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Front Page » August 14, 2012 » Opinion » Letters to the Editor
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Letters to the Editor

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By Louis Sansevero

h3>On Gun Control

Just days after the tragedy in Aurora, Colo. then the usual chorus of anti-gun/anti-constitutionalists renewed their attacks on the Second Amendment demanding new anti-gun legislation and more stringent gun laws while totally ignoring the fact that the coward that perpetrated this senseless attack violated at least one gun control law.

The fact is the only people killed, wounded, and placed in danger were the people who followed the law and did not bring a gun into the "gun free zone" which was the theater. That is the basic flaw in all gun control laws, the only people that obey gun laws are law abiding people and the only ones placed in danger by gun control laws are unarmed, law abiding citizens . . . those intent on doing harm with firearms simply do not obey those statutes and that is the fact that anti-gun proponents fail to understand.

Two hundred and forty-eight years ago Thomas Jefferson in quoting Cesare Beccaria introduced that simple truth to America when he said "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms..disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed one."

These renewed attacks by those cynically seeking to exploit and politicize this tragedy to advance their assault on the constitution focus on the types of firearms and magazine capacities using the argument that "These (types of) weapons ("assault rifles") are not intended for hunting or target shooting," as if the Second Amendment of the Constitution was designed to address the issue of hunting and target shooting. That was not the intent. Just as the First Amendment is the voice and soul of the Constitution and the American people, the Second Amendment is their teeth. Its intent is to provide the people with a last resort to resist any despotic attempts to destroy the Republic, nullify the Constitution, and enslave the people.

We have only to look to the words of the notable men in our history, the founding fathers, and the framers of the Constitution to discover the truth of this statement. In the words of Thomas Jefferson "What country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms."; "Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States." - Noah Webster; "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. " - Alexander Hamilton; "The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." - Thomas Jefferson.

I could go on and on citing almost every founding father all agreeing on this one point, the right to bear arms is founded in the concept that to preserve liberty, the Republic, and the Constitution it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms without infringement, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them and that disarming this people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.

In what appeared to me to be a signal to the forces of the anti-gun movement Justice Anthony Scalia made what is, in my opinion, the most undefendable statement I've ever heard coming from a member of the Supreme Court when he said that in context of 18th century history "They (the framers ?) had some limitations on the nature of arms that could be borne,". My questions to him is "If the framers indeed recognized such limitations why were they not included in the Second Amendment? Why is no mention of limitations present in their dissertations on the Second? Why did they include the phrase ' . . . shall not be infringed' in the Second when in other amendments they did delineate conditions and exceptions?"

No Mr. Scalia, the framers did not intend any limitations. If in stating, "My starting point and probably my ending point will be what limitations are within the understood limitations that the society had at the time. They had some limitations on the nature of arms that could be borne. So we'll see what those limitations are as applied to modern weapons."

Mr. Scalia meant that our right to bear arms is limited to those weapons contemporary to the constitution, as some anti-gunners have said, then this position would mean we would have to view the entirety of the Constitution in the same myopic manner; i.e. we would have to dissolve the Air Force since there were no aircraft contemporary with the Constitution and the Constitution makes no provision for an "air force" only an army and navy.Likewise we would have to throw out the income tax since contemporary with the Constitution there was no evidence of the concept of a tax on earnings or wages, and let's not forget women's suffrage and equality, both of these would likewise need to be eliminated since the concepts are not contemporary to the Constitution. In short such a view would likewise eliminate many of the aspects of our modern age which are not contemporary to the Constitution.

No Mr. Scalia, the Second Amendment means exactly what it says "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." What about ". . . shall not be infringed?" Do you, the other justices, the lesser courts, and the anti-gun movement not understand? Oh I know, it contains the word "militia" but by common usage contemporary with the Constitution "militia" meant every able-bodied male as described in the Militia Act of 1792 which gives contemporary meaning to the word "militia".

This act states, in part, ". . . That each and every free, able-bodied, white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of 18 years, and under the age of 45 years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, . . ."; in the 18th century life expectancy of males was 35-50 years dependent on locale of residency (I believe 41 years in the United States in 1792).

So any reading of the act said every male citizen from adulthood (18 years of age) to near the farthest extent of expected life were required to be members of the "militia"; in other words the militia consisted of every adult male. A contemporary of the Constitution, Richard Henry Lee (whose motion in the Second Continental Congress called for the colonies' independence from Great Britain, was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation and whose famous resolution of June 1776 led to the United States' Declaration of Independence, which he signed, and who served as the President of the Continental Congress) gives us a definition of "militia." "A militia, when properly formed, is in fact the people themselves... and includes all men capable of bearing arms." So much for the lie that the Second only applies to "militias".

In the words of Tench Coxe, another contemporary of the Constitution, "Congress has no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American. The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state government, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people."

Today, more than any time in our past, we need to reject any call for new or stricter gun laws and demand that our legislators on both the state and federal levels repeal all gun laws, the only legitimate way to change or limit the rights of the people granted in the Second Amendment is through Article V. of the Constitution, the amendment process, not from the bench through "interpretation" and not by statute.

If we allow the teeth of the Constitution to be blunted, the soul and the voice will be placed in jeopardy and soon lost.

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