America: Home of The Somewhat Free

April 13, 2013

uncle Sam in handcuffs

 

Unless you live under a rock, you probably know that the Gun Control Debate is raging
in our country right now. So are many other debates, including Same Sex marriage,
Abortion rights, and should Kim Kardasian be wearing such form fitting clothes during
her pregnancy? Probably most people are more concerned about Ms. Kardasian
than the Constitutional implications of these other matters. The recent exposure of an
abortion doctor who snipped live babies’ spinal cords to kill them following botched
abortions has certainly gotten less attention than Kim Kardasian.

We are a cantankerous people, always ready to go at it with one another and pound the
opposition with clever repartees and facts at our fingertips, or at least strong emotions
with accompanying strong opinions. Yet, a small group of conservative Senators chose
to face the wrath of Congress and the cries of “obstructionists!” rather than agree to
bring the Gun Control proposed bill to the floor for debate. The Republican Senators
who voted to discuss the bill were called traitors, RINOs, and worse. Are they? They are
not voting for the bill…they are only agreeing to allow it to be debated. Why the uproar
from staunch conservatives?

The Declaration of Independence declares that we “are endowed by our Creator with
certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Unalienable is a seldom used word, and while some in modern society believe
the meanings of words should change with the needs of progress, at this
point, “unalienable” still means “unable to be removed or taken away.” Thomas
Jefferson explained that those rights were derived from the laws of nature, not chief
magistrates. The Lord may giveth and taketh away, but the Government mayeth not.

The Constitution never mentions unalienable rights, but it does list the so-called “Bill of
Rights”, in the first ten amendments. However, this is not quite an accurate moniker for
those amendments, and indeed the term “Bill of Rights” is not in the Constitution. The
first ten amendments are less a listing of rights than a listing of the limitations of the
Federal government in respect to its actions towards citizens.

In Amendment 1, Congress cannot “prohibit” the free exercise of religion, nor can
it “abridge” the freedom of speech. In Amendment 2, it cannot “infringe” upon the
right of the people to bear arms. In Amendment 3, no soldier can be quartered in
a citizen’s home “without the consent” of the owner. In Amendment 4, the rights
to privacy and security in one’s home “shall not be violated.” In Amendment 5, no
one can be deprived of life, liberty, or property “without due process of the law.” In
Amendment 6, those accused of a crime shall have the government abide by the limits
of speedy trial, impartial jury, and legal counsel. In Amendment 7, no government
court shall try a person for the same crime twice. In Amendment 8, “no excessive

fines” nor cruel and unusual punishment shall be “inflicted” upon the accused by the
Government. In Amendment 9, the enumeration of certain rights shall not be considered
exhaustive and the government cannot “deny or disparage” other rights retained by
the people. And finally, in Amendment 10, any rights not specifically prohibited by the
States are “reserved” for the people, and any powers not specifically delegated to the
Federal Government are “reserved” for the States. The Bill of Rights is really a list of
Government NO CAN DOs.

Of course, basic to an understanding that the government cannot infringe upon certain
freedoms, is the presupposition that those rights are present in the first place. There
are many restrictions on certain rights that are placed upon others when the exercise of
those rights causes harm to others. But can law abiding citizens lose their constitutional
right to exercise free speech, practice religion, or bear arms, etc., when they do not
cause harm to others? If gun rights are open to discussion, is freedom of religion
negotiable as well? How about trial by jury? How about security in one’s home from
unreasonable searches? Are all our freedoms subject to negotiation?

These questions bring us back to why those conservative Senators are not eager
to discuss gun control. There is no doubt that the right to bear arms “shall not be
infringed upon” by Congress. The tension between safety and revoking freedom is
always present in America. This subject makes me very uncomfortable on many
levels. From its inception, the majesty of our country has been freedom. With freedom
comes responsibility. Do we stand by our belief in freedom, or do we trample on our
rights in a futile attempt to ban evil? The latest school catastrophe was committed by
a criminal, who slashed victims with knives. Do we now ban all knives? I don’t pretend
to have the answer, but I am very concerned about the masses losing rights over the
actions of the few. Perhaps the discussion might be better directed at the root causes
of evil- the devaluing of life with a careful look at the impact of abortion, the onslaught
of violence as entertainment in media and video, the ridicule of God-centered living,
the desecration of the family, the march away from independence and responsibility
towards dependence on government and social programs. And how about enforcing the
sensible gun ownership laws we currently have, such as preventing convicted felons
from gun ownership? As many have concurred, it is not difficult for violent criminals
with conviction records to obtain guns.

Senator Burr, who voted to discuss the bill, sent out a rationale to his constituents on
April 12th. In that newsletter, Sen. Burr wrote:

“Finally, I’d like to speak about yesterday’s vote in the Senate to begin debate on S.
649, the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013. To be clear from the outset,
I do not support S. 649, nor do I support the Manchin-Toomey background check
amendment. The vote yesterday was not on the specifics of these bills or whether
they should be filibustered; rather, the vote was solely about whether we should begin
a debate in the Senate on the issue. Since the leadership of the Senate agreed to
unlimited debate and amendments, I believed it was important that the Senate at
least have an open discussion. However, it is important to remember that S. 649,
amendments to it, and any other gun control measures that come before the Senate are
still subject to the filibuster, as well as up-or-down votes. ”

However, this is not just a discussion at a lunch break to pass the time. This discussion
involves infringing upon 2nd amendment rights. Can Congress do that? Perhaps, before
the Gun control debate gets under way, Congress should be given a pop quiz on the
Constitution they have sworn to uphold. And maybe we, as a nation, can discuss the
root causes of why our culture is careening out of control, not just try to put Band-Aids
on the symptoms.

 

By: Vicky Kaseorg

Bio: Vicky Kaseorg is a published author of 7 books and writes a daily inspirational blog.

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Tags: Bill of Rights, Congress, Constitution, gun control, Right to keep and bear arms, Senate, Senator Burr

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