The Second Amendment and the Militia

 

 

“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.” – Second Amendment to the United States Constitution

 

When it was written in the late 18th Century the Second Amendment was contemporaneous, clear, and concise; easy to understand by all who read it. It was very short, because it was meant to be all-encompassing in its application.

But language usage evolves with time, and in the intervening two+ centuries the language of that amendment has become archaic, making it vulnerable to misinterpretation. Unfortunately, every time gun control becomes a hot political issue, such as now in light of the recent Parkland school tragedy, we see the hoplophobes (anti-gun faction) attempt to exploit that vulnerability by trying – either through ignorance or cynical manipulation – to advance the claim that the gun rights protected by the Second Amendment only apply to uniformed militia organizations such as the National Guard.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The United States Code is the body of the permanent general federal statutes of the country. According to “10 U.S. Code § 246 – Militia: composition and classes” the militia is defined as:

“(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in Section 313 of Title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are—

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.”

In other words, all law-abiding citizens, and those who have applied for citizenship, are members of either the organized (uniformed, such as the National Guard) or unorganized militia if they’re of military age.

Further, the right isn’t limited just to those of military age. The reference to the “militia” is simply recognition of the fact that a militia might at times be necessary and it would be drawn from the at-large citizenry. That is why the amendment protects “the right of the people”, and not just “the right of militia members”. The right isn’t restricted to only those in one of the militias.

For those extremist hoplophobes who make the absurd claim that the word “militia” refers to the active-duty military: why would the Founders need the Second Amendment at all when the Constitution itself, in Section 8, gives the federal government the power to “raise and support Armies” and “maintain a Navy”. In fact, that same section also states that the government may “provide for calling forth the Militia”, clearly distinguishing the Militia as being a separate entity from the regular armed forces.

I believe that if the exact same amendment were to be written today in modern language, it would go something like this:

“Recognizing that the protection of a free State may require the activation of a civilian militia in addition to the standing military, and that the militia is composed of the citizenry at large, the right of those citizens to keep and carry arms in order to be proficient with their use shall not be infringed.”

The words “free State” are also crucial to understand. The Founders were engaged in a revolution against what was the legitimate government of which they were citizens. As described in the Declaration of Independence, their grievances justified that revolt, and they were very aware that any government has the potential to become tyrannical.

That potential included the government they were forming. They wanted to make sure that the citizenry had the ability to remove that government should it become another tyranny, no longer a “free state”, and the way to do that was to ensure that the citizenry had the means to do so: arms. Guns. The same guns as the rest of the military, which they are expected to provide at their own expense.

Many people today scoff at the idea of average Americans rising up and overthrowing the government, saying that the idea of civilians standing up against American military might is ridiculous. I guess the Taliban haven’t yet gotten that memo.

The ragtag Minutemen started such a revolution against the single most powerful military on the planet… and won.

And what was it that caused that “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”? The Redcoats were marching on Lexington and Concord to confiscate the colonists’ guns.

That’s right. The precipitating event of the American Revolution was an attempt at gun control.

So, as we can see, the real purpose of the Second Amendment is to protect the right of law-abiding civilians to possess and use the same personal weapons as the rest of the military in order to assure a defense against enemies both foreign and domestic.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2018

 

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

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Let’s Hear It For Censorship

I know I’m doing something right when I’ve got leftists setting their hair on fire.

A little over a week ago my local newspaper, The Signal, published a column written by me entitled “Some ideas to address school shootings” in which I took local pol Katie Hill to task for immediately trying to politicize the recent school shooting tragedy in a blatant bid for votes: “I’m running for Congress to put an end to these senseless tragedies.”

Anyone following the development of the story knows that since Hill’s and my columns have run more revelations have come to light, including the fact that there was a cop on scene who did precisely nothing while the shooter was gunning down helpless kids and teachers. He was soon backed up by other sheriff’s deputies who joined him in doing nothing. In fact, the shooter apparently left the school grounds and headed out to a fast-food joint before cops even entered the building.

All of which supported my premise that, at least in this case, the only hope those victims could have had would have been if one of their fellow victims had been armed and able to return fire, robbing the killer of complete control of the battle space, and seizing back the initiative.

The response to my column from local leftists was prompt and energetic, both online and in the published letters. Patrick Comey (“Stop the name calling”) and Roselva Ungar (“Consider censorship”) both took offense at my characterization of the “ethically and morally bankrupt Dem/socialist party”, which makes me wonder where their sanctimonious outrage was when local writers such as Gary Horton and Charles Vignola were characterizing the Republicans as “jihadists” and “blackmailers” when those writers didn’t like certain GOP policy proposals.

Got hypocrisy? The rules are for thee, but not for me?

Further, in her letter Ungar asks The Signal “to consider censoring, or at least limiting, any writer whose language does not adhere to a respectful use of language.” I guess that must only apply to writers with whom Ungar doesn’t agree. Otherwise, everything’s just hunky-dory.

Censorship: the go-to device for wannabe tyrants. If there’s any question as to why I characterize the left as “ethically and morally bankrupt”, here’s yet another illustration for you.

 

©Brian Baker 2018

(Published in the print edition [only] of The Signal on 2 March)

 

 

School Shootings? Try This

On February 17 The Signal published a column by Katie Hill, a local Dem/socialist political hopeful, entitled “A call for action”. In it she wrote the following:

“The vast majority of Americans agree that measures like universal background checks, waiting periods, and disqualifying terrorists, domestic abusers and those in mental health crisis from buying weapons are all simple solutions we can take action on — TODAY — that would save lives from being lost tomorrow.”

Yes, well, all of those things are already in place, so what is she really advocating?

Or is this just one more example of a member of the ethically and morally bankrupt Dem/socialist party cynically mining a tragedy for cheap political points?

Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland shooter, bought his guns legally, meaning he was subjected to all the background checks required by law, both by Florida (https://gun.laws.com/state-gun-laws/florida-gun-laws) and by the feds. He passed.

Real life isn’t the movie “Minority Report” wherein the cops can predict who’s going to commit a crime and then swoop in and arrest them ahead of time, before they commit the crime. Further, until someone actually does something that disqualifies them from gun ownership — and there’s a long list of such actions — they can’t be prevented from owning a gun just on the mere speculation that they might do something.

Ms. Hill wants to “take action”? Well how about taking action on some things that might actually help address the problem? The first step is to stop making schools “gun-free zones”. You might as well put up a sign that says “target-rich environment”. You’re actually advertising the fact that a school is what’s known as a “soft target”, meaning it’s defenseless.

Then consider hiring people capable of putting up an on-scene immediate response to a shooter, and let them be armed with concealed weapons. No matter how fast the local cops can react, it still takes them time to get there. When seconds count, they’re only minutes away. Consider hiring retired people with military experience. They work cheap — like the crossing guards at intersections — and they know how to respond to the sound of the guns.

Further, once potential bad guys know that they won’t be hitting a soft target anymore, I suspect this problem will pretty much evaporate. If nothing else, when one of these nut jobs is busy trying to defend himself from someone shooting back at him, he’s not using his time to shoot innocent kids.

Those are some suggestions for how we can “take action” and actually make an impact, rather than just trying to score political points based on emotion and hysteria. How about it, Ms. Hill?

 

 

©Brian Baker 2018

 

(Published 20 Feb 2018 on my blog and in my local newspaper, The Signal)

The “Courage” of the Mob

On October 30th, shortly after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, I published a column — which was also published in my local newspaper, The Signal — under the title “Casting couch probably has not seen its last days”. As the title implies, I believe that once the dust settles things in Hollywood – and elsewhere – will return to pretty much the pre-Weinstein status quo.

In the meantime, though, we’re being treated to a hair-on-fire spectacle of absurd proportions, a lynch mob straight out of a 1950s “B” Western two-reeler. To paraphrase a line from the Bogart classic Treasure of the Sierra Madre, “Evidence? We don’ need no steenkin’ evidence!”

Every pat on the knee, persistent flirt, failed seduction attempt, inappropriate joke, unthinking comment, or unwanted compliment has been elevated from the level of innocent interaction or boorish behavior to the equivalent of the rape of the Vestal Virgins.

The biggest problem with all this hyperventilation is that it ends up trivializing and camouflaging the real offenders, those such as Weinsten. To paraphrase another saying, this time from the realm of civil rights, “when everything is rape, nothing is rape”.

At the Golden Globe Awards ceremony female attendees demonstrated their “courage” by vowing to wear black. I hate to be the one to break it to such vacuous luminaries, but real “courage” is putting on a camo-pattern uniform and fighting ISIS in the Middle East, not donning a black gown by Givenchy with plunging neckline and side slits from floor to derriere.

The hypocrisy on display at the Golden Globes was also breathtaking in its depth. Apparently, before Oprah Winfrey and Meryl Streep became such figures of “courage”, and spokeswomen for “oppressed” victims, they were pretty much besties with Harvey Weinstein, if we can believe pictures of them with him before his precipitous downfall. And since his “proclivities” were such an open secret in Hollywood, it’s hard to believe they didn’t know anything about his perversions before they became splashed all over the pages in the media.

The other major problem with the current hysteria is that we’ve entered a “no proof required” zone. All it takes is an unsubstantiated accusation – sometimes even made anonymously – for the outrage machine to gin up to destroy some guy’s life.

Every accuser is given the presumption of driven-snow purity and victimhood, and every one of the accused is given the presumption of villainy and guilt. There’s no effort made to consider facts or circumstances in play at the time of the alleged offense. No thought as to whether or not the “victim” was, at the time, a willing participant. Whether or not the accusation is actually an expression of “buyer’s remorse” in regretting an action that they may even have encouraged at the time. No recognition of the reality that sexual mores have changed over the last couple of decades, and that behavior that’s now considered out of bounds was perfectly routine and acceptable just a short while ago. No acceptable possibility that truly innocent words or actions were completely misconstrued by the accuser.

In other words, it’s a witch hunt.

Am I saying that there’s no fire causing all this smoke? Of course not. Weinstein alone is the only example one needs to recognize there’s a real problem, and the evidence against him is incontrovertible and overwhelming. But in no way does that justify the irrational furor we’re seeing today.

We’ve been down this road before. In 1921 Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, one of the top film stars of the Silent Era, was accused of raping Virginia Rappe, who had died after falling ill at a small party being held in Arbuckle’s hotel suite in San Francisco.

Because of the stature of Arbuckle’s celebrity and the salacious nature of the accusations – that he’d raped her with a foreign object – the event became a national scandal of epic proportions, fueled by the yellow journalism of the Hearst newspaper empire.

The San Francisco District Attorney filed criminal charges and took Arbuckle to trial… three times. The first two trials ended in hung juries, in both cases 10 – 2 in favor of acquittal. The third trial concluded with the jury not only unanimously finding Arbuckle “not guilty” after a mere six minutes, but they spent about five of those minutes composing a formal letter to Arbuckle apologizing to him for having been put through the ordeal.

But the damage had been done. The completely spurious allegations had ruined his life, and his career never really recovered. In spite of his actual innocence and acquittal at trial, the scandal alone was enough to make him essentially unemployable in Hollywood from that point forward.

Arbuckle’s ordeal should serve as a cautionary tale for everyone. There’s no “courage” necessary to be a member of a lynch mob.

 

©Brian Baker 2018

 

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal )

 

My Debate On Gun Rights

 

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been debating the issue of legislation pending in Congress that would mandate that concealed gun permits (CCWs) issued in any state be honored by every other state when the license holder is in that state on a temporary basis.

This debate has been taking place in my local newspaper, The Signal, and I’m including below the entire debate for your consideration.

The opening salvo ( Link ), written by a local hardcore leftist named Anthony Breznican, was published on December 14th:

Anthony Breznican: Congressman’s law would endanger law enforcement

I read an article in the Dec. 8 edition of The Signal in which Congressman Steve Knight was boasting about his new bill that will allow concealed carry permits across state lines. Essentially, this law makes the states with the weakest, least restrictive guidelines the law of the land.

That pleases the gun lobby, but it makes our nation more endangered at a time when we have already been horrified by bloodshed from reckless gun proliferation.

Those from other states who might be blocked from carrying a concealed gun in a state like California, which has restrictions on such a license for those with a record of spousal abuse or other criminal behavior, will now be able to enter carrying a loaded weapon with impunity.

Knight’s bill is under heavy criticism from law enforcement. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck calls it a cop-killer, writing in the Los Angeles Times: “In addition to jeopardizing public safety, concealed carry reciprocity would endanger the lives of law enforcement.

“The mere presence of more concealed weapons on California streets would make police work here much more hazardous. What’s more, if LAPD officers stopped someone with a loaded, concealed handgun, that person could claim to live in a state where permits weren’t necessary, and the officers would be unable to confirm whether it was true.”

Beck adds: “Given our intensifying focus on the potential for homegrown terrorism, the last thing we need is to make it easier to carry concealed, loaded firearms across state lines.”

We should heed his words. Beck’s outrage is also shared by the commissioner of the NYPD and by numerous law enforcement groups, including the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and 66 of the largest police and sheriff’s departments in the United States.

The bill from Congressman Knight, R-Palmdale, weakens the public safety laws of individual states at a time when we need stronger gun safety laws. As a former cop himself, Knight should be ashamed of his support of this bill, which so many police organizations say will endanger men and women in blue.

But I’m sure Knight will be offering his “thoughts and prayers” to the eventual victims of his bill.

My first response ( Link ) was published on December 21st:

Brian Baker: Different side of concealed carry permits issue

The Signal published a letter Dec. 15 entitled “Congressman’s law would endanger law enforcement” regarding the legislation pending in Congress that would establish national reciprocity for concealed gun carry permits (CCWs) that are legitimately issued by any state, and that would require that all other states honor such permits.

As is his wont, letter writer Anthony Breznican’s attack on this proposal, and on Steve Knight for supporting it, seems to be relatively free of facts.

Since the liberalization of CCW issuance started about 30 years ago in Florida, and in stark contradiction to all the “Wild West” hysteria of the time and since, wherever CCW issuance requirements have been eased, the rate of violent crime has fallen.

Further, those people who actually have CCWs turn out to be pretty much the most law-abiding people there are. Their participation in criminal activity happens to be far lower than the national average. It’s almost non-existent.

This is no different from drivers’ licenses. When people from other states come here for a visit, they don’t have to get a California license in order to drive a car. Every state recognizes every other state’s licenses for non-residents. I see absolutely no reason why CCW licenses should be treated any differently.

Further, the very issues that would disqualify anyone from being issued a CCW aren’t any different in other states from what they are in this state, since the basic qualifications are based on federal, not state, laws.

Breznican absurdly claims, “Those from other states who might be blocked from carrying a concealed gun in a state like California, which has restrictions on such a license for those with a record of spousal abuse or other criminal behavior, will now be able to enter carrying a loaded weapon with impunity.”

The problem for Breznican is that federal law bars such people from even owning guns, let alone being issued CCWs, so that claim makes no sense except as an inflammatory bit of groundless rhetoric that has no basis in reality.

His claims may be true in the land where unicorns live, but not here in the real world.

My opponent volleyed back on December 22nd ( Link ):

Anthony Breznican: Concealed carry: the debate continues

A fellow reader was flatly wrong about the proposed concealed carry reciprocity bill and the dangers it poses, and he used wordplay to dismiss a serious concern of both police and victims of abuse.

Brian Baker responded in print to my earlier letter, which cited LAPD Chief Charlie Beck’s withering criticism of the bill Congressman Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, has co-sponsored.

The bill allows those with concealed carry permits to cross state lines regardless of whether they would qualify for such a permit in that area.

The proposal has also been denounced by the NYPD commissioner, the Fraternal Order of Police and dozens of the largest police and sheriff’s departments in America.

And for good reason.

I used the example of a spousal abuser, who might be restricted from carrying a hidden weapon in one state, but under this new bill would be allowed to carry one wherever he likes as long as he’s from a state with lax laws.

Mr. Baker correctly notes there is a federal law against spousal abusers getting concealed carry permits. But the fact remains: the federal law is extremely limited and does not cover dating partners, those who abuse family members besides a spouse or child, or even those convicted of stalking.

That’s why many states have passed more stringent restrictions covering these red-flag individuals, but other states have not. The concealed carry reciprocity law Knight supports reduces the national standard to the state with the weakest laws.

For instance, only 35 states specifically ban dating partners who have been convicted of abuse from carrying hidden handguns in public. Only 28 states prohibit convicted stalkers from carrying concealed guns.

There are 12 other states that have absolutely zero restrictions on who carries a hidden gun. There is no concealed carry permit required in those states. No safety training.

No restrictions whatsoever.

The bill Knight co-sponsored would force all states to allow these kinds of permit-free carriers to carry hidden guns across their borders, even to states that have the more stringent rules.

This undermines the individual state laws and the safety of those states’ citizens. It also forces our police to face a tangle of excuses and conflicting laws as they try to enforce California’s permit rules.

Mr. Baker’s exploitation of semantics is a perfect example of this chaos. He zeroed in on the shorthand use of “spousal” to try to dismiss the very real concerns expressed by law enforcement leaders.

That just shows how America’s hodgepodge of lax laws, loopholes, and ultra-narrow restrictions are manipulated by technicalities to empower criminals and exacerbate dangers.

These are facts. These aren’t just opinions. These are the concerns of the police. But they are of no concern to our own congressman, Steve Knight.

Now the latest salvo ( Link ), written by me and published today:

Brian Baker: Still more on concealed carry

The day after my last letter was published regarding Anthony Breznican’s hysterical assertions about reciprocal interstate recognition of CCWs (concealed gun carry licenses) The Signal posted a rebuttal written by him.

The problem for him is that in addition to “misstating” (I’m being kind) the law, as he did in his original letter, in his rebuttal he “misstated” what I had written in my original response.

He wrote: “(Baker) zeroed in on the shorthand use of ‘spousal’ to try to dismiss the very real concerns expressed by law enforcement leaders.”

That’s flat-out false. Actually, I quoted him thusly: “Breznican absurdly claims, ‘Those from other states who might be blocked from carrying a concealed gun in a state like California, which has restrictions on such a license for those with a record of spousal abuse or other criminal behavior, will now be able to enter carrying a loaded weapon with impunity.’”

He’s the one who specifically mentioned “spousal abuse”. That was his argument, not mine. I was quoting his own letter. Everything I wrote was true and correct, and was in direct response to his wild-eyed claims. Just as I wrote, federal law is the superior authority, and those who wouldn’t qualify for basic gun ownership because they’re “prohibited persons” under federal law for having committed some criminal act certainly won’t be qualified to possess CCWs… in any state.

Further, and just as I wrote, the “opinions” of politician/cop “law enforcement leaders” notwithstanding, this is no different from universal reciprocity of drivers’ licenses. Different states also have different licensing requirements for those, too, but every state recognizes every other state’s drivers’ licenses when those residents visit regardless.

Thanks for the opportunity to set the record straight.

I suspect this will be the end of the debate in the pages of The Signal. They’re not going to give us endless ink to go round and round in circles.

More importantly, though, is that this is a great example of what we as conservatives face when arguing issues with American socialists: They blatantly lie about underlying fundamental facts, and when caught out in their lies, continue to refuse to acknowledge facts, to the point of lying about what we ourselves have said, right to our faces.

 

How Did We Get Here?

I found Maria Gutzeit’s 28 November column “Watching the world burn” (link) to be very interesting and well-written. But I think her wish for a society free of partisan politics, though admirable and well-meant, is at its heart naïve and unrealistic.

The problem, I believe, is that we’re currently engaged in a cultural civil war in this country that’s every bit as profound and fundamental as the one that took place in the 1860s, though so far pretty bloodless. Thank God for that, at least.

Historically, political rancor, and even violence, is nothing new in this country. Elected representatives were known to whack one another on the head with their canes right on the floors of Congress; Burr killed Hamilton in a duel over politics; and, of course, there was the afore-mentioned Civil War itself.

World War II was the event that created a rare period of national unity which lasted well into the post-war era of the ‘50s and early ‘60s, when the world was rebuilding from that war’s destruction. That was the “Leave It To Beaver” era for which so many wax nostalgic, or mock mercilessly, depending on their political inclinations.

That era came to an abrupt and dramatic end with the riots at the 1968 Democrat Party convention in Chicago, which underscored the rise of the counter-culture that rejected the ethos of the later-named “Greatest Generation” – their parents’ generation – in favor of a radicalized vision of what American culture should be.

That counter-culture, firmly rooted in the ideology of collectivist socialism, ironically found its home in the very Democrat party it had so violently rioted against, and in the subsequent almost half-century rose to positions of prominence and power within that party. As a result of their de facto takeover of that party they’ve managed to radically alter its underlying principles to the point that they now reflect much of the agenda of those original radicals who rioted in Chicago.

We see much of its strategy deriving directly from Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”, a primer for the counter-culture of the ‘60s and ‘70s, which is essentially a blueprint for political disruption and manipulation. This is evidenced by class warfare pitting the “haves” against the “have-nots”, and the demonization of the “one-percenters”, as well as the creation, proliferation, and perpetuation of “victim” groups, which then go on to even compete against each other for prioritization, leading to further fragmentation and balkanization of the society and culture.

In such a noxious and confrontational political climate, our national motto, “E Pluribus Unum” – meaning “out of many, one”, a message of unity – has been effectively reversed for all intents and purposes into its mirror-opposite, “out of one, many”.

In her column, Maria writes: “The win will come when we all sit down and acknowledge common goals and work on that without uttering the words ‘democrats’, ‘republicans’ or ‘politics’… Imagine if we focused on electing people to improve and implement good policy, rather than ‘win’ for ‘our side’.”

While I think that’s a very nice thought, I also think it’s about as realistic as a kid’s Christmas wish list as he tells it while sitting on Santa’s lap at the mall. The reality is that “politics” is how we determine public policy in this country, and there’s at least one very sizeable portion of the body politic that seems determined to completely redefine the social and cultural fabric of our society. To destroy it in order to replace it with a system that is completely alien to traditional American ideals and constitutional principles.

In consequence, we see the politicization of almost everything, even sports, which used to be one of the few remaining bastions of political neutrality. Instead, we see the NFL immersed in their “taking a knee” controversy. We see popular media – TV, movies, and even books – showcasing political correctness at the expense of entertainment value. Higher education has become, at many universities, a venue of indoctrination rather than enlightenment.

In this adversarial climate, I believe the wish for reconciliation and cooperation, though well meant, has very little chance of being realized.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2017

(Also published today in The Signal)

Harvey Weinstein Is A Pig, But He’s Not The Only One

I have a few thoughts on the Harvey Weinstein affair which seems to dominate so much of the news cycle currently. 

Back in my acting days (IMDB) the casting couch was a well-known phenomenon, and basically just a “given” as being part of “the Biz”. It wasn’t a guarantor of success – there were plenty of stories, whether apocryphal or not was hard to know, about people who succumbed but then ended up on the cutting room floor anyway, their careers going nowhere.

I was a good-looking guy back in the day, so I got the occasional “offer”, from both gays and straights, which I’d simply shrug off. In the “arts”, particularly show business, there are a lot of attractive people, many with the morals of alley cats, in a fluid social situation and work environment with a constant flux of people coming in and out of the setting. Opportunities for what’s nowadays called “hooking up” abounded, so human nature being what it is, there were many who exploited it for sexual gratification.

I think what sets Weinstein apart from others is his aggression, and lack of any restraint; his willingness to push beyond the bounds of “normal” sexual pursuit and engage in acts of outright perversion, and assert force against completely unwilling victims. Not only using, but grossly abusing, his position of power in a disgustingly thuggish manner. His refusal to take “no” for an answer.

Right now this issue’s getting a lot of play, and Weinstein seems to be getting his much-deserved comeuppance (though we’ll have to see how that plays out in the long run). But if people think the phenomenon of “workplace harassment” is going away, I think they’re in for a big disappointment. Unfortunately, we’re talking about something that’s part of the human experience: exploitation, whether for sex or other ends.

This isn’t unique to Weinstein or show business. We’ve all read about the same types of activities taking place in other venues: the military, the board room, the office, politics.

The Weinstein affair is getting all this attention because of the celebrity of the people involved; their notoriety, their high profiles, their magazine-cover fame. But ultimately, this dust will settle, and then what?

Frankly, I don’t think things will change very much. The Hollywood denizens will have expressed their outrage, and patted themselves on the back for their “courage” in speaking out, and everyone will go back to what they were doing before the headlines were splashed all over the place. The “casting couch” will continue, though more discretely. The Weinsteins of the future won’t go as far as actually forcing themselves on unwilling victims, but other than that the status quo will probably remain largely unchanged.

In saying this, I don’t think I’m being cynical. Simply realistic. History is replete with examples. The Fatty Arbuckle scandal of almost 100 years ago; Howard Hughes’s “stable of starlets” back in the ‘40s; Hugh Hefner, the ultimate “dirty old man”, and his revolving door of “playmates”; Bill Clinton’s “bimbo eruptions” and Lewinsky’s blue dress. Harvey Weinstein is simply the latest in a long and sordid line of scandals that have hit the public’s radar only to quickly fade away.

La plus ça change, la plus c’est la même chose.

 

Brian Baker 2017

 (Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal).

Sometimes Crazy Is Just Crazy

In the wake of the recent horrific Las Vegas massacre the leftist anti-gun coven has kicked their hair-on-fire hysteria into overdrive. In the immortal words of former Obama chief-of-staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, “Never let a good crisis go to waste”.

Contrary to their hysterical assertions, gun violence and deaths are in fact at historical lows. For the last 30 years violent crime rates, including murder, have been decreasing at a rate in direct correlation to the easing of restrictive gun laws, particularly for concealed carry, in those jurisdictions that have enacted such policies. In contrast, where gun laws are the most restrictive, those jurisdictions suffer disproportionate violent crime rates, including murder. Chicago, DC, and many other urban areas illustrate that fact.

The actions of this madman are no different from those who have driven their cars into crowds and committed mass murder, including recently in Las Vegas, but I don’t see anyone talking about banning cars. Why is that? Cars are at least as “dangerous” as guns, with a higher death toll.

I’ll answer my own rhetorical question: it’s because we don’t discuss abridging the rights of the vast mass of law-abiding citizens because of the actions of some lone nut job…. EXCEPT when it comes to guns.

Is there an unfortunate price to be paid for people to enjoy those rights? Yes, sadly there is. But that’s unavoidable in a free society, and the only way to avoid it is to eliminate the freedoms themselves.

That’s an unacceptable price. If we’re not willing to do it with cars, why should we do so with guns? Just because leftists don’t use or like them?

But there’s an even more important underlying issue, too. The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting. It’s there to assure that citizens have the ability to protect themselves if the government fails to do so, either by failing to respond in a crisis, or by trying to impose tyranny.

We saw this illustrated most vividly during the Los Angeles Rodney King riots in 1992, when the Korean shop owners protected their businesses, and themselves, with their own weapons – including semi-automatic “assault rifles” – when the cops and National Guard refused to enter the area for several days. The Koreans were on their own, and if you’re stuck in what is essentially a war zone, you want to be able to bring the most firepower to bear that you can if you have to.

But the Founders’ ultimate purpose in the Second Amendment was to make sure that the citizens had the ability to prevent their own government from trying to impose tyranny, and the only way to do that was to make sure that said government couldn’t outgun them. Never forget that they’d just fought a successful revolt against their own previous legitimate government, and they weren’t foolish enough to think it couldn’t happen again, right here at home.

In order to realize that potential, it’s important that the citizens have the same firepower as the average grunt they could be facing across the firing line. And that’s not some scoped bolt-action hunting rifle.

The “militia” to which the Second Amendment refers is not the active duty military, what our Founders called the “standing army”, of which they were very leery. In fact, as defined under 10 U.S. Code Section 311 (Link) the “militia” is composed of the National Guard (as anti-gunners dutifully note) as well as the “unorganized militia” which is composed of all law-abiding people of military age “who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States” (which the anti-gunners always manage to conveniently forget). That’s all of us, folks: you, me, and Joe Sixpack.

The AR-15s used by the Vegas madman, contrary to the hoplophobes’ characterizations, aren’t “weapons of mass destruction” or any of the other hyperbolic descriptions. In fact, they’re no different from any other semi-automatic firearm, in that they only fire one round per trigger pull. Further, as they’re the most commonly-owned rifle in general circulation, the Supreme Court decision in the landmark case of “D.C. v. Heller” assures their legitimacy.

Calling these guns a “full-on grade military arsenal”, as Gary Horton did earlier this week in his rant column against guns, is like calling Johnny Depp a real pirate. It makes no sense at all. In fact, if you ever found yourself on an actual battlefield and all you had was an AR-15, your life expectancy could be measured in minutes.

In Vegas, the killer used a “bump stock”, an after-market device that attaches to the rifle, to increase the rate of fire of his guns. Frankly, I’d never heard of this device before, and I’m pretty knowledgeable about guns. Whether or not this is an illegal modification of the guns is, I believe, a legitimate topic for discussion. But other than that, the jihad against AR-15s is a cynical exploitation of this tragic event to piecemeal advance the anti-gunners’ ultimate objective of trying to completely outlaw gun ownership in this country.

To that end, I want to acknowledge and thank Representative Steve Knight for his courage and conviction in standing firm for the rights of gun ownership. It’s thanks to people like him that we have any rights left at all.

The reality is that there isn’t any law at all that would have prevented that maniac from committing his insane act. None. We don’t know why he did it. We probably never will. I don’t think it matters. Sometimes crazy is just crazy.

He wanted to kill a bunch of people. He rented a hotel room and used guns. He could have rented a van and mowed them down. Timothy McVeigh rented a van and used fertilizer. The 9/11 jihadis bought airline tickets and hijacked jet aircraft.

Sometimes crazy is just crazy.

 

 

 

©Brian Baker 2017

(This column was published today in the print edition of my local newspaper, The Signal, as part of a pro/con debate on the issue of gun control in light of the Las Vegas massacre)

Like Clockwork

 

Leftists hate the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Last week it was the First Amendment; this week it’s the Second. Under attack, one after the other, like clockwork.

In the wake of the horrific events last weekend in Las Vegas, a massacre perpetrated by a madman, anti-gun leftists (are there any other kind?) wasted not a minute in raising the hue and cry to exploit the tragedy for their own political agenda.

In the Wednesday, 4 October edition of The Signal (link), Gary Horton’s column entitled “America the unexceptional” typified their hysteria.

I anticipated the now-standard emotional hyperbole from the Left every time something like this happens. It’s as predictable as the sun rising in the east. But really, Horton’s exceeds even those expectations.

Horton: “It’s time for a moment of silence and thought in America.”

An empty, hypocritical platitude. The shooting took place Sunday night. The column was published Wednesday. In order for his column to have been in that day’s edition The Signal’s editors would have had to have it in hand Monday. Which means there wasn’t any “moment of silence” from Horton. Oh, no.

Like some grisly vulture, I have no doubt that within hours at most, like the rest of his leftist ilk, he was at his keyboard scrawling his bile before the bodies had even cooled.

I noticed that his little chart of the gun death rates in various countries seemed to be real selective. Why is that, I wonder? For example, Switzerland has virtually universal gun possession, yet their rate of gun deaths is about 1/3 of that in this country. Under his inane thesis, shouldn’t their death rate be at least as high as ours? Or could it be that the underlying problem is something other than possession itself of guns?

To that point, how come I never see leftist loons bleating for car bans every time some nut commits mass murder by driving his car into a crowd?

Horton: “Freedom to amass personal military arsenals – or a simple freedom to simply gather un-assaulted in public spaces?”

As I already illustrated, it’s not an either/or issue. They’re not mutually exclusive at all. But let’s consider a practical element. Now, I know this is alien territory to Horton and those like him, what with their leftist unfamiliarity with practicality and all. But let’s give it a shot. Let’s say Horton could get some law passed banning …. something. He’s not even clear on what he actually DOES want to ban (as usual with those guys), but let’s say he could waive his magic wand and pass some kind of ban.

Then what happens?

Does he actually think every gun owner is going to waltz into the local cop shop and hand his guns over? If he does, that’s laugh-out-loud funny.

Is he going to stop murders, or even mass murders? Killers are already ignoring the law just by doing their killing. Does he think they’re going to worry about a gun control law? And what about all the people who kill – including mass killings – with other implements?

Under his loony thesis, this country should be drug-free! Yet heroin and cocaine flood the streets. Not to mention (though mention it I will) all the illegal aliens who shouldn’t be freely walking around. After all, it’s “against the law”, right?

Even more problematic is the underlying idea, as expressed by Horton in this case, that any right enjoyed by this country’s citizens is hostage to the actions of a very tiny fraction of that population that abuses the right. Well under one percent of legally-owned guns in this country are ever used in a crime, yet Horton et al would severely restrict, if not outright outlaw, private gun ownership, a fundamental right.

We’ve seen the same thing happen regarding the First Amendment right to free speech with calls for banning so-called “hate speech”. Such “hate speech” laws have actually been enacted in some “free” countries, to sometimes devastating effect.

The real threats to liberty – and yes, our security – come from the opportunistic and cynical policy proposals advanced by leftists like Horton, who swoop down on every tragic event to exploit it for political gain, and to advance their own divisive and destructive agenda.

Don’t ever let them succeed.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2017