Commentary: ‘We the People’ versus ‘Mother, May I’

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

And with that introduction, the foundation of our nation was laid. As important as that foundation is, it is the first 10 amendments that are the real bedrock of our nation — the Bill of Rights, as those first 10 Amendments are known, does not grant freedom in any way, but instead recognizes that these very human rights arise not from any government but are granted by our Creator.

Based on my understanding of the volumes of information available, it seems clear to me that the limitations on government power inherent in the Bill of Rights were seen as inviolate by the Founders of our nation 228 years ago.

There have been other, very necessary amendments to our Constitution in the intervening 228 years, but today I am going to compare and contrast just two, the Second Amendment, and the Fifteenth Amendment.

First, the Second Amendment:

“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.”

To get ahead of those who will focus on “regulated” and “Militia,” keep in mind that “regulated” as used at the time meant ‘well trained’ in other words, a familiarity gained with firearms in private pursuits could be used to form a militia that could be rapidly mobilized.

As for “Militia,” the definition of Militia was more than adequately addressed at the time by James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and many others in a variety of media, including the Federalist Papers. Their definition; and it is truly the only one that matters, stated that “it is the whole of the people’ and by my thinking should include every able-bodied man and woman of good character.”

And now, Section 1 of the Fifteenth Amendment:

“Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

The 15th amendment, ratified in 1870, not long after a bloody Civil War came to an end, ensured that the recently freed slaves had the right to vote. Unfortunately, Jim Crow laws sprang up in an attempt to marginalize the recent gains of black Americans as well as others of differing races and colors.

In the Jim Crow South, Democrats promulgated laws and regulations to make voting more difficult if not impossible, by enacting poll taxes and literacy tests as well as other barriers to participation in the processes of a Democratic Republic. Fortunately and finally, Jim Crow laws were seen for what they are and are a thing of the past. Or are they?

Consider the recent Senate bill proposed by Sen. Laura Sturgeon, Senate Bill 69; a “Permit to Purchase” bill. This bill would require that a person interested in exercising their Second Amendment rights first obtain a state-approved “permit to purchase.” To obtain this permit, you must have;

  1. Completed a firearms training course within the last two years.
  2. Submit to fingerprinting by the state.
  3. Submit to a background search conducted by the state.
  4. Submit those fingerprints to the federal government.
  5. Submit to the secretary inquiring about you to your local law enforcement office.

After all that, if you pass these tests you will get your “permission slip.” But, like those infomercials on TV, ‘There’s more”!

After taking weeks or months to acquire the Permit to Purchas’, as well as undergoing the already mandatory background check (NICS), your dealer must submit a written record of the completed transaction to the state, including;

  1. Date of sale
  2. Your name and address
  3. The make, model and serial number of the firearm
  4. ID number of the Permit to Purchase
  5. A mode of identification
  6. Any other information required by state law and regulation. Perhaps to include a “reason” or justification to purchase.

All of this information will then be placed in a “searchable database” i.e. registration!

Clearly this onerous procedure is designed to make buying a firearm so difficult and so expensive that many will just give up on the entire process. If you think about it, the whole “permit to purchase” thing sounds a lot like the Jim Crow laws of the post-war South, doesn’t it.

Consider a hypothetical situation for a moment — Bonnie Smith, a law-abiding American citizen who wants to exercise her 15th Amendment right to vote finds that she must complete a three-day voting responsibility class at her own expense where she must learn all manner of things related to voting.

In addition, she must then pass a state-mandated check of her “voting knowledge.” After being fingerprinted, she may then obtain an up-to-date voting license that is good for one national election or three local elections.

After that, she must undergo a background check before every election. Oh, and her actual vote is recorded by the government. Not that she voted, but who she voted for!

All this information is then placed in a searchable database. Of course a scenario such as this disenfranchisement of Ms. Smith’s voting rights would be outrageous, yet with Sen. Sturgeon’s ‘Permit to Purchase’ bill we are disenfranchising the 2nd Amendment rights of that same law-abiding American citizen who chooses to own a firearm and exercise her Creator-given right!

If you believe that Sen. Sturgeon’s Senate Bill 69 sounds like a relapse of Jim Crow, you are not alone in that thinking. Our constitutional rights are whole rights; you cannot pick and choose which ones to allow or which parts to allow based on what you agree with.

Freedom of speech means that I as a U.S. Army veteran must allow someone to burn our flag in protest, and that the Jewish population of Skokie, Illinois had to allow Nazis to march in years gone by. These Creator-granted and constitutionally guaranteed rights must be protected as whole rights.

It is my contention that requiring law-abiding ordinary Americans to acquire a state-issued “Permit to Purchase” a firearm is clearly a re-instituting of Jim Crow laws. And that my friends, is unacceptable.

Frank Nedza is a resident of Harrington.

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