Thursday, November 29, 2007

District of Columbia V Heller

As I'm sure you know by now, the United States Supreme Court has decided to hear the District of Columbia V Heller case in early 2008. The case should begin in March and a decision on the case should come by sometime just before summer, perhaps in late June.
The District of Columbia asserts that the Second Amendment was solely intended to give the states a "right" to arm their own militias. Do they have a leg to stand on? Quotes of the Month

"On every question of construction (of the Constitution) 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 may be squeezed out of the text, or invent against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed."
Thomas Jefferson letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823

"I hope, therefore, a bill of rights will be formed to guard the people against the Federal government as they are already guarded against their State governments, in most instances."
Thomas Jefferson to
James Madison, 1788

"The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that... it is their right and duty to be at all times armed."
Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, 1824

"(The Constitution preserves) the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation...(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."
James Madison, The Federalist Number 46

"[Tyranny cannot be safe] without a standing army, an enslaved press, and a disarmed populace."
James Madison, In his autobiography

"The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed, and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person."
James Madison, Proposed Amendments to the Constitution June 8, 1789

"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."
The Second Amendment Gun Safety Tip of the Month

NEVER allow your children to mishandle a gun or play around with it, simply because you know it is unloaded. This is not an acceptable way of getting children familiar with firearms. A police officer in my in-laws family was killed by his son many years ago because he was allowed horseplay with an unloaded handgun.

He regretted his flawed training methods for about a minute or so between the time his son shot him in the chest and the moment he passed away. NEVER allow horseplay with an unloaded firearm at anytime. DO NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE.

Please contribute this month if you have not done so before.

NRA Membership Recruiter Corner
Santa says "Give an NRA Membership as a gift this year, it's a great idea and it saves me some time."
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I make a small commission whenever you join, renew or give an NRA Membership as a gift. Please use the link above for all your NRA Membership needs. If your NRA Membership expires within four months, I encourage you to renew your membership early using my convenient link that lands right on the appropriate page at the National Rifle Association.

I have written a Web page with more information on membership in the National Rifle Association. It has a list of benefits as well as membership options and prices. For your convenience the above NRA Membership link is there as well.

P.S. Remember, my link goes directly to the NRA Membership check out page. Using my special link is a lot more convenient than trying to find the page yourself.
As of this issue of the Minuteman Monthly Newsletter, I've recruited 155 NRA Members through this link.

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Item of the Month

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Minuteman Monthly Newsletter Aiming Point

Does Washington D.C. have any chance of persuading the Supreme Court of the United States of America that the Founding Fathers meant to solely include a state's power to form its own militia within the Bill of Rights?

If you want a single word answer, it's NO!

"I hope, therefore, a bill of rights will be formed to guard the people against the Federal government as they are already guarded against their State governments, in most instances."
Thomas Jefferson to
James Madison, 1788

The Founding Fathers very clearly intended the Bill of Rights to be a strict limit upon the power and reach of the government over the people of the United States. They knew well that every government seeks to gain more power and authority for itself over time. It was and still is the case. All governments eventually become too powerful, burdensome and overbearing until they are overthrown and reformed into something more tolerable by the people.

Does it make any sense that a people who came to America seeking freedom for their families, who carved a life out of a harsh wilderness and then shook off the yoke of oppressive British rule, would then give the "right" to bear arms only to those who were acting in an official capacity in an organized state militia? No, of course not. History proves this is simply not so. In fact, it is a laughable and frankly ridiculous assertion.

Does Washington D.C. claim that every women, all the physically disabled persons and every man over the age of 60, had no right to bear arms because they were not qualified for service in the state militias at the time? The mere notion is ludicrous and frankly insulting.

The very spark that began the Revolutionary War on April 19, 1775 was when British troops attempted to seize a store of arms and ammunition from the Massachusetts Militia. This is established historical fact and is hopefully still taught in most public schools. My own ancestor was in the Massachusetts Militia at the time.

The vast historical record itself is clear and convincing evidence that the Second Amendment was intended, like most of the Bill of Rights, to be a right of all individuals. They believed that the right of self defense was a right that belonged to all human beings, but they also knew that government always seeks more power and authority for itself wherever it can.

The District of Columbia asks America to believe that in the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights the Founding Fathers gave individuals the rights to religion, speech, press and assembly. Then they took a hard turn and detoured into making sure the states had the power to create and maintain their own militias, then they took another sharp detour from that and continued on with more individual rights such as those to be secure against unreasonable searches, rights against self incrimination and the right to a trial by jury among others.

The Founding Fathers had no trouble differentiating between the powers of the states and the rights of the people in the Constitution. To claim that the term "the people" in the first, fourth and ninth amendments means the general population of the United States, while the same term used in the Second Amendment refers to the powers of a state is patently preposterous.

The Second Amendment says "...the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." and there seems to be no 'wiggle room' in that clear statement whatsoever. The United States Supreme Court over the years has 'found' 'rights' within the text of the Constitution that are not clearly present. For instance, in Roe V Wade, the SCOTUS found a right to lawfully end a pregnancy within some contrived 'right to privacy'.

In early 2008, the SCOTUS will have the chance to bring clarity and light to a right that is clearly visible in the Bill of Rights.

"The right of self-defense never ceases. It is among the most sacred, and alike necessary to nations and to individuals."
President James Monroe (November 16, 1818)

The concept of an armed population keeping the peace is an Anglo-Saxon tradition that went back more than 800 years at the time. But did the Founding Fathers ever hint at the notion that only those who serve in an active state militia had the right to bear their private arms?


"For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well organized and armed militia is their best security."
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President. Source: Eighth Annual Message, November 8, 1808

"None but an armed nation can dispense with a standing army. To keep ours armed and disciplined is therefore at all times important."
Thomas Jefferson 1803

"Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first, a right to life, secondly to liberty, thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can."
Samuel Adams

"...It is always dangerous to the liberties of the people to have an army stationed among them, over which they have no control...The Militia is composed of free Citizens. There is therefore no danger of their making use of their power to the destruction of their own Rights, or suffering others to invade them."
Samuel Adams

"The said Constitution [shall] be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms."
Samuel Adams of Massachusetts -- U.S. Constitution ratification convention, 1788

If the Founding Fathers ever entertained the idea that only men aged 17 to 60 who served in an active and organized militia had the right to bear arms, they kept it a very closely guarded secret and never spoke of it to each other and never wrote that idea down anywhere, at anytime.

"(The Constitution preserves) the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation...(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."
James Madison, The Federalist Number 46

However, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence says that it's a "myth" that the Second Amendment provides for a right to own guns separate from a well-regulated militia. They say that it is a "myth" due in large part to a campaign of "misinformation" supported by those who are opposed to "common sense gun laws".

This "campaign of misinformation" that the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence speaks of, comes from people like myself who attempt to constantly remind Americans of what the Founding Fathers actually said concerning private ownership and carry of firearms. I would propose instead that the Brady Center is the one perpetuating a campaign of myth and misinformation, especially noting that NONE of the Founding Fathers ever mentioned that the Second Amendment applied only to those who are qualified and currently serving in an active state militia.

Nowhere in the historical record is it mentioned even once that arms were intended solely for those who were in active service in their own state's militia. It makes even less sense when you consider that there were no supermarkets back then. At the time, even elementary school aged children went out with their muskets to bring wild game to the dinner table.

The notion that the right to bear arms was strictly limited to participation in an organized state militia is feeble-minded foolishness at best. I can see where a small preschool child without any formal education could come up with such an idea. But for an adult who has hopefully been through at least a grade school education, one would have to be a complete moron to believe such an idea that goes wholly unsupported by American history and jurisprudence.

"Arms in the hands of the citizens may be used at individual discretion for the defense of the country, the overthrow of tyranny or private self-defense."
John Adams (1735-1826) Founding Father, 2nd US President

"The best we can hope for concerning the people at large, is that they be properly armed."
Alexander Hamilton

Let us for a moment consider Alexander Hamilton's quote right above this text. Did he say the best we can hope for concerning our various state militias is that they be properly armed, or did he say "...the people at large..."?

Washington D.C.'s amusing and ludicrous contention that the second item in the Bill of Rights, directly after the right of religion, speech, press and assembly, includes only a state-run organized militia and the power to form one without federal authority, should have been laughed right out of court. It amazes me that someone with even a cursory and superficial education in American history could come up with such an absurd defense of Washington D.C.'s openly unconstitutional 31 year old handgun ban.

When we look at the Bill of Rights as a whole, the setting of the Second Amendment reinforces its individual nature. The Bill of Rights was almost entirely a declaration of individual rights, and the Second Amendment’s inclusion therein strongly indicates that it, too, was intended to protect personal liberty. The collective right advocates ask us to imagine that the First Congress situated a sui generis states’ right among a catalogue of cherished individual liberties without comment. We believe the canon of construction known as noscitur a sociis applies here. Just as we would read an ambiguous statutory term in light of its context, we should read any supposed ambiguities inthe Second Amendment in light of its context. Every other provision of the Bill of Rights, excepting the Tenth, which speaks explicitly about the allocation of governmental power, protects rights enjoyed by citizens in their individual capacity. The Second Amendment would be an inexplicable aberration if it were not read to protect individual rights as well.
Parker V District of Columbia

But, with all of American history on our side... With all of the Founding Fathers agreeing in concert with our view of the Second Amendment...anything can happen. Just look at what the SCOTUS decided in Kelo V New London and eminent domain...

What I expect will occur with D.C. V Heller is a very narrow and very carefully crafted decision that will return some form of Second Amendment rights back to law abiding residents of Washington D.C. but under voluminous restrictions and that's about it.

It's my belief that the United States Supreme Court will carefully tread on this decision so as to not completely eradicate gun control laws from the public arena. Many current gun control laws and many proposed gun control laws will be held up to the light emanating from this decision. I believe it will be so narrow and craftily evasive, that the issue of gun control will still be debated afterwards.

The U.S. Supreme Court has no interest in my opinion, to wipe 20,000+ gun control laws off the books in all fifty states. Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen...

But what if the U.S. Supreme Court reverses the Parker Case and gives the green light for states and cities to limit the right to keep and bear arms as they see fit? What if federal, state and local governments can then regulate private arms to their heart's content? Will we see confiscation of private arms without proper compensation? Will we see a breakdown of civil order? Will we see a further dismantling of the Bill of Rights? Will property rights then disappear? Think about it and then... JOIN OR REJOIN THE NRA TODAY

Maybe, just maybe if the U.S. Supreme Court tells the American people that they have no right to own and carry privately held firearms, the vast majority of inactive, do-nothing gun owners will get angry enough to have their voices finally heard. Then maybe 95% of gun owners will be actively supporting the Second Amendment, instead of 95% of them sitting on their hands as they do today.

Closing Comments
Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read the Minuteman Monthly Newsletter. I encourage you to pass it on.
You may use this newsletter as you see fit. You may post it, blog it, print it, forward it and publish it. The only thing I ask is that somewhere in your material, make sure the URL appears prominently.

Marc Richardson

"Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American..."Tench Coxe

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