Archive for the Second Amendment Category

Get Active: 10-yr-old Suspended for Shell Casing

Posted in civil rights, Constitution, First Amendment, Get Active!, politics, Second Amendment with tags , , , , on May 31, 2008 by Randy Streu

A Fourth-grader at Toy Town Elementary School in Winchendon, MA was suspended for five days for showing his friends an empty shell casing to some friends at lunch.  According to the NRA-ILA, Bradley Geslak had been given the casing — from a blank fired during Memorial Day — by a US veteren.  He was given two, one of which he gave to his grandfather, also a veteren.

He was showing his souvenier off to some friends during lunch when a teacher confiscated the casing and called the boy’s mother to take him home.  He’s also been told he won’t be getting the very dangerous shell casing back.

This is getting beyond the point of ridiculous, and it is time for citizens who care about freedom to step up to the plate.  So frightened of another Columbine situation are school officials that children are being suspended for even drawing pictures of guns.  Schools are overreacting, and creating new problems — and worse, these naive and idiotic new rules provide a false sense of security.  Keeping a kid from drawing a picture, or bringing empty shell casings to school, will not prevent another Columbine.   All it does is punish good kids.

It’s time to tell school officials that there are appropriate ways to safegaurd the safety of students, and that punishing them for innocent and harmless acts aren’t among them.  Rather, this sort of response is a copout to the real work that needs to be done.  Instead, they could actually do their jobs: educate teachers, parents and counselors on recognizing warning signs, be on the watch for actual weapons entering the premises and work with local police to provide an armed safety officer during the school day.

We who love liberty cannot any longer stand quietly by and let things like this happen.  Freedom, no matter where, is everybody’s business.

Let Winchendon Public Schools know how you feel about their punishing a young boy for nothing.  The school needs to give this student a public apology, and expunge this incident from his record.  And, if they have it, they need to return the boy’s property.  Tell them about the appropriate ways to keep their schools safe.  It only takes five minutes to draft and send an email — even less time to leave a voice mail.

To email Superintendent Brooke Clenchy:  bclenchy@winchendonk12.org
To leave a voicemail:  978-297-0031

There is no change without action.

-streu-

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Conservatism as Moral Imperative: Why am I Conservative?

Posted in abortion, civil rights, Constitution, First Amendment, national defense, politics, Second Amendment, taxes with tags on May 8, 2008 by Randy Streu

In July of 2003, a group of Berkely researchers for the American Psychological Association did a study on what makes a Conservative.  Rather unsurprisingly, after basing their “research” on the fairly specious definitions to be found in “fifty years of literature,” they basically decided that Conservatives are narrow-minded, bigoted fearmongers by nature or psychology.  That Conservatism, in other words, was a pathology rather than a set of values.

I’m not going to spend this post dispelling the moronic notions put forth in this five-year-old study; if I recall it was fairly deftly dispatched at the time.  But I did come upon this study again the other day, and it got me thinking:  why am I conservative?  What is it that makes being Conservative make so much sense to me?

It is that question I’ll try to answer.

I like to tell people I tried being a liberal once, while I was in college.  I found out I felt neither guilty for my own position in life, nor entitled to anyone else’s.  As glib as this is, there’s also a lot of truth to it — and it cuts to the heart of my position of Conservatism. 

In contrast to the mainstream (and incorrect) view of Conservatism, I am not judgemental or pessimistic.  I’m not wealthy by any financial standard.  I’m not distrusting of, nor biased against, those of other races or genders.  I’m also not a fan of NASCAR, just to eliminate all stereotypes.

Instead, I am something of an optimist.  Although I usually consider myself a realist, the fact is, I believe the best is always possible.  I’m quick to give my trust (though not as quick to give it back once I’ve been burned), and quick to believe in people.  True to stereotype, I am an Evangelical Christian, which goes a long way to explain my concern and, yes, compassion, for my fellow man.

All these things are why I am a Conservative. 

I believe Thomas Jefferson was right when he said, “A man is governed best who is governed least.”  I believe man — every human, regardless of race, creed or sex, is capable of providing for himself without help from a government entity.  Because of this, I believe every individual ought to be responsible for himself and his own family.  Indeed, I believe we function at our best when we are unfettered by government intervention.  I don’t believe a man ought to be given special dispensation because of race.  Being black is not a handicap, and anyone who thinks it is, is a racist.  The same goes for being female.  Or gay, for that matter.  I believe it is not compassionate to foster dependence upon others. 

Real compassion, I believe, is in allowing a person to make his own decisions with the same opportunity for reward and consequence as everybody else.  I don’t believe compassion is forcing others to provide for anyone — rather, when somebody needs help, compassion is providing for them yourself.

I am Conservative, because I believe it is the morally correct position.  I believe a man’s thoughts, beliefs and actions (so long as those actions don’t adversely and without permission impede another’s freedoms) are between him and God alone.  I don’t believe in telling somebody what they can and can’t do within their own persons or households — with exceptions only for that which would needlessly harm another human being.  I also don’t believe in forcing members of society to morally justify or accept those positions in others that they find distasteful or immoral.

I am a Conservative because my conscience demands it.  Slavery in any form — intellectual, moral, political or physical — is evil.  I believe the money a man makes is his money, and that when that money is taxed, it is to be for the purposes outlined in the Constitution — and not for anything else.  To do otherwise is to make that man a slave.

I am a Conservative because I believe life is precious, and must be protected.  I believe humanity is the highest life form on earth, and created after God’s own Image.  Therefore, at all costs, human life must be sustained.

Finally, I am conservative because I believe it is the job of government — the job we, the People, pay them for — to protect us from those who would do us harm.  This is the mandate from the people.  This is the only morality of government:  to keep the peoples’ trust.  To keep us safe. 

Conservatism is for me, a moral imperative.  I am Conservative because it is the way that makes the most sense — from an intellectual level, as well as spiritual. 

The Supreme Court and the Second Amendment: a Look at Language

Posted in civil rights, Constitution, national defense, News, politics, Second Amendment with tags , , , , , on March 19, 2008 by Randy Streu

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of the US heard arguments on individual gun-ownership rights in Washington, D.C.  District of Columbia v. Heller is the first case before the Supreme Court to test this issue nationally, though it perhaps shouldn’t have been.  There are actually several lower-court cases in which this issue was incorrectly decided; but the timing is fortuitious in this case, as a majority of the justices seem inclined to accurately read the language of the Second Amendment.

The amendment, for those uncertain, reads, “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.”  And it is this language which causes the controversy (though a clear reading of the rest of the document shows that it needn’t be controversial). 

The anti-gun lobby reads the language to mean gun ownership is allowed only insofar as is necessary to serve in the military.  However, when you apply basic textual criticism, in reading the second part of the amendment, you see that the right, as such, to keep and bear arms, exists quite independently of the government.  Indeed, this the theme of most of  this nation’s founding documents: individual rights aren’t granted — only limited. 

This intent is clear in the language of the Second Amendment as well.  “The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  Not, “the people shall be granted the right to bear arms.”  The Signers were well aware of the difference in intent here.  The right to bear arms is a right we have, says the Constitution, and the government shall not infringe on that right.  Put another way, the Amendment basically says, “The government will not limit the right of the citizenry to keep and bear arms, and one reason for this is the need for a prepared militia.”

The language is key.  The Constitution, along with the Bill of Rights, do not grant a single right.  Liberty, as has been pointed out at this site before, and as has clearly been recognized by the drafters of the Constitution — especially if one takes the time to examine the other founding documents — is the natural state.  We are born free.  Governments don’t grant rights; only limit them. 

And the second amendment, regardless of reasoning, is clear in its mandate: the right to bear arms must not be infringed.

-Streu-

My Government III: “… To Secure These Rights…”

Posted in civil rights, My Government, national defense, politics, Second Amendment, taxes with tags , , , , on February 28, 2008 by Randy Streu

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
–From The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America

When the founders of this nation wrote the document explaining the departure of the North American colonies from under the Crown’s rule, they prefaced it with a brief explanation of the Rights of Man, and the responsibility of a Government to those rights.  They asserted, correctly, that a government which failed to recognize the consent of the governed, and to facilitate the rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, such a government had forfeited its own right to rule.  It is clear that, not only did these individuals believe this to be the standard of what was to become the United States of America, but indeed the standard of Just Government the world over.

The first paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence set the precedent for the Constitution when it was drafted — and the responsibilities of the government that document established.  Put simply, the responsibility of the government is to facilitate (or, “secure”) the Divine Rights of Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness. 

On both a national and state level, this consists of the establishment of laws for the general order and welfare.  The common sense nature of this sort of law is such that the legislation of them is not so much to inform, but rather to provide precedent for reprisal should such common sense be ignored.  The average person knows on perhaps a primal level that it is wrong to murder, to steal, to cause harm.  Because not all men are honest, or good, however, we have laws on the books such that when bad men act badly, we me seek recompense and retribution.  Thus, on the local level, police forces are established “to serve and protect.” 

Nationally, the securing of these inalienable rights is manifest in the form of border security and national security.  Federal Border enforcement, a strong and well-maintained standing army, foreign intelligence agencies and a National Guard are all vital to this security and are indeed the chief responsibility of a National (Federal) government.  Administrations seeking to diminish or altar the roles of these agencies have been rightly criticized for acting against their Constitutional charter.

Much has been made in the recent past of the money spent by this nation on our military.  As will be discussed in the near future, those who would suggest a budget cut on this level are not only hopelessly naive about our safety and security, but woefully ignorant of the job of the Federal Government.  Indeed, any Administration which cuts military spending, or closes domestic military bases in favor of domestic entitlement programs is guilty of negligence in the highest degree.

A large part of domestic defense is the security of our sovereign borders.  The security of these borders is necessary not only for the defense of life, but indeed of liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Ours is indeed a nation of immigrants.  We have a rich history of immigration and assimilation.  But such immigration must be tempered by just regulation as to who enters this country, and why.  Such regulation must not be based on race, color, creed or sex — such discrimination on a government level flies in the face of liberty — but on independence, ambition and prudent, rigorous examinations as to national security.

In other words, immigrants must always be welcome to this free nation, but such individuals must be both willing and able to provide for themselves and their families legally and independently of government aid — boon to society, in other words, rather than a burden.  And, they must be seen to pose no threat to our national security after reasonable investigation into their backgrounds.

Finally, the founders of this nation, in drafting the constition, provided for the penultimate source of personal and national security among Americans — the citizens themselves.  Referred to in the United States Constitution, under Article I, Section 8, as well as Article II, Section 2, this was clarified in the Second Amendment:  “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 to the Constitution has nothing whatever to do with hunting, or with skeet shooting, or with hobbyists of any flavor.  The Second Amendment is about the right of the individual to keep and have the tools necessary to defend his home, his family, his community and his country from foreign and domestic threats to life, liberty or property.  Vital to a free and sovereign nation is an armed citizenry, well-trained in the use of their weaponry and prepared to answer the call to defend themselves and their nation. 

In fact, the right to defend one’s self is key to the Inalienable Rights referred to by the Declaration of Independence. 

The responsibility to defend is the logical extension of a government for, by and of the people.  Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness is secured by the free individual, and by the government formed and maintained by his consent.

My Government I: The Construction of the Bill of Rights

Posted in civil rights, Constitution, First Amendment, My Government, politics, Second Amendment with tags , , , , on January 28, 2008 by Randy Streu

Some of you may recall a recent post here, called “What I Want In A Party,” in which I discussed what I percieve to be the role of government in these United States.  Over the next week or two, in between thoughts on interesting news tidbits and such, I’ll be exploring some of these ideas further in a series titled “My Government.”

This, as you may well have surmised, is to be the first of those posts.

… liberty is not ‘granted’ by government.  Freedom cannot be given; it can only be limited, regulated or taken.  Liberty is granted by God.  It is the natural state.  Laws, in a democracy – or Democratic Republic, as more accurately describes the US — are intended to govern human decency; to establish a means of living with one another and forming a society.  Such laws are enacted with the limited purpose of providing a means of restitution for doing harm to another’s life, liberty or property.”
(from “What I Want In A Party, written January 11)

The Constitution of the United States is a beautifully written document.  In giving a thorough reading, we see that every single word used is deliberately placed.  This is to avoid the confusion that comes from using vague language. 

The most-often quoted passages from the Constitution are, of course, the first nine amendments: The Bill of Rights.  It’s interesting to note here that no Bill of Rights was included in the original Constitution.  The argument over this led Virginia delegate George Mason to withdraw his signature from the document.  The issue, according to USConstitution.net, was that the orginal drafters felt no Bill was necessary.  The Constitution, they said, did not grant the Federal Government the right to abridge or inhibit our natural rights — no “Bill of Rights” being therefore necessary.

This reasoning I find as compelling as the wording of what ultimately became the Bill of Rights itself.  The founding fathers had no desire to allow the Federal Government to restrict a single one of what they believed to be “inalienable” rights, and so deemed it pointless (or, perhaps, counterproductive) to create a list of rights the Federal Government couldn’t restrict.  This is telling, especially if we indeed wish to understand the intentions of the drafters of the document.

Ultimately, as we see, a Bill of Rights was decided on, after all.  So now, we look not only to the intentions of the writers, but to the words they finally chose to convey the ideas they reluctantly agreed to put on paper. 

First off, in examining the Bill of Rights, we see it is constructed mostly in the negative.  “Congress shall make no law…,”  “…shall not be infringed,” “…shall not be violated.”  In other words, this is not so much a “Bill of Rights,” but a list of limits on the power of Government.  With this language, the writers continue in the same vein as the rest of our Founding documents: that rights are not granted, but can only be limited.  The “Bill of Rights” isn’t a list of what you and I can do; it’s a list of what the Federal Government cannot.  It is a recognition of the facts that, A,  liberty is our natural state of being, and, B, government interference with this natural state must be limited as much as possible, while still maintaining civilization.

Fundamentally, the Bill of Rights, like the rest of the Constitution, is about the Federal government and its relationship to the individual citizen of the United States.  The language is specific to the Federal government, as opposed to the states; and the document ultimately calls for all rights not given to the Fed to revert back to the individual States, or to the citizens.  This is important because the powers granted to the Federal government are extremely limited.  The language of the document shows that the signers intended for the Federal government to have limited interference with the everyday private lives of individuals — not to grant rights, but to avoid trampling them.

I will take a closer look at the individual amendments in a later series.  But first, in future installments of “My Government,” I will discuss in more detail how this first basic concept of Liberty is translated in the Government’s responsibility to the citizens of the US, in economics, civil and national defense, and the protection of human life.

-Streu-

What I Want in a Party

Posted in abortion, civil rights, Constitution, Economy, Elections, First Amendment, immigration, My Government, national defense, politics, Second Amendment, taxes with tags , , , , on January 21, 2008 by Randy Streu

As the elections continue to draw near, it becomes more and more clear to me that the Republican Party has lost its identity.  That, or it’s finally coming into its own.  Either way, the party is seemingly becoming something with which I can no longer proudly associate myself. 

To avoid being disingenuous, I’ll point out for those who aren’t as familiar with my personal politics that, though I am a registered Republican and most often vote that way, I have generally identified myself as Libertarian since around 1996 or so (yeah, I voted for Perot — I got over it, so should you).  I have my own reasons for not registering myself as Libertarian, and more still for voting Republican, generally speaking.

But, as the Republican party — that with which I am registered and have associated — appears to be undergoing a redefinition away from the Goldwater/Reagan policies that first drew me in, I’ve decided this is a good time for me, also, to examine what it is I really want for my country — and therefore what I really want in a political party.

First, I want a party that understands liberty is not ‘granted’ by government.  Freedom cannot be given; it can only be limited, regulated or taken.  Liberty is granted by God.  It is the natural state.  Laws, in a democracy — or Democratic Republic, as more accurately describes the US — are intended to govern human decency; to establish a means of living with one another and forming a society.  Such laws are enacted with the limited purpose of providing a means of restitution for doing harm to another’s life, liberty or property.

I want a party that understands the primary role of government to be the protection of her constituency against harm to life, liberty or property by both domestic and foreign enemies.  This includes the security of our borders, protection of our sovereignty and watchfulness over national interests abroad.  When it comes to immigration, this would include, as Fred Thompson has said, tall fences with wide gates.  Immigration is and always has been important to the foundation and continuation of this country — but so has assimilation of such immigrants.  As Thompson also noted, we as a sovereign nation get to decided when, to whom and for how long that wide gate is opened.  My party would recognize that this is fundamental to national security.

I want a party who recognizes that a government who seeks to “equalize” the monetary position of the citizenry through taxation, redistribution and regulation will succeed in making everybody equally poor.  The party who recognizes this will also see it as a moot point: the right to keep what you make (or earn) is fundamental — the right to what somebody else makes or earns is nonexistent.  The government that grants a person this second, nonexistent right does so to the detriment of this fundamental and actual right.

I want a party that will protect the right to life — even for the unborn.  Primary to all other rights is this simple liberty: to live.  To deprive the life of an innocent human being for the sake of convenience, cosmetics or any consideration beyond (perhaps) to save the life of the mother is beyond immoral; it is barbaric and fascist — and out of keeping with the type of free society envisioned by our forefathers.

I want a party that understands the economics of Freedom.  Such a party realizes that market freedom has built this country into the greatest on earth, and that other nations have evolved and improved not by regulation, but when they have chosen to allow free and independent thinkers the ability to work toward their own betterment — and thus better the lives of those around them.

I want a party that will fight for the preservation of our Constitution; one that would amendment our Founding Document for clarification, and to further maintain freedom — rather than to diminish it.

If a party, a president, or a government will start here — how can they go wrong?

-Streu-

Are We Watching Conservative Republicanism Die?

Posted in Constitution, Economy, Elections, Fred(!), Giuliani, healthcare, immigration, Mike Huckabee, national defense, News, politics, Ron Paul, Second Amendment, Stupid Media, taxes with tags , , , , , on January 8, 2008 by Randy Streu

I’m beginning to think the liberals and the media (but, as some would say, I repeat myself) have finally won.  Or, perhaps, are about to.  When I look at polls, when I listen to people talk (both of which are horrible, horrible methods with which to gain information — and I understand that) it seems people actually want the government to do their thinking for them.  They want the government to deny them liberty and force charity, or health insurance, or social security — or whatever.  They are truly beginning to believe that the average citizen, perhaps, shouldn’t be trusted with weapons — Second Amendment be damned.

This is what happens when you stop thinking with your brain.

What’s been really demoralizing to me personally is that this disease of liberal stupidity (to risk being redundant again) is striking in the Republican party — even harder than in the past.  I’m demoralized because, frankly, I don’t have the strength to start a new party which will stick to Goldwater conservative principles, the Constitution — and not force us to retreat from a war that we’re winning.

For example, as we move along in the primaries, we start looking at what sort of impact the Republican candidates are going to have in New Hampshire.  Why?  More importantly, why would conservatives wish to use a traditionally blue state (in which even many of the Republicans are liberal) to gauge the outcome of the Republican ballot?  Fred(!) Thompson has wisely chosen to skip this state altogether and move along to SC.  Why?  Simply put, because that’s when the Republican race begins.  I’m not going to harp on this point — Limbaugh touched on it today, and better than I could.

My point is that the Republican party seems to be under the impression that pandering to the Left, that producing a liberal candidate and winning the election is, in fact, winning.  Folks, I’m here to tell you, giving up liberty is not winning.  Period. 

Allowing the government to have any control over your personal life, including whether or not you and your family are covered by health insurance, is a loss of liberty.

Allowing your tax dollars to subsidize abortion, welfare, amnesty (even in the form of educational aid) or whatever, instead of those thing for which the federal government was actually formed is, in fact, loss of liberty.

And for what, Republicans?  To get a president with the (R) next to his name?  What good will that do, if the choice simply brings us further down the Left, after all?  Just what the hell is the point of having a Republican president if he governs like a Democrat?

I’ll close with words of wisdom from Fred Thompson.  “I believe conservatives beat liberals only when they challenge their outdated positions — not embrace them.”

-Streu-