Sunday, February 3, 2013


      If you listen to the whining and wailing of the National Rifle Association, Obama and his minions on the left are trying to give last rites to our second amendment rights.  Ah, the 2nd amendment, so trickily worded, so misunderstood.  People read into it whatever they want to, regardless of what it says. Let’s examine the reason for including the 2nd Amendment in our Bill of Rights before we analyze the wording of the amendment itself.
      After gaining their independence in the Revolutionary War, the colonies in 1781 formed a very weak government under a document known as the Articles of Confederation.  It was exactly the kind of weak government that Tea Party Republicans now yearn for.  Only one problem: it was so weak that it didn’t work.  The straw that broke the camel’s back came in the form of Shay’s Rebellion in Massachusetts in 1786 and 1787.  A weak central government could barely defend itself against a "mob" of disgruntled citizens.
      And so it came to be that delegations from each state met in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 to write our present Constitution, a document whose goal was to strengthen the federal government while protecting the liberties of citizens.  Those protections came in the form of a Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment, designed to secure the new government against another Shay's Rebellion. That amendment reads (with my word mark-ups) as follows:

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.

Let’s scrutinize the words of this amendment:
·         What is the purpose of the “militia”?
o   To provide for the "security of a free state."
§  Which free state?
·         The state created by this new Constitution, the USA 
·         Who are the members of this militia?
o   “the people” i.e. the citizens of this “free state” created by the Constitution
·         Who regulates the militia?
o   “the free state” i.e. the government of the Constitution, the USA.  The framers must have been a bit leery of the militia they created, because they wanted them, not just regulated, but “well-regulated”.
o   Does the word "arms" mean guns?
§  "Arms" includes not only guns, but any weapon, including tanks, bazookas, flamethrowers, grenades, bombs, planes, drones
§  For the Framers, arms were probably limited to muskets, knives and your own two fists
o   What does “infringed” mean?
§  It means “limited.”
o   Right!  So the government can’t limit the amount or types of guns we own.
§  Wrong!  It is your “right” to “keep and bear arms” that can’t be infringed or limited. The kinds of arms you have a right to bear can be designated by those who “well regulate” the militia, namely the “free state” which was established by the Constitution.  That “free state” is the USA.
o   The Supreme Court would consider the banning of any weapon as unconstitutional, a violation of the 2nd amendment.
§  Not so.  In the 1930s the Supreme Court validated the government’s ban on machine guns and sawed-off shotguns.  Very conservative Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia has stated that the government can ban certain weapons.  Banning all weapons would be unconstitutional.

Now let's examine the following gun lobby beliefs:
o   Banning assault rifles and large magazine clips won't prevent mass shootings by the mentally unstable.
§  That is true.  However, banning these weapons will reduce the number and severity of these shooting events.  It is like saying that setting speed limits and imposing mandatory safety items like seatbelts on cars won't prevent fatal accidents.  That is also true.  However, those very measures reduced the number of accidents and fatalities by almost half.
o   We don’t need new gun laws; we just need to enforce the laws we already have.
§  This is truly diabolical.  The gun lobby has successfully blocked the appointment of a leader of the ATF, the chief federal enforcement agency for those laws.  Moreover, they have held back funding for the agency to the point where they are understaffed.  Then they have the audacity to complain about lax in enforcement of current gun laws.
o   It is a slippery slope.  If one weapon gets banned, before you know it, another weapon will be banned until all guns are banned.
§  This is a deeply held belief of the gun lobby.  Banning guns intended for hunting, self-defense, or target shooting would be a violation of the "right" "to keep and bear arms", an infringement that would require changing the Constitution, a very difficult thing to do.  The banning of machine guns 75 years ago did not lead to a mass banning of firearms for hunting or self-defense.
o   Banning assault rifles won't keep them out of the hands of criminals.
§  True, but it would make them harder to find and more expensive to buy.  And it would make it much harder for the mentally unstable to acquire these guns.
o   I just love to shoot military weapons.  For me, this is recreation.  Why deny me this pleasure?
§  Cars that are capable of doing 180 mi. /h are banned from the highway in many places.  However, you can go to a racetrack and utilize these cars in a safe environment.  We could do the same for military weapons.  You go to a safe facility, rent your weapon, do your thing and then return the weapon to the facility, which would be in charge of its safe storage.

      Such common sense solutions are difficult to find in times of hysteria.  Most hunters I know have no use for an assault rifle and would have no objection to seeing such a weapon banned.
      However, this is not the age of common sense in America.  Rather, it is the age of hysteria, where reality is replaced by delusion.  The government is coming after our guns!  Oh my God!  A black socialist from Kenya is out to disarm us and take away our freedoms!  Hear that!  Helicopters!  The UN is coming after us!
      Buy your guns and ammo now while you can, boys!  Stock up on food, the end is near!  Nullify federal laws!  Secede from the evil US government!
And so the nonsense goes.  Home of the brave?  Feels more like the home of a bunch of frightened puppies.
      May God bless America by spreading a little common sense in the hearts and minds of her people.



Monday, January 14, 2013


F. Douglass
      As MLK day approached, I decided to re-read Frederick Douglass’ autobiography written around 1845, depicting his life as a slave and his escape to freedom in the North.  In the book Douglas describes the wretched conditions of slavery that he experienced, including an inadequate clothing allowance, insufficient food, and random beatings often administered with no purpose other than to terrify the victims.
      He describes the justice system in Talbot County, Maryland, where he was enslaved, not far from the oft visited and picturesque St. Michael's.  An overseer who had shot a slave to death could only be brought to trial if a white person had witnessed the crime and was willing to testify, a highly unlikely event.  Fifty slaves might have witnessed the event, but by law they could not testify against a white man.
No Marker on Slavery???
      Now, perception is reality, and people usually choose to see what they want to see.  As I read the book, I realized I was reading a view of slavery that does not exist in most white minds.  The white view of slavery is that of Tara, the plantation in Gone with the Wind, where no slave goes hungry or ill-clothed, no whippings occur, and the slaves are happy to serve their master or mistress.
      This got me to reflect on other perceptions of the white mind regarding blacks, not all white minds certainly, but many. It works like this:
·         White eyes upon seeing a line at the welfare office, find the number of blacks in that line to be highly visible while the whites go unnoticed. However, switch to a line of job applicants, and the reverse happens: the whites become visible, and the blacks become invisible.  Amazing!
·         When white eyes see a white man in a BMW, they see success; put a black man behind the wheel of the same car, and they see a potential criminal, probably a drug dealer.
·         White eyes that have no trouble seeing black poverty, are blind when it comes to seeing white poverty.  If you tell them the fact that there are more white people on welfare in Pennsylvania than black people, they simply don't believe you.
·         White eyes have a great deal of trouble seeing a black middle class or upper class.
      The white mind perceives this country has one of truly equal opportunity: if you're willing to work and play by the rules you have the same chance of making it as any other person.  But, if you're a freeloader who is unwilling to work, don't come crying to them.  They honestly believe that a white job applicant and a black job applicant with equal qualifications have the same chance of getting a job that both are applying for. 
      And then along came Obama, a man whose adjectives didn't fit the perceptions of many white minds: hard-working, intelligent, educated, family oriented.  So, they came up with their own descriptions: foreign, socialist, apologizer and code words like "lazy".  They vowed to thwart him on every issue, even if they had supported that issue in the past, something they would never have done to a white president.
      Will white perceptions ever change?  Of course!  Obama wouldn't have been elected to two terms without white votes.  The younger generation, growing up in a diverse society, will see more clearly than the boomer generation, although many  boomers must be given credit for being more tolerant than their parents were.  We are inching along toward the day when any person, even a president, might be judged by the content of his character rather than the color of his skin, to paraphrase Dr. King. It can’t come soon enough.

NOTE: eReaders can get the Douglass autobiography free on Amazon