I have contemplated this post for over a week now because I know some nut is going to try to use my comments to portray me as anti-2nd Amendment. So I ask that as we have a conversation about this sensitive issue that everyone have an open mind & remember that my only objective is the discovery of truth. Anyone who knows me knows that I am plenty pro-gun rights. But I reject the notion that being ‘pro-something’ means we cannot have adult discussions about whether or not that position is constitutional. My desire with The Arkansas Patriot, and now with Patriot Talk, is to have a conversation about the constitutionality of an array of issues & the intent of our founders. This article is simply an attempt to do just that.
Allow me to begin by saying: I love the 2nd amendment. I love the 10th amendment. I love liberty. I’m also a big believer in original intent–the idea that the founders who wrote the Constitution knew what they meant better than we do, and that their foresight is better than ours. So this last week when I ran across a headline about one of Arkansas’ U.S. Senators supporting a bill that has been bouncing around Congress for awhile, I felt like this was a good time to have a conversation regarding the federal Bill of Rights & how they apply to the states.
The bill before Congress would reportedly allow concealed carry permit holders to carry across all state lines, a decision that has always been made by the states themselves, not the federal government. Ironically, the bill is entitled the “Respecting States Rights and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.” But what about this bill respects states’ rights? And is this even constitutional?
(Of course, I am operating on the premise that some people in this country still value the idea of constitutionality.)
The idea of leaving decisions related to gun laws to the federal government is a debate I have had with many close political, gun-loving friends before. The general consensus among them has been, “It may not be within the originally intended powers of the federal government to act in this way, but as long as they’re being ‘pro-gun,’ I’m okay with it.” In other words, “As long as big government is acting the way I want it to, it’s fine.” Another argument that has been made is, “Well, the 2nd Amendment! What part of ‘shall not be infringed’ do you not understand??’ ” And lastly, I have been told that I may be right about the original intent of the 2nd Amendment, but “it doesn’t matter, because we passed the 14th Amendment, so the U.S. Constitution does now apply to the states.” Let’s take these points one at a time.
The idea that we can use big government for our purposes is wrongheaded and dangerous. It’s a similar reaction that many had in response to the PATRIOT Act. When Bush was in office & the act was originally passed, many conservatives were okay with the measures taken to keep Americans safe, even if it cost us a little liberty. We trusted Bush. But when Obama came into office and we begin to see how some provisions of the act could be abused, many changed their tunes. Likewise, many who may want to support these efforts to impose gun-friendly laws on states should be leery of what this could mean if Democrats were to once again gain control of both houses of Congress. Would folks in this camp support the federal government telling businesses that they must allow guns in their stores? Big, centralized government is still big, centralized government. I don’t like it ever, regardless of whether or not it appears to be doing something I like.
Then we have the argument that I have somehow missed the ‘shall not be infringed’ clause of the 2nd amendment. Trust me, I’ve read it, and I’ve studied it. The problem with this argument is that the 2nd Amendment is part of the U.S. Constitution, not the state constitutions. Until a series of Supreme Court rulings in the late 19th century (the Slaughter-House Cases) and the passage of the 14th Amendment/Incorporation Clause, the U.S. constitution didn’t trump the states. The 2nd Amendment restricted the federal government from infringing on gun rights, but it did not restrict the state governments. It is true that most states passed their own Bill of Rights & amendments similar to the federal version, but the U.S. Constitution was never designed to trump states’ laws. This was part of the founders design to keep the federal government restrained & states relatively sovereign, allowing for some variation in freedoms.
Look, if California wants to outlaw guns, that’s fine with me. I really could not care less. I am not going to live there, and they’re probably going to do it anyway, so be my guest. But if Arkansas tried to restrict gun rights in any way, I would be up in arms (see what I did there?). This is my state, where I live, and I like our freedom. We should have the right as a state to determine how we are going to handle gun issues.
This design is truly part of the beauty of the system that the founders designed: We are one nation, united under one federal government, but we still have local control over critical issues of freedom. If I don’t like the laws in Arkansas, I can move to Texas. But if the feds pass a stinker of a law, where am I to go? States were designed to be laboratories of democracy. Bills like the federal right to carry stomp on that design.
Now, as for the argument that ‘the 14th Amendment changed all that:’ Yes, the 14th Amendment did change some things, many of them positive, like standardizing citizenship & providing equal protection. But how silly is it to think that an amendment passed in 1868 could change the original intent of the founders nearly 100 years prior? I am a little rusty on my con-law, but I believe a look at the congressional record will show that many conservative congressmen at the time were very concerned that the 14th Amendment would be used in the exact way it has been, endlessly expanding the federal government’s power. Proponents of the amendment argued it would be not be used in that way. So you could say that even the original intent of the 14th Amendment isn’t being applied.
The bottom line is this: We either believe in original intent, or we believe in a ‘living document’ We are either against big government, or we are for big government. We are either against federal mandates or we are for federal mandates. We cannot have it both ways.
If we are for big government, we should 1. Stop calling ourselves conservatives & 2. Brace ourselves. Because you see, a government that is big & powerful enough, outside of its constitutional authority, to mandate that states accept gun-friendly laws is a government big enough to take guns away.
From my perspective, a national right to carry bill is dangerous and unconstitutional. Once we allow the federal government the right to force states to recognize concealed carry permits, we have officially opened the door to allowing the feds to take the permits away.
(Send hate mail to ArkansasPatriot(at)gmail.com or hate tweets @nhhorton/@ArkansasPatriot)
In what the Wall Street Journal labeled “The Year of School Choice,” 2011 saw the continued growth of one of the country’s most prominent systems of school choice: The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP).
A report released last week by the University of Arkansas details some of the amazing accomplishments of MPCP:
- Enrolling in a private high school through MPCP increases the likelihood of a student graduating, enrolling in a four-year college, and persisting in college by 4 to 7 percentage points.
- Tracking MPCP and public-school students over four years, researchers found that MPCP outperform in reading and have similar results in math.
- Countering arguments that MPCP students are already high-achieving, researchers found that between 7.5 and 14.6 percent have a disability and many come to MPCP schools one to two years behind academically.
The study also uncovered that the MPCP system brings numerous external benefits to the state:
- Students who remained in public schools were performing at higher levels due to competitive pressures from voucher schools.
- Because the state-provided vouchers are less than the average cost of educating a student, the government realizes education savings (nearly $52 million in fiscal year 2011).
- The MPCP has had no discernible effect on the racial segregation of schools or housing costs across neighborhoods.
- The MPCP system does not create barriers to school switching between public and voucher schools — students continue to exercise high levels of educational mobility.
You can read the complete report from the U of A’s Patrick J. Wolf here.
This is great intellectual ammunition for activists & legislators in our state who are prepping for a school choice battle in the 2013 Arkansas legislative session. Arm yourself with the facts! And pray that Pat Wolf doesn’t lose his job.
The project is designed to ‘equip today’s revolutionaries,’ which, if you’re reading this blog, is probably you.
Check out We The People’s introductory video:
SPN is doing excellent work to defend liberty across the country, partnering with think tanks around the nation, including Advance Arkansas Institute here in The Natural State.
I am a little late on this, but it looks like the “Vote for Roads and Jobs Committee” was formed on October 14 with the Arkansas Ethics Commission. Unfortunately, they seem to be having problems with their filings, much like our friends on the “Moving White County Forward Committee” had.
That committee was apparently chaired by Reynie Ruteledge, owner of First Security Bank, but the filings were a bit murky, never specifying Ruteledge’s exact title. Searcy Chamber President Buck Layne was their Treasurer and they failed to report any expenditures–or even file as an official committee–until one week before election day.
The new group’s initial filing did not list any officers, but does list Layne as a member. The initial report was then amended three days later to list Layne as Treasurer and Stuart Dalrymple as chairman. Dalrymple is a local real estate agent who bankrolled much of the “Moving Forward” committee’s efforts. He has already given $1,000 to this committee.
Both of the new committee’s filings fail to state whether the committee is for or against the recent proposal, but I think we can figure that out.
An interesting discovery: the committee’s location is listed as 2323 South Main St., Searcy, Arkansas, which is the address of the Searcy Chamber of Commerce. Given that the chamber receives a large sum of taxpayer money (at least $40,000 from the city of Searcy, the last time I checked), I wonder if any of the chamber’s resources are being used in promotion of this tax or if the chamber plans to report those expenses?
I will be doing some more inquiring into this.
A reporter for the paper called me just a short while ago to ask for comment on the Arkansas Ethics Commission ruling, finding Judge Mike Lincoln in violation of state law. The article will run tomorrow and it is already available on the paper’s website for those of you who have access.
But the judge’s comments in the article do not quite add up:
- The judge says he ‘still does not believe he did anything wrong,’ but admits that he broke the law. I can only interpret that to mean, the judge does not see anything wrong with breaking the law.
- The judge still maintains that Mr. House was volunteering his time that he was promoting the tax. This is funny, because the terms of his contract explicitly state that he was hired to promote the tax: ”Mr. House will work with the county judge in any tax promotion that affects economic development in the county…” The fact that the judge continues to deny this is further dishonesty on his part. This was the critical piece of evidence that resulted in the violation and he was told so by the Commission.
- Lincoln is quoted in the paper as saying, “The only probably cause they had was that I didn’t file the correct report.” I will assume he meant probable cause, but either way, this statement is also patently false. Earlier in the article, he admits that he did not file any paperwork until yesterday–more than 2 weeks after the hearing, more than 6 weeks after the election, and more than 7 weeks after this issue had been brought to his attention. In fact, he admits just a few sentences earlier, “I should have filed the paperwork previously.” So which one is it? Did you file the wrong paperwork or no paperwork at all? The correct answer is no paperwork at all, until yesterday, and this can be confirmed by a quick trip to the Ethics Commission website.
The bottom line here folks: the judge’s office used your money to promote a tax increase–which is technically legal in Arkansas, within certain parameters–but then they lied about it repeatedly and continue to fail to show any remorse for what they have done. They stepped outside of those parameters and refused to comply after it was repeatedly brought to their attention. The judge in particular has violated the public trust and now that it has been proven, he continues to deny any wrongdoing.
I hope the voters of White County are paying attention.