Tuesday, March 6, 2012



The Constitution of The United States of America is basically a contract between the Federal Government and the several states, those states that constituted The United States of America, not the people as individuals.  The Constitution states, in the tenth amendment “ The 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.”

In order that certain rights and freedoms were protected to the individual, several amendments were added to the constitution.  Those amendments, known commonly as the “Bill of Rights” contain a list of personal rights that are protected by Constitutional Law.

The second amendment to the constitution guarantees the right of the individual to own firearms. “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.”

The individual states, however, have the power to make laws concerning some things while other things are not subject to any interference.  That power stems from the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution that reserves to the states any power not otherwise given to the Federal Government.  For example, Indiana cannot pass a law that allows police to enter and search your home without probable cause and proper authorization from the courts.  Any such law would violate the letter and spirit of the fourth amendment.  That amendment is part of the contract that directly protects the individual.
*(Since the original version of this statement, The Indiana Supreme Court has ruled that an individual may not interfere with the police who are attempting to enter their home, without a search warrant!  It will be interesting to see how the United States Supreme Court rules on this issue.)

On the other hand, while the federal government cannot prohibit private ownership of arms and ammunition, the various states may pass laws that regulate gun ownership.  Even though established precedents support the right of the individual states to regulate gun ownership, none have ever passed, or to my limited knowledge, attempted to pass a law regulating gun ownership.  To an extent the federal government does exert some control over weapon ownership.  Anyone can own a high power rifle, assuming there is no state law against such ownership, but none of us may own an atomic bomb.  At least I have not found a specific court ruling allowing a private citizen to own a weapon of mass destruction.

I support the second amendment and believe that private gun ownership is an issue between the individual states and that state’s citizens.  If the constitution was changed and ceded to the federal government the right to regulate private gun ownership, the guidelines that would be developed and imposed would be far too generic to be effective.  Consider the difference between the need and use of firearms in Montana and New Jersey.  If federal laws regulating gun ownership were ever enacted, the various states would need the authority, out of necessity and of common sense, to tailor those laws to conditions in each state. If a particular state decided to debate the issue, the question of a law making sense if it were applied consistently across the state comes to the surface the same as if it were a generic federal law.  Consider California; regulation considerations would be much different in Los Angeles then in the towns, villages, ranches, and mines that dot the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  So, once again, a sensible law that addressed the needs of all citizens and communities is virtually impossible.

A generic federal law concerning the ownership of firearms, again with the caveat that weapons of mass destruction, which can easily be described and enforced with a federal law, should not be in the hands of an individual, would not be enforceable.  If a law is unenforceable, it should and would not be passed.

There is a need, however, in the United States to find a way to control who has weapons and what kind of weapon they have.  First; there is the need to have citizen militias to protect against the central government becoming an oppressive monarchy or a totalitarian dictatorship, and lets face it, there are those who are working very hard to destroy our country and reshape it based on their own narrow visions.  If the constitutional government should ever be changed, it will not come from outside the government, it will take place through the election process, it will come from extremists finding their way into the government and toppling the legitimate government and imposing their narrow will on every American.  Freedom, for all but a select few, will vanish. Second; there is the practical need for firearms.  I spent several years living in Utah and California and spending untold days and nights in wilderness or desolate areas prospecting and mining small claims. I could not imagine that life style without protection in the form of a firearm.  Snakes, wild animals, strange creatures lay in wait for humans to show up and get their due for disturbing their private sanctuary.  Of course, for those who chose to live in the wilderness for an extended period of time, there is the need for food.  Fish are usually available year round but man, or woman, does not live by fish alone.  Wild game is plentiful in the wilderness areas and can provide meat, skins to take to a tanner, and useful products from the uneatable parts.  Game should be killed only when necessary for food or when one’s life is threatened, not just for sport.  There is also the need for protection of one’s home and family.  There is, however, a great need to make training go hand in hand with gun ownership.  It may sound intrusive but mandatory basic training would prevent a lot of mistakes with owners getting hurt because they did not know how to use and care for their weapon.

At some point, some type of regulation, which can and will be vigorously enforced, will need to be enacted either by the states or by local governments.  The volume and type of weapons ending up in the arsenals of the gangs of this country is appalling and is on the verge of putting the whole country at risk.  Soon, I fear, we will be like Mexico where the drug cartels and gangs have larger standing armies and are more well armed than the government.  If the power of the gangs grow to the point where law enforcement is unable to control them, every citizen will be in danger and will attain weapons with witch to protect themselves.  Open conflict will break out and the good guys will lose.  We need to provide law enforcement and legitimate militias with the tools to bring the gang situation back under control.  The courts need to step up and do their part to end the gang control of the streets so that citizens can once again feel safe in their homes and on the streets.       

Sometimes something sounds so absurd that it can confuse, and scare the pants off of, some of us “normal” citizens.

Recently I read about some city or state introducing a bill that would not restrict gun ownership but if you were to own a gun, you must have it disassembled and stored in a locked gun safe.  So, lets see.  Someone breaks into my home and means to do me harm.  They are on their way to my bedroom where my wife and I sleep.  I hear them coming.  I jump out of bed and holler, "Hold on a minute guys while I go unlock my gun safe and assemble my gun, then we can go from there."  How far do you think that bill will go?  Some of these things go beyond my ability to comprehend.

I will again remind everyone that I am a Liberal and the person who made the poster that Liberals want to take away guns is all wrong.  There are people on the right and left that would like to see gun legislation to outlaw gun ownership.  Most on the right and the left, like me, want only to make sure we can keep weapons out of the hands of those who mean to do us harm.

I, like most Liberals, will not give up my right to own guns easily.  Conservative and liberals will stand together on this issue.

Sometime I will write an essay questioning if there really is an issue.




According to the wall poster that my friend posted, a liberal “believes in free speech; unless it offends him or her.”

Once again, I will remind any reader that I am a liberal and have been hurt by the erroneous claims that are part of a gallery of wall posters that a friend of mine displayed on Facebook recently.

These words were written over two hundred years ago, and still make my heart pound when I think about what the words mean.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Those noble words are the First Amendment to The Constitution of The United States of America.

I wonder how many of us realize just how fragile those freedoms, granted to each of us via our constitution, are.

In 1798, The Congress of The United States, a congress in which many of the men who voted to ratify The First Amendment reconsidered and voted to enact The Alien and Sedition Acts.  The debate over these laws was along party lines, just as today’s debates, with the Federalists controlling the congress and the upstart Democratic-Republican Party fighting to be heard. These acts consisted of four laws, three of which dealt with the possibility of aliens in the United States stirring up trouble in the young nation but the forth was an attempt by the Federalists to eliminate any criticism of them or their office.

That forth law, the Sedition part of the act made it illegal to speak out against the government or its elected officials, to publish papers, or books that were opposed to the government.  There was, of course, a lot more but that is the basics.

The act expired in 1801 without ever having a case reach The Supreme Court.  In those few years numerous journalists, authors, members of congress, and private citizens were tried and convicted.  All were pardoned when Jefferson became President.

This very short history of the early war on free speech is just a reminder of how long we have all been fighting to preserve our precious freedom to speak our minds.

I am offended every day when I turn on the radio and hear some of the garbage that is going out over the airways.  The language is worse than I ever heard while serving in the military.  Sometimes I hear the “f” word several times in what I suspect was meant to be a sentence.  Now even the “f” word with the “m” modifier is acceptable speech in the world of radio.

I am offended daily when I go on the Internet and get and have my senses lambasted by the smut and filth that is there for all to see and hear.  Although we try to blame parents for what a child might view while on the Internet, I can tell you all that the only way to protect a kid from the kind of perversion that fills cyberspace is to move to a mountain hideaway where Internet, phone, television, and radio content cannot reach them.

I am offended every time I walk into a reputable bookstore and find adults only sections with teenagers rummaging through the books, or worse when those books, clearly meant for adult minds, are mixed in with all the other books on the shelves.

I am offended when I turn on the television and am exposed to “family” programming that in my youth would have been considered pornographic and would never be acceptable.

I am offended everyday when I hear statements that are clearly untrue proffered as truth.  I am not referring strictly to political statements here but those are included. 

I am offended by the magazines that serve to convince out daughters that in order to be beautiful they must possess a body that looks like an emaciated ghost or a body that looks like some celebrity that has the “perfect body and perfect life.”  I am equally offended by the magazines and videos that convince our sons that they must have the perfectly sculpted body to have a meaningful life, and by-the-way, if you need help, buy this HGH to give you an edge.  The obituaries of those that felt they could not achieve perfection and either took their own lives or were killed by the junk they put in their bodies trying to become lovable offend me.

I am offended when people deride me for my political positions, or when others are bashed for theirs.  The whole political conversation, if one can call it that, that demands that one is all right or all wrong offends me.

There are a lot of other things that fall under the blanket of free speech that offend me, as it does most Liberals and Conservatives I know.

BUT, the alternative to hearing and seeing it all is much worse.  There are laws on the books that limit some speech and most libel or slander cases are civil court issues.  Essentially we enjoy a level of free speech not found anywhere on earth or in the pages of history.

Although I may not agree with your point of view on some issue, I welcome the chance to debate, and to be permitted by law to hold that debate in a public forum.  In many nations, if I were caught writing this essay, I could be imprisoned or worse.

I cannot speak for every Liberal, and the person who made the poster I referred to cannot speak for all Conservatives, but I can say that I believe most all Liberals and Conservatives will fight side by side to protect this very fragile freedom, no matter how often or severely we may be offended.

So, in response to the poster that proclaims that Liberals only believe in free speech when it does not offend us.  That has to be one of the most ridiculous statements I have ever heard, or in this case read.  It deeply offends me, a person who has fought for the freedom of speech for all.  But, I will defend to the death your right to speak your mind, however uninformed it may be.  This Liberal believes in free speech all the time because the alternative is no free speech at any time.