Category Archives: News

Please Consider Signing the Professor Walter Block Raise in Pay Petition!

Block Has a Libertarian Viewpoint That Needs to be Heard

I read Walter Block (a professor at Loyola University of New Orleans) a fair amount and I frequently disagree with him – he is more radical in his libertarian views than I am.

BUT

There is a petition to get him fired so someone else started a petition to get Prof. Block a raise. I think Dr. Block should be rewarded, not punished. He brings a seldom-heard viewpoint.

So here is the “give Block a raise” petition (I cited his post at Lew Rockwell from here on):

https://www.change.org/p/loyola-university-new-orleans-administration-give-walter-block-a-pay-raise?utm_content=cl_sharecopy_22883475_en-US%3Av8&recruiter=1118300058&recruited_by_id=8b4252b0-b060-11ea-ad3c-07c8e6cadd6e&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_initial&utm_term=petition_dashboard

Here’s the situation:

Ruby, Emma and Rose Wagner. 2020. “Clashing petitions call for Walter Block to be fired, given a raise over academic work.” Loyola Maroon, Loyola University New Orleans, June 17;

Here’s the petition against me:

https://www.change.org/p/loyola-university-new-orleans-administration-fire-walter-block?recruiter=355294700&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_petition&recruited_by_id=a4743b40-3a9f-11e5-acb1-191591d2395c&use_react=false

I’d like all the support I can get on this.

Best regards,

Walter

Hat Tip to Lew Rockwell for this posting!

Sandy the Blogger is for Alissa Baldwin for US Senate!

She is Not a Politician and the Underdog!

I have been pondering this issue for some time.

I was angry at what I still believe was a forced exit of Omari Faulkner from the GOP US Senate race. And I know Daniel Gade’s campaign intervened in the Faulkner lawsuit in Richmond Circuit Court. So I was unsure if I was even going to vote in the primary. I was angry. However, no one was able to confirm this for me.

I was also egging the Libertarians to find a candidate for US Senate (boy a certain blogger I know if he had an extra million bucks would surely be tempted!) and the third parties need ballot access. Omari Faulkner has already changed Virginia politics. His suit made it possible for candidates like Cesar Alberto (a Libertarian!) and Kiesha Preston (an independent) to dream of ballot access victory and they got it:

A Roanoke judge lowered the petition signature threshold for city council candidates to appear on the November ballot and extended the filing deadline, citing the “extraordinary circumstances” candidates face during the coronavirus pandemic.

Circuit Judge Onzlee Ware ruled Thursday that candidates would need 50 signatures, rather than 125, to qualify for the ballot and extended the deadline from June 9 to June 23.

And I have ballot access news from Richmond: Several parties, the Libertarians, the Greens, the Constitution Party, the Independent Green Party of Virginia who wants to run several US House races, and other indy candidates for Federal offices, filed a suit in the Federal Court in Richmond to do away with petitioning altogether! Here’s the suit and here’s Richard Winger’s little blurb on the suit entitled: Libertarian Party of Virginia v Virginia Board of Elections, e.d., 3:20cv-349. I might have to don my suit of armor and head over Friday 9 AM to see the action.

BUT next Tuesday, June 23, there are primaries – and the GOP will have a US Senate primary. My choice is…….

Alissa Baldwin!

Here is a photograph from Alissa’s latest email:

Our next Senator?

Baldwin takes standard issues but she does not seem modulated and artificial. She is militantly pro Second Amendment, pro-life and pro-Trump:

I simply like her. I believe Baldwin was not involved in any nonsense to drive Omari Faulkner out of the race. No hard evidence; just my hunch. Here is Baldwin’s bio from her website and symbol:

Education:

  • Master of Science in Educational Leadership Degree, Longwood University, December 2012
  • Bachelor of Arts Degree from University of Richmond, May 2000
    • Majors: Leadership Studies and Political Science
    • Minor: Women’s Studies
  • Advanced Diploma with Presidential Seal, Central High School, Lunenburg County, 1996

Professional Experience:

  • Civics & Economics Teacher, Nottoway County Public Schools, 2015-present
  • K-12 Summer School Principal, Nottoway County Public Schools, 2016 and 2017
  • Adjunct Faculty, Department of Education, Longwood University, 2012-present
  • Assistant Director for the Office of Professional Services, Longwood University, 2009-2015
  • History/Social Studies Teacher, Lunenburg County Public Schools, 2004-2008
  • Civil Litigation Senior Paralegal & Law Firm Administrator, Tiller Law Group, 2003-2004
  • Paralegal to Managing Partner William B. Tiller, Esquire, Morris & Morris, P.C., 2000-2003

Master’s Degree; educator, adjunct faculty at a university, paralegal and law firm administrator (I can tell you – support staff for lawyers prevent most of us form disgrace, disbarment, lawsuits, prison, etc., and being a law firm administrator is like herding cats! And I am a cat – I know!). I think she could give incumbent Senator Mark Warner fits. My only mild criticism is watch the umm and ahh words. (Once a Toastmaster, always a Toastmaster!)

And that symbol:

Alissa’s right – only in USA can the underdog run for one of the highest offices in the land. Sandy the Blogger is voting Baldwin on Tuesday.

Meet Todd Hagopian: The CEO who is the Libertarian Nominee for Oklahoma State Corporation Commission!

First Statewide LP Win is Difficult BUT Possible

I had the pleasure of interviewing a Libertarian statewide candidate for office who has some of the necessary conditions for victory BUT NOT all yet.

Todd Hagopian is the LP nominee for Oklahoma State Corporation Commission. The Commission is an obscure but powerful agency that regulates the oil and gas industry, public utilities and transportation. (The Commonwealth of Virginia has a SCC as well and it is elected, not by the people but by the legislature. I have always felt the specialty work of the SCC is ill-suited for popular election but Todd has moved my needle – if I were running for statewide office or legislature as a Libertarian I think I would call for the SCC to be popularly elected – but I am officially undecided on this yet.) I got to know Todd through my live blog of the LP Convention.

Hagopian is a corporate CEO. His company is Unarco – not an oil and gas concern although it sounds like one – but nearly an exact opposite: Manufacturer of shopping carts. Yes. Shopping carts! If you live in Danville, Virginia, you might work for Todd! Unarco has a factory in Danville that was placed there prior to Hagopian’s tenure as CEO began two years ago.

I like Todd; he’s a solid candidate. He was in business management (Senior Manager at Whirlpool for almost seven years and then Business Unit Manager with Illinois Tool Works with nearly three years before being hired as CEO of Unarco – and Hagopian is only 40 years old! [I will officially lay down for a few minutes until the aging crisis passes!]) after education in Michigan (BS – Eastern Michigan U and MBA from Michigan State. So if you are Spartan alum or an EMU Eagles alum – maybe consider helping Todd!) Unarco is owned by a company that is owned by Berkshire Hathaway – who is led by a guy from Omaha named Buffett!

Another favorable aspect of this race is – no Democrat and the GOP is likely to run the incumbent, although there is a primary. It is a ballot access race and all Hagopian needs for the LP is 2.5 percent (Oklahoma used to be 10% like that other state where there is a Unarco factory but unlike that state, they decided to be reasonable and lower that vote amount to avoid petitioning to 2.5%.) But, there will always be those who think: Too many terms and too many uncontested races.

The LP position on regulations ought to help Hagopian in that this agency is powerful and behind the scenes. Here are Todd’s three bullet points:

  • 1) Cut The Red Tape
  • 2) Stop Letting Government Pick Winners/Losers
  • 3) Put Oklahomans Back To Work!

Sometimes these down ballot races produce a dynamic that is favorable for a challenger. Some voters might vote Trump/Pence but feel the oil companies have too much power or utilities get too many perks so they vote for the challenger. Might also be a feeling of “the incumbent’s got this in the bag” (President Hillary Clinton can tell you about that…) and does not get out and campaign. Or commits a gaffe.

Areas of concern: Will the Dems sit out this election? Will Sooners object to a newcomer (two years a resident) running for a statewide office?

This race might be one that LP members and Friends of Liberty (like me) ought to donate to. I do not intend (as a general rule) to solicit funds for other candidates – could be in violation of local campaign finance laws. But if you believe in liberty, maybe you should give up some item (for me – sweet tea!) and give the money to a fine candidate like Todd Hagopian or Gideon Oakes. If ten thousand of you out there gave $25 to each one – both candidates would have $250,000. Here is Todd’s website. Sacrificial giving helped the Christian Church send people to the four corners of the earth to preach the Gospel and something like that habit could result in wins for Liberty!

Photo and logo courtesy Todd Hagopian. Isn’t that a neat logo? I really like it. This article is not yet an endorsement of Todd BUT…

Consider This Evidence of Creation!

NOT Proof But Evidence!

More evidence of Creation – note not proof – can’t PROVE God. Faith is the EVIDENCE of things NOT SEEN (Hebrews 12:1) (BTW, think on this – what human would come up with that idea? Not very likely it seems to me – but there it is in the Bible written about 2000 years ago!) but EVIDENCE of Creation. Now look at this (from this article):

Your existence wasn’t just predicated on amorousness and luck of your ancestors, but on an almost absurdly finely tuned universe. Had the universe opted to turn up the strength of the electromagnetic force by even a small factor, poof! Suddenly stars wouldn’t be able to produce any heavy elements, much less the giant wet rock we’re standing on. Worse, if the universe were only minutely denser than the one we inhabit, it would have collapsed before it began.

That is why some scientists believe in (no observational evidence exists of it) infinite universes! Talk about the NON evidence of things UNSEEN. I exhort my readers to consider and seek wisdom about it – that will lead to Jesus as Lord and Savior! (I am willing to discuss this more as needed! Or you can go here!)

One more thing: God said Creation of man was VERY GOOD (Genesis) not an impurity. Ponder that…

Continuing Live Blog of the LP Convention

But NOT Until After Church! First Things First!

Yes I plan to listen in and live blog on the LP VP balloting. Dr. Jo Jorgensen (I have reached out to her and offered to help – maybe a blog interview is what I am thinking) and now who will be VP?

Now since church has not started (I go to Hope Community Church of the Nazarene in suburban Richmond VA and here is our FB livestream that starts at 1015AM! All are welcome!)

I think Larry Sharpe will win on the second or third ballot BUT John Monds impressed me a lot. He could surprise. So we’ll see. Real politics. A lot more fun…Be back after church.

An Attempt At A Live Blog Of the Libertarian Convention

True Drama!

One of the reasons I love the LP convention (and probably would love the Greens too but I admit I have not invited to attend their online convention and I do have significant disagreement with the many of their policies; now I respect the heck out of those who join and are involved with third parties) is it is not scripted. It is real politics. Granted some of the parliamentary procedure is not exciting (LP Chair Nicholas Sarwark’s effort has been called “the patience of Sarwark”.)

The first ballot is history and the top five candidates are (These are not votes but tokens and I admit I am not sure how this works):

Jacob Hornberger is first; Jo Jorgensen, Vermin Supreme close behind for second place, John Monds is fourth and Judge Jim Gray is fifth. Not even 100 votes. And some of the live chat is ominous for Gray comparing him to a (gasp!) Republican and criticizing Gray’s jury nullification position he bravely took.

Let’s speak to Jorgensen and Monds while we are here.

Jorgensen’s bio (very impressive):

Dr. Jo Jorgensen was the Libertarian Party Vice-Presidential Nominee with Harry Browne in 1996. 

     She campaigned in 38 states and appeared as a Libertarian spokesperson on over 300 radio shows all across America. She regularly lit up the call-in boards, helping listeners discover the Libertarian Party and generating inquiries and new LP members.

      In 1992, she was the Libertarian Party’s candidate for South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District. After a statewide televised debate with her Democratic and Republican opponents, Dr Jorgensen’s debate performance was widely praised in the media, and the Greenville News referred to her as “a rose between two thorns”.

 Dr. Jo Jorgensen currently is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Clemson University. She holds a Ph.D in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (Clemson 2002) and has taught full-time since 2006. She graduated in 1979 from Baylor University with a B.S. in Psychology and in 1980 from Southern Methodist University with an M.B.A.

     After earning her M.B.A., she put her education to work as a Marketing Representative for IBM. Relocating to Greenville, SC in 1983, she started her own software sales business.After taking a break to be a stay-at-home mom for her two children, she joined a software duplicating company as part owner, later taking over as president and full owner. She founded a business consulting company in 2002 and continues working with select clients.

Dr. Jo Jorgensen is a Life Member of the Libertarian Party. She supported Ed Clark for president in 1980 and has been voting Libertarian ever since. She officially joined the Libertarian Party in 1983 and has served as Greenville County chair, state vice-chair, and national marketing director for the Libertarian Party.

Here is Jorgensen’s education position:

“The Department of Education has failed. In the forty years since the Department of Education was created, government spending on education has skyrocketed, while the quality of education has declined. Students used to be able to work their way through college and graduate debt-free. As President, I will work to eliminate the Department of Education and return control of education to where it belongs – with parents,  teachers, and students.”

Preach it, sister!

Here is John Monds’ bio:

John Monds made history in 2008, when he became the first Libertarian candidate to receive over 1 million votes.

(Here is the link info: Monds did get 1,076,726 votes and over 33% for the Georgia Public Service Commissioner, First District. The incumbent GOP Commissioner received over two million votes.)

John made history again in 2010, becoming the first African-American candidate to appear on the ballot for Governor in Georgia.

***

Monds lives in Georgia with his wife of 21 years, Dr. Kathaleena Monds, and their four children. He holds a business administration degree from HBCU Morehouse College, and for the past 20 years, he has had his dream job: homeschooling his children.

Monds is active in his community with Habitat for Humanity, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, and the NAACP. He enjoys classic Volkswagens, gardening, and genealogy.

I hope to meet Monds someday. Very impressive. We need more African-American voices for liberty. Please accept this is my apology for not more covering these serious candidates. Monds’ position on education is here:

Fifty years of federal control and failing schools is enough. We spend more per student every year, but government-run schools continue to fail the poor and communities of color. Politicians and public school teachers send their own kids to private schools while poor parents are literally jailed for sending their kids to a better school than their zip code allows.

Equal educational opportunity in America must include giving parents and teachers more control over how students learn.  I will use the Presidency to lift restrictions that trap parents and kids in failing schools. I will make per-student spending movable to the school that best serves each child, including lifting caps on public charters, allowing tax-free Education Savings Accounts, and promoting alternatives to government-run schools. Where secular private schools, homeschooling, or cyber-schooling works better for families, the federal government should not stand in the way.

Excellent position except education is never (other than civil rights laws) a federal question. Now if your intention is to in effect use the existing power in a way as to renounce the power, I can understand.

I’ll be back in a couple of hours!

Tomorrow is the BIG DAY!

The Libertarian Party selects its Presidential candidate!

On Saturday, May 24, the LP will select in a virtual convention its Presidential candidate (The VP nod is selected on the next day) and there are several candidates, including one from Virginia: Jacob Hornberger.

Since the disappointing exit of Rep. Justin Amash from the Presidential race (Here’s why I think Amash did) I would think it is between Hornberger and retired judge Jim Gray. Maybe Gray with a lead. Gray is trying to run with a running mate (Larry Sharpe) even though the convention chooses that independently of the presidential nod.

We’ll see what happens. By the way, I’ve communicated with Hornberger many years ago. He’s a very smart guy. Fairly radical ideas. Here’s Hornberger on education:

There is a good reason for the dysfunctional character of public schooling. It is a socialist system, one based on state central planning, coercive funding, government-approved textbooks, and compulsory attendance. Proponents thought that federal funding would fix their system, but it has only made the situation worse, especially given the regulation and control that come with federal aid.

There is but one solution to the educational morass in which our nation finds itself: freedom and the free market. That necessarily means the repeal of school compulsory-attendance laws and school taxes and the end of federal, state, and local governmental involvement in education. Government has no more business in education than it does in religion.

The free market produces the best of everything. By placing education choices within families and entrepreneurs, children will have the opportunity to nurture and develop their natural love of learning, enabling them to best discover who they are and what their purpose in life is.

Now the educational establishment ought to be quaking in their boots – millions of parents have discovered: I CAN HOMESCHOOL MY CHILD! Businesses have arisen that can provide online education programs.

Now there are issues: Socialization. Sports. Marching bands. Maybe clubs will arise to meet those needs. But thousands are spent PER STUDENT for education. Are taxpayers getting their money’s worth?

BUT we might be seeing a revolution in education and maybe liberty in general! The taste of totalitarianism may have been a seed for liberty!

I can’t help but admire a former judge (and lawyer) running for President. Gray was the 2012 VP nominee.

Here is Gray on education:

Students and good teachers. It is no secret that too many public schools today are failing our students, and most of them are in the lower economic areas which, regretfully, often involve people of color. This result is frequently not for lack of funding because many of them, such as those in the District of Columbia, are among the highest funded public schools in the nation. Instead, the failures result from a lack of competition. And what is the solution? Empower parents to choose where and how the government money will be spent for the education of their children! So if a school is not teaching its students well, their parents will have the ability to transfer them to a school that would. And the result? Parents would choose excellence and, if Milwaukee, Wisconsin where they have had School Choice for about fifteen years is an example, excellence is what they will receive. This will result in students coming out ahead, as well as good teachers, because they will be in greater demand – and paid accordingly.

Well said. I do like Larry Sharpe, too. Sharpe was a strong candidate for Governor of NY and won the LP ballot access.

There are several others running and one of the more colorful and radical is Vermin Supreme. He is serious. Here is Supreme’s position on Mandatory Toothbrushing:

America has been suffering a great moral and oral decay – in spirit and incisors. Gingivitis has been eroding the gum line of this great nation long enough. Blind compliance, an unquestioning commitment to ideals determined by the oppressive state, an overall lack of consent on the part of the ordinary citizen and a disdain for proper brushing habits all come together to create a bad case of halitosis and a spectacularly violent police state. Having seen the future, Vermin Supreme knows that this country’s success depends on its ability to bite back. That America can no longer be a nation indentured to systemic racism, bigotry, and inhumanity.

Can’t make this up. Supreme seems to be running a satire campaign. His other four issue items are Zombie Power, Funcentration Camps, Ponynomics and Kangaroo Courts. Seriously. Go see for yourself. If you are deep into politics and issues you can understand what Supreme is saying. As I said: He’s serious.

If I were a delegate, I would probably cast my first ballot vote for Ron Paul as a tribute. But I think I’d support Gray/Sharpe ultimately. We’ll see tomorrow! Be blessed in Jesus as you seek liberty!

Trained and Trusted: Militias and the Second Amendment (Guest Post by Stan Scott)

This is the second in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates II series – the Sanders-Scott Debates. The first entries, on abortion policy, are here and here. Crossposted at Foggy Bottom Line.

Military service taught me a lot about weapons.  No Army officer would issue a sidearm, rifle, or tank to anyone who had not demonstrated training proficiency and trustworthiness.  We didn’t let just anyone walk around armed.  

I learned to use weapons when necessary but to secure them at all times.  No shame fell more heavily on a soldier than when he or she lost, misused, or simply could not control an assigned weapon. I simply don’t understand how people can so cavalierly support the idea that more firearms, in the hands of just anyone who wants to have one, could possibly make society safer – or that people who misuse or fail to secure those weapons should not face punishment.

Arming random citizens does not make us safer. To be sure, a firearm owner will, from time to time, use a firearm in self-defense. When this happens, it can stop crime and even save lives. More often someone uses the weapon to inflict harm on others or themselves. Someone steals a rifle and uses it to kill several people and then commit suicide. Every year, 23K Americans use their own weapon and skip the first step. Or the owner leaves it on a coffee table where a toddler finds it and plays a bit of tragic shoot-out with another child. Or drops it and accidently shoots someone in a grocery store. These are all failures we can minimize with more training, just as we did in the Army, but simply putting more guns into circulation will not stop this. Guns don’t save lives any more than they kill people. People save lives, with or without a gun, by knowing what they’re doing.

Similarly, no Army officer would issue a weapon to a soldier who did not continually demonstrate that they could be trusted not to intentionally misuse it. Once qualified through rigorous training and a demonstrated ability to safely possess, use, secure, and maintain a firearm, soldiers also had to demonstrate discipline, a sense of duty and honor, respect for others, integrity, selfless service, and personal courage. Officers stopped trusting – and issuing firearms to – soldiers who failed to live these values. Among the many ways a soldier could demonstrate such a failure would be violence against their own family or friends. Showing disloyalty to the United States would also get you there.

We are of course talking about regulation of civilian firearm ownership and use, not the standards we would expect a soldier to meet. But Second Amendment advocates claim membership in a citizen militia as a protection against regulation of the type and characteristics they’re allowed to own. They’re either militia members subject to Article I Section 8 training requirements and demonstration of good character or they’re not. Even gun owners who reject the militia construct must agree that we need some regulations in place to make sure only good guys have guns.

These regulations should include a tiered system of firearms training that includes more rigorous requirements for citizens who wish to own more deadly weapons. Ownership and use of powerful semi-automatic rifles that can accept high-capacity magazines should have a different – and higher – training standard than ownership of a small caliber revolver in case someone really does make it into their bedroom. 

Such a regulatory regime must also make sure authorities conduct an extensive background check before every firearm transfer, even those among family members. It should include a waiting period to provide a “cooling-off” period for people looking for a gun to use in anger or during a suicidal episode, and cap the number of firearms any individual may purchase during a certain period to limit black market trafficking in guns to states with stricter regulations.

Regulations should also create a system that takes guns out of the hands of people who have demonstrated a failure to properly use and safely secure their weapons or a potential for using them to do harm to innocent people. People who don’t report stolen weapons, transfer guns to others who misuse them, and leave a weapon unsecured that is later used to harm someone else, by accident or on purpose, should lose ownership privileges. And anyone who brandishes a weapon at a family member, or otherwise abuses a family member physically or emotionally, especially while intoxicated, should lose the right to bear arms, at least temporarily. The exact nature of the due process system used to take them away isn’t the important principle here. The important principle is that anyone who beats up a family member has no business bearing arms at all, since they have demonstrated a failure of the kind of self-discipline society should demand from militia members and other gun owners.

Constitutional history suggests that the framers would have been fine with these kinds of restrictions on firearm ownership and use. The men who wrote the Constitution considered provisions, based on some State Constitutions, that would specifically protect bearing arms for self-protection. They intentionally rejecting inclusion of these provisions, and Patrick Henry complained about this at the Virginia ratification convention. James Madison and the other men who wrote and ratified the Second Amendment did not believe it protected the individual bearing of arms solely for self-defense. Whether or not such a right is a good idea, the Framers did not think the Constitution protected one and acted intentionally to leave it out.

Madison and the other Founders did think of a Militia – a well-regulated militia, organized, armed, and disciplined by Congress – as important to national defense, and as a counter to Federal power and a standing Army. Most importantly, slave states thought of militias as the only way they could control their slave populations, because they played just that role. Madison knew these states would reject the Constitution if it did not include protection for these slave patrols. This is the key reason the Second Amendment exists, not to protect individual self-defense, and not to make sure citizens are able to shed the blood of tyrants. The Second Amendment exists to make sure Congress couldn’t end slavery by refusing to organize and arm a militia that would protect it. 

More guns do not make modern American society polite and safer. They make it more adversarial and violent – armed Americans are only “good guys with guns” until they’re not. Firearms in the wrong hands make going to schoolseeing a movie, or running for exercise more dangerous. Proper regulation that ensures only good guys have guns, and that these good guys have the training they need to own, use, maintain, and secure their weapons properly, and safely until they need them for self-defense or shedding tyrant blood makes all the sense in the world. 

Gun Rights: A Somewhat Forgotten but Essential Liberty

Your Vote in November for President Could Decide your Right to Keep and Bear Arms!

It may not happen again. But I have to thank Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for demonstrating the essential importance of gun rights enshrined in basic law (from the CBC):

Trudeau announces ban on 1,500 types of ‘assault-style’ firearms — effective immediately

A couple of little gems from the article:

“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time,” Trudeau said. “There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada.”
While he acknowledged that most firearms owners are law-abiding citizens, he said hunters don’t need this sort of firepower.

To be honest, the firepower needed to hunt is none of the government’s business. And it gets worse – it’s not even an Act of Parliament (as bad as that might be) it is a regulation:

The ban will be enacted through regulations approved by an order-in-council from cabinet — not through legislation. Trudeau said the government was ready to enact this campaign promise months ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the legislative agenda.

Here is the text of 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.

And Virginia (Virginia was first: June 12, 1776 – Art. I, Sect. 13):

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.

The language is very similar. Here is the corresponding right to keep and bear arms in the Canadian Constitution:

It’s blank. There isn’t any. And now the people in Canada have lost an important and essential liberty: the right to keep and bear arms.

This is a good start for an essay on guns. Alas, I have to move to, not too exciting for most readers, court cases.

The issue on what does the Second Amendment mean was not squarely placed before the Supreme Court until 2008. (Yes there was a Depression-era case involving sawed-off shotguns [United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939)] that held that possession of such a weapon that was was not part of the arsenal of a militia was not protected by the Second Amendment.) Some think that is because few questioned the Second Amendment right until more recently.

In 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States held that a non-felonious citizen has a right to possess a weapon in self-defense (subject to certain administrative requirements) in District of Columbia, et al. v. Heller [554 U.S. 570 (2008)]:

In sum, we hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful fire-arm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense. Assuming that Heller is not disqualified from the exercise of Second Amendment rights, the District must permit him to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home.

There are a number of exceptions:

Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms

There is also an exception (admittedly very unclear) prohibiting “dangerous and unusual” weapons. It could be read to prohibit “assault weapons”. That case will someday reach the Court.

I apologize for all the legal cases and there is one more but it can be easily discussed: McDonald, et al. v. Chicago (561 U.S. 742 [2010]) where the Second Amendment is “incorporated” into the Fourteenth Amendment and thus enforceable against state and local governments.

Alas, there is little analysis in all these cases. What judicial scrutiny – what standard does a government restriction on the right to keep and bear arms have to meet to be constitutional. Strict scrutiny is a very compelling state interest and the least restrictive alternative must be used. Rational based scrutiny is pretty much what it implies: If the state law has a rational basis, it will be upheld. There is also an intermediate level of scrutiny. It requires the government to assert an important interest and there has to be a substantial basis between the state law and the important governmental interest. It is very likely that the right to bear arms will either have strict scrutiny or intermediate scrutiny.

Most of the explicit constitutional rights (e.g, freedom of expression) receive strict scrutiny and so does some classifications (race-based classifications); the major classification that receives the intermediate level of scrutiny is gender-based classifications.

This would speak powerfully for strict scrutiny but the Fourth Circuit (the federal appellate court that has jurisdiction over Virginia) has adopted the intermediate level of scrutiny and upheld the so-called “assault weapons” ban. (The federal court held that assault weapons were military style weapons and not protected by the Second Amendment at all.)

There is one major problem with not applying strict scrutiny to Second Amendment rights: An explicit personal right gets less constitutional protection (“…small not be infringed”) than another explicit personal right (“Congress small make no law…”). There has to be an important reason for such a distinction.

The Supreme Court will decide this issue at some time. Virginia laws such as the banning of most private sales or transfers of firearms (so-called “Universal Background Checks – a misleading term at best in that universal background checks are in fact required for all sales through federally-licensed dealers), and the so-called “red flag” laws (which raise another constitutional issue: Procedural due process – is the manner the state provides for a hearing to be heard on the deprivation of gun rights fundamentally fair); I think the one gun a month law is probably constitutional.

I suggest that both of these laws are constitutionally problematic. Banning an entire class of gun sales is a clear infringement on the right to bear arms probably not shown to effectively prevent mass shootings but will affect the right to self-defense. Red flag laws could be constitutional if the firearm possession issue is subordinate to the matter at hand: Is the owner of the firearm(s) a threat to him/herself or others? If so, custody could be the answer without emphasizing gun rights. (A relative or friend could have authority to temporarily seize the gun(s) until a later court says give them back to the owner.) The fact that it takes law enforcement to start the process under the Virginia red flag law leans the law toward it being constitutional. Finally, there are two ancillary issues, one fairly important and another not as critical to courts looking at the law as written: The important issue is that protected speech cannot be a reason to take guns, even if that speech is “mean and hateful”. The speech has to be a clear imminent threat to violence. The second is that different countries and cities in Virginia might have unstated but very different standards for the seeking and taking of guns. I would think Wise County would have a very different view of the criteria to remove guns than say Arlington County. But that might arise after the law is in effect for some time but not compelling to its initial constitutional review. Judges will assume fair and even application of a law in its initial review.

I apologize for all the legal stuff! Hence I must close with this: Four justices of the Supreme Court (Justices Sotomayor, Ginsburg, Breyer and Stevens) held in BOTH Heller and McDonald basically held that there is NO personal right to bear arms. Stevens has even after he left the Court, suggested the Second Amendment ought to be repealed. Stevens was replaced by Justice Elena Kagan who is not likely to be materially different on gun rights.

Let us also remember (please note to the Public Safety Minister in Canada) that one right to the right to keep and bear arms – which I am afraid the late and great Justice Scalia did not adequately give enough credit to in Heller: An armed citizenry is a threat to tyrannical government.

James Madison is quoted as saying both the right to bear arms and limited government are defenses against tyranny:

Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

George Washington said:

“A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.” 

Both quotes came from here.

Thankfully, the people of the US have as Jefferson put it, “the rational and peaceable instrument of reform”, the ballot.

Alas it is today unfortunately true: Who you cast that ballot for in 2020 for President and United States Senate is critical to the continuance to your right to bear arms. I’d run ads in key states saying exactly that.

Do We Have A Purpose?

If So What Does That Say About God?

Are we just a chance collection of molecules or a creation of a Designer:

But this essay is not concerned with dinosaurs themselves, rather with the kind of thinking biologists use when they wonder how dinosaur bodies worked. They are asking what was the purpose of the plates? What end did the plates serve? Were they for fighting? Were they for attracting mates? Were they for heat control? This kind of language is ‘teleological’ — from telos, the Greek for ‘end’. It is language about the purpose or goal of things, what Aristotle called their ‘final causes’, and it is something that the physical sciences have decisively rejected. There’s no sense for most scientists that a star is for anything, or that a molecule serves an end. But when we come to talk about living things, it seems very hard to shake off the idea that they have purposes and goals, which are served by the ways they have evolved.

Even the purpose of the parts of the stegosaur imply design. Or a successful chance encounter of atoms and parts? Or is design what we WANT to believe?

Easy to say – this is what we should want to be – what is the truth? Taste and see that the Lord is good (See Psalm 34:8). Meaningless or meaningfulness? Maybe all are called to serve a Living God! It takes faith to find out…