Thursday, March 28, 2013

So, ya want government control over marriage?

This week, the US Supreme Court has announced that it will decide whether a couple of marriage-defining laws are valid: California's Proposition 8 wherein a majority of California voters defined marriage as a union of one man and one woman and the Federal Defense of Marriage act (DOMA) which does the same thing for federal purposes.

For all of recorded history, society has defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman -- sometimes multiple spouses. Nature establishes the same definition.

Ah, but some people are smarter than God, don't you know? In recent years, a tiny segment of society has chosen to change that definition and impose it on others. Because we have lost touch with God and Nature, that tiny minority has successfully evangelized and bullied a growing segment of society into accepting that revolutionary redefinition. This is where the State Religion of Secularism has taken us.

The redefinition and destruction of marriage began many decades ago when we allowed government to usurp control over marriage away from the Church and the family -- for racist reasons. Fellow commentator Connor Boyack agreed that, regarding marriage, Caesar has usurped the role of God.

99% of American's can't, or refuse to see, the root of the problem. We have allowed, even demanded, government to grow to the point where it controls every aspect of our lives. Americans have decided to use government power to impose their values upon others. The extreme divisiveness we have in our nation today is not merely because we all have differing opinions -- but because too many of us want government to impose their own will on those of differing opinions. We have lost sight of the most basic right -- the right to be left alone. Yes, even homosexuals and heterosexuals.

What everyone fails to understand is that politicians, judges, and bureaucrats have decided how we are supposed to behave. They have written laws -- most notably tax laws -- to manipulate us. Instead of fighting to abolish those manipulatory laws, the homosexual community has chosen to have those laws modified to manipulate everyone's behavior the way they want behavior manipulated. Instead of having minimally intrusive government wherein everyone can quietly live their lives so long as they don't infringe the rights of others, activists seek to impose their will on everyone else.

The founders wisely envisioned government as existing to protect our rights -- not to define and regulate them. They wrote a Constitution with very limited and clearly define powers delegated to the central government, leaving all other power to the States and the people.

But, being ignorant products of a Secularist education system most Americans have no clue what their rights really are nor how the Constitution would protect them if followed. So, instead of telling the government to keep their hands off our rights, Americans demand that government define and redefine rights to suit one special interest group or another!

Consequently, the central government gets to make decisions on virtually every aspect of life -- even basic religious and family issues such as marriage and how to raise a child.

The controversial cases currently before the Supreme Court (California's Prop. 8 and DOMA) ask the wrong question. The correct question is whether the central government has any authority whatsoever to define marriage or to reward/punish one form of marriage or another or even punish/reward bachelorhood. A careful reading of the Constitution shows that it does not.

I subscribe to the time-tested Biblical definition of marriage. But, I do not seek to impose it on anyone else. I only ask homosexual activists to give me the same respect -- to not bully me into endorsing their lifestyle or to use government to force me to endorse or pay for it. Leave me and my religious beliefs alone!

For another perspective, click here.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Won't stand up to the Feds? Follow the money!

Utah HB.114 (Second Amendment Preservation Act) was probably the most important piece of legislation to be considered in Utah this year. I am pleased that my representatives, Senator Evan Vickers and Representative John Westwood had the courage to support this bill and I thank them.

Not only was HB.114 an effort to enforce the Second Amendment, it was a effort to enforce the Tenth Amendment. More importantly, it was an effort to enforce the entire US Constitution by telling the central government that it has exceeded its authority and that the People of Utah will not tolerate that usurpation of power.

I am saddened that the leadership of the Utah Senate and Utah Governor Gary Herbert were unwilling to take that stand. The People of the State of Utah and the People of the United States also lost when that bill failed.

Every member of the Utah Legislature as well as the Governor have a sworn duty to defend the Utah Constitution and the US Constitution. HB.114 was designed to do exactly that. Unfortunately, not enough of those sworn defenders were willing to take a stand.

I suspect that many of the weak-kneed politicians who didn't support HB.114 were largely concerned about money. You see, a substantial portion of each state's budget is "free" money from the central government. That shameful dependency includes Utah. Standing up to the central government is a good way to lose that "free" money. Too many of the Utah's elected officials prefer the comfort of that "free" money over defending the the Utah Constitution, the US Constitution and Liberty.

To compound the issue, there was a rumor that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" (MAIG, also known as "Muggers Against Individually-owned Guns") funded lobbying efforts against HB.114 and other pro-gun bills this year.

Utah's politicians who failed to support HB.114 should be ashamed. More importantly, the voters who put them in office should be ashamed.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Emotional sixth-grade legislators

Maxim of the day: Anyone who has to say "I am not a sixth-grader" to get respect probably is.

Today, gun-owning, anti-gun Senator Dianne "I am not a sixth-grader" Feinstein of California had a testy exchange with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas confirming that her gun-control agenda is founded primarily on emotion supplemented by reliance on flawed judicial rulings.

Emotion is a horrid foundation for laws of any kind. This is one of the very reasons we have the US Constitution and why we expect our politicians and judges to fully comply with its limits on government power. When followed, the Constitution protects the People and Liberty from people who are ruled by emotion.

Rand asked Feinstein whether it is appropriate to ration other rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights just as she wants to ration the right to arms. She never answered the question, responding only with vague emotion-laced banalities. When challenged on her failure to answer simple questions on rationing rights, she only responded with more emotion-laced banalities. You see, in her mind, her feelings and her desire to get her way trump the Constitution.

It is even more troubling that Feinstein looks to a Supreme Court ruling for loopholes she can exploit to further her agenda. Her oath of office dictates that her sole source for what is constitutional must be the plain wording of the Constitution itself -- not the opinions of lawyers in black robes who can't agree on almost anything and, indeed, did not agree in the Heller Decision she leans on to rationalize her emotional gun-control agenda! It is an awfully weak legislator or president who relies on another branch of government to say what's constitutional -- where is the so-called "balance of powers" in that?

My own oath to the Constitution requires me to oppose any politician whose judgement is so clouded by emotion for so long as is Feinstein's obviously is and who is not consistently guided by the Constitution.

I urge Feinstein, all other politicians, all judges, and all bureaucrats (all of who take an oath to the Constitution) to clear their minds of emotion and base all legislative, regulatory, judicial, and policy decisions on the Constitution.

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 US Constitution

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. -- Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution
Every American must understand and always remember that there is no room in the Second and Tenth Amendments (or anywhere else in the Bill of Rights) for any compromise. There is no authority anywhere in the Constitution -- regardless of what lawyers in black robes say -- for the central government to regulate firearms in any way. Indeed, both the Second and Tenth Amendments specifically prohibit the central government from meddling in the right to arms (including the bazooka Feinstein petulantly mentioned in her retort to Cruz).

All federal gun-control legislation, regulation, and policies must be nullified and rescinded immediately. The Constitution and clear-thinking Americans demand it.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

May gun-control activists buy guns?

There is a bit of grumbling about gun-control activist, retired astronaut, and husband of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly, buying a couple of firearms. Some among the tin-foil-hat brigade are alleging that Kelly committed a crime because he says he wants to give away one of the firearms.

Hypocritical, yes. Unlawful, no.

Buying a firearm as a gift to a law-abiding responsible person is perfectly lawful according to federal law and the laws in the free states such as Arizona where Kelly bought these firearms.

A "straw purchase" is where the purchase is made on behalf of a restricted person. Here is the law:
18 CFR § 922. - Unlawful acts
(d) It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person -
(1) is under indictment for, or has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
(2) is a fugitive from justice;
(3) is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802));
(4) has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution;
(5) who, being an alien -
(A) is illegally or unlawfully in the United States; or
(B) except as provided in subsection (y)(2), has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa (as that term is defined in section 101(a)(26) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(26)));
(6) who [1] has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
(7) who, having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his citizenship;
(8) is subject to a court order that restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child, except that this paragraph shall only apply to a court order that -
(A) was issued after a hearing of which such person received actual notice, and at which such person had the opportunity to participate; and
(B)(i) includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or
(ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury; or
(9) has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
Kelly's local police department is [hopefully] not a restricted entity.

Remember that Kelly's fellow hypocrite Sarah Brady also bought a rifle as a gift to another (a law-abiding, responsive son). Hypocritical, yes. Unlawful, no.

You see, anti-gun zealots like Mark Kelly, Dianne Feinstein, Sarah Brady, and Barry Soetoro don't want to ban all guns -- just the guns that aren't in the hands of the elite (eg Mark Kelly) and myriad government agents -- just like the Soviet Union.

Kelly claimed that the process of buying the rifle was easy. So? Just how hard should it be for responsible people to exercise a constitutionally-guaranteed right? My question is, Mr. Kelly, how hard do you think that purchase would have been if your name were in a government database database as one of several categories of restricted persons?

My advice to Mr. Kelly is to keep that rifle. Take it out and shoot it regularly. Take your bride shooting with you. Celebrate your priceless right to responsibly own and use it. Besides, the police will only use it for one of the reasons you need it -- self defense and the defense of your family. But, if you chose to donate it to the local police department, good for you. It's one less expense they need to make -- but don't expect your local taxes to go down. And, don't forget to take that donation off your federal and state income taxes.

Buying a gun is different from voting in many states in some very meaningful ways:
• To buy a gun from a dealer, one must show photo ID to prove identity. The wise seller in a private gun sale imposes the same requirement. On the other hand, in many States, no proof of identity or citizenship is required to vote.
• It is unlawful to legally possess, buy, or sell a firearm or ammunition through a dealer or through a private sale if the buyer has a history of being irresponsible (that'd be that list of a dozen restricting characteristics that Kelly checked off on the Form 4473 he filled out to buy his firearms). On the other hand, in all States, irresponsible people are encouraged to vote.
• The buyer must be a legal resident of one of the United States. On the other hand, many States have no effective process to screen out those who shouldn't be voting. • To get a firearm permit, one must go to the effort to seek it out and then pass a criminal background check -- in addition the the check required to buy a gun. On the other hand, if a chimpanzee successfully applied for a driver's license, he'd likely also be automatically registered to vote.

Wouldn't it be nice if similar basic standards were applied to voting?

We need smarter voters.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Good, Evil, and the Constitution

As in the past, I argue that we are not in a struggle against Democrats and Republicans, Liberals against Conservatives, RINOs against Republicans, Left against Right, Moderate against Conservative, Moderate against Liberal. None of those.

No, we are in a struggle of Good against Evil.

Good can carry several names: Democrat, Republican, Liberal, Conservative, RINO, Republican, Left, Right, Moderate, Libertarian, etc.

Evil can carry several names: Democrat, Republican, Liberal, Conservative, RINO, Republican, Left, Right, Moderate, Libertarian, etc.

The biggest problem we have in our society today is that most people have failed to learn how to recognize the difference between Good and Evil. Instead, we assume that certain labels are good enough to make that distinction. They aren't.
No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders. — Samuel Adams (letter to James Warren, 4 Nov 1775)
There is one way of identifying what is True and Good. And it isn't mere labels. It's reliance on God and the guidance he has given us through prophets and personal inspiration. Much of what is True and Good is written in the Scriptures. Some of God's Truth is also found in this nations founding documents. Truth and Goodness is not found in moral relativism or political correctness. The only standard for what is Good is the absolute truth God has given us.
What is absolutely true is always correct, everywhere, all the time, under any condition. An entity's ability to discern these things is irrelevant to that state of truth. — Steven Robiner
I believe that the nation's founding documents have God's hand in them. I believe that both God and natural consequences, hold us accountable if we fail to follow the inspired principles found in our founding documents and if we fail to insist our politicians follow them.

Senator Rand Paul has made an effort to get the Obama Administration to say whether it will wage drone warfare without a proper declaration of war as required by the Constitution and whether life and property will be destroyed without due process of law as required by the Constitution. Unfortunately, we have elected both Democrats and Republicans who are all too willing to ignore these -- and most other -- basic protections of the Constitution.

Additionally, the filibuster held up a vote on whether John Brennan, an enemy of the Constitution, is to be Director of the CIA. Again, this is a struggle between Good and Evil. The Constitution demands Senate confirmation of presidential nominees specifically to protect the Constitution -- and Good -- from such people.

If our leaders and judges were consistently Good, there would be no need for the Constitution. But, we cannot reasonably elect a perfect or consistently Good person to public office or appoint a perfect or consistently Good judge to the bench. Adherence to the Constitution protects Good from imperfect politicians and judges. It is the duty of voters to insist that every politician and judge adhere to the Constitution.

Politicians on both the Left and the Right condemned Dr. Paul's filibuster. Most visible among the critics were Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Was Paul's filibuster little more than a political stunt? Yeah, probably. But, McCain, Graham, and Barrack Obama are not on the side of Good in this debate. The vast majority of voters don't care -- if they even know. Most of those who care only care about the labels. They don't care about what is Good or Evil.

We need smarter -- and Good -- voters.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Is open carry of a firearm the same as brandishing?

The Utah Legislature is well into its 2013 session. On the agenda are some pro-gun and some anti-gun bills. As is their right, there have been several pro-gun citizens in attendance at some of the committee meetings where these bills are being considered. There also have been some pro-gun rallies on the Capitol steps. Some of these activists have openly carried firearms -- both handguns and long guns. Open carry is perfectly legal in this state. In fact, when visiting the Utah Capitol Building myself, I have seen legislators and their staff openly carrying firearms themselves.

Of course, I have some opinions about these gun bills and have written to the governor and to my legislators about what to support and what to oppose. For example, on 22 February I wrote to my legislators about HB.76 (Concealed Weapon Carry Amendments):
I am deeply concerned that Governor [Gary] Herbert is wobbly-kneed on protecting our state and federal Constitutions. A few hours ago, he commented on HB.76 saying, "Background checks ought to be a part of the process. We ought to keep them out of the hands of criminals, of those who are mentally unstable. It doesn't matter if it’s an assault weapon or a .22-caliber handgun. They shouldn't have them."
I've read HB.76 several times. I fail to understand how the above comment relates to HB.76 -- how does HB.76 nullify federal and state laws which prohibit irresponsible people from possessing firearms? How does forcing good people pay for a background check to exercise a constitutionally-guaranteed right stop bad people from buying or using a gun without a background check? More to the point of the governor's statement, how does HB.76 put guns in the hands of irresponsible people?
Like you, Governor Herbert swore an oath to both the Utah and US Constitutions. Please hold him to that oath. Both Constitutions specifically prohibit any infringement of the right to arms. The requirement to submit to a background check and to pay a fee in order to get government permission to exercise a constitutionally-protected right is an unacceptable violation of both Constitutions and must be rescinded!
I urge you to do everything you can to ensure that HB.76 is passed with an overwhelming veto-proof majority.
One of my legislators answered:
If this bill makes it to the senate I will vote for it. The sponsor is concerned by some of the people who showed up to the committee hearing basically acting very abusively and derogatory while brandishing weapons. This type of behavior just hurts our efforts to protect gun rights. (Emphasis mine)
I was surprised by his report of "brandishing." Merriam-Webster defines brandish as "to shake or wave (as a weapon) menacingly" or "to exhibit in an ostentatious or aggressive manner".

The word brandish isn't used in Utah gun law. Instead, what Utah law (76-10-506) says is that
a person who, in the presence of two or more persons, draws or exhibits a dangerous weapon in an angry and threatening manner or unlawfully uses a dangerous weapon in a fight or quarrel is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
That section also says,
As used in this section, "threatening manner" does not include...the possession of a dangerous weapon, whether visible or concealed, without additional behavior which is threatening.
I've seen news reports confirming that some gun-rights advocates wore or carried their firearms openly while attending recent committee meetings related to gun rights. If there truly was some brandishing of arms, that would have been unlawful -- why was no one arrested? In most cases, such open-carry seems a bit silly and counterproductive to me. I agree with my legislator that it "hurts our efforts to protect gun rights" -- especially when trying to influence a person as fickle on this Constitutionally-guaranteed right as Governor Herbert. But, open-carry hardly meets Merriam-Webster's definition of brandishing nor is it the equivalent of brandishing as expressed in 76-10-506.

Using the word "brandishing" to describe a lawful, but silly, behavior in the capitol building is a bit extreme. In my opinion, whoever told my legislator that people were brandishing firearms does not understand (or choses to ignore) the meaning of the word and has lost credibility on the issue of gun rights. My legislator and/or his source(s) need to be more careful in choosing words because words have meanings.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Can the Bill of Rights be voted away?

In our Declaration of Independence (1776), our founders announced 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....
A few years later (1787), the founders established a new government to protect our natural, God-given rights. They designed the US Constitution with clearly-limited authorities and roles. To further clarify the limitations imposed on the central government, they quickly amended it with the Bill of Rights (1791) to protect "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" from imperfect government officials.
The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections. — Robert H Jackson, US Supreme Court Justice (West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), 319 US 624)
Nobody is the perfect elected official or civil servant. Some are more flawed than others. Too many are clearly evil.

Their relentless assault on a clearly defined constitutionally-guaranteed human right which "shall not be infringed" (unless they can get the majority vote feared by Justice Jackson) place congressmen Dianne Feinstein, Charles Schumer, Frank Lautenberg, Carolyn McCarthy, Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Nita Lowey, and others firmly in the "evil" category.

Some Americans aren't particularly concerned about some of the rights protected by the Constitution. One might not be concerned about being forced to house occupying soldiers (Third Amendment), or having to pay excessive bail (Eight Amendment), or having property taken by government agents without just compensation (Fifth Amendment), or being forced to give up the best means of self-protection -- a gun -- (Second Amendment) because these events are so rare nowadays or because one doesn't have a gun.

But, anyone who would ignore, tolerate, or encourage the loss of any natural right of any other person is subject to the loss some or all of the rights they cherish themselves. We all must be willing and prepared to fight for, and demand that government protect -- not infringe, all the natural rights of each other, regardless of whether we personally use or think we need those same rights.

Think of the US Constitution as a "Power of Attorney" wherein one person authorizes another to do certain acts on his or her behalf and which prohibits other specific acts. The Constitution is a "Power of Attorney" to do certain specifically-enumerated things on behalf of the States and the People. If the central government goes beyond that authority or if it fails to do anything it is required to do, it is in violation of the Constitution (Power of Attorney).

A key feature of the Constitution is the requirement that each of the above imperfect public servants (elected, appointed, and employed) swear an oath of loyalty to the Constitution -- not to an agenda, political party, or to any person (including voters). They swear to comply with the Constitution ("Power of Attorney") and to protect it from anyone who would violate it. That oath doesn't seem to mean much to most public servants nor to a very large portion of the American voters.

If our public servants follow that Constitution, "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" are protected for all Americans and visitors. If it is not followed, only the elites have Liberty -- just as in feudal England, the former Soviet Union, or Mao's China -- so long as they aren't hanged by rivals for power or by the People -- just as in feudal England, the former Soviet Union, or Mao's China.

Unfortunately, the Constitution isn't self-enforcing. Experience has proven that the three branches of the central government cannot be relied on to enforce the Constitution nor to limit the usurpation of power by the central government.

Only one person can enforce the Constitution: the voter. We need smarter voters.

Hoplophobia in the parent-teacher relationship

HB.389 would allow a "parent to move the parent's child from the classroom of a teacher if the teacher is carrying a concealed firearm."

I suppose parents have that right. They are already free to exercise that right by moving their children to a private school that bans responsible adults from possessing guns. The people who are opposed to such school choice also tend to be those who are opposed to teachers having guns. Ironic.

But teachers also have a constitutionally-guaranteed right to self-protection. Most of Utah's legislators honor this right. If a Utah public-school teacher is ever forced by circumstances to activate this right, the children of hoplophobic parents will also, by default, be protected. Ironic.

HB.389 is aimed at armed teachers. Why single out the teacher? What about the custodian, secretary, principal, nurse, counselor, and bus driver who are also carrying guns? Shouldn't paranoid parents and legislators discriminate against them too?

In order for HB.389 to work, several people must know which teachers carry firearms for self-protection. The bill therefore requires
teachers who carry concealed firearms to school to notify the principal of the school;
permits a parent to inquire if the teacher of the parent's child is carrying a concealed firearm;
requires a principal to tell a parent who inquires if the teacher of the parent's child is carrying a concealed firearm;
allows a parent to request removal of the parent's child from a classroom with a teacher carrying a concealed firearm;
requires the school to comply with a parent's request to remove the parent's child from a classroom with a teacher carrying a concealed firearm;
and provides that the information obtained by the parent is confidential. *
There are those who call for armed uniformed police officers in every school. I oppose this idea even though it has been proposed by the NRA, of which I am a life member. School duty would surely be a very boring assignment for most police officers. But it would also be very dangerous because a uniformed officer, or anyone who is known to be armed, would most certainly be the first target. Once the officer is down, the attacker(s) would have unfettered control in the school -- plus the officer's weapons. What then? Wait for the rest of their 20-minute lives for help to arrive as did the teachers and children of Sandy Hook?

One of the profound beauties of Utah's concealed firearm permit process is its confidentiality. Nobody knows who has the guns. That substantially increases the uncertainty and risk for those who chose to commit violence. It gives the teachers and school staff the element of surprise if his or her classroom is attacked.

In the case of Utah's school teachers and staff having firearms, not even the principle knows, or needs to know who has the gun. In fact, nobody else in the school knows, or should know, whether the principal carries a gun! That protects every armed employee from being a primary target in the event of a school attack.

HB.389 would defeat all of that security to satisfy the anti-gun bigotry of a tiny handful of parents and legislators.

Every employee in our public schools is under constant scrutiny by supervisors, taxpayers, and parents and must pass a background check to even have the job. They must pass another background check to obtain a Utah Concealed Firearm Permit (CFP). They must pass still another background check or verification of a valid CFP to buy a firearm. The men and women working in our schools are therefore FBI-double-or-triple-certified as being responsible adults! HB.389 implies that they are not. HB.389 is dangerous for reasons outlined above and it is a slap in the face of every one of Utah's teachers.

HB.389 must be defeated if not withdrawn.

* Note: Regardless of this confidentiality provision, the ultimate goal of anyone supporting this bill is likely to put those names out on the web for everyone to see, just like the stupidity of New York publishing gun owners names and addresses.