Disingenuous Reporting on the Gun Issue

February 10, 2013

If there ever was a situation tailor made for Second Amendment rights it is the ongoing manhunt drama in California following the killing of three people and the injuring of another by former Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner.  Dorner (33) has promised in notes he left behind to perpetrate “warfare” on police officers and their families.  Desperate and heavily armed, authorities are not certain what he is capable of.  One report says residents of rural southern California towns are barricading themselves in their homes, some armed to the teeth, in the event Dorner attempts to break into their homes.

Now, you would think that the mainstream media in an effort to provide “fair and balanced” reporting would seize the opportunity and report at least this one time that this is what James Madison had in mind when he wrote the Second Amendment.  That is that people have a natural right to self-defense when a madman is on the loose.  But, this lack of reporting, as well as other examples of outright chicanery in reporting, is indicative of the MSM’s agenda when it comes to guns.

For instance, there was this headline in the Huffington Post on January 27, 2013, “Ronnie Chambers Death:  Mother Loses Fourth Child to Gun Violence…”  What followed was a video of the grieving mother (Shirley Chambers) and an article explaining how her fourth child was gunned down “while sitting in a car”.  The author of the piece gave no other details about the circumstances surrounding any of the shootings of her four children.  In fact, readers were left with the impression that each one was an innocent bystander.  What was inferred was that something must be done to stop wanton gun violence before more innocent children are killed – i.e. gun control.

The purpose of the piece was clearly to horrify readers’ sensibilities toward the mother’s loss, get them caught up emotionally, and bring them around to the belief that if only guns could be banned the violence on our streets would disappear.

But, upon further investigation, this observer found that Ms. Chamber’s children were anything but innocent bystanders.  Two of her children died as a result of arguments with individuals they knew.  One seemed to be a targeted killing by, perhaps, a rival gang.   And the last of her children to be gunned down, had been arrested in the past a remarkable 29 times and had four felony convictions!  This refutes the Huff Post’s inference that the victims were innocent and merely at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Also from the Huffington Post was the blog by Josh Horwitz, the Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, entitled “LaPierre Reveals True Purpose Behind Assault Weapons”.  In the piece, Horwitz takes exception to NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre’s Senate testimony that the purpose of the Second Amendment was to ultimately provide Americans with the means to protect themselves from their own government.  Horwitz went so far as to label LaPierre’s position “insurrectionist”.  He accused LaPierre and others who hold the same belief that they were “ready to wage war on our government”.

Once again, emotional scare tactics were employed by a Huff Post columnist to drive home the point that guns should be banned.  The insinuation is that LaPierre and others who hold the view that Americans need guns to protect themselves from their own government are on the far fringes of society.  In fact, they are the loony tunes to be feared.

What Horwitz intentionally ignores are those that came before us, who were revered, and who held the same belief that an armed citizenry is the greatest defense against tyranny.  Thomas Jefferson said, “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.”  In the Federalist Papers #46, James Madison proclaimed, “Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation…(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

Lastly, there is this quote from 20th Century liberal Democrat and former Vice President of the United States, Hubert H. Humphrey:  “Certainly, one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms. … The right of the citizen to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America but which historically has proven to be always possible.”

Byignoring history, Horwitz seeks to taint his readers’ understanding of the gun issue.  But he is not alone in this endeavor.  The government run schools and most of Hollywood employ the same tactics.  Their goal is to convince the public that we need more gun control.

But, for those of us that understand the true meaning of the Second Amendment, we can take solace knowing that the disingenuousness of the gun grabbers is not working because Americans have responded by setting back to back monthly records for arms sales.

Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina

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Supreme Court will Uphold our Right to Gun Ownership

March 11, 2010

The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution is one of the most debated portions of that document.  For generations the controversy in question is whether the Founders intended to give the right to keep and bear arms only to militias or also to individual citizens not serving in the military.

The Supreme Court may be on the verge of settling the issue once and for all.  Last week, the High Court heard arguments in its second big gun rights case in the last few years.  In 2008, the Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that Washington, DC’s ban on gun ownership was unconstitutional.  The ruling was a landmark decision for proponents of 2nd Amendment rights, but it only applied to federal enclaves like the District of Columbia.  However, the case opened the door for a challenge to national gun ban laws.  Currently before the Court is McDonald v. Chicago.  At issue is whether Chicago’s gun ban is constitutional under the 2nd Amendment.  The Court’s decision in this case will determine whether 2nd Amendment rights go beyond federal property and can be applied to the states and local governments.

Things look promising for gun rights advocates in McDonald based on a quote from the majority opinion penned by Justice Scalia in Heller.  In Heller, Scalia stated, “There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms.”  He supported the majority’s position by stating the fact that gun possession was a right of Americans “…prior to the formation of the new government under the Constitution and was premised on the private use of arms for activities such as hunting and self-defense…”  Now, we have all heard the stories of the rugged frontiersmen with their guns they used for securing dinner and protecting the homestead.  Thus, Scalia’s argument makes perfect sense.  How could the authors of the Bill of Rights not guarantee a right early individual Americans already had and one so vital to their survival?  The idea that the right was not protected through the 2nd Amendment is preposterous.

But there is more from the majority opinion that supports 2nd Amendment rights for individuals.  The Court saw the individual’s right to keep arms as an important preservation of the citizen militia.  According to Scalia, “The individual right facilitated militia service by ensuring that citizens would not be barred from keeping the arms they would need when called forth for militia duty.”  At the time of the 2nd Amendment’s drafting, a militia was “the body of all citizens capable of military service”.  Thus, whether young, middle aged, or old the country may call upon you in an instant to serve in a militia to put down an insurrection or defend against foreign invasion.  Denying you the initial right to own a gun that could be needed to defend the country in a time of emergency would have been counterproductive.  The Court’s reasoning in support of individual gun rights is compelling to say the least.

Getting back to the current case before the Court, if the justices are consistent and overturn Chicago’s gun ban they will have to justify their applying the 2nd Amendment to states and local governments.  Remember that Heller only applied to firearm possession on federal property.  But, the means to apply the 2nd Amendment to states and localities is simple.  Over time, the Court has used the 14th Amendment to bind states and localities to recognizing the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Amendment rights of their citizens.  In part it reads, “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…”  If the Court grants individual Americans the right to keep and bear arms under the 2nd Amendment it will apply the right to the states under the 14th Amendment.

The current Supreme Court has a golden opportunity to set the record straight with regards to individual guns rights under the 2nd Amendment.  The debate over the years has been very contentious with both sides misquoting the Founders’ statements about gun rights to suit their purposes.  The Founders made a lot of statements about gun rights and how they apply to citizen militias.  Understanding that at that time citizen militias meant “all citizens capable of military service” it is easy to come to the conclusion that the 2nd Amendment bestows a right to gun ownership to all individual Americans.  Fortunately for America, it appears the Supreme Court will come to the same conclusion later this year.


A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste

April 6, 2009

April 6, 2009

Stanford economist Paul Romer has coined the term, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”  Unfortunately, the statist Obama Administration has adopted this mantra in implementing its radical positions on the rest of us.  No, I am not talking about how the President is about to sell us out to the New World Order in the name of ensuring that our economy never again faces a crisis of this magnitude.  That rant is for another day.  Instead, I am talking about the concern that the Administration will and is using crises to violate our 2nd Amendment rights.

Crisis number one is the horrendous drug war violence in Mexico.  Even though Mexico has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world, it has become one of the most crime ridden, bloodiest societies on earth.  First of all, there is only one gun store in the whole country and that is run by the army.  It takes months to get a permit to own a gun and if you are one of the lucky to endure the process to the end restrictions are placed on the number of guns you can own and the amount of ammunition you can possess.  It is no wonder that Mexico was at one time a one-party dictatorship.  It is also no wonder that drug cartels can operate freely within the country without much fear of backlash from an armed citizenry.  Mexico is the poster child for the slogan, “When you outlaw guns, only outlaws will own guns.”

This past week the Administration dispatched Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to Mexico City to meet with Mexican president Felipe Calderon to discuss ways to prevent the smuggling of arms from the U.S. into Mexico.  As if he hasn’t made conditions in his own country horrific through his intensified War on Drugs campaign of the last 16 months, Calderon has indicated recently that “it is necessary to reduce the sale of weapons, particularly of high-power weapons, in the United States.”  Jumping on Calderon’s lead, Illinois Senator Richard Durbin believes, “Americans should feel guilty about, if not responsible for, drug gangs in Mexico shooting each other and corrupt government officials in perverse numbers-because some of the guns may have been purchased in the U.S.”

I mean wow!  There is so much to analyze here.  First of all, what right does Felipe Calderon have to tell us how to run our country?  Isn’t it his reignited War on Drugs that has caused the violence upswing in his own?  Before he decided to go after the drug cartels with full force brutality levels in Mexico were normal for an undeveloped country.  Secondly, Senator Durbin’s statement that Americans should feel responsible for drug violence and corruption in Mexico because “some of the guns may have been purchased in the U.S.” is a ridiculous statement.  As an attorney Durbin should know that “may have been purchased” doesn’t pass the beyond a reasonable doubt standard for conviction.  Besides, where is law enforcement along the border?  Aren’t there laws against transporting firearms across the border anyway?  If Washington would just get serious about enforcing our border protection laws we would have less illegals here and Mexico may have less illegal weapons there.  In any event, Mexico’s violence should not be used as a pretense to violate the 2nd Amendment rights of Americans under any circumstances.

Crisis number two is the War on Terror.  Attorney General Eric Holder has decided to enforce a little known law which prohibits American citizens, who reside outside the United States, from purchasing firearms while they are in America on visits.  According to law 18 USC 922(a) (9), “a person who is a resident of no state can only buy firearms for lawful sporting purposes.”  The language of the statute apparently excludes purchases for self-defense and other purposes.  The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of Maxwell Hodgkins and Stephen Dearth.  Hodgkins and Dearth are natural-born American citizens who currently live overseas and have been denied the opportunity to buy firearms in the U.S. because of their residency status.  The SAF is seeking an injunction against the law.

18 USC 922(a) (9) does not pass constitutional muster under either the 2nd Amendment’s right to bear arms or the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clauses.  Attorney General Holder knows this.  So what could be the rationale behind the statute anyway?  My best guess is it has something to do with the international crisis Washington calls the War on Terror.  Are the Feds concerned that Americans living overseas are more susceptible to being or becoming terrorists.  Perhaps the fear is that we might befriend terrorists in our travels who subsequently will visit us in the U.S. and have the means available to do harm to Americans when they step foot on our soil?  If you survey Americans who live overseas you will find that many work for the U.S. government anyway –the military, U.S. State Department, CIA, U.S. Agency for International Development, and Peace Corp volunteers.  The rest of us are business professionals, teachers, doctors, and missionaries.  None of these groups are usually inclined to join al-Qaeda.  No, the fear of terrorism is not a justifiable reason to infringe upon Americans’ 2nd Amendment rights, but the Obama Administration is willing to use it anyway.

There is no question the violence in Mexico and the threat of worldwide terrorism is real.  However, instead of taking advantage of these crises to take away our constitutional rights the Obama Administration should reevaluate the causes of the conflicts and act accordingly.  By decriminalizing drugs and ending the government’s war on people who use them the violence in Mexico and the threat it causes to our national security will go away overnight.  Thomas Jefferson had it right when he said our foreign policy should be focused on, “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations – entangling alliances with none.”  Adopting a non-interventionist foreign policy will lower resentments towards the United States and make our people safer.  With our national security protected and our people safer there will be no pretense to violate the constitutional liberties of any Americans.