The Problem of Voter Apathy in the United States

“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual–or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country. ” — Samuel Adams

In 1789 the United States became the first modern constitutional republic.  In the years since then the citizens of the United States have enjoyed the right to elect their fellow citizens to office to represent them in the governance of the nation.

Initially only white men owning property could vote, then this right was extended to white men who didn’t own property.  Later, non-white men were allowed to vote.  In 1913 the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution took the selection of Senators away from State legislatures and allowed each State’s citizens to elect their Senators directly.  Poll taxes were abolished, as they created an impediment to voters of lower socioeconomic status.  Women were allowed to vote, as were Native Americans.  Finally, the voting age was reduced to eighteen.

Despite this expansion of the electorate the United States has seen a consistent decline in voter turnout.  Despite extending the most important and vital of rights in a republic or democracy, significant numbers of Americans have declined to exercise that right.  Today the United States has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the free world, with an average of forty-eight percent (48%) of registered voters going to the polls.  Presidential elections tend to have higher than average turnouts, and the 2008 Presidential election had the highest turnout since 1968, which bucked the general downward trend.  In November we shall see if that turnout will be matched, or, hopefully, exceeded.

Some experts have attributed voter apathy to various factors, depending on which polls, studies, and articles you review.  The two most commonly named culprits are ‘voter fatigue’ and a feeling that their votes don’t count.  There is also a significant lack of interest in Congressional, State and municipal elections, with some years showing turnouts as low as forty percent (40%).  In the 2010 US Census, only sixty-five percent (65%) of voting age citizens reported being registered to vote.  This means that approximately 73.5 million Americans are not even registered to vote, let alone turning out at the polls.

Voter fatigue is believed to arise from the frequency of elections at the local and federal level.  Every year the citizenry are hammered by a barrage of campaigns on various issues, and, in many cases, are faced with multiple elections in a given year.  In the age of a ‘TL;DR’ (Too Long; Didn’t Read) mentality it can be surmised that many Americans are not educating themselves as to the details of each issue showing up on the ballots.  This is compounded by the cacophony of often misleading campaign ads, many of which are focused on issues that are designed to polarize the voters.  In this day and age most ads are not intended to inspire, to encourage voters to vote *for* something or someone, but rather to scare people into voting *against* something , citing dire consequences should they fail to do so.  These sorts of tactics are not intended to educate voters on the facts surrounding issues and candidates, but rather provide only a façade, a mere whitewash on the issues.  It should be noted, however, that such campaign tactics are intended to, and are sometimes successful, in ‘energizing the base’ and encouraging voter turnout.

We have observed a common thread among many Americans, spanning the political spectrum:  The establishment ignores the middle, the establishment panders to monied interests and special interest groups.  Some of this may have a basis in fact, some may be conjecture or speculation, but the sentiment is there and should not be dismissed out of hand.  The Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court and the concomitant rise of the Super PACs certainly play into the hands of those who believe that those with sufficient affluence can ensure greater access to politicians and greater influence over the electoral process than the average citizen.  If people sincerely feel that their votes will not make a difference, then there is no motivation to cast their ballots.

It is my supposition that the campaigns have alienated many Americans, especially those with more independent or moderate leanings.  The media pundits speak of these voters as ‘swing voters,’ vital to the election of their candidates, yet neither the Republican nor Democrat parties’ efforts on capturing this body have not proven successful in any meaningful or significant way.  Interestingly, in the past few election cycles we have seen the creation of voting blocs such as the Tea Party, and the libertarian-leaning movement supporting Ron Paul.  These groups have been very successful in making inroads into the traditional GOP establishment, disrupting the ‘politics as usual’ mentality.  Many of these individuals are motivated by a sense of disenfranchisement, that their voices are not heard by the GOP as a whole.  Similarly, the Democrats have seen the rise of groups such as the Occupy Wall Street movement, whose members have rebuked the notion that their votes can be relied upon by the left’s political establishment.  Should these trends continue in the future, it may be that one or more viable political parties may arise to challenge the dominance of the traditional two-party paradigm.

Overall, those who have traditionally held the reins of power are now faced with a choice:  to continue in their ossified methods or to embrace the broader views of their constituents.  To choose the former would, if current trends prove to have staying power, alienate an appreciable percentage of their voting base, while choosing the latter may well serve to draw more support from independents and moderates.  Continuing to play to their more extreme wings will serve only to keep voters at home if they don’t believe either party represents them in Washington DC.

Perhaps the most effective method of combating voter apathy is to engage our fellow citizens, to emphasize the tremendous need for them to actually exercise their right to vote.  If we, ourselves, can each get even one or two more people active in the electoral process it could engender a significant change in the way things work.  Explain to them, regardless of their political persuasion, that the only way for their concerns to be addressed, to make their voices heard, is to cast their vote. Of primary importance to me, even to the detriment of my own personal politics, is to get Americans engaged in the process.  Our system of constitutional governance relies upon the involvement of the People, and upon the exercise of the sacrosanct and essential liberty of the right to choose those who govern.

Second Amendment Quote of the Day, July 31, 2012

“I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” — George Mason

I believe this quote embodies the sentiment of the overwhelming majority of the Framers of the Constitution, as recorded in the various debates surrounding the adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The Militarization of Domestic Law Enforcement Agencies

We have seen the photographs and videos from the OWS protests across the nation.  Police armed with assault rifles and grenade launchers.  Police outfitted with military uniforms and body armor.  Police using this equipment against the (typically unarmed) protesters.

Most people don’t even ask the simple, but glaring question:  Where do the police get this equipment?  Who is funding it?

The answer to that question lies in the National Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1997, as well as 10 USC 2576(a).  Under color of law, the Department of Defense now has a Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO), which, in its mission statement provides ‘excess Department of Defense (DOD) personal property to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies (LEAs).’

This program allows the LEAs to purchase, for a cost of pennies on the dollar, ‘surplus’ military equipment.  Further, the DoD is authorized to donate such equipment to LEAs for free.  Since 1997 the DoD has transferred $2.6BN of equipment and hardware to LEAs.  The equipment consists of armored vehicles, weapons, aircraft, watercraft, body armor, and other types of gear and hardware.  In 2011 alone, the amount of equipment was valued at almost half a billion dollars.  The number of requests and transfers has increased exponentially over the last few years.

https://www.dispositionservices.dla.mil/rtd03/leso/Program%20Statistics.ppt

Think about that.  $2,600,000,000.00 of your Federal tax dollars are being spent to equip police with military hardware.  Congress’ intent was that such equipment should primarily be used in counter-terrorism and drug operations, when they could reasonably expect considerable armed resistance, but also allowed for ‘suitable use by the agencies in law enforcement activities.’  Thus, the police are allowed to use this equipment in other situations, such as when facing off against unarmed protesters.

Thus you end up with a quasi-military force that is entirely exempted from the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.  Of course, it is noteworthy that since 1878 the powers that be in DC have found ways to whittle away at the Act and its limitations against the use of federal military personnel in domestic policing actions.  These limitations were further eroded by the formal establishment of the National Guard, which, unless federalized by the President, are solely under the command of the governors of the various States in which the Guard units are located.

The militarization of law enforcement provides a heavily armed, heavily armored police force that avoids the uncomfortable scrutiny that would accompany utilization of the National Guard or active duty military forces.  The local municipalities can simply say, ‘We merely responded with a strong police presence.’  To the uninitiated, and even to some of us who are far more experienced, the difference seems to be merely academic.  When police arrive on scene in military uniforms, carrying military weapons, and backed up by armored vehicles then we must ask ourselves whether or not any sort of distinction is left to be made.  Of course, the police, in such situations, have far greater power than the National Guardsmen would.  They have powers of arrest and detention, powers to deprive someone of their essential liberties and Constitutionally-guaranteed rights.  Even more troublesome is that they, unlike the military, exercise those powers on a daily basis, and are far more desensitized to the Constitutional implications of their actions.

It should be a simple thing to make a request of your local police force, to ascertain what equipment they have received, what funds have been expended in acquiring such equipment.  It is our duty, as citizens, to question the actions of our government and its agencies.  Let them know we are watching.  Let them know that we are paying attention.

In the face of such firepower it is vital that we do what we can to check the continued militarization of the police forces, as it represents a paradigm shift in the nature of what the police are intended to do.  They are to ‘protect and to serve,’ not ‘subjugate and intimidate.’

Image

Second Amendment Quote of the Day, July 30, 2012

Today’s Second Amendment support quote brought to you by the notorious gun nut and conservative ideologue JFK.

“Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily lives, and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom.” — John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Drones, the Constitution and the matters of the al-Awlakis and Samir Khan

On September 30, 2011 US citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan were killed in a US drone strike in Yemen.  On October 14, 2011 Abdul-Rahman al-Awlaki, a sixteen (16) year old US citizen, was also killed in a drone strike in Yemen.  These three men, if we call teenagers men, were killed without being formally charged, without conviction, and without even the merest nod to the Due Process protections in the Constitution and its Amendments.

In the time since the killings, additional information has come to light regarding the process for targeted killings by drones.  As I understand it, this process is exclusive to the Executive branch, and, specifically, the President (in this case Obama) made the final determination as to who is targeted for assassination.

To be clear, there is no judicial oversight, no Congressional oversight, no public oversight of this process.  Despite Attorney General Eric Holder’s disputations to the contrary, there was not even a shred of legality providing a fig leaf of Constitutional modesty to these executions.

The Constitution, and the Amendments thereto, are the supreme law of the land.  Why?  The Supremacy Clause in the Constitution, Article VI, Clause 2, says so.

Also, the actions of Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan could best be described as treasonous.  Fortunately, the Constitution defines treason:  “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”  The Constitution also states: “The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.”

So, we know what treason is.  We know that there is some information available that might be sufficient for the United States government to have brought charges of treason against al-Awlaki and Khan.  But they didn’t.  No indictment, no warrant issued, no presentation of evidence, and, most importantly, no conviction.  Maybe they weren’t nice guys.  Maybe they were, in fact, engaged in acts of treason against the United States.  We don’t know, as we never saw the evidence and they were never convicted of any crime.

The crux of the matter is this:  Citizens are entitled to the protection of their rights, as set forth in the Constitution.  The rights implicated by these targeted killings are:
Fifth Amendment:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury…nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Sixth Amendment:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Eighth Amendment:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1:

1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

So, let’s take a look at this:
1) Treason does not deprive a person of Citizenship.

2) Even alleged traitors are entitled to Due Process of law.

3) This Constitutional right does not end at the border, it s a right of the Citizen not just Citizens located in the United States.

4) The United States did not provide Due Process of law to al-Awlaki. He was not indicted by a grand jury, he was not allowed to enter a plea of not guilty. He was not afforded a right to counsel. He was not even tried in absentia. He was never convicted of treason or any other crime.

5) The President of the United States ordered the killing of a United States citizen without regard to that Citizen’s Constitutional rights.

We have a word that describes the taking of a human life without legal justification.  That word is murder.  The United States government murdered three citizens despite the numerous legal protections they were afforded by the Constitution.

Where does this leave us? Did the President commit an impeachable offense?  Did any of the other elected or appointed officials violate their oaths?  Did they break the law?  What about any military personnel that may have been involved?  Did they violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice?  What if  government contractors were involved, are they criminally liable?

Article 2, Section 4 states: The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

I suggest that the assassination and murder of any US citizen, especially a citizen deprived of Due Process, qualifies as a high Crime, which is an impeachable offense.  Similarly, any military or civilian personnel who were involved, and who did not hold office at the time, should be prosecuted under existing criminal statutes.

As of yet, however, the only action taken has been that Ansar al-Awlaki’s father, Abdul Rachman’s grandfather, and the ACLU have filed a claim against the government for the killings.  I will be following the progress of this case and will likely post about it here at some point in the future.

A few words about Syria, Russia and the United States.

We hear about Syria and its civil war on a daily basis now.  If we listen closely, in Washington DC some of our elected officials and political pundits are beating the drums of war.  It is a simple matter of national actors conducting themselves according to national interest. The very basic rational actor model, in fact.  The question this presents is:  What are the national interests implicated in the Syrian conflict?

For Bashir al Assad, Syria’s ‘President,’ it is a matter of the survival of his regime.  He inherited his office from his father, who was well-known for his willingness to crush opposition.  It seems the current Mr. Assad has that same willingness, and he has utilized much of his military capability in his attempt to silence the ever-growing opposition to his rule. 

For the Syrian opposition, it is a desire for change.  Perhaps, we might hope, for democratic or republican rule.  There is no core to the opposition, around which all have gathered.  Rather, there are various groups, some armed and others unarmed, that make up the opposition as a whole.  We, in the United States, remain blissfully unaware of the identities of the primary leaders of the opposition within Syria, and do not know their motives or their intent for a post-Assad government.  What we do know is that some of them are being supported by Iran, others by Turkey, some by Saudi Arabia, and, perhaps, they may also be receiving munitions and supplies from Western powers.  In any event, it is clear that there are numerous outcomes that must be weighed.  First, Syria might end up like Lebanon, with a very weak government, made up of numerous competing factions, open to significant outside influence.  This could end up with Syria, like Lebanon, becoming a location for war by proxy between various outside powers.  There is the possibility that Syria could end up with an Islamic theocracy, similar to Iran.  Of course, there is also the possibility that Syria could become a true democracy.  In all honesty, the opposition is not united, therefore we can only speculate as to which outcome is most likely.  Again, all we have now is the opposition wants the Assad regime out of power.

Various nations in the region have a stake in Syria.  Iran could use Syria as a stepping stone in greater Shia influence, while Saudi Arabia can do the same, but with Sunni Islam.  Turkey certainly has a desire to ensure that a stable government is put in place, but given Turkey’s current political climate, that could also take the form of a less secular, more theologically-oriented scheme.  Israel has remained rather quiet on the whole affair, though they have concerns about Syria’s military stockpiles, particularly missiles and chemical weapons.

The two biggest players, the United States and Russia, are gradually putting pieces on the chessboard.  These two nation states have interests in the outcome of the struggle in Syria.

Putin is not a punk, he is very intelligent and very wily. He did not rise to his position for no reason at all. He worked the political machine, and with a combination of his brains and a lack of reluctance to intimidate, he became the leader of Russia, an autocrat in all but name. Do not underestimate him. He most certainly has the capacity to force any impasse to his advantage, if he can call the collective bluff of the US and its allies.

Having said that, the simple truth is that there is blood in the water. The United States is not secure in its position of primacy as global hegemon, this is due to myriad factors, not least of which is the lack of political will, not just from the President, but also from Congress and the people themselves. As I mentioned previously, all we have is bluff. While Russia (and China) have continued to modernize their forces, producing aircraft and other weapons platforms that can challenge our own (i.e.- Russian 4.5/5 gen fighters that are an even match for ours). While we have sat upon our laurels, patting ourselves on the back for winning the Cold War, those nations have undertaken massive infusions of capital and other resources to modernize and make their militaries a more significant threat to ours than at any time in history, except perhaps immediately after World War II.

Russians have always respected strength when coupled with a will to use that strength. The United States is still strong, but no longer willing to assert itself. Thus, Russia sees an opportunity to increase its power, influence and relevance abroad. Any state actor would take advantage of such a situation, and would find it in its national interest to pursue whatever opportunities were available to improve its position internationally.

Personally, the outcome of the 2012 Presidential election is not a game-changer, as Romney has been as militant as Obama in their rhetoric about Syria.  I do not believe Romney will fare any better than Obama in this situation. It is even possible that a more interventionist policy would serve only to exacerbate, rather than ameliorate, the current standoff.

Those who pay attention to the details know that Russia is committed to supporting the Assad regime, or, at a minimum, committed to insuring its position of influence and patronage with any successor regime/government. To Russia, this is of vital national importance. On the other hand, the matter of Syria, to the United States, is merely another distraction. It is highly unlikely that the United States will commit the resources necessary to overcome Syria’s rather robust air defenses, which, if rumors are to be believed, are, in part, being operated or ‘advised’ by Russian personnel, particularly the S300 systems currently in place. Russia has also committed other forces on the ground to protect Russian nationals and interests within Syria’s borders. Russia is now sending a flotilla to make a statement. That statement is clear, “We mean what we say.”

Will the United States challenge that statement? Will the US confront Russia militarily? Doubtful, especially in light of the current warmer Sino-Russian relations, coupled with a cooling of affections between the US and China. The old triangle model still applies. Two of the three can bludgeon the third. We used China in the Cold War to stymie Soviet aspirations on numerous occasions, thus Nixon’s now famous trip to China. Given that both China and Russia are committed to preventing US intervention in Syria, it is unlikely that we will confront that commitment militarily with more than a token display of force as saber rattling.

In short, taking a position of intervention in Syria is a trap. It is a trap that we cannot escape without one of two results: 1) Going to the brink of war, or war itself, with Russia and/or China to force them to back down; or 2) Backing down ourselves. It is a zero sum game, and the United States stands to lose significantly in either scenario.  

What is the best way to avoid this situation?  Simple, let Syria’s war play out and avoid getting involved militarily.  Our primary concern should be limited to the disposition of any unconventional weapons in Syria, which is a concern Russia also shares.  Rather than arraying ourselves in opposition to Russia, we should work with them to ensure that the chemical weapons stockpiles are secure and will not fall into the hands of anyone else.

A few thoughts on the Second Amendment.

Regarding the Second Amendment and what it means to me:

My thoughts are simple.  The term ‘infringe’ is pretty straightforward.  To infringe means to limit, to undermine, to encroach upon, or to break.  ‘Shall not be infringed’ means shall not be limited, undermined, encroached upon or broken.

The original intent of the Second Amendment was to ensure that the populace was able to take on the government.  This intent is made clear in some of the Federalist papers, particularly 29 and 46, written by Hamilton and Madison, respectively.  Sure, some might find it untidy or distasteful, but the Constitution and Bill of Rights were written by men who had just fought an armed revolution.  Today, we say ‘oh, but they were not talking about machine guns, etc.’   In 1789 the Army had muskets and cannon.  Citizens could own muskets and cannon. Washington himself outfitted three naval vessels that were used during the Revolutionary War, several other shipowners became privateers under Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and privately paid for their ships to be armed.

The notion of ‘gun control’ was born in the post-Reconstruction South, to keep guns out of the hands of blacks.  It was not until the 20th Century that the Federal government began to even regulate, let alone ban, weapons.  First, in 1934 they began regulating the sale of fully-automatic weapons. Didn’t ban them, merely said you have to pay a federal tax and you have to register them.  In 1938, violent felons were barred from owning or possessing firearms.  In 1968, laws were passed regarding age, criminal history and mental incompetence. In 1972 the BATFE was formed to regulate firearms, among other things.  This law also expanded the types of felons that were prevented from owning firearms.  In 1986 Congress made it illegal to own any machine guns manufactured after the date it went into effect.  They also banned armor piercing handgun ammunition, for being ‘cop killing’ bullets.  Then there was the ‘assault rifle’ ban, passed in 1994, which subsequently lapsed. We both know that semi-automatic weapons are not assault rifles, they are NOT select-fire weapons. That would be like calling ANY self-loading, semi-automatic firearm an assault weapon, even a revolver.  The ‘assault weapon’ ban was more concerned with a firearm’s appearance than its functionality.  If you don’t believe me, Google ‘Franchi SPAS-12’ and ‘Franchi SPAS-15’.  The -12 was not banned, the -15 was.  Similarly, if you Google ‘AR-15’ and ‘Ruger Mini-14’ the Mini-14 was not banned, but the AR-15 was.  Functionality was nearly identical, but they looked quite different.

Really, what it boils down to is simple: What does ‘shall not be infringed’ mean? Our Founding Fathers fought a war to bring this nation into the world. The Battles of Lexington and Concord were started when the British Army sent a force to Concord to seize powder and field pieces being stored there by the Colonials. The ‘shot heard ’round the world’ was fired because someone tried to take away someone else’s cannon, because the first someone decided it was too dangerous for the second someone to have. That first someone subsequently got their asses handed to them and the second someone became the United States of America.

Americans don’t remember their history, they choose to ignore the lessons it teaches. Americans today don’t believe the Founders and Framers knew what they were doing.  I must profoundly disagree with this assessment.  It is true that the Framers did not have the ability to see into the future, they could no more predict the Apollo missions to the moon than they could the atomic bomb.  The Framers were more concerned with the principle of an armed populace being able to resist the Federal government, and/or a standing army, than they were with the notion of how powerful the weapons in question were.

Here are a couple of other quotations, during the time of the ratification of the Constitution, which underscore that principle:

Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined. – Patrick Henry.

Whereas, to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them; nor does it follow from this, that all promiscuously must go into actual service on every occasion. The mind that aims at a select militia, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle; and when we see many men disposed to practice upon it, whenever they can prevail, no wonder true republicans are for carefully guarding against it. – Richard Henry Lee.

“[I]f circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights and those of their fellow citizens.” — The Federalist, No. 29 – Alexander Hamilton

“What, sir, is the use of militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. . . Whenever Government means to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise a standing army upon its ruins.” — Debate, U.S. House of Representatives, August 17, 1789 – Elbridge Gerry

“No free government was ever founded or ever preserved its liberty, without uniting the characters of the citizen and soldier in those destined for the defense of the state…. 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.” – State Gazette (Charleston), September 8, 1788

This begins the debate over the term ‘militia’ in the Second Amendment. The initial intent of the term was not what we consider the National Guard, rather it was the people itself that were considered the militia. The USC defines the term militia for purposes of Federal Law:

10 USC 311

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are—

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

So, under Federal Law, all male citizens, from 17 and 45, are members of the militia, either the National Guard/Naval Militia or the unorganized militia.

In the 80s and 90s, the big push from gun control proponents included reliance upon the ‘well-regulated militia’ language in the Amendment. Their stance was that the militia had been absorbed by the National Guard, which, as I pointed out above, the Founders and Framers, and later even Congress itself, prove false. The intent was not that a government-controlled group be the militia, rather everyone was to be the militia. As Madison stated in Federalist No. 46, and Hamilton in No. 29, this large body of armed citizens is the ultimate counter to a standing army, which the National Guard and Reserve units are now a part of.

Depriving the unorganized militia (John Q. Citizen) access to the same level of gear and weapons is to also deprive the People of the very protection the Second Amendment was intended to provide: The People’s ability to resist, with force of arms, the government’s ability to use force to infringe upon the Peoples’ liberties. There was no requirement that they be in the military, or to have ever served in the military, or even be available for duty in the military in time of war. See the State Gazette quote above.

I understand that many of our fellow countrymen are uncomfortable with this proposition, but the intent behind the Second Amendment is rather inescapable. I sympathize with, but strongly disagree with, those who believe adding greater restrictions upon the Second Amendment will somehow make America, and Americans, safer. Previous attempts at gun control merely underscore the fact that reducing gun violence by fiat does not work, it not only fails to effectively reduce access to firearms, but it also fails to address the issue of the underlying violence itself.

In fact, according to the FBI’s own statistics, in recent years firearms sales and private ownership have skyrocketed, yet violent crime associated with firearms has not; in fact, it has gone down. California and New York have some of the highest rates of gun crime, despite having some of the most strict (from my perspective, draconian) gun control laws in the United States. If greater legislation doesn’t create any sort of suppressive effect upon gun violence, then what is the point of further restricting access to firearms? Just like the well-founded notion that outlawing drugs does not reduce the incidence of addiction, just like the attempt to prohibit the manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol failed miserably, so, too, do attempts at gun control.

I know, I am one of those whackjobs who took the time to study our history, to read the words of those who fought for the creation of the USA. I am one of those inconvenient jerks who can answer emotional arguments with facts, figures, and quotations. Despite the impassioned pleas of some, despite whatever emotional justifications those folks can come up with, I have always stood, and will always stand, athwart the path of any who would attempt to disarm the public. I continue to support organizations that are striving to roll back the gun control laws that are on the books right now. Some of my forebears actually fought the British in places like Concord and Bunker Hill. They supported this right, and I am honored to count myself among their number.