Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ron Paul's Million Dollar Week

Ron Paul surprised many political pundits last quarter when he blew away John McCain in fundraising, rising to the number three spot for campaign cash on hand. It looks like Dr. Paul will have another banner fundraising quarter in the third-quarter as well.

Dr. Paul's war chest was already doing good when, on Monday, September 24 his campaign announced its goal to raise $500,000 online by Sunday, September 30th, the end of the third-quarter. Ron Paul grassroots supporters rose to the challenge, raising $170,ooo online by the next day, with contributions rolling in at about $10,000 per hour.

On Saturday night Dr. Paul and his wife Carol, campaigning in New Hampshire, watched on a laptop computer as the website counter ticked past one million dollars raised. $1,000,000 raised online in less than a week! Not too bad for a candidate who seems to be ignored by the media and party bosses. It shows what the support of the people can still do.

How much will he raise in the fourth quarter? Hopefully enough to keep scaring the snot out of the political establishment.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Second Amendment- Part Two: An Individual Right

In Part One of my informative series of flawless and thought-provoking essays on the Second Amendment, I brilliantly dispelled the fallacy that "the militia" referred to in the Second Amendment referred to a "select militia," such as today's National Guard. Instead the "general militia" that the Constitutional framers referenced meant all citizens capable of bearing arms for defence.

Although both sides of the current gun debate could probably squabble over the definition of "the militia" indefinitely, the Founding Fathers left little doubt as to what they meant. It is clear that the right they referred to was an individual right, not a "collective" right for the people to bear arms via some state agency as modern gun-prohibitionists (such as Sarah Brady) assert.

The following quotes should further dispel any doubts. Bold emphasis within a quote was added by me.

Patrick Henry:

"The great object is that every man be armed... Every one who is able may have a gun."

Thomas Jefferson:

"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms within his own lands."

Zachariah Johnston:

"The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them..."

Samual Adams:

"The said Constitution [shall] be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms."

Pennsylvania Convention Minority Dissenting Opinion(Dec. 18, 1787):

"That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and their own state, or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game..."

John Adams:

"Arms in the hands of citizens [may] be used at individual discretion... in private self-defence."

Boston Independent Chronicle (Oct.25,1787):

"[I]t was in the law of nature for every man to defend himself, and unlawful for any man to deprive him of those weapons of self defence."

James Madison:

The Constitution preserves "the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation... [where] the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."

William Grayson:

"[A] string of amendments (The Bill of Rights) were presented to the lower House; these altogether respected personal liberty."

Tench Coxe:
"[T]he people are confirmed by the next article (of amendment) in their right to keep and bear their private arms."

Akhil Reed Amar (Modern Yale Law School Professor):

"The ultimate right to keep and bear arms belongs to 'the people', not the 'states.' As the language of the Tenth Amendment shows, these two are of course not identical and when the Constitution means 'states,' it says so." [See below.]

Tenth Amendment, U.S. 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."

See Mrs. Brady? The people and the States are two separate entities. The United States is a third.

Its ridiculous to think that "the people" referred to in the Second Amendment actually means "the States." It is the same "the people" who have the right to peaceably assemble under the First Amendment. It is the same "the people" whose "right [...] to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" is guaranteed in the Fourth Amendment. If we apply the gun-prohibitionists' "the people means the States" logic to the other amendments in the Bill of Rights, it becomes clear how absurd that logic is.

U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution (1982):

"The conclusion is thus inescapable that the history, concept, and wording of the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as well as its interpretation by every major commentator and court in the first half-century after its ratification, indicates that what is protected is an individual right of a private citizen to own and carry firearms in a peaceful manner."

Amen you crafty old Senate Subcommittee you! In the next piece of this stellar series we'll look at how the courts have interpreted the Second Amendment.

To be continued...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Second Amendment- Part One: Who Are "The Militia?"

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitutions reads simply, "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." There is some debate as to what exactly that means.

The anti-gun crowd says that it is only meant to protect a "collective" right, wherein only state-sponsored militias (namely the National Guard) have the right to keep firearms. The pro-gun rights side contends that it protects an individual right, meaning that any law-abiding citizen may keep and bear firearms.

Anti-gun groups assure us that this individual rights interpretation is "divorced from legal and historical reality." Sarah Brady's anti-gun group stated on their website that "The [gun rights side] tends to omit the first, crucial, half of the Second Amendment -- the words referring to a 'well-regulated militia'."

We on the pro-gun side do not omit the militia clause of the amendment. We merely don't try to attach the 21st Century definition of the word "militia" to an 18th Century document. Since many words were even spelled differently at that time (Congress was Congrefs, for example), it stands to reason that their meanings may have changed a bit as well. Think about how the meaning of the words 'gay' and 'mouse' have changed.

So, who are the "militia" referred to in the Second Amendment? For the definition of the militia at the time that the Bill of Rights was written we must look at the statements of the Founding Fathers who were alive at the time.

George Mason:

"[W]ho are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers."

"That the People have a right to keep and bear Arms; that a well regulated Militia, composed of the Body of the People, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe Defense of a free state."

State Gazette of S. Carolina (Sept.8,1788):

"Such are a well regulated militia, composed of the freeholders, citizen and husbandman, who take up arms to preserve their property, as individuals, and their rights as freemen."

Samuel Adams:

"The militia is composed of free citizens."

Tench Cox:

"Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American... The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people."

Providence Gazette & Country Journal (Jan.5, 1790):

"[A] well-regulated militia include[s] the body of the people capable of bearing arms."

The Founding Fathers drew a distinction between the "general militia" composed of the body of the people and a "select militia" which received special weapons and training from the government (like today's National Guard). They viewed "select militias" with almost as much suspicion and loathing as they did standing armies, as the following quote demonstrates.

Richard Henry Lee:

"A militia when properly formed are in fact the people themselves... and include all men capable of bearing arms... To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms... The mind that aims at a select militia, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle."

Shortly after the ratification of the Constitution, the U.S. Congress passed The Militia Act of 1792 that declared that all free male citizens between the ages of 18 and 44 were members of the militia. It also stated that "[e]very citizen... [shall] provide himself with a good musket, or flintlock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints...", in short, that every male citizen be armed. As with other rights, such as voting and owning property, the right to keep and bear arms was slowly extended to women and minorities through the years.

Connecticut Courant (Jan.7, 1788):
"But the people of this country have arms in their hands; they are not destitute of military knowledge; every citizen is required by law to be a soldier."
U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution (1982):

"In the Militia Act of 1792, the second Congress defined 'militia of the United States' to include almost every free adult male in the United States. These persons were obligated by law to possess a [military-style] firearm and a minimum supply of ammunition and military equipment... There can be little doubt from this that when the Congress and the people spoke of the 'militia,' they had reference to the traditional concept of the entire populace capable of bearing arms, and not any formal group such as what is today called the National Guard."

Many people don't care what some "arcane" agrarian-era law says anyway. But, this definition of the militia is still used today.

Current Federal Law: 10 U.S.C. Sec. 311:

"The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and... under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States..."

Stephen P. Halbrook (Contemporary Author & Attorney):

(From his book, 'That Every Man Be Armed') "In recent years, it has been suggested that the Second Amendment protects the 'collective right' of states to maintain militias, while it does not protect the right of 'the people' to keep and bear arms. If anyone entertained this notion in the period during which the Constitution and Bill of Rights were debated and ratified, it remains one of the most closely guarded secrets of the eighteenth century, for no writing surviving from the period between 1787 and 1791 states such a thesis."

It is easy to see that it is, in fact, Sarah Brady's constitutional theory that is "divorced from historical reality."
To be continued...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Straw Poll Pictures

This is a little out of date, but here are my pictures from the Ames GOP Straw Poll.