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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Language Abuse and Ignorance of Grammar

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. — Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

It’s important — particularly in a world with slippery politicians — to define words and terms accurately. Thomas Sowell writes in Townhall:

“Former big-time TV journalist Sam Donaldson and current fledgling CNN host Don Lemon have already proclaimed racism to be the reason for criticisms of Obama, and we can expect more and more other talking heads to say the same thing as the election campaign goes on. The word "racism" is like ketchup. It can be put on practically anything -- and demanding evidence makes you a "racist."

A more positive term that is likely to be heard a lot, during election years especially, is "compassion." But what does it mean concretely? More often than not, in practice it means a willingness to spend the taxpayers' money in ways that will increase the spender's chances of getting reelected.

If you are skeptical -- or, worse yet, critical -- of this practice, then you qualify for a different political label: "mean-spirited." A related political label is "greedy."

In the political language of today, people who want to keep what they have earned are said to be "greedy," while those who wish to take their earnings from them and give it to others (who will vote for them in return) show "compassion."

For years the Left and their cohorts in the media have had control of the language. As Thomas Sowell states if you disagree with President Obama you are a racist. If you are against tax increases you are greedy and if you are in favor of less gun control you are right-wing fascist who wants to kill animal and people.

This control of the language is taking hold in the upcoming debate over more gun control. Words and terms such as “freedom”, “rights”, and “the people” are losing to words like “public safety”, protect our children”, and “guns are nor necessary in today’s society.”

Take as example the Second Amendment to the Constriction, our basic law of the land. Any person with an eighth grade education can read the Constitution and understand its meaning. It does not take a legal scholar or law professor to tell you what it means. The words are clear, brief and succinct. The Second Amendment states:

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state” means exactly what it states. It means that it is necessary for states to have a ready and regulated militia to counter any corrosive or tyrannical force from the government. The word “security” means not only the security of the states, but also personal security against attacks on their persons or property.

The next clause (note the comma) states; “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” defines who will be in this militia. The people (citizens of the state) shall comprise this militia and for that purpose the “people” will have the right to “keep” and “bear” arms. This does not mean that the state government will dole out weapons when the politicians think the “people” need them. It is the people’s right to keep and bear these arms.

The final clause (separated by a coma) is very clear. It states “shall not be infringed.” According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary the word “infringed’ is a transitive verb and means; “to encroach upon in a way that violates law or the rights of another.” The authors of this amendment could have used words such as “trespassed”, “invaded”, “overstepped”, “encroached upon”, or “interfered with.” They chose “infringed” because it was a clearer and stronger word.

David Young, Constitutional scholar and recognized authority on Founding Era Second Amendment developmental history and documents, writes in his blog on the Second Amendment:

“As a result of Second Amendment dispute, it has been suggested that to infringe relative to the fundamental right to keep and bear arms means only to completely destroy the right, and that extensive "reasonable" regulations are legitimate and do not infringe the right. As an example, it has been claimed that a complete ban on certain types of firearms is a “reasonable” regulation and would not violate the "shall not be infringed" restrictive language. A contrary understanding is that infringe means to encroach upon or narrow the right in any way and that the purpose for the "shall not be infringed" language was to prevent regulation of the right.

An excellent method for determining how extensive the Bill of Rights protection based on the verb "infringe" was intended to be in the Founders' view is to rely on historical examples. What can be gleaned from their own use of this term in relation to other Bill of Rights proposals? Here are some of them.

The Second Amendment's "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" language is exactly what was proposed as the first clause of the amendment by James Madison on June 8, 1789. In addition to that "infringe" based language, Madison also included this freedom of religion related protection in his Bill of Rights proposals to Congress: “nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed.” [The Origin of the Second Amendment p.654] Assuming that Madison's intention in preventing religious liberty from being “infringed” was to allow for considerable "reasonable" regulation by the federal government is illogical. In fact, it is clear that the intent of such language was to prevent any interference whatsoever by the government in such matters. The later change to “Congress shall make no laws” language buttresses this period understanding of "infringe" based protection.”

I agree with Mr. Young’s argument that “infringe” means exactly what our founders meant — no regulations, trespass, or encroachment or any form.

The assault on the language you will hear from the left is the definition of the term “militia.” They will claim that the founders were referring to an organized band of men marching about with muskets on their shoulders under the command of the governor or some other state functionary. They are confusing this with today’s National Guard, that can be federalized anytime the President wants to use them, i.e. Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, etc.

According to Wikipedia:

“The term militia or irregular army, is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with multiple distinct but related meanings. Legal and historical meanings of militia include:

  • Defense activity or service, to protect a community, its territory, property, and laws.
  • The entire able-bodied population of a community, town, county, or state, available to be called to arms.
  • A private, non-government force, not necessarily directly supported or sanctioned by its government.

The history of militia in the United States dates from the colonial era, such362px-Minute_Man_Statue_Lexington_Massachusetts_cropped as in the American Revolutionary War. Based on the British system, colonial militias were drawn from the body of adult male citizens of a community, town, or local region. Because there were usually few British regulars garrisoned in North America, colonial militia served a vital role in local conflicts, particularly in the French and Indian Wars. Before shooting began in the American War of Independence, American revolutionaries took control of the militia system, reinvigorating training and excluding men with Loyalist inclinations. Regulation of the militia was codified by the Second Continental Congress with the Articles of Confederation. The revolutionaries also created a full-time regular army—the Continental Army—but because of manpower shortages the militia provided short-term support to the regulars in the field throughout the war.

In colonial era Anglo-American usage, militia service was distinguished from military service in that the latter was normally a commitment for a fixed period of time of at least a year, for a salary, whereas militia was only to meet a threat, or prepare to meet a threat, for periods of time expected to be short. Militia persons were normally expected to provide their own weapons, equipment, or supplies, although they may later be compensated for losses or expenditures.

A related concept is the jury, which can be regarded as a specialized form of militia convened to render a verdict in a court proceeding (known as a petit jury or trial jury) or to investigate a public matter and render a presentment or indictment (grand jury).

With the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and Article 1 Section 8 of the United States Constitution, control of the army and the power to direct the militia of the states was concurrently delegated to the federal Congress. The Militia Clauses gave Congress authority for "organizing, arming, and disciplining" the militia, and "governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States", with the States retaining authority to appoint officers and to impose the training specified by Congress.

Proponents describe a key element in the concept of "militia" was that to be "genuine" it not be a "select militia", composed of an unrepresentative subset of the population. This was an argument presented in the ratification debates.

The first legislation on the subject was The Militia Act of 1792 which provided, in part:

That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock”. (Emphasis added)

It should be noted that Article I, Section 8.15 states:

“To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions.”

And the next section (8.16) states:

“To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.”

It was the intent of Congress to have a citizenry ready to take up arms they were directed to possess and be prepared to protect their state, their property and the Republic. But, so as not to confuse the issue with the argument that the militia was the property of the federal government and the right to bear such arms was a right granted by the federal government the Second Amendment was added to the Constitution to protect that right to bear arms. Here is what our framers of the Constitution had to say about militias and the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 28:

“If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. In a single state, if the persons intrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair. The usurpers, clothed with the forms of legal authority, can too often crush the opposition in embryo. The smaller the extent of the territory, the more difficult will it be for the people to form a regular or systematic plan of opposition, and the more easy will it be to defeat their early efforts. Intelligence can be more speedily obtained of their preparations and movements, and the military force in the possession of the usurpers can be more rapidly directed against the part where the opposition has begun. In this situation there must be a peculiar coincidence of circumstances to insure success to the popular resistance.” (Emphasis added)

Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 29:

"But though the scheme of disciplining the whole nation must be abandoned as mischievous or impracticable; yet it is a matter of the utmost importance that a well-digested plan should, as soon as possible, be adopted for the proper establishment of the militia. The attention of the government ought particularly to be directed to the formation of a select corps of moderate extent, upon such principles as will really fit them for service in case of need. By thus circumscribing the plan, it will be possible to have an excellent body of well-trained militia, ready to take the field whenever the defense of the State shall require it. This will not only lessen the call for military establishments, but if 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 own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist." (Emphasis added)

James Madison in Federalist No. 46:

“Extravagant as the supposition is, let it however be made. Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence.” (Emphasis added)

You can see that our Framers took great stock in a people being armed and prepared to defend themselves against excesses of the federal government and to protect their liberty and property. This meant that the common, ordinary citizen was looked upon to defend himself and his family against threats against his life, liberty, and property no matter from whence it came. To accomplish this he had to be armed. This had nothing to do with hunting or sport shooting.

The final argument the left will advance is that our Framers did not envision assault rifles and automatic weapons. This is pure sophistic nonsense. Our Founders wanted the citizenry to have the best weapon available to counter the weapon of any adversary, invader, or a tyrannical federal government. At the time that was a “Brown Bess” musket. It was the musket developed by the British and used in the Revolutionary War. This is why Congress passed, and George Washington supported, Militia Acts of 1792. Without a doubt if the British or any other potential threat to the security of the United States had been equipped with AR-15s the Congress would have wanted the citizenry to have a weapon of equal capability. Also there is no mention of canons or bombs in the Second Amendment. This is factious argument by the Left.

Soon after the details of Adam Lanza’s heinous and purely evil criminal actions at Sandy Hook Elementary School were revealed, Americans largely decided that the political conversations that would inevitably result should be held off until the small bodies of the vile murderer’s victims had at least been removed from the school.

Conservative commentators and gun-rights advocates mostly did just that. In fact, in spite of the “what do you have to say for yourselves know” sneering from some on the left, the National Rifle Association refused to comment on the tragedy until Tuesday.

When the NRA did release a statement after five days of shouting from those opposed to the organization, here’s what it said:

“The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters — and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown. Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting. The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.”

While the NRA has avoiding making political statements about the tragedy, the organization has no choice but to prepare to battle an onslaught of anti-gun legislation slated to be introduced over the next several months.

This is because while the NRA turned off its media microphone, President Barack Obama, several members of Congress (some of whom are exceptionally pro-gun) and members of the media doubled down on blaming everyone and everything for the bloodshed but the sick child-murderer.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter when the “right” time to delve into so-called “gun control” has arrived. Once the smoke clears, we all step back into the rhetorical ring for another round of debate about what liberals call “gun violence” and conservatives call either “crime” or the lyrics to a rap album.

Of course, the actual debate takes a moment to get under way. First, the media have to descend on the bereaved and gorge themselves on misery like buzzards feasting on road kill. In the Newtown, Conn., nightmare, ABC News editorial producer Nadine Shubailat began stalking victims’ families and friends on Twitter, begging for face time, until outraged respondents buried her Twitter feed in an avalanche of spam. Meanwhile, the Democrats had to take a moment to adhere to Rahm Emanuel’s famous adage: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Barack Obama’s creepy little pet, David Axelrod, even tried hyping Obama’s gun-control speech (which was ostensibly supposed to comfort the Nation) to direct people to donate to Obama’s 2012 Presidential campaign. Nothing says “we care” like exploiting dead children to grub for cash for an electoral effort that ended six weeks ago.

Among the citizenry, emotions run high, often obfuscating reason. Some proffer laughable conspiracy theories, my favorite involving both the Aurora theater shooter and the Newtown murderer being stooges for a secret gun-lobby conspiracy trying to create an artificial spike in prices. Others try to resurrect the ridiculous talking point about the 2nd Amendment referring only to flintlock muskets and blunderbusses. They blissfully ignore that abortion is now constitutionally protected.

And we must not forget magazine capacity. Anti-2nd Amendment zealots suggest that no one needs high-capacity magazines. But Connecticut already bars the sale thereof. In fact, Connecticut is a liberal’s paradise regarding gun laws. Capacity makes no real difference. A determined shooter with even moderate training can cycle through 10- or even 5-round magazines in rapid succession. When the shooter is spurred on by the voices in his head and the victims are 5- and 6-year-olds, he doesn’t even have to be all that proficient. Hell, terrorist Timothy McVeigh was highly proficient with firearms — as an Army veteran, he was probably better with an M4 than Adam Lanza ever hoped to be — and he didn’t need a firearm at all. In China, some hopped-up lunatic went after a couple dozen schoolchildren with a knife about 18 hours before Lanza proceeded with his grisly plan. The Chinese, who have gun control to quail the hearts of even the Brady Campaign, have seen a number of such attacks in just the past few years.

Still others took advantage of the situation to press an assault against the National Rifle Association. Twitter was set ablaze by concerned liberals issuing death threats to not only the group’s members, but their children as well.

Liberals are so opposed to violence that they’re positively homicidal over it.

Gun control is really people control. And people can be controlled a lot more simply than an ill-advised frontal assault on the Bill of Rights. Gun control requires nothing more than common sense: You don’t allow criminals, illegal aliens or the guy down the street with a tinfoil hat access to firearms. Imposing draconian measures on the only part of the populace likely to abide by them merely tilts the field in favor of the criminal element. For those who remain unconvinced, take a look at Chicago, Detroit and Washington, D.C. (I suggest you do so from inside a tank.)

So-called “assault rifles,” high-capacity magazines, the NRA and one or two really intricate conspiracy theories might qualify as meaningful debate among liberal audiences who are as receptive to dissent as a Third World dictator, but they aren’t really the topics we ought to be discussing in the wake of Sandy Hook or any significant tragedy. From Newtown to Oklahoma City to China, the problem is on full display; and that problem isn’t guns.

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