A little bit about the logo

Thought I might take a minute to tell you a little bit about our logo. If you’re a student of the Constitution, then you’ve probably already got some idea of what it stands for, but I’ll go through the elements.

Crossed quill and pistol

These symbolize the First and Second Amendments to the Constitution. I would argue that these are probably two of the most important (if not the most important) amendments to the Constitution. The First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

People tend to pick and choose their favorite parts of this amendment, but the entire thing is important. For our purposes, the freedoms to speak, assemble, and petition the government are so incredibly crucial to ensuring that citizens can call out the government when they are pushing the boundaries of their Constitutional authorities and violating the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

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.

I go more into what these two lines mean here, but the short version is that the Founding Fathers intended the citizenry to be armed both to defend the  country from external invaders, but also to defend the country from an oppressive government.

Phrygian cap

During the ancient Roman empire, when a slave was freed, they would be given a cap called the pileus that symbolized that freedom. Over time, the pielus was conflated with the Greek phrygian cap, and the phrygian cap came to symbolize freedom. It is also found on the seal of the U.S. Senate.


The “76” and “91” stand for 1776, the year of the Declaration of Independence, and 1791, the year that the Bill of Rights was ratified.


The color green is associated with hope in heraldry.


So when you say “well-regulated”…

“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

Over the last 100 years, many debates have raged over the true meaning of the Second Amendment. While nearly impossible to address each one – at least without losing all five readers this page has – I hope to address one or two that I have heard frequently. One argument uses two words, “well regulated,” to imply that all gun laws are Constitutional. The other uses imagination to pre-suppose that the Founders never envisioned today’s weapons, or that they never intended civilians to own “weapons of war.”

Obviously, if the Founders intended to regulate the militia, there should be no argument as to whether or not we can regulate the arms the militia (and the people) can bear, right? I think this argument is flawed, for one fundamental reason: it ignores the frame of reference of the Founders. Instead, it substitutes the frame of reference of a civilian accustomed to a large standing military that is theoretically prepared to take on all comers.

Of course, before we can truly dive deep, we must visit some important definitions. I’ll be drawing definitions from both federal and state documents. For state documents, I will focus on my current state of residence, Virginia. Because most second amendment arguments center around the word “militia,” let us start there. By definition,

“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.”
(10 U.S. Code 246)

Now, while I feel this needs a bit of revising with regards to age and gender, we can safely say that every able-bodied male citizen between 17 and 45, is, at the very least, a member of the militia. Now for Virginia. Virginia has its own version of the second amendment, which they call Article I, Section 13. It states,

“That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”

Here we see a much broader view of the militia, and a much broader view of the idea of regulation. So, let’s look at two more definitions, found in the Code of Virginia, Title 44, Chapter 1, Article 1:

“The militia of the Commonwealth of Virginia shall consist of all able-bodied residents of the Commonwealth who are citizens of the United States and all other able-bodied persons resident in the Commonwealth who have declared their intention to become citizens of the United States, who are at least 16 years of age and, except as hereinafter provided, not more than 55 years of age. The militia shall be divided into three classes: the National Guard, which includes the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard; the Virginia Defense Force; and the unorganized militia.” (44-1)

“The unorganized militia shall consist of all able-bodied persons as set out in § 44-1, except such as may be included in §§ 44-2 and 44-54.6 and except such as may be exempted as hereinafter provided.” (44-4)

Lastly, we turn to Merriam Webster for the definition of “regulate.” There are three definitions provided, but the first two are most applicable to our discussion:

“1a : to govern or direct according to rule
1b (1) : to bring under the control of law or constituted authority
1b (2) : to make regulations for or concerning
2 : to bring order, method, or uniformity to”

So, even if we look at the dictionary definition alone, we see that “regulating” a militia does not imply simply prohibiting actions or ownership of a firearm. It merely means that the militia, both organized and unorganized, exists according to a set of rules.
Back during the debates over the new Constitution, there was a significant disagreement on what form of military force the new government would possess. As evidenced by the Virginia Constitution above, many of the Founders were extremely wary of standing armies, having seen their frequent misuse by the powers of Europe.

Another example of this wariness comes from the Pennsylvania Constitutional ratification convention, where the dissenters issued a “Reasons of Dissent” stating “[t]hat the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and their own state, or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game, and no law shall be passed for disarming the people or any of them, unless for crimes committed, or real danger of public injury from individuals; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military shall be kept under strict subordination to and be governed by the civil powers.”

The Pennsylvania Convention also strongly disagreed with the amount of control that Congress exercised over the militia, saying, “the absolute command of Congress over the militia may be destructive of public liberty; for under the guidance of an arbitrary government, they may be made the unwilling instruments of tyranny.”  The Pennsylvania Convention didn’t even want Congress having control over the militia, much less have a standing army. If the proposed control by Congress was deemed to be too dangerous, who then should control the militia but the individual states themselves? Once again, the Pennsylvanians made this clear: “That the power of organizing, arming and disciplining the militia…remain with the individual states….”

At the same time, many recognized that the logistics of keeping the entire male population ready for professional military service was simply not feasible. Alexander Hamilton summarized his argument for a selected corps of militia to be maintained in a ready state in Federalist No. 29:

“The project of disciplining all the militia of the United States is as futile as it would be injurious, if it were capable of being carried into execution. A tolerable expertness in military movements is a business that requires time and practice. It is not a day, or even a week, that will suffice for the attainment of it.

To oblige the great body of the yeomanry, and of the other classes of the citizens, to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well-regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss.

Little more can reasonably be aimed at, with respect to the people at large, than to have them properly armed and equipped; and in order to see that this be not neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in the course of a year.

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.” [Emphasis mine]

Note here that he says “the people at large…properly armed and equipped.” I really don’t know how he could have made it any clearer that he intended every male (and now female, I believe) to have weapons capable of military service.

While many have argued that the existence of the National Guard makes the idea of the militia (and the Second Amendment) obsolete, it is very clear that the Founders intended an armed citizenry with a selected, well-trained corps available for immediate use. Hence, we find ourselves with the modern definition of the militia divided between the organized militia of the National Guard – the “select corps” if you will – and the unorganized militia composed of the “body of the people, trained to arms.” Essentially, it is a layered defense. The select corps forms the immediate reaction to a threat until the larger body of citizenry can be brought up to a level of proficiency necessary to meet the threat.

James Madison makes this even clearer (Federalist No. 46) when he discusses the role of the militia in preventing the federal government from using a standing army to repress the states:

“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. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it.” [Emphasis mine]

Note that he specifically uses the phrase “a militia…of citizens with arms in their hands.” This clearly indicates that the militia is composed of more than just the select corps (today’s National Guard). Both Madison and Hamilton refer to “the people” and “the militia” in a manner that portrays a common armed citizen (the unorganized militia), not necessarily a trained soldier, as the “select corps”/National Guard would be.

So, back to the subject of regulation. If, indeed, only those defined in 10 USC 246 or 44-1 are allowed to have firearms (and I don’t believe that to be true, but let’s go with it), what sort of regulations would we expect to see? Realistically, we would probably see requirements to own specific types of firearms, as well as training requirements for those arms, not regulations banning those firearms. For example, the standard rifle of the U.S. military is the M16/M4 series. So, if we truly regulated the militia – to include the unorganized militia – we should be requiring all members of the unorganized militia to own and practice with an AR-15. There should also be physical fitness requirements (which might help the Army’s issues with fat recruits), but I digress. Essentially, we would be following the Swiss model, requiring members of the militia to own and maintain both weapons and equipment in their homes. Why their homes and not armories? Because in the case of immediate need, mustering at an armory for gear issue will be significantly slower than members grabbing their home gear and moving out. There would be exemptions, of course, as even the Founders recognized, but the “citizens with arms” would be a key feature of our defense.

It is also worth noting that some of the Founders were opposed to even the idea of a Bill of Rights, believing that the rights mentioned therein were God-given, and could not be taken away. By way of example, Alexander Hamilton (in Federalist 84, and referring to the now First Amendment) stated:

“I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and, on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretense for claiming that power. They might urge with a semblance of reason, that the Constitution ought not to be charged with the absurdity of providing against the abuse of an authority which was not given, and that the provision against restraining the liberty of the press afforded a clear implication, that a power to prescribe proper regulations concerning it was intended to be vested in the national government.”

Yes, you read that right. Alexander Hamilton was fearful of enumerating God-given rights in a man-made document because he was afraid that doing so would imply that the government somehow had the ability to regulate those rights…

Similarly, James Wilson made a speech on October 6, 1787 in which he described why a Bill of Rights was not needed:

“[I]n delegating federal powers, another criterion was necessarily introduced, and the congressional power is to be collected, not from tacit implication, but from the positive grant expressed in the instrument of the union. Hence, it is evident that…everything which is not given is reserved.

This distinction being recognized, will furnish an answer to those who think the omission of a bill of rights a defect in the proposed constitution; for it would have been superfluous and absurd to have stipulated with a federal body of our own creation, that we should enjoy those privileges of which we are not divested, either by the intention or the act that has brought the body into existence.”

In other words, because the Constitution did not specifically give Congress permission to regulate the right to bear arms, that right was completely reserved to the people. Obviously, the Bill of Rights was later added over both Hamilton’s and Wilson’s objections, but that does not change the Founders’ clear state of mind when it was drafted.

In the wake of current events, as more and more people call for regulations and twist the words of the Founders, let’s not forget what they really meant, and why they were so adamant about what they meant. It is readily apparent that it was meant to provide ordinary citizens with the ability to possess weapons for military use. It wasn’t about hunting, and it wasn’t even about self-defense, as noble a right as that is. It was to allow ordinary citizens to protect their country and Constitution from enemies both without and within. It is the ultimate check on tyranny.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” – Declaration of Independence

Moral failings and big government

When the Constitution was ratified, government was exceptionally small. The military was practically non-existent, taxes were minimal (and still highly resisted), there were no social programs, and while we certainly had national debt, it wasn’t anywhere near what it is today. So how has our government gotten so big and invaded so many parts of our lives? While there were certainly major events that increased its growth, I would argue that the vast majority of the government’s growth over the last 200+ years was from the moral failings of the citizens of the United States. This probably won’t be a popular opinion, but hear me out.

Let’s consider some examples:

  1. Companies decide that their bottom line and executive perks are more important than their people or the environment – minimum wage, the EPA, government regulation of trading, etc.
  2. People decide that they don’t want to give to nonprofit programs that provide services to their fellow humans that need support – welfare.
  3. Universities decide that their football coach needs to be paid more than half their teaching staff combined and jack up tuition to cover the associated costs – “free college for all.”
  4. Medicine becomes a business instead of a ministry – Medicare, the Affordable Healthcare Act, and a host of new proposals.

Now before someone goes off on me and accuses me of saying that people shouldn’t be paid for their work, I’m not saying that at all, even at the executive level. But when an executive can fail at their job and be separated, but still receive a severance package that’s worth more than 4-5x the average of other workers’ pay, that’s an issue. An easily fixable issue.

Capitalism is an amazing system. Our system of government (constitutional republic) is an amazing system. Together, they have the ability to create incredible opportunity for the people of the United States. But they are only as good as the morals of the people inhabiting and governing the country. Government is probably the absolute least efficient method of delivering needed services, but if we the people fail to take care of our own, the government will step in and do what our fellow citizens demand of them. We have gotten ourselves into this mess, and we’ll have to get ourselves out of it.

Washington on Parties (Part 3)

In 1796, as President George Washington was preparing to depart the Presidency, he wrote a farewell address. In many ways, the topics he addressed in this document are eerily prophetic as we look around our world today.

One topic was the subject of political parties. It’s very easy to check the news and see the damage that polarization around party is doing to our country today. Since President Washington had a lot to say, I’ll cover his thoughts across several posts. This is the third post in the series. You can read the first part here and the second part here.

The final paragraph of President Washington’s argument against political parties reads:

“There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.”

I think in some ways parties today attempt to paint themselves as checks on the government. If you actually examine their arguments, however, you’ll find that they are usually arguing against the policies of the current government (usually the one run by the opposing party) versus being a check on government as a whole. Both parties fight to continuously expand government – they just use different reasoning to support their expansion. The Republicans argue for government expansion in the name of national security and safety (bigger military and national security apparatus), whereas the Democrats argue for government expansion in the name of social justice and security (larger welfare/medical programs and government regulation of supposedy abusive corporations). Both want to be further in your pockets and your business, they’re just giving you the option of how they’re going to get there.

So where do we go from here? Unfortunately, the two-party system is so ingrained in our culture at this point that it will be incredibly difficult to extricate ourselves. The only true way to destroy the two-party system is to reliably run third or fourth-party candidates that can convince people to vote for them. This will be a long, uphill battle. The government, both state and national, is so deeply involved in our day to day lives that educating voters enough on the myriad of issues to have them realize the damage that parties have done will probably take decades (or some sort of cataclysm). Reversing the constant growth of government will take even longer.

We, as a people, must start this journey. We are well past the point at which the spirit of party has started to consume us.

If this interested you, take a minute to subscribe to or follow our blog. President Washington had a lot more to say about political parties, as well as other modern concerns, and I hope to give them a solid treatment in upcoming posts. Thanks!

Washington on Parties (Part 2)

In 1796, as President George Washington was preparing to depart the Presidency, he wrote a farewell address. In many ways, the topics he addressed in this document are eerily prophetic as we look around our world today.

One topic was the subject of political parties. It’s very easy to check the news and see the damage that polarization around party is doing to our country today. Since President Washington had a lot to say, I’ll cover his thoughts across several posts. This is the second post in the series. You can read the first part here.

We left off our last discussion with President Washington’s warning about political parties becoming so divisive that the people elect a strong man to remedy the gridlock. He continues:

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

I have to say it – this is borderline prophetic. Look around right now. Look at the left and right wing protestors clashing in the streets. Look at the disinformation campaigns being waged intentionally for both political and monetary gain. Trace the money – and not just to one party. If you dig far enough, you’ll find foreign money flowing to both sides. Not only are these foreign parties trying to influence our politicians to receive a desired result, in some cases the same foreign party is intentionally funding both American parties simply to sow havoc and weaken our faith in the system further.

Watch our political houses at both the state and national level spending more of their time fighting each other than actually legislating. There is little room for nuance in politics any more. Parties have drawn up hard line platforms and expect their members to rigidly follow them, even if they personally disagree. The leadership of the party establishes this platform, and rarely are the best interests of average Americans represented. It is a vision established by the elite of what they think America should be. Those who cross the party can lose access to donor lists and the network that the party brings, as well as high-profile assignments to committees and other perks. Contributing money to the party buys you access and protection. Towing the party line does the same.

We as Americans cannot let this continue. The two-party system will only get more corrupt as time passes. It is not uncommon for elected officials to stay in office for 20-30 years in the Senate. As the President warned, our republic is being undermined by the parties who claim to represent us.

If this interested you, take a minute to subscribe to or follow our blog. President Washington had a lot more to say about political parties, as well as other modern concerns, and I hope to give them a solid treatment in upcoming posts. Thanks!

Washington on Parties (Part 1)

In 1796, as President George Washington was preparing to depart the Presidency, he wrote a farewell address. In many ways, the topics he addressed in this document are eerily prophetic as we look around our world today.

One topic was the subject of political parties. It’s very easy to check the news and see the damage that polarization around party is doing to our country today. Since President Washington had a lot to say, I’ll cover his thoughts across several posts.

First, here’s his thoughts I’ll cover today:

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

First, President Washington admits that people tend to segregate themselves with people who think like them. As he states, this is a part of human nature. We hang out with people who enjoy the same hobbies, sports teams, political leanings, etc. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless we allow ourselves to be defined by these items and begin to purposely exclude those who do not share our hobbies or beliefs. Today, I believe we are seeing an exceptionally worrisome trend toward political tribalism.

Second, President Washington mentions the back and forth between the parties as they alternate power. The last few years have certainly demonstrated this. Each party, in their turn, has changed rules to make things easier on themselves, only to protest strongly when the other party uses the rule changes to get their way only a few years later. One particular example was Senator Harry Reid’s 2013 change that eliminated the previous 60-vote requirement for confirmations of lower court and Cabinet appointments. At the time, he argued it was necessary because Republicans were being “obstructionist.” He also left Supreme Court confirmations at the 60-vote level.

However, even though he had exempted the Supreme Court at that time, he had essentially set the precedent that when the going gets tough, Congress can just change the rules to make it easier. So, in 2018, when the Democrats were being obstructionist, Senator Mitch McConnell changed the rules to eliminate the 60-vote requirement for the Supreme Court to get his way. Both parties either have regretted their choice (such as the Democrats in the current session) or will regret their choice (likely the Republicans if the Democrats get the Presidency and Senate majority back).

This is exactly the tit for tat that President Washington predicted. I was once told that before you support a law, make sure you’d support it if the other party was the one proposing it. Something for the tribalists to think about.

Finally, President Washington warned that this tit for tat would bring about a populace that longs for a strong man who will get things done and cut through the partisan gridlock. Once again, we’ve seen this already in the promises of presidential candidates to do everything within their power to skirt “the obstructionists in Congress” and make things happen. Their party usually eats it up, as does a decent part of the public.

This is not something we can afford to let happen. Making laws is messy. It’s designed to be. Laws that affect everyone in the country (if, and only if, they truly need to be made) should be written, debated, and re-written until they truly reflect the best interests of those they will affect, not merely the hopes and dreams of a single party.

If this interested you, take a minute to subscribe to or follow our blog. President Washington had a lot more to say about political parties, as well as other modern concerns, and I hope to give them a solid treatment in upcoming posts. Thanks!

California strikes again

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced with much fanfare on Friday the 11th of October that he had signed 15 anti-Second Amendment bills that were so onerous that even the ACLU opposed many of them. At the signing, Gov. Newsom said, “California has outperformed the rest of the nation, because of our gun safety laws, in reducing the gun murder rate substantially compared to the national reduction. No state does it as well or comprehensively as the state of California, and we still have a long way to go.” Newsom stated that from 1993 to 2017, California experienced a 62% drop in the gun murder rate in California while the rest of the country experienced only a 34% drop.

So, other than the fact that there are some blatant violations of the Second Amendment in those bills, have California gun laws actually led to California becoming safer than the rest of the country? Let’s take a look. I apologize ahead of time if I jump around different years, as I’m doing my best to use open source references and compare apples to apples, and sometimes I can’t find data for the year I want so I have to use the year I can find.

Let’s fact-check his numbers. I’m using California’s own numbers and the FBI’s numbers, so you can double-check me if you want. I can’t seem to find in California’s numbers where they break down homicides by weapon. They break down robberies and aggravated assaults by weapon, but not homicide, which strikes me as odd, but whatever, I’ll use the whole homicide number. Overall, California did indeed experience a drop in homicides of 56% (1993 had 4,095 homicides, 2017 had 1,829). The country overall experienced a drop of  33% (1993 had 23,415 homicides, 2017 had 15,345). But it wasn’t just homicides that dropped. Overall violent crime in California went down 47%, including knife and strong-arm crime. Overall violent crime in the entire country went down 48%. So, while there appears to be a correlation between stricter gun laws and violent crime reduction at first glance, looking at overall trends doesn’t seem to give the same answer. Also worthy of note is the fact that while violent crime (or even firearm crime) has declined overall, it has experienced temporary upticks during the cited period, even as California’s gun laws have increased. That indicates that while there may appear to be a correlation, they can’t prove causation because there are obviously other factors influencing violent crime besides the simple refrain of “more guns equals more crime.”

Comparison doesn’t really help California’s case either. California’s murder numbers for 2018 (1,739) are higher than Texas (1,301), even though Texas has significantly laxer gun laws. Now, to be fair, California has a larger population than Texas, but despite their significantly stricter gun laws, in 2015 California had a homicide rate of 4.8 per 100,000 – the exact same as Texas. Both also had similar percentages of homicides by firearm (70.1% for California and 72.9% for Texas). Additionally, in an 18-year list of active shooter incidents compiled by the FBI, California had 31 incidents, Texas had 17. This simply shouldn’t be if more gun laws equals less gun crime.

Gun violence is a very complex problem – one that most politicians really aren’t that interested in tackling. It is far more convenient for them to take a complex (and emotional) issue, attach it to a political stance that benefits them (gun laws), then incessantly beat their drum on that single issue while ignoring the other complexities involved. And yes, I honestly believe that many politicians fear ordinary people with guns. It eats away at their control, and politicians love to control.

It’s simple for someone trying to make a point to throw up handpicked data and say it proves their point. But before you vote to give up your rights to the politicians, at least take a minute to see if a slightly deeper dive still supports their premise. Fear is the enemy of liberty, and it should tell you a lot that politicians’ most potent weapon when they eye your rights (whether mass surveillance, gun laws, or a dozen other proposed laws) is playing on your fear.



What is the Dangerous Liberty Project?

The Dangerous Liberty Project is an attempt to re-focus on the principles of our country’s Founders. When the United States became a nation, government was considered almost a necessary evil, to be limited as much as possible in its scope. This was especially true of the new federal government established with the ratification of the Constitution in 1788 (with the Bill of Rights ratified in 1791).

James Wilson said in 1787 that:
“[I]n delegating federal powers, another criterion was necessarily introduced, and the congressional power is to be collected, not from tacit implication, but from the positive grant expressed in the instrument of the union. Hence, it is evident that…everything which is not given is reserved.

This distinction being recognized, will furnish an answer to those who think the omission of a bill of rights a defect in the proposed constitution; for it would have been superfluous and absurd to have stipulated with a federal body of our own creation, that we should enjoy those privileges of which we are not divested, either by the intention or the act that has brought the body into existence.”

Wilson argued that the federal government only possessed the powers specifically granted to it by the states, as codified in the Constitution. Obviously, those original limited powers have grown significantly as the federal government has assumed more power, frequently through the exploitation of a crisis. All we need to do is to look at the last few Presidential elections. Why do we care so much about these elections? Because the federal government is so deeply involved in our day to day lives that we feel as though our futures hinge on these elections. It wasn’t intended to be this way.

The Founders were acutely aware of the dangers of a large centralized government. They did their best to limit its powers, and even distribute (break up) the powers it was given to prevent concentration of powers in a single branch. We the People, on the other hand, have allowed it to grow, to assume greater power, and to become a power that monitors us, dictates to us, and then promises us betterment of our place in life if we will only grant it more power. We can’t solve this by simply voting for the Republican or Democratic party. Both parties seek to grow the State and its power, although under different pretexts.

What is required is a political rising up of the People. The parties as they exist now need to be dismantled. The idea that we can only choose between two money and power-driven parties must be abandoned. The federal government must be pared back – drastically. Individual freedom should be maximized, while governmental power should be minimized. This isn’t just an argument about freedom, it is an economic necessity. The country can no longer afford the federal government and national programs that exist today. Our deficit is growing, and it will overtake us.

Please don’t take this as a) any sort of endorsement of violence or b) any sort of endorsement of anarchism. The government does not need to be abolished, it needs to be restrained. I believe there is still a chance to do this through the political process. I also believe, as the Founders declared in the Declaration of Independence, that government is necessary. However, government should be kept to the barest minimum.

This is why I chose the name “Dangerous Liberty Project.” This reduction of government will be dangerous because we, as a people, have come to expect the big government, with all of its programs, to be there for us. We expect it to be our safety blanket. To trim government programs will possibly mean more money in our pockets, but it will also mean we will have to look out for our neighbors and our communities in a far more active way than just shipping our taxes off to Washington for them to distribute. I believe we can do this. The future of the United States lies with the People, not the State. It always has. It’s time we remember it.

Background checks for ammunition?

By now, you’ve probably seen a letter sent by a cabal of Attorneys-General, asking Congress to impose background checks on ammunition sales. If you haven’t, you can read it here. While it may seem well-intentioned, as most anti-gun legislation purports to be, it contains multiple examples of plainly irrational thinking.

It is actually somewhat interesting that they don’t focus solely on mass shootings, although that’s probably because the actual numbers of true mass shootings (that aren’t related to some sort of other criminal activity) are quite small, statistically speaking. But they do, as per usual arguments, include suicides in their plea for more government overreach. Now, I’m a little curious as to how a background check is going to prevent suicide, especially given the massive holes in reporting on the current system, but hey, they’re political lawyers, so they must know best.

They really get down to their demands in paragraph five, when they say “[t]his bill would make it illegal for individuals who are already ‘prohibited purchasers’ under federal law…from purchasing or possessing ammunition.” Horrible grammar aside, the only way ammunition hurts anyone is if it is loaded into a gun. Since these individuals are already prohibited from both purchasing and possessing firearms, this is basically an admission that laws don’t stop criminals and prohibited persons from getting and carrying guns. But don’t worry, they have a solution – another law.

“[W]e believe that extending those same requirements to ammunition will reduce gun violence and suicide.” They don’t bother to add in facts to this particular belief, but that’s probably because a study in 2016 found that only 7% of criminals who used firearms procured them from a licensed dealer using their own name, and less than 1% bought them at a gun show (despite that dastardly “gun show loophole”). So, criminals skirt background checks by stealing them, procuring them on the black market, or getting them from a family member or friend. But, surely they won’t do the same thing with ammunition. Surely adding a background check on ammunition will stop them from getting it, right?

In paragraph six, they state that this idea “adds these protections without infringing on law-abiding citizens’ right to own firearms….” Note that they stick with the right to own firearms. However, the Second Amendment protects the right to both keep (own) and bear firearms. Firearms without ammunition are useless, and the Attorneys-General are basically asking Congress to add an additional hassle to a law-abiding citizen’s purchase of ammunition in the belief that it will help alleviate firearm crimes. If the citizen has already submitted to a background check to purchase their firearm, why are you asking them to submit to another one for the ammunition?

Honestly, the conspiracy theorist in me thinks that the real purpose of this proposal is to make exercising the right to bear arms a hassle. Right now, I can go online, comparison shop to find the best prices, then order the ammunition I need to practice with my firearm. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, I ordered over $300 worth of ammunition online to attend a law enforcement instructor course. I had it delivered to the hotel I was living in while traveling. This law would stop that. If we judge it by firearms laws, I would have to order the ammunition, go find a local dealer, then get that dealer to agree to conduct the transfer for me. That would add anywhere from $20 to $50 (plus another hour or so of my time) to my ammunition order on the belief that it is somehow helping stop crime (with no evidence to back it up).

They say it keeps me safe – I say they are making it more difficult for me to exercise a Constitutional right. I also say they are hoping that the additional step will discourage individuals from exercising their right. Keep in mind, these are the same people who claim that producing photo identification to vote discourages individuals from exercising their right to vote. But they want to put a (second) background check (involving photo identification, a form, and a criminal record check) on my ability to exercise my right to bear arms. Rights are rights – there aren’t supposed to be favored rights and disfavored rights. Just because people are scared (despite currently decreasing murder trends) doesn’t mean that my rights suddenly become less important.