17 January 2013

What's All the Fuss About?

As a voting citizen, why should I feel as though I need to maintain an arsenal of weapons “to protect myself from the government?” I hear that thrown around as “ammunition” (pun intended) against stricter gun control. The people who are in power in our government were put there by the electorate (the people). If my reasoning for having a cache of weapons is the intent of taking action against a duly-elected government, that smacks of fascism. Pretty scary, if you think about it. Maybe I should be less worried about the government and more worried about who wants to get rid of some (or all) elected officials. The second amendment was put in place for the following reasons:
  • enabling the people to organize a militia system
  • participating in law enforcement
  • deterring tyrannical government
  • repelling invasion
  • suppressing insurrection
  • facilitating a natural right of self-defense
Insurrection? Yikes!

However, if I lived in the 1700′s and was a part of a colony, which was controlled by a (non-elected) King, and felt as though I was being oppressed by said King, (i.e. King makes laws without regard for the citizenry or my colony and levies taxes on me without representation) then I might feel a need to protect myself from a (tyrannical) government. Even if I felt as though some of my officials were doing something beyond the powers of their office, it seems that I remember something from 10th grade Civics class called “checks and balances," (aka "trias politica") which are in place to limit the power and any one man or group. Additionally, I believe that I also recall that there are policies in place to remove officials if they overstep the boundaries of their office. Please let me know in the comments if an impeachable offense has occurred. Also, please backup your claims with evidence.

I live in America (‘Merica!). I am not a part of a militia. I am no longer a member of the military. We are a people who are free to elect officials as we see fit. The last election was a legal one (as far as I know). That means that even if I don’t agree with the policies of some official(s) within our government, I am duly bound as a citizen to abide by the laws they impose. If I am unhappy, the only (legal) recourse I have is to impose my will in the next election. I don't think arming myself with guns and a justification for such arming as preparing to take part in an insurrection against the government is in the best interests of me or my family. What do you think those "minds full of mush" are picking up from your actions and words? "Gee, mom and dad are buying guns and talking about protecting themselves from the government. Maybe our government shouldn't be trusted." 

Why aren’t all the gun control opponents raising cain about term limits? If you don’t like the direction of the country (and by extension the government) is going, let’s do something about it. I am not sure that complaining about the roster of the players (which we selected) is the best way to change the outcome of the game.

That said, I also do not feel as though it’s necessary to maintain anything with more than a couple of rounds. I shot Expert (39 rounds on target out of 40 pop-up targets) during basic training. I really only need one round to do what needs be done (sarcasm). In reality, my preference would actually be a small shotgun. If you come in my bedroom in the middle of the night (or any other time of day), I only need point in your general direction and you’ll likely be in a bad way.

One final note, this NRA commercial in which they ask about whether the President’s children are more important than mine? That’s not really an effective analogy. His kids have armed guards because it’s a privilege of his office. Not because there is some ranking of importance on children. A benefit of that privilege is that they have armed guards assigned (individually, mind you) to those children. Additionally, those guards are members of the federal government whose job it is to protect the President, and by extension his kids. So is the NRA saying that the federal government should be putting federal officials at all schools to protect our kids? I thought conservatives (right-wing, gun-toting folks) were against big government? I also thought that some of their use of the 2nd amendment is to protect themselves from the government. Doesn’t it seem counter-intuitive to then provide more federal officers who have guns? In close proximity to YOUR KIDS? So, NRA 10 points for your use of rhetoric. Zero points for allowing me to use your own arguments against yourself.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. I don’t claim to have the answers. I hope to start a discussion with some questions.

District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)


  1. Admittedly, I don't know the technical definition of an impeachable offense, but here goes:

    Upon inauguration into the office of the President of the United States of America, the incoming (or incumbent) President takes an Oath, known as the Oath of Office (fun fact: Obama has taken this Oath three times). This oath goes something like this:

    "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

    The Constitution of the United States of America has some specific things to say about unlawful search and seizure, unlawful confiscation of land and property, unlawful arrest and imprisonment, and even the process of arrest and imprisonment and the rights granted therein to the detainee. These are, as is oft quoted, "inalienable" rights granted to all citizens of these United States. This documents outlines these rights, and this President swore to uphold that document. Three times.

    Last week, President Obama signed and re-validated the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Under the NDAA’s Sec. 1021, President Obama agreed to give the military the power to arrest and hold Americans without the writ of habeas corpus. Despite voicing concerns with this portion of the Act, and promising that his administration would not abuse this power, he endorsed it with his signature and seal.

    I find it difficult to argue that the NDAA is in direct and knowing conflict and contradiction to the Constitution of the United States of America. One says American citizens can't be arrested without due process, the other says they can. The President took an oath to uphold one of those documents. He broke that oath. To me, that is impeachable. He has sacrificed his right to lead this nation.

    Furthermore, if we have a President who is willing to sacrifice such essential liberties in the pursuit of temporary security, I find it difficult to believe he might not sacrifice our right to bear arms to placate the panicked masses.

    I find it necessary to point out that this is simply the symptom of a much greater illness. Perhaps that's too much to get into here, so I'll just leave off with some Yeats:

    "The center cannot hold. The falcon cannot hear the falconer."

    1. Fantastic point(s). As a vet, I remember a similar oath when I entered the Navy and the Army. I'll admit to not knowing every in and out of that constitution, but that's irrelevant here. Just made me remember...

      Anyway, NDAA does indeed concern me (as a citizen). I would like to point out that not only is the President responsible, but every member of Congress who voted for the authorization of that Act. In fact, whether they voted yay or nay, I'd hold them responsible, because they are certainly a unit. A group. The Congress submitted NDAA to the President for his signature.

      Another thought on that. Can you imagine the outcry if he had not signed it? My understanding is that NDAA is what pays our soldiers' salaries. I'm not excusing the fact that section 1021 (formerly 1031) scares the bejesus out of me and you pointed out temporary security.

      I don't doubt that many (if not all) politicians (and who else?) would do something out of desperation to make the masses happy, more secure, whatever. I'm just not sure we can call for a guy's head based on what has been done so far.

      Here's the real problem: if Congress and the President are responsible for that document (and they all took a similar oath), the all need to go. However, for one to be impeached, the process starts with Congress! I'd say we are at an impasse.

      Here's what I found about an impeachable offense: From Wikipedia - "In the United States, impeachment can occur both at the federal and state level. The Constitution defines impeachment at the federal level and limits impeachment to "The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States" who may be impeached and removed only for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors". Several commentators have suggested that Congress alone may decide for itself what constitutes a "high crime or misdemeanor" especially since Nixon v. United States stated that the Supreme Court did not have the authority to determine whether the Senate properly "tried" a defendant.[citation needed] In 1970, then-House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford defined the criterion as he saw it: "An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history." Four years later, Gerald Ford would become president when President Richard Nixon resigned under the threat of impeachment.

      As the President (and by extension the Commander-in-Chief of US Armed Forces), which takes precedence? Pay your soldiers? Or uphold the writ of habeas corpus as set forth in the constitution? Of course I think we all know the answer to this. However, I think maybe there are other factors. As an armchair quarterback, it's probably pretty easy for me to second-guess what members of Congress do, but "heavy is the head who wears the crown" and I do not wear it.

  2. I completely agree with your point about "heavy is the head that wears the crown." It's easy to make bold statements about what should be done, but much more difficult to actually do it.

    That said, your comments about the NDAA made me think about the tension that exists between practicality and principle. It's impractical to delay the salaries of our valued soldiers based on the principle of upholding our constitution; however, I firmly believe that the very nature of the Oath of Office is a commitment to acting on principle.

    The primary priority of the President should upholding and defending the Constitution. Acting on principle can be painful, but sacrificing the principle for short-sighted practicality will be far more painful in the long term. I would be disheartened if our soldiers did not receive their already moderate compensation in a timely manner (I don't think a delay would happen, whether the NDAA was signed or not), but I am even more disheartened that a clause that clearly violates our most basic rights was shoehorned into the Act in the first place. It's tragic that we would ever find ourselves in a position to have Constitutional rights on the other side of the scale from soldiers' pay.

    To your point about impeachment, and ousting the Congress with the President: I agree. Congress should be impeached and dismantled. The Institution of Congress has failed this nation, if not in purpose, in execution. While I'm making sweeping statements, impeach the President, disavow the Federal Reserve, and dismantle the bulk of the IRS. Outlaw income tax and institute a higher tax rate on non-grocery sales.

    We set out as a country with the lofty goal of having a democracy and ended up with a republic. A republic, while not inherently evil, is far more available to corruption. The people have become disconnected from the process. The process itself has become an Institution with a formal induction, its own conceit, when it once was a field hard won, toiled over, treasured, and passed down from one generation to the next.

    "I will show you fear in a handful of dust."

  3. I find it VERY hard (nay, impossible) to disagree with any of your points. The President should be acting on principle. I especially appreciate: "It's tragic that we would ever find ourselves in a position to have Constitutional rights on the other side of the scale from soldiers' pay."

    Now that I'm reading your reaction to my comments, maybe I'M the one who should be thinking of insurrection? Sadly, as a country, our elections are bought, but legally so. Only because (as you pointed out), "Acting on principle can be painful, but sacrificing the principle for short-sighted practicality will be far more painful in the long term." We are in the long-term and are reaping the oats of our short-sighted forebears. What we have in place now is a country who is wholly complacent and ignorant of reality. We have a decidedly myopic view of our lives and there are issues at work that will come (continue?) to bite us later.

    I admit that I'm pointing a single finger while several are pointing right back at me. I'm not placing blame on everyone else. We live (vote) as a unit, we die (reap the benefits/consequences) as a unit.

    I appreciate your willingness to have a civil discussion. I also appreciate you sharing specifics.

  4. “All emotions are pure which gather you and lift you up; that emotion is impure which seizes only one side of your being and so distorts you.”

    I could not agree more with your comment about pointing fingers back at ourselves. While I'm not normally a vast conspiracy guy, I do believe there is a conspiracy at hand. But, the most sinister and destructive part of the conspiracy is the belief that it is being perpetrated by someone else. We wallow this way and that struggling to find a host for our blames and criticisms, but the truth is that we have committed this upon ourselves. If all self-indulgence, self-interest, self-protection, and self-worship were removed from the equation, these problems would dissolve in the wind. These issues (and even more than these issues) began at an individual level. I believe they are being manipulated and exploited on a systemic level, but, again, to what end: self. The self chooses a morality, the system inherits it.

    I don't believe America is our salvation. I do believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, I don't believe in Jesus as an abstract concept, nor do I believe that earth is a staging area that we've just got to survive. When Jesus was on earth, his disciples asked him how to pray, and he replied, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Let your Kingdom come. Let your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." I want things on earth to be as they are in heaven as well; but, to get to a state of being, we must first be in a state of doing. I don't know how to maneuver all the delicate issues our country is facing, but I know this one thing: everything I want to see in our system--compassion, accountability, honesty, integrity, perseverance, faithfulness--must be in me first. A love and desire for money, power, and fame, an obsession with image, these things must die in me. I must stop caring more about how something looks than how it works.

    "If only I had an enemy bigger than my apathy, I could have won."

    I always enjoy hearing from you, Jody. Though I mostly know you through your wife (and social media), you always seem well-thought and reasoned, and I've enjoyed the opportunity to discuss with you. Since unplugging from social media, I've not had the opportunity, so I couldn't pass up a chance to comment on something I care about. I found this fulfilling. Be well, and hopefully we'll be down in OKC at a time we can partake of your fine BBQ.