifying Congress. It is not found in statements like, “If Congress can’t act, then I will,” or “We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.” It’s not found in making recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board when the Senate was not really in recess.

The Constitution provides clear guidelines in the areas of Separation of Powers to prevent the above from ever taking place. Yet, under our current administration, each of these has occurred. 

Most importantly, freedom cannot be found in a government willing to lie to the American people, whether overtly or through obfuscation and cover-up. The Benghazi scandal that left four dead Americans in its wake, the destruction of hard drives and emails of Lois Lerner who is in the middle of the IRS scandal, the hiding of information related to the VA scandal and the illegal call for executive privilege in the Fast and Furious scandal are all examples of what freedom is not.

Our Founding Father’s pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to create a new nation built on the principles of limited government and deriving what little power they needed from the consent of the people. Liberty and individual rights were more important than the body politic. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were crafted with one overriding goal — limiting the size and scope of government. To make sure this sentiment was made crystal clear, we need only look to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. In the Ninth, the Framers stated that enumeration of certain rights in the Constitution shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people, while the Tenth states powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Our Founding Fathers wanted to make sure the rights of the citizens and the states were vast and infinite, while the powers of the Federal government were specific and few. And, at it’s core, no one’s liberty can be put in jeopardy in favor or benefiting another. In short, no one’s individual liberty was worth more or less than another’s. The moment the rights, property or life of one person belong to someone else, either in whole or in part, is when freedom ceases to exist.

When celebrating our nation’s birthday, think about how our country was able to achieve so much in such a short amount of time. Then ask yourself, what has caused us to fall so far in an even shorter time frame? If your answer to Obama asks Jefferson about Constitution flawthe former is, “following the Constitution,” and your answer to the latter is, “ignoring the Constitution,” then you already have the answer to what freedom is.

There is still time to save our great nation. All we must do is get back to the principles of that very document that is the epitome of American exceptionalism.

Freedom isn’t the lack of government.

Freedom lies simply in the strict limitation of government.

A Man Bites Dog Story Should Not Set Policy

“There is no reason why anyone, other than military or police, need to possess an Assault Rifle.” Or, “There is no reason why anyone, other than military or police, need to possess clips that hold dozens of rounds of ammunition.” Or, “You don’t need an Assault Rifle to go hunting.”

These three sentences, in many variations, have been uttered a lot lately. In the news and in opinion pieces, on blogs and radio shows. Whenever I read or hear these sentences, I don’t even have to know what exactly happened, where or when. Even if I had been living in a box, I’d know that someone, somewhere just shot a bunch of people. And I’d know that it was horrific and massive enough that gun control advocates are ramping up again. These sentences are robotic reactions whenever someone abuses the use of an Assault Rifle and/or clips that holds lots of ammunition. They’ve been uttered before, they’ll be uttered the next time some goof ball abuses a Right. But are those three arguments accurate? Is there no reason a civilian should have an Assault Rifle with lots of ammo?

I used the word Right on purpose in that last paragraph. It’s because the Right to bear arms is the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is as much a Right as our freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to peacefully assemble and freedom to never have to see Cher in concert. And Rights are not granted by the government. They are above government. The government exists to secure these Rights and they can not be taken away en masse. Rights can, however, be taken away, by the rule of law, from a person who abuses a Right. (Keep this last sentence, in it’s entirety, in mind, it’s important. And there might be a quiz).

I’m not going to define the Second Amendment. I already did that a bit in a previous article here at Freedom Cocktail. And I’ve been in this game way too long to finalize an argument on The Constitution Says So! The Constitution also validated slavery. But that was eventually corrected. A good counter argument to The Constitution Says So! is that if slavery can be corrected, so can some other wrongs in the document. The Constitution Says So! always ends in a head meeting the tail in a circle that goes nowhere. I believe that the Constitution doesn’t even need to be involved to provide a proper argument against the three proclamations noted in our opener. Instead, I will use logic. It works for science.

When I was in Kindergarten, and some other levels of grade school, if the teacher caught a student or two goofing off, on occasion, the whole class was punished. All students would have to put their heads down on their desks, be quiet and think about what had occurred. The only other time I witness this type of discipline is when someone commits a crime so horrifying to the psyche that an Off With Their Heads mentality grips the public and new laws are called for. In the case of firearms with big ole’ clips, we get the repeated mantra of the three opening sentences of our current study.

Let’s not be as knee jerk and say they’re wrong. Maybe they’re right. Can we find a reasonable argument against the complaints above? Let’s not argue from emotions but work purely in reason and logic. I understand that I’m advancing an uphill battle, asking human beings to put their emotions aside, but let’s try. Again, it works for science. I suspect if we can give a reasonable defense to civilian possession of an Assault Rifle with big ole’ clips, we can show no basis for the three declarations noted above.

You don’t need an Assault Rifle to go hunting.”

The Right to bear arms, and gun ownership itself, has nothing to do with the sport of hunting. Nothing at all. Zero. Bearing arms has to do with securing your personal self defense and repelling invaders, domestic or foreign and; most importantly, repelling a tyrannical government should it arise. With this in mind, civilians would have every need to secure an Assault Rifle with lots of ammunition. Shotguns, pistols and crossbows don’t stand a chance against tanks and helicopters.

History tells us that we must be on guard for just such tyranny. Nazi Germany is the ultimate example where Assault Rifles among the people, the Jewish people in particular, would have been beneficial. Don’t try to argue that it can’t happen again or that it can’t happen in the United States. We can not predict the future but using the past as an indicator, the fact remains that no society ever went from tyranny to freedom without a fight. In fact, all societies that started as free eventually fell into tyranny. This is why Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Occasionally the tree of Liberty must be watered with the blood of Patriots and Tyrants.” He knew this. And we, as good students of history, must also know this. To forget it or claim it won’t happen again is to engage in the crime of child neglect on future generations.

There is no reason why anyone, other than military or police, need to possess an Assault Rifle.” Or, “There is no reason why anyone, other than military or police, need to possess clips that hold dozens of rounds of ammunition.”

I will give you two examples where civilian possession of an Assault Rifle with a clip with lots of ammo would have saved lives and property. And I’m not even gonna have to mention Germany. They happened right here in the US of A.

How about the LA Riots in 1992? That would have been a good time to be in possession of just such a firearm if you were about to fall victim to the lynch mobs. If you were unlucky enough to be pulled out of your vehicle by people who wanted to pound you into a pancake, that would have been a good time. If you were one of the store owners who were being looted and attacked by the raging mobs, that would have been a good time to have riot repellent. How about Louisiana, September 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? That would have been a good time too if you had a home, property or just your life to protect.

I just listed two examples where an Assault Rifle would benefit the civilian, examples where the police could not possibly gain control and it was up to victims to protect themselves. And, granted, these are just two extreme examples where a skeptic might agree. But here’s the counter: “How often is this really going to happen?” Let me ask you, do you have a fire extinguisher in your home? How about auto insurance on your vehicle? Or insurance on your boat? Or did you buy a replacement plan on your latest purchase, like an I-Pad or oven? If you have any of these things, you probably noticed you never use them; or, you only had to use them once or twice. The Assault Rifle can be in the same category.

There are millions of gun owners and Assault Rifle owners in the United States. Most, so much so that I could say all, do not commit crimes with them. Most have them as insurance policies. Others have them for target shooting in sport. Some have them just to brag they have them. But that’s it. So why do angry nay-sayers jump up and down and call for banning Assault Rifles when one, ONE fool abuses their Right to bear arms? Because it’s how most people deal with horrific events. Let’s get government to fix the problem. Let’s pass more laws against “it”, that’s the answer. A recreational drug hurts someone and the story gets the run of the papers? Let’s ban it. A kid drowns in a two-foot deep swimming pool and Nightline spends a half-hour on it? Ban it. Every Man Bites Dog story gets into the papers. Why? Because it’s so unusual. And the illogical side of the human being reacts to the unusual event with an unusual, not reasonable, solution. Wouldn’t the news be boring if we read daily articles titled, “Millions of Gun Owners do Nothing Eventful Today.”

When someone does abuse their Right to bear arms, like breaking into a home and shooting the occupants or spraying a crowd of the peacefully assembled with bullets, that perpetrator deserves to have their Right taken away and then put away from society for a time. And that’s what we do, all the time. In a case of armed robbery, if the perpetrator used a six-inch knife and if the police can make the arrest, we lock the perp up and they lose all kinds of Rights. We don’t lock down the city, go door to door and take away every six-inch knife. Same in the case if the armed robber had a revolver. We don’t get the same action committees trying to ban revolvers. And when a drunk driver slides into a family of six, we don’t ban cars or alcohol. We rightly blame the irresponsible party and punish accordingly. It’s only in extreme cases, Celebrity Cases, that a call to action is made to ban and punish everyone. Celebrity Cases are Man Biting Dog cases and sound and reasonable policy should never be based on them. Otherwise, you’re making all the innocent put their heads down on the desk and get punished for what someone else did.

Arguing in favor of the civilian possession of an Assault Rifle may not be politically correct. It’s never been popular in my forty-two-years on this planet, especially if it’s made just after an extreme case gets publicity. But keeping quiet when the drums of war are beating is not a time to lock your door and hope for the best. It’s time to get involved or others will decide for you. None of this should be construed that I am heartless and don’t show sorrow for the victims of the fools who abuse their Rights. I don’t even feel the need to justify an attack like this. Of course I wince when I see someone abuse their Rights and cause harm. But I’m, we’re, not in grade school here.

George Orwell said that the prime responsibility lay in being able to tell people what they did not wish to hear. (1) Whether you wished to hear this now or twenty years from now or never, the defense rests.

1) Orwell in Christopher Hitchens, “Letters to a Young Contrarian” 2001

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