Seems to Me . . . Protect yourself

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(Stan Welch’s column Seems to Me . . . appears weekly in The print and online edition of The Journal.)

By Stan Welch

The horror of the mass shootings at the elementary school in Newtown Connecticut has hardly receded, but that hasn’t stopped its use as a political football. Our president, whose mantra is “Never let a crisis go to waste”, is busily making hay by appointing his Vice President, who happens to be from Connecticut, to lead a review of federal laws and policy on gun control. Let me save you some trouble and expense, Uncle Joe.

Federal law and policy on gun control is embodied completely in the Second Amendment. All else is a tempest in a teapot. The right to bear arms “shall not be infringed”. That’s pretty plain, unless you’re a leftist or a lawyer, or, god forbid, both.

So clearly, any efforts at gun control are a violation of my Second Amendment rights. Now, personally, I don’t make much fuss about the Second Amendment, because I find it extraneous. I have a human right to self-defense; and once that is established, the rest is simply a discussion about the most efficient means. I favor the modern firearm, myself.

But there are other Constitutional issues raised by the effort to impose gun control. First and foremost, the presumption of innocence is stripped away. By imposing controls on the average American’s right to bear arms, the federal government essentially says to that citizen, “We know you haven’t committed any crime, but doggone it, some other folks did, and we can’t be too careful.”

Well, yes, you can be too careful, if that’s the word for it. You see, the way our laws work is that you have to break one first; not just have the chance to somewhere down the road; or have the means to locked in your closet. In other words, when you slide onto your favorite barstool at your local pub, the law doesn’t presume you’ll be driving under the influence two hours later and just go ahead and drag you out in cuffs.

If you have a prescription for oxycontin because you messed your back up, the DEA isn’t standing at the checkout at Walgreen’s to take you into custody because they think you might decide to sell the pills you don’t use.

Since Richard Nixon declared his war on drugs forty odd years ago, the Bill of Rights has taken a hellacious beating in this country. Otherwise patriotic people stood by and watched as the rights to privacy, the protections against illegal search and seizure, the right to due process, the protection against seizure of personal property without proof of crime; these rights and more have eroded steadily. What the heck, it’s just a bunch of drug dealers, right?

Well, not any more, it isn’t.

The Patriot Act, passed in the midst of the post 9-11 hysteria, has accelerated the erosion of our rights, making government eavesdropping as common as eavesdropping at the beauty parlor. We grow more and more frightful, often at the urging of our government; and we barter our freedoms for false assurances of safety and security.

Folks, it seems to me there is no safe world and there never will be. Lightning will always strike, storms will always make landfall. Rabid dogs will always bite and governments will always oppress their people, sooner or later.

If gold began to rain from the sky tomorrow, we couldn’t afford enough armed policemen to make us safe. It is up to you to protect yourself and yours. Don’t surrender that responsibility, don’t surrender the liberty that comes with that responsibility; and for god’s sake, don’t surrender the means to do so.