Here, I submit, is another great example of how the Alice-in-Wonderland creatures in Washington use words that seem perfectly clear to those of us with old-fashioned dictionaries -- as they’re meant to -- but that really mean something completely different to the congresscritters who use them as they wink, nudge, and cross their fingers behind their backs.
Ask any of these senators, who claim they want a law that would “secure our border” (because that’s what their mail tells them Americans overwhelmingly want) whether they’d favor a double chain-link fence, with big signs posted in English and Spanish every hundred yards, all the way along the border, broken only at 24-hour manned border crossings, with a 50-yard no-man’s land between the two fences, well planted with military contact antipersonnel mines.
I believe I can safely predict that at least 97 of them will react with horror, telling you “No one wants to do anything that extreme!” Instead, they favor putting thousands more border guards on the federal payroll, presumably to count the illegal aliens as they pour through. Maybe they could also hand out “Welcome Wagon” kits including Taco Bell discount coupons and voter registration cards.
Some will argue “It would be inhumane to kill thousands of unarmed civilians.” Well, A) What do you think happened when we bombed Baghdad in our “shock and awe” campaign three years ago? And those people weren’t even trying to break any of our laws. But more to the point, B) Who says you’d have to kill thousands? Once the fence was built and the warnings went up, what do you think would happen to the trespassing rate after the first 20 would-be invaders committed suicide by climbing the fence to find out if the marked minefields were real?
Cost? You’d hardly have to man it -- maybe a daily patrol by a couple guys in a Jeep to make sure no major mine-clearing operations were underway. And it’s personnel that cost the real money.
Did I just call for this to be done? I don’t think so. Libertarians generally support free movement of peoples, merely demanding that we get rid of mandated “welfare” benefits that attract deadbeats by taxing more productive citizens to fund “free” schooling and emergency-room health care for leeches and freeloaders. I greatly prefer this “everyone-pays-their-own-way” solution.
But please note this is precisely what’s missing from any demand on the part of our strident, flag-waving illegals for amnesty and open borders -- any discussion of how we’re to prevent a crushing tax burden of America’s taxpayers to fund “free stuff for anyone who can walk in and grab it” -- while would-be LEGAL immigrants who speak English and have valuable, high-paying skills and can’t wait to assimilate as proud new Americans languish in line in India or Asia, watching as their places are taken by illiterate gardeners and dish-washers who happen to enjoy a land bridge.
This means taxpaying U.S. citizens face the prospect of being caught up in a thumbprint “national ID” system (going into full force in 2008) which imposes an ever-tighter web of government surveillance over our financial lives (to limit “tax evasion” -- try to open a bank account without one) while illegal aliens with no insurance or means or intention to pay damages are allowed to shrug and walk away from traffic accidents, simply because there “aren’t enough jails to hold them.”
What other nation in the world has tried to impose a two-tiered system, where the heavier burdens fall on legal residents who try to obey the law (90 percent of those jailed for income tax “crimes” are filers, remember), while the greater rewards go to invading scofflaws? Is this some Monty Python routine, where the feudal fishing village puts up a sign that reads “Welcome Viking raiders! Great crop of ale and virgins this year!”?
My only point is that any politician who claims he wants to “secure the borders,” who then proposes spending more millions of tax dollars to create more “border guard” jobs for the nieces and nephews of his campaign contributors -- without voting to authorize the use of mines and machine guns -- means by “securing our borders” something quite different from what he wants the average voter to believe he means.
And I say that means they’re “lying.” Again.
One Craig Vincent writes in: “Hi from New Zealand, I just read your ‘If a black man is armed, is he a criminal?’ I found it interesting and timely. On the news tonight Shell oil had a forecourt service guy describe how he had watched a security guard receive a good kicking and then handed over the night’s takings -- otherwise the bad guy would have stuck him with a knife.
“The police said he did a perfect job they can now get on with investigating the robbery. A double barrel shotgun under the counter would have allowed a much simpler police investigation. ...
“In New Zealand we have to have a 10-year renewable firearms license that is required for everything except air rifles and air pistols. ... A ‘B’ category license covers pistols which you must use on a approved range at least 12 times per year (no shooting off range and no hunting) and they are registered with about a 20 percent error rate in rego details.”
An “E” category license “is for ‘military style’ assault rifles,” Mr. Vincent reports. “Semi-auto only and all are registered. If you have an E-cat ALL your firearms are registered. Here comes the confiscation :-( even if the police won’t admit it.
“Of course when you apply for your license you must sign a declaration that you will never use a firearm in defense of self or property.”
(A reader) “who said that firearms could never be banned in the USA obviously lives in a fairyland where pigs can and do fly. There have been some defensive shootings that the police did not manage to prosecute here. A farmer lost his farm in legal fees but was found not guilty after shooting a thief in the process of steeling his 4-wheeler farm bike. The thief has sworn off theft. ... Maybe having a 12-gauge slug enter your back just below rib height and exit out the side of his throat gave him a new outlook on his ways. ...”
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Noted Alabama constitutional attorney Larry Becraft writes in, concerning recent Second Amendment discussions:
“Vin, You did not mention: http://www.usdoj.gov/olc/secondamendment2.htm -- Larry.”
Frankly, I’m cautious about using Department of Justice filings, since they’re inherently political and could easily shift under some future Hillaryesque administration. Nonetheless, Larry does offer up an official DOJ memorandum of opinion, dated Aug. 24, 2004, which finds:
“The Second Amendment secures a right of individuals generally, not a right of States or a right restricted to persons serving in militias. ... As developed in the analysis below, we conclude that the Second Amendment secures a personal right of individuals, not a collective right that may only be invoked by a State or a quasi-collective right restricted to those persons who serve in organized militia units. ...
“The Amendment’s prefatory clause, considered under proper rules of interpretation, could not negate the individual right recognized in the clear language of the operative clause. In any event, the prefatory clause -- particularly its reference to the ‘Militia,’ which was understood at the Founding to encompass all able-bodied male citizens, who were required to be enrolled for service -- is fully consistent with an individual-right reading of the operative language. ...”
Wesley Horton writes from Edmond, OK:
“Vin, I read with interest your column devoted to the thinking of the framers of the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, would they have authored the Second Amendment knowing what sort of terrible and hideous weapons would be developed in the years ahead?
"Actually, they gave some intimation of their thoughts before the ratification of the Bill of Rights. I would remind the casual reader that article I section 8 which delegates the powers of Congress. Specifically, this passage: ‘To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal ...’
“These days, it is pretty much a given that most citizens of the United States would have no idea what a letter of marque and reprisal is. A quick review of history shows that such letters were granted to individual privateers, giving them blanket authority to attack and seize ships of foreign powers. The import of the passage being that most foreign ships were well armed and armored. Thus, the sort of weaponry that would be required to mount a successful attack on such a ship would require cannons. At that time, cannons were crew served weapons of great destruction, equivalent to a howitzer, a machine gun, a stinger anti aircraft weapon and such.
“Simply put, it would have been impossible for anyone to have acted on such a letter of marquee and/or reprisal with only individual weapons.”
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Dave Yates, executive member of Virginia Citizen’s Defense League, writes:
“Vin, Your article on the National Parks ban on self defense was familiar. ... As you covered so well in your article, the ever so vague ‘border’ that defines a National Park is not a magic talisman that prevents crime.
“What I was hoping to see in your article was coverage of the current attempt to repeal the National Parks ban on self-defense. On Feb. 11, 2005, the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) delivered a petition for rule making to the Department of the Interior to end the current ban on self-defense in National Parks. There are over 40 co-petitioners, and a growing list of Congressional supporters.
The petition can be viewed from VCDL’s home page -- http://www.vcdl.org. Or see htttp://www.bighammer.net/pages/22/index.htm.”