Exercise Your Rights!

I’m heartened to see that the Supreme Court agreed this summer with the plain English interpretation of the right to bear arms, i.e. “It means citizens have the right to bear arms.” (Note that it took 200 years before there was even any question about this.) But the decision didn’t spark any real passion for 2nd amendment rights. That required…. Barack Obama!

In case you didn’t notice, every red-blooded American has apparently been stocking up on guns and ammo ever since his election last month. According to GunBroker.com, handgun sales in Wisconsin have jumped 82%. One dealership in North Carolina reports he sold more guns and ammo in the first 10 days after the election than he normally sells in 6 months. (Here’s the exact statistics: Normal 3 month quarter: 243 guns, 361 boxes of ammo. Post-Election 10-day results: 572 guns, 1218 boxes of ammo. (Did I mention these are only AK-47 guns and ammo?)

Conventional wisdom holds that an Obama administration will force all firearm sales to go through a registered dealer, or that he will limit sales of ammunition, as that’s not covered by the 2nd amendment. So, if you’re thinking of selling a gun, better do it now before government adds another layer of democracy. Better yet, just give me a call 🙂

And for those of you who disagree with the Supreme Court interpretation of the 2nd amendment, and are still reading, I give you this quote from Thomas Jefferson (thanks Liberty Crabapple): “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

Where’s my “Charlton Heston is my President” bumper sticker?


10 thoughts on “Exercise Your Rights!

  1. Holy Cow, I just wrote you a big email on this and then found your post. Thank heavens for free thinking people! Amen, amen, amen. Even Braeburn’s Buzz school newspaper is reporting direct quotes from Obama on how he will re institue gun bans and work to eliminate the use of guns. Where was this stuff during the election?
    As for Charlton Heston: They don’t make them like that anymore.

  2. Well, you saw my post on the Idaho assassin kids, so you know I couldn’t let this pass…not as a guy who owns more than a few guns of my own (two rifles, one shot gun, one old 6 shooter, and a BB gun).

    Last year just over 14,000 weapons were seized on the Texas US/Mexico border headed to Mexico. Half came from the Dallas/Houston area where most were purchased at legit gun stores or gun shows. In one case, a single individual bought 152 hand guns and 78 assault rifles over a 4 month period. The use for the guns? Cartels shooting it out for the right to feed the voracious demand for narcotics in the United States.

    There is a reason why the Bush administration supported state’s rights when the DOJ filed an amicus brief in support of the DC gun ban. Communities and states should be allowed to decide through the processes of the Federal Republic what their community needs to protect themselves. Isn’t that what you said you liked about prop 8?

    There are a host of Freudian and Jungian reasons why “red-blooded” Americans choose to think that Uncle Sam is coming into their kitchen to look in their fridge for guns (and maybe a few legit ones like the Bush “Patriot” act), but the reasons those same folks choose to ignore the violence in urban centers and on/across the border is a little more of a big elephant in the corner with a pretty ugly name.

    That aside, I’ll make one last point. The reason that we have those fine quotes from Jefferson, Hamilton, Paine, et.al., is exactly because the interpretation of that 2nd Ammendment has been debated from the very beginning – those folks were responding to people who disagreed (in most cases other “founding fathers). The incredible brilliance of the Constitution of 1787 is that we get to think of it like Mormons think of Revelation, not the way Evangelicals do.

    Discussion and debate without fear of reprisal so that we move forward together with the needs of the country is what makes us a great nation – even if we imply that those that disagree with us have green blood and are not so bright (though I imagine we could do without that part).

    Take care and hope all is well up your way. Have a great Christmas (we got the letter from last year a couple weeks ago. Bees? wow.)

  3. I’m not sure I get the complete jist of the last comment, but I want to say that people acting illegally is no reason to take away legal rights from law abiding citizens. The “this crisis warrants taking away your rights for everyone’s security” argument will probably be used frequently in the coming months. There is another, better option: Border Security.

  4. We have a social contract with each other to evaluate areas in which there are threats to society. I would imagine y’all are fond of Jefferson quotes, so here goes: “This corporeal globe, and everything upon it, belong to its present corporeal inhabitants during their generation. They alone have a right to direct what is the concern of themselves alone, and to declare the law of that direction; and this declaration can only be made by their majority. That majority, then, has a right to depute representatives to a convention, and to make the constitution what they think will be the best for themselves.” –Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. It means that living people must evaluate threats to their own society and make decisions based on those threats. Or, in other words, as he wrote to George Washington: “The rights of one generation will scarcely be considered hereafter as depending on the paper transactions of another.”
    And so we have amendments, legislation, courts, etc. It is not a conspiracy of “unpatriotic” people who are not “right thinking” but living citizens trying to find solutions to problems in a meaningful way that moves beyond buzz words and talking heads.
    Border security is a nice phrase, but has a far more complex meaning outside of talk radio (left or right). Border security can mean real and effective spending on health and education programs that reduce narcotics consumption in the United States, lessening violence for which weapons are illegally used: A little more effort working in the community to keep people out of drugs goes a long way. Border security can mean real adherence to the free trade advocated by Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton, and Bush 43: let the market dictate flow of goods, services, and people, thereby creating a real economic boost to Mexico through open labor and agricultural markets. Border security could mean totally tossing the free market model with Mexico and letting them maintain protective walls to US goods so their economy can recover from the crash of the early 80s.
    An entire army under Pershing didn’t serve as border security and keep Villa from burning Columbus, New Mexico. Certainly the hiring of thousands of new INS, ICE, HS, etc. border agents has only made things worse: more men, fewer supervisors, more corruption. There’s a great joke in Mexico about the difference between corruption in Mexico compared to the US, in Mexico “the money is on the table.”
    And if you think a border wall is the answer, I would give you a thought from President Reagan: “Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe. From the Baltic, south, those barriers cut across Germany in a gash of barbed wire, concrete, dog runs, and guard towers. Farther south, there may be no visible, no obvious wall. But there remain armed guards and checkpoints all the same–still a restriction on the right to travel, still an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state. Yet it is here in Berlin where the wall emerges most clearly; here, cutting across your city, where the news photo and the television screen have imprinted this brutal division of a continent upon the mind of the world. Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar.”
    Hey, at the end of the day, these are issues where all views should be put out there for discussion. To end with one more Jefferson quote: “Difference of opinion leads to enquiry, and enquiry to truth; and that, I am sure, is the ultimate and sincere object of us both. We both value too much the freedom of opinion sanctioned by our Constitution, not to cherish its exercise even where in opposition to ourselves.” –Thomas Jefferson to P. H. Wendover, 1815

  5. This comes a little bit late, but I love a good battle of ideas. As to Fam’s last comment, I shall try to answer each of his points.

    First you spoke of a social contract, and used quotes to back up your position. It’s clear that you have studied Jefferson, but I’m not sure that the quotes mean what you thought they did. If I were to put the first quote in my own words, it would run like this: ” The world belongs to those who are currently alive, they have a responsibility to mind their own affairs, but they also have a voice in deciding the direction of the Nation, and to make the most of the constitution”. I’m not sure how that supports the idea that it is the duty of the people to “evaluate threats to their own society and make decisions based on those threats.”
    In the next section you said “we have amendments, legislation, courts, etc. It is not a conspiracy of “unpatriotic” people who are not “right thinking” but living citizens trying to find solutions to problems in a meaningful way that moves beyond buzz words and talking heads.” I am not sure what this means, but I am not a great thinker. What do you mean by “it”? Forgive my incomprehension.
    You then tackled the issue of Border Security, and said that the matter was much more complex than it appeared. Winston Churchill once related an anecdote about how St. George would rescue a maiden from a dragon in the modern day. Saint George, he said, would not be accompanied by a horse, but by a delegation, he would propose a conference with the dragon, a round table conference so as to be more comfortable for It’s tail. he would then loan the dragon a lot of money, and the matter of the maiden’s release would be referred to the United Nations in Geneva. Finally, St. George would be photographed with the dragon.
    Although it is difficult to do anything in Washington without red tape, there is no sense in making things more complicated than they need be.

    “Border security can mean real and effective spending on health and education programs that reduce narcotics consumption in the United States, lessening violence for which weapons are illegally used: A little more effort working in the community to keep people out of drugs goes a long way.” The worst thing the government can do right now is to spend more money. From a High school perspective, government programs to reduce drugs and violence fail completely. At my school, they have a new program almost every week, and the druggies just laugh and take another pull. I do agree with you that the answer is to combat violence, not take away guns.
    I also think that your idea of free trade on the border is interesting, but as Churchill again said, “I am in favor of trade, not aid” As heartless as it sounds, I would like to have a secure economy in the United States before we go to help Mexico’s floundering financial state. You would compare a border wall to the Berlin Wall? Remember if you will, that the Berlin Wall was built to keep people from escaping a totalitarian socialist government, not to keep people from stampeding the land of opportunity.

  6. Clark,

    Since I got your Christmas card, I thought it would be cool to get back in touch after a ten year absence.

    As for guns, I don’t own any guns myself but I have shot every gun the military has. Little known story; when I was at basic training and we were at the rifle range, I used to say in a somewhat metro voice “Guys, guns scare me”. It wasn’t really the guns that scared me as much as it was the few idiots that I went to basic training with. For whatever reason, nobody laughed as hard as I did.

    Anyway, Tanji and I were looking at pictures of our wedding reception and there you were. Then we got your Christmas letter. Email me at roger.parkinson2@gmail.com

    Sorry for interrupting your passionate exchange about guns fellas.

    I am thinking about getting a handgun just in case things go to crap in a hurry. Right now, there is very little danger where I live. However, if things went south in a hurry and lawlessness were to increase dramatically, it might not be a bad thing to have some stopping power handy.

    I was thinking a .40 would be nice. The FBI uses the new Glock 23. The problem is the expense for weapon and rounds. I have seen someone make good use of a .22 before. Dropped a dear in its tracks (kind of a spur of the moment thing). I was reading a forum of internet heroes who testified to the absolute stupidity of using a .22 for self-defense but I am not sure their claims have a basis in Physics. Plus, you start putting down some big rounds in the house and you risk going through walls and suffering collateral damage which is more tragic when it includes family members.

  7. Braeburn-

    Looks like there are two things that you’ll need cleared up, so let me divide my response in two sections, one on the supreme court decision regarding the DC gun ban that sparked Clark’s original comments and then another on border security. I’ll add sub sections for organizations sake.

    Why do I have time to do this. My wife is on strict bed rest for the coming baby, the kids are in bed, the house is cleaned, the chickens are put away, and I’m too exhausted to do any more work tonight. This is sort of like dessert for the day. Then again, I’m running on 4 hours of sleep… so maybe I’m just opening up cans of worms in a fit of sleepless dementia.

    1) The gun Ban

    Section A: Why my response? Because both Clark and Crabapple more than intimated that those who would agree with some form of gun control were neither entirely good Americans (Clark’s red-blooded comments) nor interested in freedom and, perhaps, a bit teched in the melon (Crabapple’s free thinking comment), I wanted to post a rejoinder to their comments that their had indeed been a debate over gun use for years, and that to debate and seek modification or a different interpretation of than theirs was neither un-American or un-intelligent. It is, in fact, what we are supposed to do.

    Section B: Jefferson on the nature of the constitution.
    Braeburn, you said: “If I were to put the first quote in my own words…” Your paraphrasing was, well, creative, but let’s go back to the text AND the context of the text. While it does not draw entirely on Hobbes, the U.S. Constitution of 1787 was influenced at its based by the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes’ social contract theory lays out that man, in a state of nature, will simply exist in a state of bellum omnium contra omnes. Therefore, a constitution is itself absolutely a declaration of security above all else, and the duty of the government is to provide security for its citizens. Therefore, when Jefferson speaks of amending the constitution, it is directly related to an evaluation of security, as that is what he saw the role of the relationship of the people to each other and the government as. Evaluating the security of your life, liberty, and property (the contribution of Locke) is the basis of the Hobbsian social contract theory that the constitution was based on. The letter from Jefferson to Kercheval that I quoted was written as a response to a query on a constitutional convention and amending the constitution. Another great quote from that letter was this: “Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. … But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”
    And what does this have to do with the DC gun ban? Faced with a local threat of violence in their own community, the District of Columbia chose in 1975 to do as Jefferson said and create legislation to protect themselves. If you want to say the DC gun ban was a violation of the “original intent” of the Constitution then I say that argument holds no water as the underlying intent of the constitution was to allow citizens to create laws to protect themselves. Now, what the court has done, is violate state and city rights as well as set up a very messy court decision that will create two problems. Because the decision still says there is room for firearms regulation but does not set a standard, this question will return to the court. And second, because the court violated state’s rights, it kicks the debate back to the national level where the president and congress can and will pass more stringent national rules for ALL Americans. There is no way that a full on gun ban is appropriate for Idaho as it was for D.C., but because the court has kicked it to the national level, the decision will produce gun control laws that would not have been created if the court had let communities and states decide their own laws. This supreme court decision is a meddlesome intrusion of government into the lives of citizens and their communities.

    Section C: It
    I preceded the “It” statement with a comment on court decisions and amending the constitution. The “it” I refer to is the process of debate and amendment. This process of rethinking the use and application of the Constitution in our day is health and exactly what was intended. See Jack Rakove’s book “Original Meanings” for a nice treatment of this idea of debate and amendment. Anyhow, this was more in response to Clark’s statement that the 2nd amendment had never been debated in the first 200 years of U.S. Constitutional history.

    2) Border Security

    Section A. Why did I go into this? I was simply pointing out that legally purchased weapons can be abused to kill hundreds, and that a few limits could save a lot of lives. On the other hand, I wanted to point out that you wouldn’t even need those limits if you could reduce the consumption of narcotics in the US.

    Section B. On Complexity.
    Churchill’s quip about St. George is certainly entertaining, if ripped from the moorings of context. Nevertheless, I see your point, and I’d respond that sometimes solutions can be simple, but they never should be simplistic. Every time I hear somebody say that things are only black and white I am reminded of Boxer in Animal Farm. Never willing, or at times able, to comprehend the complexity of what was happening on the farm he ends up as glue and dog food. I’d point out that the opposite evil is that of Benjamin in the book who is smart enough to see the machinations of the swine, but instead of being moved to action he simply grows cynical. Both are a bit deadly for society. Nevertheless, we’ve too often seen in the United States policies of a simplistic nature that ignore complexity and end up causing more trouble than good (supporting the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan). The “kill ‘em all and let God sort them out” is hardly the best of what America is capable of. Which leads me to programs….

    Section C. On Programs
    “The worst thing the government can do right now is spend more money…”
    Hey, now, let’s go back and read carefully. I did not say that MORE spending was needed or that government programs were needed. Let’s read that again:
    “Border security can mean REAL AND EFFECTIVE spending on health and education programs that reduce narcotics consumption in the United States, lessening violence for which weapons are illegally used: A little more EFFORT WORKING IN THE COMMUNITY to keep people out of drugs goes a long way.” Notice I said real and effective, not more. Take for instance a program in Chicago which is decimating elementary and middle school drug use (the kids haven’t hit high school yet, but the first crop go in next year). The program that is working so well? Adult literacy programs that get parents reading to their kids every night. Why? All addiction and rebellion fills a need or a hole in people’s lives. Kids who are read to feel loved at home, and they do better at school prompting them to not feel a loss. Kids who read are exposed to less graphic violence and are less motivated to act it out. Real. Effective. And how does that relate to border security? Less narcotics consumption in the United States = less production in Latin America and that equals less violence on both sides of the border. The simplistic approach has been to just put all drug users in jail (where they learn to be better criminals). So, instead of putting people in jail, how about placing them in evidence based rehab programs (they cost less than prison)? You SHIFT spending, you think creatively. In short, you see the complexity of the problem and you act like an American and solve the problem. Building a wall or putting people in jail is what totalitarian regimes of backwards nations do. I have more faith in America than that. I also said “effort working in the community.” If churches and neighbors were doing what they were supposed to be doing, I think we’d see far less violence and drug use in our communities. When I was in Rexburg, my humanities prof was steamed because the Stake President told them they couldn’t spend a ton of money to take all the YW/YM to Disneyland. He had the nerve to say that the members of the ward were wealthy and they had nothing better to spend the money on. Really? I think the church leadership has a different opinion. We as church leaders, parents, neighbors, and members of a community have an obligation to treat the words of scripture seriously and really get involved in the community in a way that includes ALL the youth in creative ways so that we have fewer of those druggies that just laugh and take another pull. I never once said that big new government programs were the answer: I said you and I were. The walled compound approach of thinking that you just lock yourself in your house with your guns and your family is not exactly the American (or the gospel) program. The government is going to come and kill us in our beds? Really? How about spending the money for the gun on some time and effort in the community and change the life of some kid who really could be the person who will break into the home.

    Section D.
    Free Trade and Border Security
    Hmmmm….once more, I never said anything about aid (though Mexico has accepted more aid from the United States since it embarked on a free trade economy than when it was a closed command economy). So, let’s drop Churchill (as the people of England so wisely did) and look at what we can do. I pointed to trade models, not aid models. Either allow free trade to happen as laid out in the Bretton Woods Conference that every right-leaning economist has been harping on since 1944, or let Mexico have protective tariffs. What would full on free trade look like? The free flow of goods, services, money, and people between Mexico, the U.S., and Canada. Sorry, but if you only pick and choose of free trade, one of the economic units gets stressed causing an break down in one of the countries (basic Milton Friedman). So, if you REALLY believe in free trade, you’ll allow Mexican labor to freely move back and forth between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. This will help power the economic engine that Mexico needs to get out of the “alternative” narcotics economy if paired with a decrees in consumption in the United States. The other option is to let Mexico return to a “favored nation” status (much like we allow China to do) and let Mexico scrap NAFTA and put up trade barriers to US imports but not Mexican imports – and we can do this without whining about it. But the US is a “free trade nation” you say, we can’t do that. Balderdash. We selectively pick and choose areas in which to engage in free trade (as evidenced by our labor policy), and we should allow other nations the same convenience if it can help grow domestic industry.

    Section E. You would compare a border wall to the Berlin Wall?
    Damn straight I would. As a person that has to go to Mexico for work with some frequency, and one that belonged to the Cardston Temple District, I know that walls keep people in as well as keeping them out. Good grief, a passport to get into Canada? The Canadians don’t ask for a US passport…the United States does. All movement in or out of the country is monitored…wow…nothing totalitarian going on there. All in the name of security? I’d point you back to Crabapple’s comments that at some point choosing security over freedom is a bad bet. A wall and this new “security” isn’t much more than simplistic psychological soothing for a few vocal xenophobes.

    Section F. “…stampeding the land of opportunity.”
    My church is an interesting one…it says that a person can’t be baptized or, barring that, hold a temple recommend if they are breaking the law. Yet somehow, as a missionary, I baptized (and was officially instructed to in the MTC) people every month that were in the nation illegally, and introduced them to wards with illegal bishops, Sunday school teachers, etc. I’m going to take my cue from the Church on this one. Besides, even the use of that phrase “stampeding the land of opportunity” is an incredible oxymoron. I’d point out a couple things. It’s not a land of opportunity any more if you don’t give people that opportunity. And while many Americans really like the US, I’ve been in enough illegal immigrant apartments, houses, and church meetings to know that they would really rather not be in the US. They see it as a nation devoid of security, culture, and warmth, and would rather just work a job for a few years and go home. The irony? Increased border security makes going home harder. It is also prompting more people to bring their whole family instead of just coming up as single men. A fence won’t fix that, but real legislation that recognizes the need for labor (ahemmm, Idaho spuds and their migrant labor) and then protects those rights and allows workers to return home as needed would reduce the strain on both the US economy and the workers. You want American business and the Mexican economy to prosper? Allow the free flow of goods, services, money, and people and you’ll see that happen.

  8. Wow! What a great exchange of ideas. (Although other than opening the topic, I’m not even involved in this debate.) However, as I started it, and hosted it, I’m now closing it.

    Don’t worry. I’ll post something else controversial in a few days. Hmm… border security? I think my college degree allows me to speak with some authority on the subject…

  9. HAHAAHAH I wasn’t joking when I said sleep dementia. I thought this morning as I was cleaning up after breakfast (and the first full night of sleep in a few days) that I would take a look at what I wrote. HAHAHAAHA I agree with the content but the spelling is…holy cow! If my wife reads that she will create more rules to my ability to post to blogs: She should censor what I write first to keep me from offending everybody and their dog AND that I can’t write after 10pm.

    Anyway, I was glad crabapple and braeburn had such great comments and were such civil posters…I’m on Christmas break and I don’t have any students or grad students to argue with now, so that little exchange was a nice break from reading “If you give a pig a pancake” 12 times a day – and from raking leaves!

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