Tennessee Joins Lawsuit Against EPA

Last Thursday, responding to calls from sixty-three Tennessee lawmakers, the Tennessee Farm Bureau, and many other agriculture and small business organizations, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery joined the State of Tennessee to a lawsuit against the EPA challenging the highly controversial Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

The effort was led by Tennessee State Representative Sheila Butt (R-Columbia). “Slatery showed true leadership by joining Ohio’s litigation against the EPA’s vastly overreaching WOTUS rule,” said Butt. “I want to thank the sixty-three legislators signing my letter requesting that Tennessee join the 30 other states that realize the massive negative impact that the rule would have on their states’ economies and sovereignty.”

Butt’s letter was signed by State Representative Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro) and State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden).

Holt, Vice Chairman of Tennessee’s House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, says the EPA has a history of thumbing its nose at the Tenth Amendment.

“Earlier in the month, the Supreme Court reprimanded the EPA for overstepping their authority in an unprecedented manner,” cited Holt. “I want to thank Slatery and the agriculture community for joining the efforts of the legislature to hold the EPA accountable. Trampling on the Tenth Amendment every day, this unconstitutional federal agency is out of control, and it is time to put a stop to it.”

Terry says the EPA’s WOTUS rule has negative implications for personal liberty and property rights.

“I would like to commend Slatery for taking action. Our farmers and families need to know that our officials will take a stand for their liberties and property rights,” said Terry. “By taking a stand against the EPA, we are doing just that.”

Scalia’s Full Dissent on Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

I join THE CHIEF JUSTICE’s opinion in full. I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy.

The substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me. The law can recognize as marriage whatever sexual attachments and living arrangements it wishes, and can accord them favorable civil consequences, from tax treatment to rights of inheritance.

Those civil consequences—and the public approval that conferring the name of marriage evidences—can perhaps have adverse social effects, but no more adverse than the effects of many other controversial laws. So it is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage. It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact— and the furthest extension one can even imagine—of the Court’s claimed power to create “liberties” that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.

Until the courts put a stop to it, public debate over same-sex marriage displayed American democracy at its best. Individuals on both sides of the issue passionately, but respectfully, attempted to persuade their fellow citizens to accept their views. Americans considered the arguments and put the question to a vote. The electorates of 11 States, either directly or through their representatives, chose to expand the traditional definition of marriage. Many more decided not to.1 Win or lose, advocates for both sides continued pressing their cases, secure in the knowledge that an electoral loss can be negated by a later electoral win. That is exactly how our system of government is supposed to work.

The Constitution places some constraints on self-rule— constraints adopted by the People themselves when they ratified the Constitution and its Amendments. Forbidden are laws “impairing the Obligation of Contracts,” denying “Full Faith and Credit” to the “public Acts” of other States, prohibiting the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing the right to keep and bear arms, authorizing unreasonable searches and seizures, and so forth. Aside from these limitations, those powers “reserved to the States respectively, or to the people” can be exercised as the States or the People desire. These cases ask us to decide whether the Fourteenth Amendment contains a limitation that requires the States to license and recognize marriages between two people of the same sex. Does it remove that issue from the political process?

Of course not. It would be surprising to find a prescription regarding marriage in the Federal Constitution since, as the author of today’s opinion reminded us only two years ago (in an opinion joined by the same Justices who join him today):

“[R]egulation of domestic relations is an area that has long been regarded as a virtually exclusive province of the States.”

“[T]he Federal Government, through our history, has deferred to state-law policy decisions with respect to domestic relations.”

But we need not speculate. When the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868, every State limited marriage to one man and one woman, and no one doubted the constitutionality of doing so. That resolves these cases. When it comes to determining the meaning of a vague constitutional provision—such as “due process of law” or “equal protection of the laws”—it is unquestionable that the People who ratified that provision did not understand it to prohibit a practice that remained both universal and uncontroversial in the years after ratification. We have no basis for striking down a practice that is not expressly prohibited by the Fourteenth Amendment’s text, and that bears the endorsement of a long tradition of open, widespread, and unchallenged use dating back to the Amendment’s ratification. Since there is no doubt whatever that the People never decided to prohibit the limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples, the public debate over same-sex marriage must be allowed to continue.

But the Court ends this debate, in an opinion lacking even a thin veneer of law. Buried beneath the mummeries and straining-to-be-memorable passages of the opinion is a candid and startling assertion: No matter what it was the People ratified, the Fourteenth Amendment protects those rights that the Judiciary, in its “reasoned judgment,” thinks the Fourteenth Amendment ought to protect. That is so because “[t]he generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions . . . . ” One would think that sentence would continue: “. . . and therefore they provided for a means by which the People could amend the Constitution,” or perhaps “. . . and therefore they left the creation of additional liberties, such as the freedom to marry someone of the same sex, to the People, through the never-ending process of legislation.” But no. What logically follows, in the majority’s judge-empowering estimation, is: “and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.” The “we,” needless to say, is the nine of us. “History and tradition guide and discipline [our] inquiry but do not set its outer boundaries.” Thus, rather than focusing on the People’s understanding of “liberty”—at the time of ratification or even today—the majority focuses on four “principles and traditions” that, in the majority’s view, prohibit States from defining marriage as an institution consisting of one man and one woman.

This is a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed, super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government. Except as limited by a constitutional prohibition agreed to by the People, the States are free to adopt whatever laws they like, even those that offend the esteemed Justices’ “reasoned judgment.” A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.

Judges are selected precisely for their skill as lawyers; whether they reflect the policy views of a particular constituency is not (or should not be) relevant. Not surprisingly then, the Federal Judiciary is hardly a cross-section of America. Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single Southwesterner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans), or even a Protestant of any denomination. The strikingly unrepresentative character of the body voting on today’s social upheaval would be irrelevant if they were functioning as judges, answering the legal question whether the American people had ever ratified a constitutional provision that was understood to proscribe the traditional definition of marriage. But of course the Justices in today’s majority are not voting on that basis; they say they are not. And to allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.

II

But what really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch. The five Justices who compose today’s majority are entirely comfortable concluding that every State violated the Constitution for all of the 135 years between the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification and Massachusetts’ permitting of same-sex marriages in 2003. They have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a “fundamental right” overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since. They see what lesser legal minds— minds like Thomas Cooley, John Marshall Harlan, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Learned Hand, Louis Brandeis, William Howard Taft, Benjamin Cardozo, Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurter, Robert Jackson, and Henry Friendly— could not. They are certain that the People ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to bestow on them the power to remove questions from the democratic process when that is called for by their “reasoned judgment.” These Justices know that limiting marriage to one man and one woman is contrary to reason; they know that an institution as old as government itself, and accepted by every nation in history until 15 years ago, cannot possibly be supported by anything other than ignorance or bigotry. And they are willing to say that any citizen who does not agree with that, who adheres to what was, until 15 years ago, the unanimous judgment of all generations and all societies, stands against the Constitution.

The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic. It is one thing for separate concurring or dissenting opinions to contain extravagances, even silly extravagances, of thought and expression; it is something else for the official opinion of the Court to do so. Of course the opinion’s showy profundities are often profoundly incoherent. “The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality.” (Really? Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality [whatever that means] were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie. Expression, sure enough, is a freedom, but anyone in a long-lasting marriage will attest that that happy state constricts, rather than expands, what one can prudently say.) Rights, we are told, can “rise . . . from a better informed understanding of how constitutional imperatives define a liberty that remains urgent in our own era.” (Huh? How can a better informed understanding of how constitutional imperatives [whatever that means] define [whatever that means] an urgent liberty [never mind], give birth to a right?) And we are told that, “[i]n any particular case,” either the Equal Protection or Due Process Clause “may be thought to capture the essence of [a] right in a more accurate and comprehensive way,” than the other, “even as the two Clauses may converge in the identification and definition of the right.” (What say? What possible “essence” does substantive due process “capture” in an “accurate and comprehensive way”? It stands for nothing whatever, except those freedoms and entitlements that this Court really likes. And the Equal Protection Clause, as employed today, identifies nothing except a difference in treatment that this Court really dislikes. Hardly a distillation of essence. If the opinion is correct that the two clauses “converge in the identification and definition of [a] right,” that is only because the majority’s likes and dislikes are predictably compatible.) I could go on. The world does not expect logic and precision in poetry or inspirational pop philosophy; it demands them in the law. The stuff contained in today’s opinion has to diminish this Court’s reputation for clear thinking and sober analysis.

* * *

Hubris is sometimes defined as o’erweening pride; and pride, we know, goeth before a fall. The Judiciary is the “least dangerous” of the federal branches because it has “neither Force nor Will, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm” and the States, “even for the efficacy of its judgments.” With each decision of ours that takes from the People a question properly left to them—with each decision that is unabashedly based not on law, but on the “reasoned judgment” of a bare majority of this Court—we move one step closer to being reminded of our impotence.

 

Original here.

The heart of Justice Scalia’s originalism

By John S. Baker – -April 14, 2015 (Washington Times)

John Strand’s fascinating play, the Originalist, manages to humanize Justice Scalia for those who view him, in the play’s words, as a heartless monster. Beneath the Justice’s combative brilliance, the play shows him to be quite compassionate towards his far-left, lesbian law clerk. But the playwright fails to find the heart of Originalism.

The lead actor, Edward Gero, nails the Justice’s walk, words, and mannerisms. Missing, however, is the Justice’s hearty laughter. But an actor can’t give us what’s not in the script. Actors in a play are textualists— interpreting, yes; but still sticking to the writer’s words. A play is not the place for Improv.

Originalists are textualists who interpret the words actually written in the Constitution – the script. They don’t do Improv.

The play puzzles over the question: how could someone so brilliant be so obtuse as not to realize that the Constitution must be updated to meet modern needs?

The answer provided by the play and some commentators: the Justice’s strict adherence to the words of the Constitution can only be explained in terms of his traditional (read “rigid”) Roman Catholicism.

Religious faith may explain the Justice’s genuine compassion, but certainly not his Originalism.

Originalism venerates neither the Bible nor Church teaching, but words written by Protestants and Deists. The Constitution has long been the scripture for our civic religion. On this point, it is instructive that in the 1830s Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story (a Unitarian) and others borrowed the question-and-answer format of the Catholic catechism and created “Constitutional catechisms.”

America’s civic religion has been eroding for over 100 years under the intellectual influence of Progressivism, as articulated by Woodrow Wilson. Rejecting what he claimed was the Newtonian world view of the Founders and substituting social Darwinism, Wilson provided the political-philosophical basis for the “living” or “evolving” Constitution:

Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice. Society is a living organism and must obey the laws of life, not of mechanics; it must develop. All the progressives ask or desire is permission – in an era when ‘development,’ ‘evolution,’ is the scientific word – to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle.”

Critics of Originalism may sound persuasive by observing that laws become outdated over time. Statutes certainly can become outdated. Matters likely to become outdated, however, do not belong in a constitution and were not included in our Constitution. Instead, the Constitution provides for changes through the system of Separation of Powers, with Congress making changes in law, as long as the President is willing to accept the changes, and the Supreme Court finds no violation of the Constitution.

Wilson rejected Separation of Powers because it slows down democracy. Indeed, the Framers wanted to make it difficult to pass federal laws. The Separation-of-Powers system necessitates law-making by consensus rather than simple majorities.

Contra Wilson, Justice Scalia both rejects “the living Constitution” and argues for restoring (and annually teaches a course on) the original, rigorous understanding of Separation of Powers.

For Progressives, Justice Scalia’s Constitution represents a throwback in terms of Darwinian progress. What matters for them is the expansion of rights, not the structure of the Constitution

Americans may be conflicted. They generally want the Court to follow the words of the Constitution, but they tend to equate the Constitution with the Bill of Rights. As Justice Scalia often says, however, the Bill of Rights is only “the icing on the cake.” Without Separation of Powers, including an independent judiciary, the Bill of Rights would mean nothing more than words on paper. The former Soviet Union and other despotic regimes have had wonderfully written, but meaningless, bills of rights.

Americans would do well to recall that the heart of the Constitution is its structure of Separation of Powers and Federalism. The structure and the powers it grants, limits, and divides among the branches of the federal government never become outdated. The powers to tax, to borrow money, to regulate commerce among the states, to raise and support armies, etc., will be essential as long as the country exists.
Originalism venerates neither the Bible nor Church teaching, but words written by Protestants and Deists. The Constitution has long been the scripture for our civic religion. On this point, it is instructive that in the 1830s Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story (a Unitarian) and others borrowed the question-and-answer format of the Catholic catechism and created “Constitutional catechisms.”

America’s civic religion has been eroding for over 100 years under the intellectual influence of Progressivism, as articulated by Woodrow Wilson. Rejecting what he claimed was the Newtonian world view of the Founders and substituting social Darwinism, Wilson provided the political-philosophical basis for the “living” or “evolving” Constitution:

Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice. Society is a living organism and must obey the laws of life, not of mechanics; it must develop. All the progressives ask or desire is permission – in an era when ‘development,’ ‘evolution,’ is the scientific word – to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle.”

Critics of Originalism may sound persuasive by observing that laws become outdated over time. Statutes certainly can become outdated. Matters likely to become outdated, however, do not belong in a constitution and were not included in our Constitution. Instead, the Constitution provides for changes through the system of Separation of Powers, with Congress making changes in law, as long as the President is willing to accept the changes, and the Supreme Court finds no violation of the Constitution.

Wilson rejected Separation of Powers because it slows down democracy. Indeed, the Framers wanted to make it difficult to pass federal laws. The Separation-of-Powers system necessitates law-making by consensus rather than simple majorities.

Contra Wilson, Justice Scalia both rejects “the living Constitution” and argues for restoring (and annually teaches a course on) the original, rigorous understanding of Separation of Powers.

For Progressives, Justice Scalia’s Constitution represents a throwback in terms of Darwinian progress. What matters for them is the expansion of rights, not the structure of the Constitution

Americans may be conflicted. They generally want the Court to follow the words of the Constitution, but they tend to equate the Constitution with the Bill of Rights. As Justice Scalia often says, however, the Bill of Rights is only “the icing on the cake.” Without Separation of Powers, including an independent judiciary, the Bill of Rights would mean nothing more than words on paper. The former Soviet Union and other despotic regimes have had wonderfully written, but meaningless, bills of rights.

Americans would do well to recall that the heart of the Constitution is its structure of Separation of Powers and Federalism. The structure and the powers it grants, limits, and divides among the branches of the federal government never become outdated. The powers to tax, to borrow money, to regulate commerce among the states, to raise and support armies, etc., will be essential as long as the country exists.

Like Justice Scalia, the framers focused on structure. They invented the novel doctrine of a federal judiciary having a power to declare laws unconstitutional. They did so to preserve the Constitution as written against the power-grabbing tendencies of the political branches in the federal and state governments.

At its heart, Originalism is grounded in the Framers’ understanding of human nature and power. It rejects the Progressive belief that human beings have so progressed that the Constitution’s structural restraints are no longer necessary to curb the self-interested behavior of those holding – and seeking more—power. As one observer once said, “Scalia does not have a sanguine view of human nature or much confidence in social progress.”  Nor did the Framers.

John S. Baker, Jr., Ph.D. is Visiting Professor, Georgetown University Law Center and Professor Emeritus, Louisiana State University Law Center.

Welcome To The Socialist Democracy Of America

Written by Jon DoubleTap Britton 25 March 2015 (Cold Dead Hands)

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

The constitutional republic once known as The United States of America was conquered long ago and very few people even noticed. The US of A today has devolved into a socialist democracy bent on self-destruction. Stop and think for a minute, when was the last time you heard a politician, media talking head or ANYONE in any “official capacity” refer to America or her form of government as a “constitutional republic?” On the other hand, I doubt any one of you could even begin to count the number of times you have heard it referred to as a “democracy.” Democracy, defending democracy, spreading democracy around the world, democracy, democracy, democracy… Do you know what our founders thought of democracy?

Well, to begin with you will NOT find the word democracy, democratic or any other variation of the word in either the Declaration of Independence or the United States Constitution. Not even an honorable mention or a participation ribbon. What did they say about “democracy” outside of those founding documents? One of the most famous quotes is “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!” ~ Benjamin Franklin. While old Ben had a colorful way of expressing it, others shared his distaste for the concept. “Hence it is that democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and in general have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths… A republic, by which I mean a government in which a scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking.” James Madison [Federalist Papers No. 10 – 1787].

“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” Thomas Jefferson

“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” John Adams

“But government in which the majority rule in all cases can not be based on justice, even as far as men understand it.” Henry David Thoreau

Now, before you start throwing out phrases like “democratic republic” or “constitutional democracy” or “representative democracy” or some other concoction to cloud the issue, a CONSTITUTION and a DEMOCRACY are mutually exclusive. A constitution is a set “law of the land” with defined powers and rights. Our representatives are democratically elected to represent us WITHIN THE CONFINES of constitutional law, not mere public opinion. Changes to that “law of the land” can only be made by super-majorities of both the people AND the states. Even the Presidential election is not purely democratic, while the people do vote and the “popular vote” is counted, it is also balanced through the electoral college to insure that high population urban centers do not dominate the election while low population rural areas are left without representation. This insures that The President represents the WHOLE country and not just the few large cities of each state. Originally, US Senators were intended to be the voice of the STATES and the House of Representatives were the voice of THE PEOPLE. The passage of the 17th amendment was a MAJOR STEP AWAY from our constitutional republic and towards democracy by taking away the states’ voice and giving the people both houses of Congress based solely on popularity rather than states’ issues. Now there are those who call for the abolishment of the electoral college as well, which would for all intents and purposes complete that transformation. In a true DEMOCRACY there is no “law of the land” anymore, there is only the ever changing landscape of public opinion. Constant change and turmoil based on the hopes and whims of 50% + 1 of the population where RIGHTS no long exist for anyone, especially the minority, but privileges abound for the majority.

This really hit home for me as I was engaged in and following the debates regarding Open Carry in Texas. I heard over and over again that there was not sufficient “public support” for constitutional carry, so the best they could do is to expand the privileges of the very few CHL holders, who PAY to exercise their natural rights, to include the ability to open carry. It was, and still is, often argued that we lost the right a little at a time, incrementally, and that is the best or only way to get it back. That is a socialist-democratic thought process pure and simple. To think that we must restore natural rights a little at a time so as to build public support or avoid public outrage is, well outrageous. Our transition from republic to democracy has indeed happened incrementally over time in order to avoid detection of the destruction of our sovereign rights. To restore those rights that are already constitutionally protected does NOT require a democratic majority, public support or any other incarnation of democracy. Just after the completion and signing of the Constitution, in reply to a woman’s inquiry as to the type of government the Founders had created, Benjamin Franklin said, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” WE HAVE NOT KEPT IT!

Democracy inevitably leads to socialism such as the socialist democracy that we now have in place. Don’t kid yourself, we do in fact live in a socialist democracy, just look around you. Welfare, food stamps, social “safety nets” and redistribution of wealth (ie. progressive income tax)… “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!” Although this phrase is most commonly attributed to Karl Marx, the slogan was common within the socialist movement and was first used by Louis Blanc in 1851. The origin of this phrasing has also been attributed to the French utopianist Étienne-Gabriel Morelly, who proposed in his 1755 Code of Nature “Sacred and Fundamental Laws that would tear out the roots of vice and of all the evils of a society” including:

  1. Nothing in society will belong to anyone, either as a personal possession or as capital goods, except the things for which the person has immediate use, for either his needs, his pleasures, or his daily work.
  2. Every citizen will be a public man, sustained by, supported by, and occupied at the public expense.
  3. Every citizen will make his particular contribution to the activities of the community according to his capacity, his talent and his age; it is on this basis that his duties will be determined, in conformity with the distributive laws.

While we do still cling to some of the trappings of free society and free markets, it is increasingly becoming more socialized. You do not “own” property, even if your house or land is paid off, you still lease it from the government through property taxes. Stop paying the taxes and see how long you “own” your property. Public schools and universities increasingly teach our children that they are “citizens of the world” and denounce individualism through group think such as political correctness. What was once embraced as self-evident truths have been dissolved in a sea of collectivist thought and propaganda. Life is no longer a sacred right, at least not if you are as yet unborn or a military veteran seeking the care that was promised them for serving their nation. Liberty has become an antiquated idea because people cannot be trusted to exercise it in a manner that is agreeable to all, or at least that is the subtext behind the socialization and reliance upon government regulation. The pursuit of happiness, which was meant be long term happiness as in property, opportunity and security has given way to instant gratification and hedonism.

The more socialized we become, the less civil society becomes. The more democratic we become, the more divided we become. We split up into groups battling each other for what we want and the majority wins, whether their position is good for the nation or even state, the city or the individual is irrelevant. Mob Rule, winner take all and since the “have nots” will always outnumber the more productive and industrious “haves” then “democracy” works in their favor. Everyone imagines that the bottom 99% will be raised to the level of the upper 1%, but the reality is that the upper 99% will be lowered to the level of the lowest 1%. True “equality can only be achieved mathematically and socially at the lowest common denominator. At first it looks great. take from the rich and give to the poor in true Robin Hood fashion, there is just one problem.

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples’ money.” ~ Margaret Thatcher

The Building of a Nation: 2nd Amendment History 101

Written by Patrick James Published: 11 March 2015 in (Cold Dead Hands)

 

second amendment gun right to bear armsWhat has the average American forgotten in regards to basic American history? Where should we start looking if we want to know true Founders intent when writing the documents that defined our Nation?  Why were they so adamant on maintaining the “right to keep and bear arms” for We the People? These questions abound within the minds of 21st century Americans, and the answers seem pretty “black and white” to me. Especially when looking at them in context to the events that transpired prior, during and directly after we secured our independence and formed “a more perfect union” (a phrase inserted within our Constitution and hijacked by so many throughout the years, including Obama and Jesse Jackson).

The intent of this article(s) is to lay down some of the basic history that is responsible for shaping the minds of those men, the events that led up to the declaration of our soon to be won “independence” from King George’s tyrannical rule while giving the most reasonable interpretation of their words. Using factual quotes and documentation I’ll try to explain the reasons behind the words as it relates specifically to the 2nd Amendment in the most basic language possible.

Many people may ask; How far do we have to go back in history to find the answers? If you know or remember anything from our elementary/secondary education (provided you’re are 35+ years old or more and had a teacher that cared) we know that our Founders went back as far as the “Magna Carte Libertatum” to help define some of their philosophies.  As some of us may know, the basic laws or common laws of England played a very large part in the formation of our legal and judicial system and many of those laws are still on the books in most states. For those who have forgotten what the Magna Carte Libertatum (commonly referred to simply as the “Magna Carte”) was, I’ll give you some of the basics.  It was a charter signed by King John of England on June 15, 1215. First penned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, it was transformed over many years by the throne’s successors until Edward I confirmed it as part of English statute law in 1297. This version is where our Founders gleened from it some of England’s “common laws” to help define our legal system as well as taking with them some of its basic underlying tenets of “individual” freedoms and liberties. *For a more indepth look at its history you can read more here.

Our Founders also followed the tenets of John Locke and Sir William Blackstone. These two men were very influential in shaping the minds of our Founders.  We don’t have to look very hard or research too deeply to find many references that support that claim. Who were these men and what philosophies were so influential in shaping the most prolific document ever penned by man?  Again I will give a brief history and synopsis, simply because their contributions to our country are extremely important in regards to the interpretation of the 2nd.

John

John Locke; an English philosopher who died in 1704, is regarded as one of the most influential “Enlightment” thinkers as well as the Father of Classical Liberalism. (Classical Liberalism is a political philosophy and ideology belonging to liberalism in which primary emphasis is placed on securing the freedom of the individual by limiting the power of the government). Liberalism is now regarded by the Patriot as a “cuss” word, but in all reality the word was hijacked and its context changed by the Socio-Fascists in an attempt at enticing “free thinkers” into believing they are Socialists. Being Liberal is NOT a bad thing as long as you can respect individual rights, remain responsible and not expect others to provide for you.  Now back to Locke. John Locke’s philosophies culminated into a book “Two Treatises of Government” written largely by himself, which became very influential with the majority of our Framers.  They viewed his work as an argument against absolute monarchy and for individual consent as it relates to the basis of political legitimacy. Simplified it means, each person is born with the absolute and undeniable right to life, liberty, health, property and the right to defend them as well. They also believed that any infringement upon those rights to be tyrannical in nature. Locke’s ideology on the natural rights of man were revoluntionary for the times, but were embraced by our Founders. Those philosophies can be seen throughout many works written by our Framers including the Declaration of Independence, with the phrase; “…long train of abuses” as well as Jefferson words: “Bacon, Locke, and Newton… I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical and Moral Sciences.” Enough can not be said in regards to John Locke’s influences on our Founders, and I could write another complete essay in regards, but we must press on.

Let’s look at Sir William Blackstone, an English jurist, judge and Tory politician (of note, although colonists referred to as Tories during our Revolution were considered Crown sympathizers, the political ideology had previously grown out of a more conservative view on the English monarchial society which opposed the crown). He lived during the 18th century and was most noted for the works “Commentaries on the Laws of England“. Blackstone’s work was key in defining modern English common law and played a key role in establishing the American judicial system. Although many of us will agree that there are flaws within our legal system, the majority of those flaws have taken place in more recent times through “interpretation” by the modern judicial system.

So now you know three of the most influential people that inadvertently helped shape our Nation, although I would be remiss not to mention the Bible as it related to shaping the minds of our Founders.  Now I know there are many who may disagree with the following statements (most are anti-theists), but regardless of how or why you might practice some form of religion there is an extreme amount of historical documentation at our disposal to prove that the majority (if not all) of our Founders were indeed Christians to varying degrees. I will not go into, nor will I list those documents, simply because the anti-theist (a person who is in direct opposition to organized religion or to the belief in any deity) makes it their sworn duty to oppose anyone who believes in something, based upon faith. I could also spend countless words on “Seperation of Church and State”, so I will only say this once and I will not give supporting documentations regarding my statements.  Our Founders were raised as Christians, period. They may have been so to varying degrees, but Christian none the less. Their intent as far as the Seperaton of the Church from our State, was to ensure that everyone has the freedom to worship whomever they choose. It was not to remove religion from our government, but to remove the ability of our government to regulate a “state” mandated religion. So feel free to worship whomever you wish, but make NO mistake about it, you have NO right whatsoever to infringe upon the faith of another human or force them to worship the same way you do (except when that religion bases all of its regulatory laws upon their religious tenets).  So yes… the Bible played a major role in the development of our country, simply because our Founders were of the Christian faith. As so many others on this earth, the way you are raised effects every aspect of your life and our Founders religious upbringing is no different.

imagesI will only add this in regards to the defense of my position. They were indeed Christain (in the broad sense of the word) as you can tell by this quote by Thomas Jefferson; “The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man.”  “That faith is everything, and the more incomprehensible the proposition, the more merit in its faith.” (These words and many others were written by one of our Founders who’s been tagged a Diest, and can be found on pages 383-385 in The Writings of Thomas Jefferson.) To refute whether his religion had a profound effect upon the documents that shaped our country, without looking at his private writings is foolish.  “Religion, as well as reason, confirms the soundness of those principles on which our government has been founded and its rights asserted.” ~ Thomas Jefferson to P. H. Wendover, 1815 ME 14.283

Now we have looked at the major influences that effected the thought processes of our Founders, but what were the root issues that expressly influenced their decision to declare our independence.  Knowing what was happening during their lifetime, will make it much easier to understand and interpret the wording of our Constitution. I could turn this into a paper discussing the events leading up to us winning our independence in great detail, but it would take much more space and time. So I will only highlight some of the major underlying issues and events that transpired and gave birth to the greatest Nation in the world.

We all should know that the Amerian Revolution and our soon to be won independence from England grew out of the increasing restrictions placed upon the colonists, by the crown.  I will create a small timeline to show how long this process took and the events that led up to the declaration of our independence.

  • The French and Indian War (1754-1783) a war fought between Britain and France, leaving the victorious British deeper in debt and demanding more from the colonies. Even though the war brought about further independence for the colonists, through gained experience in the defense of our colonies, KIng George continued to treat them as second class citizens. The mindset of the “average” colonist shouldn’t be hard to determine, considering they’d just fought and died for their King, only to be overtaxed to repay Britain’s war debts.
  • The Proclamation of 1763, prohibiting the settlement of lands west of the Appalachian Mountains. Here King George asserted himself again by evicting all colonists from this location and forbidding future developement of these lands. It was his attempt at keeping the colonists in larger more easily manipulated and controlled groups.
  • The Sugar Act of 1764, was Britain’s attempt at raising revenues for themselves by increasing the duties on sugar imported from the West Indies. This was not a commodity that was sold exclusively to the colonies by England, but rather a product Colonial businessmen had been importing themselves for years without any English involvement.
  • The Currency Act of 1764 stated that due to the devaluationary effect that colonial currency had on British trade, American assemblies were prohibited from creating their own currencies or issuing credit.
  • The Quartering Act of 1765 mandated that colonists house and feed British soldiers when and if necessary. It was forced room and board for the very soldiers who were policing and enforcing the crown’s unjust laws.
  • The Stamp Act of 1765 instituted a tax or levy on things such as newspapers, marriage licenses, playing cards and other items deemed a “luxury” by the crown. It was stated to be a direct tax to cover the defense costs of the colonies, although we had already been defending ourselves for the last ten years.
  • The Townshend Acts of 1767, were imposed to create a separation between government officials and the common colonists. It drove an even deeper wedge between classes as well as creating a “black market” trade network that brought more British troops into Boston.
  • The Boston Massacre, 1770 was an event that fueled and fanned the Patriotic fires within the hearts of many colonists. Although the event ended with the death of five colonists, and two British soldiers being charged with manslaughter (the punishments were minor), the repercussions of this event further enraged the patriots hatred toward British rule.
  • The Tea Act of 1773 gave the failing British East India Company a monopoly for tea trade in America, allowing them to charge outrageous prices without competition. This led to the infamous Boston Tea Party where the Sons of Liberty dumped tea into the Boston Harbor.
  • The Intolerable Acts of 1774 were instituted in direct retaliation to the Boston Tea Party, placing restrictions on colonists such as forbidden town meetings as well as closing of the Boston Harbor (our most profitable port in America). This led to the forming of “The Association” or our First Continental Congress who called for a boycott of all British goods.
  • Lexington and Concord, 1775 British troops converged on the city of Lexington to seize caches of gunpowder and apprehend Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Eight Americans were killed during this open conflict, the first instance of open warfare on American soil. At Concord the British troops were forced to retreat after the loss of seventy soldiers.
  • Second Continental Congress, 1775 with all 13 colonies being represented at this meeting in Philadelphia, the colonists were still hopeful that our grievances would be met by King George III. Also of note, George Washington was named as head of the Continental Army.

These are not all of the events that were transpiring during this time period, but the culmination of them would lead up to what would be the final step in gaining our independence.  Were these acts in direct retaliation for the defiance of those that antagonized the British ruling class?  Yes, that is most definitely why British rule became more intolerable. Although we know that our biggest complaint and greivance was that the British ruling class was treating Americans as possessions. We felt entitled to all the rights of Englishmen and it was most effectively stated with the rallying cries of our patriots;  “no taxation without representation” . I think many of us will agree that being taxed unfairly was as wrong then as it is now (although what we are experiencing today is due in large part to the failure and complacency of the citizens to ensure that our federal government remains small). This was something many of our Founders feared would happen to the future of our country, and will take years of eternal vigilance to regain control.

Alright, so these actions set into motion the forming of our Nation, yet the first document that would declare to that effect was not The Declaration of Independence, but rather the Declaration of Rights and Grievances written in 1765 in response to the Stamp Act. The DOI (1776) was ultimately the formal explanation as to why Congress had voted to declare independence from Great Britain, to all the citizens of the colonies and the rest of the world as well. The American Revoluton would last eight years, ultimately ending in 1783 with the Treaty of Paris. Colonial independence was born.

a Constitution DayThis leads us to the writing of the Constitution of the United States of America and finally our Bill of Rights.  As heirs to the Constitutional history of England our Framers intended for nothing less than to ensure that the American citizens would always enjoy the same liberties and freedoms afforded to all Englishmen, including the “right to keep and bear arms”. I have read many explanations regarding the intent of our Founders, but maybe none said quite as eloquently as Chief Justice Howard Taft;

“[t]he Framers of our Constitution were born and brought up in the atmosphere of the common law, and thought and spoke its vocabulary.  They were familiar with other forms of government, recent and ancient, and indicated in their discussions earnest study and consideration of many of them; but, when they came to put their conclusions into the form of fundemental law in a compact draft, they expressed themselves in terms of the common law, confident that they could be shortly and easily understood.”

Throughout the years since they penned our Constitution and Bill of Rights, many have attempted to interpret what our Founders intentions were in regards to words such as militia, keep arms, well regulated, the people or bear arms as it relates to the 2nd Amendment. Taft’s response to these interpretative measures was simplistic, looking toward the English common laws of the 16th through the 18th centuries to understand the words of our statesmen. Taft further commented by saying;

“The language of the Constitution cannot be interpreted safely except by reference to the common law and to British institutions as they were when the instrument was framed and adopted.” 

We can look at British common law during this time frame and rationally ascertain that the bearing of arms was not only a right but an obligation and duty of every able bodied man in defense of his country.  To be available to be called up into a militia, at which time they would receive the extra military training they would require. Now I can cite countless documents to support this common law of England and it fact will admit that it has been changed over the centuries to reflect less rights to the people, but the bottom line is; the original intent of our Founders was to use British common law in conjunction with the philosphies of Locke and Blackstone to create a Nation of free men and women. Thomas Jefferson in his infinite wisdom realized these controversies would rise up in the future and had this to say in regards;

“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 which was passed.”

If we go back to our history lessons, we can easily see that British common law was used to create the text that would form our new government, including the “right to keep and bear arms”. We can also look at life during that time period to understand just how important firearms were to the colonists, not just for providing food, but for self-protection.  We can also look at life during the years before, during and after we gained our independence, and ascertain that our Founders intended for its citizens to always be prepared to defend the country. Now I know the term “well regulated militia” gets beat into the ground in regards to Founding Father intent. Why did they just not say; “Everyone can own them and run willy nilly through the streets with them for all they care?” What did the phrase “well regulated militia” refer to, if not the entire population of our country?  A “standing army” is not the answer as it is specifically addressed within our Constitution;

“The Congress shall have Power To …raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years…” Article I, Section 8, Clause 12, Constitution of the United States of America

We can now see that the militia cannot be our military, and it cannot refer to the National Guard, simply because they do not actually own their firearms, but must return them before going home to be stored and inventoried by the federal government. This alone completely defeats the intent of ensuring We the People remain free from tyranny.  So who then does “well regulated militia” refer? Again I think it’s time to look back on our history a bit more indepth to determine the frame of mind of our Founders.

We know the first meeting of our Continental Congress in 1774 in response to the “Intolerable Acts” instituted under British rule, bore the formation of the Declaration of Independence from out of the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, in which they hoped King George would respond favorably. He not only did not respond to our concerns, but in fact issued a proclamation for supressing rebellion and sedition in the Colonies by hiring 20,000 Hessian mercenaries to enforce his laws in America. It was these very soldiers that pushed many loyal British colonists over to the Patriotic “edge”. The exploits of these Hessian soldiers is no secret and can be found throughout many texts (although none of them taught within our secondary educational system). They raped, pillaged and plundered throughout the colonies as they pleased, forcing common citizens to endure the occupation of British troops in their homes. This is where I find it hard to believe that anyone could not understand the intent of the 2nd Amendment, simply because this puts everyone under forced rule by a tyrant King, but for those who still want to argue, let’s look at it from an even deeper perspective.

On November 15, 1777, Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation which were unamiously ratified by all thirteen colonies in 1781. During much of this period our newly formed country was enduring the ravages of war until the surrender at Yorktown (1781). By this time many of the state’s representatives realized that the Articles were flawed and in need of amending, so they sent delegates to a convention at the State House in Philadelphia in 1787.  It was here with 55 delegates from twelve states that they realized the Articles could not be amended and a new governing document would be born.  The Constitution took shape over four months with thousands of pages of supporting documentation created through the debate proceedings, records and suggested amendments (these are all public record and available for anyone to read). It’s not hard imagine the monumental task these men faced, since our newly formed country was but only a few short years away from the sounds, smells and sights of the war that secured our liberties and freedoms.

We should know what was most preimminent in their minds, or can surely ascertain from their debates; Fear of Standing Armies. They all understood that a Standing Army could in turn do the bidding of a tyrannical ruler as was proven through the use of the British Army. This was so prevalant in their minds that they incorporated regulations into our Constitution. So what exactly did they intend for us as citizens to do?

“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.”

This is the first time I have mentioned the actual adopted text of the 2nd Amendment, but I do so to see the exact wording, so I can try to break it down through the examination of our Framers thoughts.  Here is Richard Henry Lee‘s (American statesmen, member of the Continental Congress, Signer of the DOI, President of the Continental Congress, and President pro tempore) written words regarding his interpretation of the 2nd Amendment:

second amendment of the constit 2

“A militia when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves, and render regular troops in great measure unnecessary. The powers to form and arm the militia, to appoint their officers, and to command their services, are very important; nor ought they in a confederated republic to be lodged, solely, in any one member of the government. First, the constitution ought to secure a genuine [ ] and guard against a select militia, by providing that the militia shall always be kept well organized, armed and disciplined, and include, according to the past and general usage of the states, all men capable of bearing arms; and that all regulations tending to render this general militia – useless and defenceless, by establishing select corps of militia, or distinct bodies of military men, not having permenant interests and attachments in the community is to be avoided… to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them…”

We can see from Lee’s words, that he was concerned with a “standing army” being born out of a “select” militia that was highly trained and regulated by our government. The Founders intent as we can obviously see from our history, was fear of a standing army doing the bidding of a tyrannical government. This begs the question; “If the words of the 2nd were meant to “regulate” as in a “select” government run militia (standing army), how could they have so easily forgotten their most recent history?” The answer is easily ascertained; they couldn’t nor wouldn’t have forgotten the tyrannical rule and the years that followed as we gained our independence from Britain.

So what does “a well regulated Militia” truly mean then?

As our history relates to this phrase, it is patently obvious (to any rational thinking person) that our Framers intended to create a list of “rights” for the “people” that our newly formed government could NOT infringe upon… NO MATTER WHAT.  Since the regulations for “standing armies” is listed in the Constitution under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 12 “To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;”  We should then be able to reason that our Framers intent was to create a milita of the people, to protect the people from its government, in the event history were to ever repeat itself.  We should also look toward the “personal” written words of the men of that time period, whose opinions had profound impact upon the shaping of our newly formed country.  Noah Webster (considered by many to be the “father” of modern English language) for instance is quoted as saying; Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe.” Tenche Coxe (long time friend of James Madison, respected statesman and Federalist) is quoted as saying; As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.”

Now I could add quotes from so many of our Framers and Statesmen, made during this period and all of them would state similar intent (if you want more, simply look them up), but I think my point is made: Our Framers intended for the “people” (the same people referred to in all Ten Amendments in the Bill of Rights) to be able to retain the “absolute” rights of humans bestowed upon them by their Creator.

The term “Well Regulated” in reference to the militia and spoke of in the 2nd Amendment was basic and only intended to bridge the gap between the “Federalists” (big centralized federal government) and “Anti-Federalists” (small federal government) views on governing the people. They never intended for the words; “well regulated” to ever mean a formalized body of military based protectors, but rather a responsible citizenry versed in the “USE” of firearms.  We know that our Framers used English common law to frame our government; Bill of Rights Act 1689 “have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law” and it restricted the right of the English Crown to have a standing army or to interfere with the Protestant’s right to bear arms. We also know they followed the tenets of Blackstone who during the 18th century wrote about the right to have arms being auxillary to the “natural right of resistance and self-preservation”. Does any one have a problem understanding what the “natural right of resistance” might refer?

tumblr mcew2nZSGp1r4smevo1 500gunWe would ALL be ignorant to believe that any of our Framers intended to allow a government to gain too much control over the people or they would’ve been creating a means for another tyrant (they had just fought for and gained their freedoms from one tyrant) to gain control of our newly formed government. I think any rational person would have to admit, that was NOT their intent.  It would also be foolish for anyone to suggest that our Framers created a Bill of Rights that guaranteed protection of certain rights to the people from their government, only to grant powers of regulation back to the government regarding any of those amendments.

The Bill of Rights was intended to “declare” individual rights and “state” the boundaries and scope of where our governments enumerated powers ended.  

George Mason (one of a handful of Framers who refused to sign the Constitution unless they incorporated a Bill of Rights) stated openly after the Bill of Rights was ratified; “Who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people” As I said early on, one only has to look at our history to find true Founding Father intent, but I must digress we still haven’t gotten to the root of the words; “well regulated”.

What exactly was the intent of the words; well regulated as it relates directly to the 2nd Amendment?  One only has to look as far as our Constitution to ascertain its meaning.  In every other instance where the word “regulate” or “regulation” was used, the Constitution also states “who” will do the regulating and “what” they can regulate (which was NOT done in the Second).  They used an indefinite article “a” when referencing the militia they spoke of, instead of using the definite article “the”, suggesting they intended to refer to the “concept” that a well regulated militia was comprised of a “responsible, self-regulating” citizenry was necessary to secure and maintain a FREE STATE.  This intent implies that ALL of US have the obligation to learn the basics of firearms use, be willing to defend our Nation from tyranny “domestic and abroad” as well as be willing and ready to receive further military training from a “formal” governing body if the need should ever arise.

The concept of “self-regulation” and “non-governmental regulation” of the peoples militia, keeps with the Constitution’s intent of “limited grant of power”, and that Congress is the only governming body that has the power to “call up” the peoples milita for “limited purposes” to provide for the common welfare of our Nation. As such it also maintains that the power of regulation by our “Commander in Chief”, the President of the United States, is ONLY granted in times of active service of said militia (he has NO right to regulate anything in regards to the 2nd Amendment through his executive powers when the militia is not active). This in its basic understanding proves that the words “well regulated” was intended to mean that armed citizens of the United States should always retain the right to the same level of equipment and have access to the same level of training necessary, to be an effective means of keeping any standing armies in check, including our own.

We also have to look no further than the works of another Framer to confirm this definition.  Alexander Hamilton stated in The Federalist, No. 29 “…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 use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights…”  I know that many readers will say; “Yes, I can agree with that as long as they are WELL TRAINED which many citizens are NOT.” Well let me quote one more passage from The Federalist No. 29 that addresses that very issue: “It requires no skill in the science of war to discern that unifomity in the organization and discipline of the militia would be attended with the most beneficial effects, whenever they were called into service for the public defense.” Note the words; “whenever they were called into service”.  As our Framers intended, the “well regulated militia” referred to in the 2nd Amendment meant that “the people” should be well versed in the use of firearms, have access to firearms equal to that of any standing army, and only recieve further training when and if the need were to ever arise.

Although we know that the Federalists and Anti-Federalists may have disagreed on the size and strength of a centralized government, it is clear that they all agreed that certain inalienable rights of the people needed to be further protected. The insurance of that protection, gave birth to the Bill of Rights which fully enumerated the “reach and control” of any size centralized government. Furthermore, one only has to look at the events leading up to the formation of these documents to understand the “true” intent as well. If anyone could possibly believe that our Framers would go through the “hell of war” on our own soil and not intend for the Bill of Rights to “unconditionally” protect the right of the people to “keep and bear arms” in the same manner as they intended to protect “free speech or freedom of religion” then those people have a very skewed perception as to what “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” actually refers.

“Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficient… The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.” ~ Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

gun control hall of shame 400x249We the People have an obligation to future generations to continue carrying the torch of liberty and protecting it with an overzealous eternal vigilance. For anyone to ever think our liberty and freedoms are so simply described as “freebies” given to us by our government or that our government could never become tyrannical, needs to take some time and read about the effects tyrants such as; Caligula, Genghis Khan, Henry VIII, Ivan IV, Maximilen Robespierre, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Augusto Pinochet, Pol Pot or Kim Jong II, had on their people. They all had one thing in common though; They had NO concerns for the “natural” right of man.

Freedom and Liberty are not “entitlements” that can just be claimed, but rather gifts that must be embraced with “responsibility”, guarded with “unwavering resolve” and protected with “life” itself.

This is what our Framers intended when they created the documents that would form our government, so future generations could NEVER again be enslaved by a tyrant. This is why our 2nd Amendment can only be interpretted one way; that nobody should ever have the right to regulate or prevent a citizen of the United States of America from the bearing of arms for protecting their liberties and freedoms by ANY and ALL means necessary, including the very government who incorporated those protections.

Now I would be remiss if I didn’t take some time and space to talk about the more modern interpretations we’ve seen over the last 200 plus years.  It doesn’t take much knowledge to understand President Reagan’s thoughts on the 2nd Amendment as they had been public knowledge for quite some time. He stated publicly that violent crime would never be eliminated, with or without gun control. Instead he believed that efforts to stem crime by targeting those who misuse guns, similar to the way we have laws that target those who feloniously or recklessly use a vehicle. He also said that the Second Amendment “leaves little, if any leeway for the gun control advocate.” Also adding that “the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms must not be infringed if liberty in America is to survive.” Now I know the vast majority of gun enthusiasts are typically Ronnie Reagan fans, so this is really just pandering to my kin, but what are the thoughts of some of our other Presidents?

How about John F. Kennedy (a Democrat by party affiliation, although what I would consider that last of the true American Patriots that can be tagged a Democrat) had this to say in regards: “By calling attention to a well-regulated militia for the security of the Nation, and the right of each citizen to keep and bear arms, our founding fathers recognized the essentially civilian nature of our economy. Although it is extremely unlikely that the fear of governmental tyranny, which gave rise to the 2nd Amendment, will ever be a major danger to our Nation, the amendment still remains an important declaration fo our basic military-civilian relationship, in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country.  For that reason I believe the 2nd Amendment will always be important.” 

President Theodore Roosevelt had this to say in regards to the 2nd: “The great body of our citizens shoot less as times goes on. We should encourage rifle practice among schoolboys, and indeed among all classes, as well as in the military services by every means in our power. Thus, and not otherwise, may we be able to assist in preserving peace in the world… The first step – in the direction of preparation to avert war if possible, and to be fit for war if it should come – is to teach men to shoot!”

Abraham Lincoln (a President many gun rights advocates do not agree with) had this to say; “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right – a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world.”  (1848)

Now there are more Presidential references for certain, and I may add more as I continue to research, but let’s take a moment to list some of our states views on the Second Amendment per their own state Constitutions;

  • Connecticut: “Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.” (1818)
  • Kentucky: “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.” (1792)
  • Massachusetts: “The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defence.” (1780)
  • North Carolina: “The people have a right to bear arms, for the defence of the State; and, as standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by, the civil power.” (1776)
  • Pennsylvania: “That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty; they ought not be kept up; And that the military should be kept under strict subordination, to, and governed by, the civil power,” (1776)
  • Rhode Island: ” The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” (1842)
  • Tennessee: The freemen of this State have a right to keep and bear arms for their common defence.” (1842)
  • Virginia: “That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.” (Virginia’s state Constitution best describes true Founding Father intent, in my opinion.)

 

We can also look toward the words of countless judges, including the words of our most powerful, Supreme Court Justices such as Justice Joseph Story in his Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States (1840); “One of the ordinary modes, by which tyrants acccomplish their purposes without resistance, is, by disarming the people, and making it an offence to keep arms, and by substituting a regular army in the stead of a resort to the militia. The friends of a free government cannot be too watchful, to overcome the dangerous tendency of the public mind to sacrifice, for the sake of mere private convenience, this powerful check upon the designs of ambitious men.”

Chief Justice Morrison Waite had this to say in his ruling during U.S. v Cruikshank 1876); “the right of the people to keep and bear arms is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second Amendment declares that it shall not be infringed, but this, as has been seen, means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress. This is one of the Amendments that has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government.” 

Chief Justice J. Field had this to say in his dissent of Brown v Walker (1896); “The Freedom of thought, of speech, and of the press; the right to bear arms; exemption from military dictation; security of the person and of the home; the right to speedy and public trial by jury; protection against oppressive bail and cruel punishment, — are, together with exemption from self-incrimination, the essential and inseperable features of English liberty. Each one of these features had been involved in the struggle above referred to in England within the century and a half immediately preceding the adoption of the Constitution, and the contests were fresh in the memories and traditions of the people at that time.” 

There are countless dissents from Chief Justices from the early days of our country through Justice Scalia’s opinion in DC v Heller that all find our Founders intent was to ensure that the people would never be denied the right to keep and bear arms for defense of themselves or country, and that the militia referred to in the 2nd was none other than the people themselves.

I would like to mention the impact the 14th Amendment (one of our reformation amendments of 1868) in terms of the reaffirmation of our Bill of Rights. There are five sections to the 14th Amendment, but the most relevant to our own Bill of Rights in regards to citizens rights is; Section 1: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. 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.  

I also feel I should dedicate a little space for some quotes from those within our country who do not agree with what our Founding Fathers intended, simply so we can see the mindset we are working against.

  • At a CNN townhall event, in response to a question about whether banning so-called “assault weapons” and “high capacity” magazines would do any good, Hillary Clinton responded with: “We cannot let a minority of people, and that’s what it is, it is a minority of people, hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people.”

 

  • Joy-Ann Reid (media personality) had this to say; “There is a sort of Neo-Confederate thread that runs through these sort of pro-gun movements and the NRA movement.”

 

  • “What bothers me most about today is that we’re getting used 2 it. Enough. 2nd Amendment must go. Violence has 2 stop. Culture must change.” ~ Jay Mohr

 

  • “I don’t own a gun and definitely not only gun control, we should abolish guns, the personal guns. That’s how far I’m wiling to go.” ~ Danny Glover

 

  • “We have a lobby, the leadership of the NRA, who function as enablers of mass murder. And that’s what they are. They’re enablers of mass murder, because they terrify the class of political people.” ~ Congressman Jerrold Nadler

 

  • “What we need to do is change the way people think about guns, especially young people, and make it something that’s not cool, not acceptable, it’s not hip to carry a gun anymore.  We need to do this every day of the week, and just really brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way.” ~ Eric Holder (gun control’s biggest disappointment)

 

These are only a small selection of quotes that are tainting the minds of our citizens in that cesspool we call mainstream media.  Once semi-respectable news outlets have become gun control propaganda machines, with one very transparent agenda; Destroy the very Constitution that has defined a Nation for over 200 years. These people are so delusional in there thought processing, that they really believe they can stem the tide of violence by restricting the law-abiding citizen’s firearms.

 

Evil men (women) exist.  No amount of gun control will ever force them out of existence. Their evil can be as easily perpetrated behind the wheel of a 3,000 pound vehicle as it can behind a 120 grain projectile. That vehicle can be much easier to conceal in plain sight, up until the moment it is used as a weapon of mass destruction versus a firearm that must be either stolen or purchased in some sordid, dark alley. Common sense dictates that the laws governing the use of a motor vehicle can not stop an evil person from killing one or many people with that vehicle, even though those laws prohibit its use for that specific task. The same common sense would dictate the same for a firearm.

 

Further restrictions of our Second Amendment rights is not the answer.  It was not the intent of our Founding Fathers then or now, that We the People ever be restricted in the right to keep and bear arms for the protection of our life, liberty, property and pursuit of happiness as well as for the protection of our Nation from any form of tyranny, foreign or domestic. We the People have an obligation to ensure that this country remains the “land of the free and home of the brave”, now and for all future generations to enjoy.

 

Our freedoms and liberties were and still are, bought and paid for by the “blood, sweat and tears” of its people. Its future rests squarely on the shoulders of those people, so please read the words of our Founding Fathers. Investigate them with a non-partisan approach and a fervor for understanding as you put yourself in “their” shoes whenever you ask the question; “What did they mean?”

”An unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it.” ~ Col. Jeff Cooper

 

patrickjamesPatrick James is the creator and founder of Cold Dead Hands and CDH, Inc. He is an author, gun enthusiast and avid outdoorsman who can be found chasing his passions 24/7. “I’d rather enjoy my life and skid sideways into the grave, worn out and beat up screaming that was a “helluva” ride than to never take chances and risk it all just to arrive in one pretty piece. Passion in all things is the key to a successful life.” ~ Patrick James

Having worked as a firefighter/EMT for several services throughout the years, he has also worked as a custom metal fabricator, certified personal trainer and chef. Growing up in the rural suburbs of Detroit, it was during his frequent trips to Northern Michigan where he learned of his love for hunting and fishing. Spending several of his adult years in upstate South Carolina, his love of extreme sports took root in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains as he learned to rock climb and kayak.

“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and vanish into air.” ~ John Quincy Adams

You can find his published work A Frail New World: Digital Conspiracy at: http://goo.gl/XNaDMe

You can also find more information regarding Mr. James at:

https://www.facebook.com/colddeadhands

https://www.facebook.com/patrickjames2a

https://www.facebook.com/patrickjamesphotog

https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrickjames2a

ATF…The Alphabet Agency That Needs to Relearn Plain English

by | March 8, 2015

Over the past few weeks the internet has been on fire with articles, comments, petitions and information relating to ATF’s removal of SS109/M855’s (commonly known as “green tip”) exemption from being classified as armor piercing ammunition. This information came to light in ATF’s proposed framework to determine whether a projectile is “primarily intended for sporting purposes” in order to gain an exemption from being classified as armor piercing under 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(17)(C).

While the removal of the green tip exemption has dominated conversations, individuals seem to be missing the broader implications of the proposed framework, which might be exactly what ATF was trying to do. Now, I’m not proposing that ATF is trying to be insidious, but given their track record with Operation Fast and Furious and about 87 other things, I wouldn’t necessarily put it past them.

At this point, if you are reading this and have not submitted a comment, I encourage you to do so. The information for how to submit one will be at the bottom of this post.

greentip

As the title of this article suggests, it would seem that ATF doesn’t understand the statutory language in Section 921(a)(17). Posters have lamented over and over that the SS109/M855 projectile and/or ammunition does not fit the statutory criteria set out in Section 921(a)(17)(B).

(B) The term “armor piercing ammunition” means—

(i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium; or

(ii) a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.

The proposed framework for analyzing whether a projectile should be granted a “primarily intended for sporting purposes” exemption has two tests.

Category I: .22 Caliber Projectiles
A .22 caliber projectile that otherwise would be classified as armor piercing ammunition under 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(B) will be considered to be “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes” under section 921(a)(17)(C) if the projectile weighs 40 grains or less AND is loaded into a rimfire cartridge.

and

Category II: All Other Caliber Projectiles
Except as provided in Category I (.22 caliber rimfire), projectiles that otherwise would be classified as armor piercing ammunition will be presumed to be “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes” under section 921(a)(17)(C) if the projectile is loaded into a cartridge for which the only handgun that is readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade is a single shot handgun. ATF nevertheless retains the discretion to deny any application for a “sporting purposes” exemption if substantial evidence exists that the ammunition is not primarily intended for such purposes.
The term “single shot handgun” means a break-open or bolt action handgun that can accept only a single cartridge manually, and does not accept or use a magazine or other ammunition feeding device. The term does not include a pocket pistol or derringer-type firearm.

It would seem that ATF is proposing, if the projectile is by definition armor piercing, designed for .22 caliber, weighs more than 40 grains AND is loaded into a centerfire cartridge, the projectile will not be granted an exemption. Even more troublesome, is that ANY projectile, which by definition would be armor piercing, that is not .22 caliber, will not be granted an exemption unless it is loaded into a cartridge for which the only handgun that is readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade is a single shot handgun.

These two categories fall short of providing for the exemptions that the firearms community needs. As the EPA and states crack down on lead in projectiles for “environmental reasons”, manufactures and individuals are forced to look at other materials. Brass, an inexpensive metal and good material for hunting projectiles, is one of the enumerated metals in Section 921(a)(17)(B). The implications of this proposed framework being enacted are far reaching.

In the proposed framework, ATF states an exemption was granted in 1986 to SS109/M855 “green tip” ammunition. ATF quotes language in this exemption which was granted, yet did not provide the public with a copy to reference. ATF cites the determination saying

‘…it is well documented’ that the respective ammunition ‘has been recognized as being suitable for target shooting with rifles due to its accuracy.’

ATF then proclaims that when assembled into a complete cartridge, the projectiles were exempt, but ATF did not exempt the projectiles before the cartridges were assembled. The framework continues stating that in applying the proposed framework, the green tip ammunition does not fit into the exemption any longer as it may be used in a handgun other than a single-shot handgun.

There has been much discussion about this “letter” but no one has been able to produce a copy, until now. After a lot of searching and leads given to me by some friends in the industry I was able to obtain a copy of the original determination letter that ATF issued granting the exemption to SS109/M855.

M855-SS109 Determination Letter_Page_2 (2) M855-SS109 Determination Letter_Page_2 (1)

M855-SS109 Determination Letter

In the letter, ATF reviews the definition of armor piercing, which at the time was

The term armor piercing ammunition means a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium. Such term does not include … a projectile which the Secretary finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes…

ATF goes on to say

Examination of the SS109 (M855 Ball) ammunition indicates that the projectile is constructed using a full metal jacket and projectile cores constructed of a steel penetrator located forward of a lead core. Based on its construction, the SS109/ M855 projectile meets the above definition of armor piercing ammunition.

Wait, did ATF just say that the projectile is constructed of two cores, one being a steel penetrator and the other being lead? It sure sounds that way. But referring back to the statute their reading doesn’t quite comport with the statutory definition.

As I’ve been contending all along, ATF never had the authority to grant an exemption to SS109/M855 as it never met the statutory criteria to be armor piercing!

Let’s examine the statutory definition of armor piercing by breaking it down and applying it to SS109/M855. First, the statute regulates a projectile or projectile core. So far, it’s applicable.

Second, the statute requires that the projectile or projectile core may be used in a handgun. Again, applicable as there were handguns during the mid 80’s which could fire a .223/5.56 cartridge.

Third, the statute requires the projectile or projectile core be constructed entirely from one or a combination of a list of enumerated materials, steel being one of them. And this is where ATF failed to understand plain English.

SS109 Cross Section from AR15.com's Ammo Oracle

The steel penetrator found in SS109/M855 is not the core. Since ATF developed an affinity for utilizing dictionaries in order to define terms, I think it is only proper I do the same.

Dictionary.com defines “core” as a noun meaning “the central, innermost, or most essential part of anything.”

As the makeup of SS109/M855 has been examined by numerous posters online, it is hardly fair to characterize the steel penetrator, which weighs a scant 10 grains, the core. Especially when compared to the lead portion of the projectile which weighs 32 grains. The remaining 20 grains come from the copper jacket, which given its relative position, could not conceivably be argued to be the core.

Photo from TexasRifleman1985 via AR15.com

It would seem readily apparent that ATF had no authority to grant an exemption to SS109/M855 ammunition as it was never armor piercing by definition.

Want to get involved? There is still time. Submit your comment by March 16, 2015. You can do so in one of three ways:

ATF website: [email protected]atf.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

Fax: (202) 648-9741.

Mail: Denise Brown, Mailstop 6N-602, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 99 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20226: ATTN: AP Ammo Comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Denise Brown, Enforcement Programs and Services, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, U.S. Department of Justice, 99 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20226; telephone: (202) 648-7070.

The War of 1812 Dramatically Changed American People and Government

“Forget self and think of America,” wartime pundits urged.

Part one: “How the War of 1812 Eroded U.S. Liberalism”

As the War of 1812 with Great Britain approached during the Republican administration of James Madison, the War Hawks saw silver linings everywhere. “Republicans even came to see the war as a necessary regenerative act—as a means of purging Americans of their pecuniary greed and their seemingly insatiable love of commerce and money-making,” historian Gordon S. Wood writes in Empire of Liberty. “They hoped that war with England might refresh the national character, lessen the overweening selfishness of people, and revitalize republicanism.” The money cost of war was dismissed as insignificant compared to national honor and sovereignty. Indeed, the war was called the “Second War of Independence.” Wood quotes the newspaper editors of the Richmond Enquirer: “Forget self and think of America.”

Republicans, of course, had previously warned of the dangers of war, including high taxes, debt, corruption, a big military, and centralized power. Madison himself famously said that war contained the “germ” of “all the enemies to public liberty.” So now the party set out to prosecute a war while avoiding the evils they held were intrinsic to it. Republicans in Congress talked about cutting military spending even as war loomed. But it didn’t quite work out that way. In early 1812 Congress built up the army, though it—initially—decided a navy was not needed against the greatest naval power on earth. (The strengthened U.S. navy later did very well against Britain.)

The Republican Congress also raised taxes, including dreaded internal taxes, conditioned on war actually breaking out. Madison, Wood writes, “was relieved that at last the Republicans in Congress had ‘got down the dose of taxes.'” Still, the government would have to borrow money to finance the war. The proliferation of government securities and new note-issuing banks followed, of course. On the connections among the war, public debt, Madison’s Second Bank of the United States, inflation, government-sanctioned suspension of specie payments, government bankruptcy, and subsequent economic turmoil, see Murray Rothbard’s A History of Money and Banking in the United States and his earlier The Panic of 1819.

Wood notes that Americans hoped the war would deal a blow to the Indians in the Northwest, who had the support of Britain and whose land was much coveted. Indian removal (extermination) was a popular government program. Moreover, “with the development of Canada freeing the British Empire from its vulnerability to American economic restrictions, President Madison was bound to be concerned about Canada.”

Although Madison’s government always denied that it intended to annex Canada, it had no doubt, as Secretary of State [James] Monroe told the British government in June 1812, that once the United States forces occupied the British provinces, it would be “difficult to relinquish territory which had been conquered.”

Interest in Canada was not just material. A belief in “Manifest Destiny,” though the term wouldn’t be coined until 1845, was a driving force. (Acquisition of Spain’s Floridas was also on the agenda.) America was the rising “Empire of Liberty,” fated by providence to rule North America (at least) and displace the worn-out empires of the Old World.

Even though the war had no formal victor and produced no boundary adjustments (U.S. forces were repulsed in Canada after burning its capital, for which Britain retaliated by burning Washington, D.C.), Americans were generally delighted with the outcome, mistakenly thinking that Madison had dictated terms at Ghent. (Wood notes that a record 57 towns and counties bear Madison’s name.) Wood writes that a group calling itself the “republican citizens of Baltimore” expressed “a common refrain throughout much of the country” in April 1815 when it declared that the war

has revived, with added luster the renown which brightened the morning of our independence: it has called forth and organized the dormant resources of the empire: it has tried and vindicated our republican institutions: it has given us that moral strength, which consists in the well earned respect of the world, and in a just respect for ourselves. It has raised up and consolidated a national character, dear to the hearts of the people, as an object of honest pride and a pledge of future union, tranquility, and greatness.

The anti-Hamiltonian Albert Gallatin, secretary of the Treasury from 1801 to 1814, said that because of the war, the people “are more American; they feel and act more as a nation.” Arthur A. Ekirch Jr. reports in The Decline of American Liberalism that Gallatin admitted that (Gallatin’s words) “the war has laid the foundation of permanent taxes and military establishments, which the Republicans had deemed unfavorable to the happiness and free institutions of the country.”

Madison’s restraint, however it is to be explained, ought to be acknowledged. He was an advocate of centralized government and implied powers, yet “he knew that a republican leader should not become a Napoleon or even a Hamilton,” the sympathetic Woods writes. He quotes an earlier admirer of Madison as saying, the president conducted the war “without one trial for treason, or even one prosecution for libel.” (Some Republicans viewed Federalists who were openly sympathetic to the British as traitors.) A more ambitious politician might have not have kept the “sword of war” “within its proper restraints.” However, imperial chickens eventually come home to roost, and Madison indisputably reinforced the imperial course of his predecessors. (See my “The Boomerang Effect: How Foreign Policy Changes Domestic Policy.”) Moreover, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel writes, Madison proposed conscription—only the war’s end prevented this from happening—and later a peacetime standing army to the Congress.

How the war dramatically changed America, the people, and the government is discussed at length in Dangerous Nation by Robert Kagan—the historian and prominent neoconservative thinker who advises President Barack Obama on foreign policy—and John Quincy Adams and American Global Empire by William Earl Weeks. (Unlike Weeks, Kagan approves of the war’s effects and the American empire in general; his book is marred by his wish to justify current American intervention in Europe and beyond.)

Kagan notes that the war boosted efforts to expand America westward. “Indian tribes north of the Ohio River, deprived of British support, gave up vast stretches of land in the years immediately following the war,” Kagan writes, “permitting a huge westward migration of the American population.… Trying to contain American continental aspirations after the war with Great Britain, John Quincy Adams observed, would be like ‘opposing a feather to a torrent.'”

Kagan notes that:

The requirements of fighting the war expanded the role of the federal government and exposed deficiencies in the operation of federal power under the old Jeffersonian Republican scheme—much as the Revolutionary War had pointed up the deficiencies of the Articles of Confederation. The end of the war in 1815 brought calls for augmented national powers even from Republicans.…

Madison, Jefferson’s staunch colleague in the struggle against Hamiltonian policies in the 1790s, now all but embraced the Hamiltonian system.

Attitudes toward the military also changed for reasons of national and economic security. When Monroe succeeded Madison as president, Weeks writes, a

guiding principle … in [his] effort to expand American foreign trade concerned the construction and maintenance of a formidable military force. Republicans traditionally had mistrusted large military establishments as subversive of republican institutions. Yet once again, the War of 1812 led to a reevaluation of a basic tenet of the Republican faith.

Indeed, future President John Quincy Adams, Monroe’s secretary of state and a champion of Clay’s American System, said, “The most painful, perhaps the most profitable, lesson of the war was the primary duty of the nation to place itself in a state of permanent preparation for self-defense” (emphasis added).

“Along with support for a national bank,” Weeks adds, the Republicans’ new imperial principles “stood as a dramatic break with the traditional philosophy of the Republican party. The vision of a decentralized inward looking agrarian republic had been replaced by an imperial vision which reflected many of the basic tenets of the disgraced Federalist party.”

It’s important to realize, Weeks writes, that “after the Treaty of Ghent the search for new markets became the explicit aim of American foreign policy.”

Kagan agrees: “the War of 1812 spurred the federal government to redouble efforts to open access to foreign markets.” Previously, agrarian Republicans like Jefferson hoped that commerce would not dominate America or its politics since that preoccupation would inevitably draw the country into perpetual international turmoil. But with the war, many now saw things differently. “Active promotion of commerce required further expansion of American military strength, especially the navy,” Kagan writes.

In other words, America would not promote free trade by unilaterally setting a good example, as libertarians call for today. Instead, the government would aggressively open foreign markets, particularly the colonial possessions of the European powers, threatening retaliation in the case of uncooperative regimes and displaying the military card rather prominently. But “free trade” soon gave way to mercantilism, that is, special-interest economic protectionism. Weeks writes that

changing economic conditions had inspired a new vision of American empire based not on free trade but on protection of certain sectors of the economy. The shortages caused by embargo and war had led to the growth of an extensive manufacturing sector in the United States and a sizable constituency that wanted it protected from foreign competition, once peace was restored.

Revealingly, Weeks writes, the postwar American Society of the Encouragement of American Manufacturers, a pro-tariff group, boasted as members Thomas Jefferson and James Madison along with the old Federalist John Adams.

A remnant of small-government, decentralist, free-trading “Old Republicans” objected to this embrace of centralized power, mercantilism, and militarism, but their voices were fading. Against them, the rising generation of politicians saw the need for new principles. The Old Republicans’ narrow interpretation of the Constitution, the new Republicans said, should not be treated as engraved in stone. “A new world has come into being since the Constitution was adopted,” said Henry Clay, chief promoter of the American System. “Are the narrow, limited necessities of the old thirteen states … as they existed at the formation of the present Constitution, forever to remain a rule of its interpretation? Are we to forget the wants of our country?… I trust not, sir. I hope for better and nobler things.”

Apparently the idea of a living constitution was born much earlier than the 1950s or 1930s.

The new vision pervaded Monroe’s administration, which the continental expansionist and militarist John Quincy Adams dominated as secretary of state, and then Adams’s own term as president. (Opposition to the spread of slavery would check, temporarily, the drive for southwestern expansion, an ironic turn on Madison’s principle that “ambition must be made to counteract ambition.“) As for domestic policy, in 1825, Adams’s first year in power, he called for “a national university, government-sponsored scientific explorations, the creation of new government departments, the fostering of internal improvements, and even the building of a national astronomical observatory,” Kagan reports.

The “great object of the institution of government is the improvement of the condition of those who are parties to the social compact,” Adams said. The government should not only provide internal improvement, such as canals and roads, but should also see to the people’s “moral, political, intellectual improvement.”

Adams’s program, however, proved too much too fast for Americans. So he, like his father, was a one-term president. But eventually the American System, often propelled by foreign policy and war, would return—for good.

The lesson here is that even an apparently justifiable war can be counted on to produce illiberal consequences and precedents. The Republicans could not fight a war unaccompanied by what the Gallatin called “the evils inseparable from it[:] debt, perpetual taxation, military establishments, and other corrupting or anti-republican habits or institutions.” They would sooner have squared the circle.

Moreover, the War of 1812 reinforced the executive branch’s de facto monopoly over foreign policy. Within a few years the Monroe administration—and no one more staunchly than John Quincy Adams—would defend Gen. Andrew Jackson’s invasion of Spanish Florida and undeclared war on the Seminoles, after which dissenting members of Congress could do nothing but gripe.

Randolph Bourne was right: war is indeed the health of the state.

by Sheldon Richman|Mar. 8, 2015

This article originally appeared at the Future of Freedom Foundation. 

What if the Government Fears Freedom?

What if Bush and Obama have been wrong about the priority of their constitutional duties as president?

What if the current massive spying on Americans began with an innocent secret executive order signed by President Reagan in 1986? What if Reagan contemplated that he was only authorizing American spies to spy on foreign spies unlawfully present in the U.S.?

What if Reagan knew and respected the history of the Fourth Amendment? What if the essence of that history is the colonial revulsion at the British use of general warrants? What if general warrants were issued by a secret court in London and authorized British agents in America to search wherever they wished and to seize whatever they found? What if the revulsion at this British government practice was so overwhelming that it led to the Revolutionary War against the king?

What if the whole purpose of the Fourth Amendment was to outlaw general warrants? What if the Fourth Amendment specifically guarantees the right to privacy to all in America in their persons, houses, papers, and effects?

What if, in order to emphasize its condemnation of general warrants, the Fourth Amendment requires the government to obtain a warrant from a judge before invading the persons, houses, papers, or effects of anyone and lays down the preconditions for the issuance of such warrants? What if those preconditions are individualized suspicion and articulated evidence of crime—called probable cause— about the specific person whose privacy the government seeks to invade?

What if these principles of constitutional fidelity, privacy, and probable cause and the unlawfulness of general warrants have been regarded universally and publicly as quintessentially American values, values that set this nation apart from all others?

What if the administration of President George W. Bush was so embarrassed that 9/11 happened on its watch that it fought a useless public war in Iraq—which had nothing to do with 9/11—and a pernicious private war against American values by unleashing American spies on innocent Americans as to whom there was no individualized probable cause so that it could create the impression it was doing something to keep America safe from another 9/11-like attack?

What if the Bush folks took Reagan’s idea of spying on foreign spies and twisted it so that they could spy on not just foreign spies, but also on foreign persons? What if they took that and leapt to spying on Americans who communicated with foreign persons?

What if they then concluded that it was easier to spy on all Americans rather than just those who communicated with foreign persons? What if they claimed in secret that all this was authorized by Reagan’s executive order and two federal statutes, their unique interpretations of which they refused to discuss in public? What if the Reagan order and the statutes authorized no such thing?

What if The New York Times caught the Bush administration in its massive violation of the Fourth Amendment, whereby it was spying on all Americans all the time without any warrants? What if the Times sat on that knowledge during, throughout, and beyond the presidential election campaign of 2004? What if, when the Times revealed all this, the Bush administration agreed to stop spying? What if it didn’t stop?

What if President Obama came up with a scheme to make the spying appear legal? What if that scheme involved using secret judges in secret courts to issue general warrants? What if the Obama administration swore those judges to secrecy? What if it swore to secrecy all in the government who are involved in undermining basic American values? What if it forgot that everyone in government also swears an oath to uphold the Constitution? What if Edward Snowden violated his oath to secrecy in order to uphold his oath to the Constitution, which includes the Fourth Amendment, and spilled the beans on the government?

What if all this spying by the feds has spawned spying by the locals? What if more than 50 local police departments now have received false cell towers from the FBI, but have sworn not to tell anyone about them? What if these towers trick cellphone signals into exposing the content of cellphone conversations to the police? What if the police have done this without the knowledge of the elected representatives who are their bosses? What if they do this without any warrants? What if the Supreme Court last year outlawed police invading cellphones without warrants?

What if both Bush and Obama have argued that their first job is to keep America safe, and they will twist, torture the plain meaning of and even break laws in order to accomplish that job? What if the presidential oath is to enforce all laws faithfully, including ones the president may hate?

What if Bush and Obama have been wrong about the priority of their constitutional duties as president? What if the president’s first job is to preserve the Constitution? What if that includes the Fourth Amendment? What if the president keeps us safe but unfree?

What if invading our freedoms keeps us less safe? What if the president has failed to keep our freedoms safe? What if the government doesn’t like freedoms? What if the government is afraid we will exercise them?

By Andrew Napolitano | February 26, 2015 in Reason.com

“Black Lives Matter” or “How To Further Divide Us”?

racial equalityIs our country continuing to do the “DC back-step” in regards to racial division?  It seems like some are further perpetuating the tensions we felt when our country finally stepped out of the dark ages and began the road to healing. For those of you who believe this new media-hyped nonsense, remember back just a few short years ago and admit that electing a black President actually happened.  Would that have been possible 100 years ago?  How about 50 years ago? Do you think a man of color (any color other than white) would’ve beat Kennedy in an election?

We all know the answer to that question, but we as a Nation felt it was time in 2008. Many of us were ready to put our past behind us and move forward.  Of course many now regret that decision and feel betrayed as the man trusted to further unite our communities has done nothing but further divide them through, once again… RACE.

Now I know there are many that will say; “Well you’re a man of privilege. You’re white and have never felt the sting of prejudice.” I have felt the sting of prejudice through my friends.  I was taught to be color blind when it comes to others, and judge them not by their looks, position or beliefs, but rather their actions. I have been judged many times throughout my life based on the position of my parents or myself in the small local community I grew up in, yet I overcame those biases and moved forward knowing the majority of people will respect me for my actions.

Now after so many years of watching the racial tensions of the 60s start to fade, we have those who lived through those times, beating the drums again, in hopes of “stirring a new generation”.  Principal Nathaniel Rouse hosted a “Black Lives Matter” rally to discuss racial equality, with students and parents from Oak Park and River Forest High School in Illinois on February 27th 2015.  Although, he banned all white people from attending the event, reports The Chicago Tribune.

I can appreciate the desire to discuss racial tensions, since this administration has managed to drive a bigger wedge between our citizens, making this chasm wider and deeper than it has been in the last 30 years, but this discussion should’ve included ALL those concerned with this division. The Aryan Brotherhood was not lined up at the door wanting to gain admittance to this event, it was students (friends with those in attendance) wanting to show support for their fellow classmates and learn about how they can be a part of helping quell the new fires this administation seems to have fanned.

Rouse claims that further division of students into “Affinity Groups” is necessary and allows them to talk freely among those who look “similar”.  This sounds fine in theory, but as we know, it allows lies to be further propagated as well.  My daddy taught me that in order to get to the truth of the matter, you needed all people involved, present.  If you want to find the truth, you have to be willing to stand in front of it and face it head on.

The “truth” as it relates to this new rise in “racial tensions” is one of namby pamby coddling. We are ready to put the sordid past of our forefathers to bed and move forward with eyes blinded to race, color or creed. We need to get over ourselves and move forward without the need of a tissue to dry our tears of hurt. Whoever told you that life wasn’t full of “hurts” was lying to make you feel better. It’s time to put your big boy/girl panties on, dry those tears and get r done!

I will respect you based on your actions as I would hope you would do for me. I will do so, even if you are not as self-regulating, responsible and self-efficient as you should or could be.  I will lend a hand to all my brothers and sisters and help them overcome any adversity they may encounter in life, as long as they are continually trying to rise above on their own power and are respecters of others right to “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”.  Make no mistake about it though, if you ever view my kindness as weakness, you will have made a very grave mistake.

So let’s all take some time to start “walking in the shoes” of others, before passing judgement.  Let’s try to treat others as you wish to be treated.  This doesn’t mean one has to turn the other cheek.  It doesn’t mean you have to be a “doormat”, but it does mean we shouldn’t “judge a book by its cover”.  We all have to understand that this hate for others is not always racially motivated.  It is not always a “black and white” issue.  Evil walks the face of this earth and men of every color, race and creed do its bidding.  The way to stop it is for good men and women to stand up to it, period!  Let’s all work together with the intent of restoring our country, creating a safer environment for our kids and grandkids to enjoy the “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” our Framers intended… for all.

 

patrickjamesPatrick James is the creator and founder of Cold Dead Hands and CDH, Inc. He is an author, gun enthusiast and avid outdoorsman who can be found chasing his passions 24/7. “I’d rather enjoy my life and skid sideways into the grave, worn out and beat up screaming that was a “helluva” ride than to never take chances and risk it all just to arrive in one pretty piece. Passion in all things is the key to a successful life.” ~ Patrick James

Having worked as a firefighter/EMT for several services throughout the years, he has also worked as a custom metal fabricator, certified personal trainer and chef. Growing up in the rural suburbs of Detroit, it was during his frequent trips to Northern Michigan where he learned of his love for hunting and fishing. Spending several of his adult years in upstate South Carolina, his love of extreme sports took root in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains as he learned to rock climb and kayak.

“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and vanish into air.” ~ John Quincy Adams

You can find his published work A Frail New World: Digital Conspiracy at: http://goo.gl/XNaDMe

You can also find more information regarding Mr. James at:

https://www.facebook.com/colddeadhands

https://www.facebook.com/patrickjames2a

https://www.facebook.com/patrickjamesphotog

https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrickjames2a

Why background checks don’t work

Psychologists and social scientists have long understood that people are inclined to stick to a belief even when they are presented with clear evidence that their belief is incorrect. In short, people are obstinate. Recent research has shown that this is not just a psychological issue, but also has a physiological basis. Our brains are actually wired for this behavior, and it accounts for a great deal of the strife and conflict we see in politics, religion and our regular daily lives.

I have written several times about the issue of mandatory background checks for firearm purchasers. There’s no question that the idea of checking a gun buyer’s background to make sure they are not a criminal or crazy person seems reasonable and rational, and just common sense, but there’s a problem: Background checks don’t work. At least they don’t work the way people think they do. Unfortunately, a good percentage of the population can’t get past their initial conclusion that background checks make sense. That’s why I want to ask you to make a conscious effort to suspend your own presumptions and beliefs for a moment and try to maintain an open mind as you read this column.

Not only is common sense not that common, it often doesn’t make much sense. Along with the obvious, there are almost always peripheral issues that come into play on any given subject. What we see on the surface is usually only a small portion of the picture. Ulterior motives, mitigating factors and the law of unintended consequences are always in play.

A great example of this is the “child-proof” caps on medicine bottles. The government started requiring these devices in the early 1970s. Common sense tells us all that making it more difficult for a child to get into dangerous medicine bottles will reduce accidental poisonings and save children’s lives. But in the years after introduction of safety caps and resistant packaging, poisonings not only continued, they increased. A major factor identified was what researchers called the “lulling effect.” Parents were apparently lulled into a false sense of security by the child-resistant packaging, and, therefore, they took fewer common sense safety precautions in how they stored and controlled dangerous products. Major public education campaigns had to be launched to teach people to do what their parents and grandparents did – store dangerous things out of sight and reach of small children – even when child-resistant packaging is used.

One is left to wonder how many lives, and hundreds of millions of dollars, could have been saved if the focus had been on education from the beginning, rather than blindly embracing a government-mandated engineering solution.

In the case of mandatory background checks on gun purchasers, first, keep in mind that it is already illegal for a “prohibited person,” someone who has been convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors, or “adjudicated mentally incompetent,” to purchase or possess a firearm. Most of those people know they are prohibited, and, therefore, those who want to obtain guns get them through illegal means – theft, straw purchases or from the same guy who sells them their drugs. In 2010, only 13 people were successfully prosecuted for lying on a gun purchase form.

The second thing to keep in mind is that most people who legally buy guns already own guns. It is estimated that between 80 and 100 million people in the U.S. own something like 300 million guns, and millions more are sold every year. Estimates suggest that better than 80 percent of all guns sold in this country every year are purchased by persons who already own at least one gun. That means that fewer than 20 percent of background checks have any potential to “keep guns away” from someone who doesn’t already have one, and better than 80 percent are just a waste of time and money.

The third thing that is important to know is that the people and organizations pushing background checks are the same people and organizations that have pushed for complete bans on certain types of guns and “ammunition feeding devices,” pushed for registration of all guns and gun owners, and pushed for all manner of restrictions, limitations and controls over guns and gun owners. Their agenda hasn’t changed.

Also remember that background checks are not a free service; they cost money – a lot of money. At this point, the U.S. has spent, and is spending, billions of dollars to build, maintain and operate the federal firearm purchase background check system. And of course, the vast majority of that money is spent verifying that someone like me, who already owns a number of guns, is not prohibited from buying another one.

Finally, consider the civil rights aspect of this issue. The right to keep and bear arms is one of the few rights originally enumerated and attached to the U.S. Constitution. This was done long before the right to vote was even considered a universal right. Yet many of the same people who tell us that even requiring identification to vote is a violation of civil rights. But these same people insist that paying a fee, filling out an extensive questionnaire, presenting picture ID and having a criminal records check before being allowed to exercise the enumerated right to arms is just “common sense” and definitely not a violation of civil rights.

Background checks, like all gun-control laws, focus on the law-abiding while mostly ignoring criminals. The idea that it makes sense to expand these wasteful and ineffective money sponges to include private transactions between law-abiding citizens is ridiculous and an affront to liberty. The real objective is not reducing crime and violence, but rather to add impediments to legal gun ownership to discourage it and make it more costly, troublesome and legally risky. Anyone with an open mind and the capacity for rational thought should be able to clearly see that.

Posted By Jeff Knox on March 5, 2015 on WND