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)
Remember State Rep. Fred Smith from West Memphis? He’s the former Harlem Globetrotter who was convicted of felony theft & resigned from the Arkansas House last year. Well, he’s decided to take a play out of the Washington Generals’ playbook and give it another go, despite all the odds.
Smith filed for re-election just before the state’s deadline last Thursday. You can imagine the media circus this has triggered.
On Friday, Smith reportedly told reporters he is running for re-election to “clear my name & give God all the glory.” He stopped just short of calling himself the Messiah, choosing rather to characterize himself as the sports world’s biggest faith hero:
I’m the Tim Tebow of state representatives.
When asked which judge would be reviewing Smith’s appeal to have his conviction expunged, Smith quipped,
God. God is handling the case.
I guess we will wait & see how God rules.
While in DC last week for AFP’s Defending the American Dream Summit, I was privileged to be able to have lunch with some leaders in the conservative movement from across the country, including Mr. Seton Motely who you will see in the video below. He briefed our group of bloggers about the upcoming legislation, SJR 6, regarding ‘net neutrality.’ This bill in the Senate would stop the power grab by the FCC over the internet.
Today we find out that SJR 6 will be up for a vote this Thursday. As explained in the video very brilliantly by Phil Kerpen of AFP, this is a real test of whether or not we will continue to have a representative government in this country.
Here is a great synopsis of what’s at stake:
With the Senate currently split 51-47, favoring a Democrat majority, Motley feels that the 47 Republicans will stand firmly for this bill. That means we only need 4 Democrat Senators to stand up with them. Arkansans, don’t you think the blossoming conservative Senator Mark Pryor is an excellent choice?
For more information on SJR 6 or to contact Senator Pryor, visit this website.
You can also phone his DC office directly at (202) 224-2353 or his Little Rock office at (501) 324-6336.
Tell Senator Pryor to stand with Arkansans and keep the federal government’s hands off of our internet. Remind him that Arkansas comes first.
A new Iowa poll released today shows that Herman Cain is still leading in Iowa, as Newt Gingrich has surged to 2nd place for the first time.
As Newt surges, Mitt Romney falls to 15%, a 3rd place finish, just in front of Ron Paul & Michele Bachmann at 11%.
No other candidates garnered more than 5%.
H/T Political Wire.
Now that I’ve provided some factual information about the structure of the proposed “bypass tax” in White County, I think it is important to present some of the arguments/agendas at work in this debate. From my perspective, there are a few schools of thought.
First, it is important to clarify that there are really two debates happening here–and the local governments have successfully muddled them into one large cesspool in order to advance their agenda.
The two issues at hand: 1. Do we want/need a bypass? And 2. Do we want/need a tax to pay for it?
Some are claiming that it would be irresponsible to not pass the tax and build the bypass because we would be “missing out on an opportunity to receive ‘free money’ from the state.” This is logic truly lost on me. There is no such thing as free money. Not only will the money come with countless strings attached, it is our money to begin with.
Furthermore, we should not allow any amount of bribery or persuasion from the state or federal government to dictate how we conduct our business here at the local level. If we do not have the money for this project, we should not do it. And raising taxes so we can get “free money” is reckless and irresponsible.
Those in city governments across the county see this tax as an opportunity to stuff their city’s coffers. Remember, half of the projected revenue from the tax (approximately $9 million) will be redistributed to the cities on a per capita basis. More free money!
Then there are the rumors are floating around the city of Searcy that their additional $3 million in revenue will be used to set up an aquatic center fund. I can’t verify this and city officials will deny it, but it’s out there. The local newspaper is now reporting that the Searcy City Council will formally declare their support for the tax. They just can’t help themselves. They know they cannot get a tax passed on their own–voters in Searcy have voted down tax increases twice in recent years–so they’ve convinced the county to do their bidding for them. Are Searcy politicians using the county government (and taxpayers) to advance their tax-hiking agenda?
Haven’t the people of Searcy made it clear that they don’t want to pay higher taxes? And aren’t these the same politicians who supported the A&P Tax because it was a “participatory tax, not a tax on everything?” Breaking news: the bypass tax is a tax on everything.
Another school of thought is declaring that this bypass “will be GREAT for businesses!” But since when is raising taxes good for businesses? And as for the merits of the bypass, I can see where it will create potential for future economic growth as Searcy expands, but right now, our businesses are struggling. After all, we are in a serious recession. Is this a reasonable time to even consider raising taxes? I think not.
Just a few weeks ago, Yarnell’s closed its doors and put several hundred employees out of work. Is this really the time to start diverting traffic away from our businesses? Or a prudent time to suck $18 million out of our local economy?
There are arguments that can be made for and against the bypass–there is validity in both sides of this issue. But how can we possibly consider raising taxes to do it? These politicians love taxes and they seem to think they have been elected to raise them.
The appetite of government is insatiable. Bureaucrats will never stop asking for more money from taxpayers–will we stop giving it?
Nicholas Horton is the Editor of The Arkansas Patriot & former Searcy City Council candidate. He owns & operates Horton’s Lawn Care in Searcy. In his spare time, he volunteers for various political causes. Contact Nicholas at firstname.lastname@example.org & follow him on Twitter.
Today, I’m happy to announce a slightly new direction for The Arkansas Patriot. We will be adding two new contributors & changing the strategery of the site just a tad.
Our new contributors are Nick Stehle of Benton & Christian Olson of Little Rock. Both have been active in conservative politics for years & I am very excited to have them join the team. Patriot contributor Josh Mesker will also be beefing up his role as we take on a new vision.
The new vision for The Patriot will include:
- Higher volume of commentary on state & local issues
- Building a coalition with other conservative blogs & TEA Party groups across the state
- Presenting profiles/interviews of candidates
- Taking a more active role in the primary process to insure that the most conservative candidates are on the ballot in November
- Facilitating a discussion on the hot political topics in the state. We hope our site will be a forum for such discussion.
Future plans for growth include a podcast/online radio show & an e-newsletter.
I will retain my role as Editor-In-Chief and work closely with these contributors & friends. I am very excited to launch this next phase of The Arkansas Patriot with such a qualified team of dedicated conservatives. I can assure you that the four of us will not always agree, but I can guarantee a robust debate on the facts & a constitutional approach to every issue.
To learn more about our new contributors, you can visit our Contributors page.
The Arkansas Patriot is a conservative organization dedicated to equipping citizens with the truth, insuring transparent government, and encouraging citizens to question their government boldly. Contact The Patriot at email@example.com
This short film was produced by Harding College during the Cold War. How often we take for granted the simplest of freedoms.
The Arkansas Patriot is a conservative organization dedicated to equipping citizens with the truth, insuring transparent government, and encouraging citizens to question their government boldly. The editor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow The Patriot on Twitter and Facebook.