Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

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09 May 2013

Maryland Gun Control Infringement of the Right to Self-Defense

Oh, the many pleasures of corresponding with one's representatives in the state legislature and the federal government as an exercise in the right to petition one's grievances ends only in frustration.  One can always count on a Progressive Elitist standard viewpoint from these representatives, at least in the most un-free state of Maryland, known most erroneously as the Free State.  This state, long ago, provided perhaps the best unit to fight in the American Revolutionary War.  At that time, there sure was no prohibition against owning a military-style weapon.

The Progressive Elitists of Maryland are most united in the belief that while one may have a right not have one's hunting rifle prohibited, a weapon designed for self-defense is to be absolutely prohibited.  In this Progressive Elitist viewpoint, no infringement means only that any barrier an individual should have to overcome to exercise a right must not amount to an absolute prohibition, except in some cases.

This is the response I received to my letter in opposition to the latest effort of the state of Maryland to infringe the right to bear arms from my delegate Anne Kaiser in the Maryland House of Delegates:

Thank you for writing to my office and voicing your opposition to SB281:  Firearm Safety Act of 2013, introduced by Senate President Mike Miller on behalf of Governor Martin O’Malley.  This legislation provides a comprehensive plan of reforms to make people safer and reduce preventable gun violence.  It includes provisions regarding gun licensing and fingerprinting; gun safety; and mental health safeguards and services.

Specifically, the provisions of SB 281 bans the sale of military-style assault weapons; limits magazine capacity to 10 rounds (the previous limit was 20) and requires licensing, fingerprinting, and safety training to purchase a handgun.  These provisions should reduce “straw purchases” (where someone with a record gets a friend to buy a gun on their behalf) of both assault style weapons and handguns which over time should reduce the number of illegal guns on our streets while also promoting sensible, responsible gun ownership.

Further, this initiative creates safeguards to keep guns away from people who may be a danger to themselves or others due to mental illness, while also facilitating unprecedented levels of information sharing among federal and state partners for background checks.  This bill improves mental health services in Maryland by establishing a Center for Excellence on Early Intervention for serious mental illness and expands Maryland’s Crisis Intervention Teams, Crisis Response Services, and Mental Health First Aid.  Also, this bill establishes a Department of Health and Mental Hygiene led Task Force to Improve Continuity of Care for Individuals in the Community Mental Health System.

Despite characterizations of this bill and those of us who voted for it, I fully support our 2nd amendment rights.  I place our right to bear arms right alongside our freedom of speech, of a free press and our freedom of religion.  With each of these guaranteed freedoms comes rights and with each right comes responsibility.  And with each responsibility, comes reasonable regulations.

I believe that this bill crystallizes that responsibility in important, meaningful and manageable ways.  Crucially, the new law does not do the following:  it does not prohibit lawful citizens from obtaining or owning a handgun and it does not require additional licensing procedures for hunting rifles and shotguns.  The new law does not force citizens who lawfully possessed an assault weapon prior to the bill’s passage to surrender their weapon or to register it.  Furthermore, it does not require current lawful gun owners to retroactively obtain a license.

Your views are important to me and I appreciate that you have taken the time to write to me.  Please do not hesitate to contact me during the session should any other concerns arise.
 Very truly yours,
 Anne R. Kaiser

The exercise of a right comes with only the responsibility not to violate the equal sovereign rights of other individuals.  It does not come with a responsibility to expend time and effort to prove that one has such character as may be in popular approval by the government.  I should not have to prove that I will not somehow and at some future date violate the rights of others.  As for gun safety, if I already know that (as a veteran), why should I have to take a course from some state-licensed safety instructor at great expense and at the cost of valuable time?  This is an example of the state very much infringing my right to self-defense.

The 2nd Amendment clearly says the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.  Note that no infringement means that there shall be no barriers.  It does not mean that the barriers are such that they can be overcome and are not absolute prohibitions.

Furthermore, the prohibition on military style weapons makes no sense whatever.  The most essential reason one has a right to arm oneself for is self-defense.  Both the prohibition against so-called military style weapons and the limit to 10-round magazines are fundamental infringements on the right to self-defense.  The military uses the weapons it uses for defense.  I would use any weapon I might have for defense.  The reason we have a military is simply as an extension of our individual right to self-defense and the fact we have a military does not deprive us of any part of our right to self-defense.  Note also that this is an explicit prohibition and not a barrier which can be overcome with sufficient effort.

It is noteworthy that Anne Kaiser claims that she holds the right to bear arms as dearly as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion.  Logically this means that the exercise of these critical freedoms can also be infringed by the requirement to be fingerprinted, forced to take lessons in their safe use, and that many statements and beliefs can be prohibited so long as some are allowed with due licensing of the individual.  In fact, Kaiser explicitly claims that the state can regulate freedom of speech, press, and religion.  Perhaps initially only the mentally ill and felons will be denied the license to exercise freedom of speech, the press, and religion, but I am sure we can count on the Progressive Elitists to expand the class of people denied these rights with time.

Of course, in the eyes of the Progressive Elitist, a person of the Tea Party persuasion is mentally ill.  Many of them have said this explicitly.  Since most psychiatrists seem to be Progressive Elitists, the state will have no problem finding one who will attest that someone who challenges the power of unlimited government is suffering a mental problem.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 26.2% of the U.S. population has a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.  Does this mean that the state of Maryland will deny licenses to 26.2% of the applicants because they are claimed to have a mental illness?  Probably not, since most such cases have not been diagnosed, but given the infringements of this bill, will one have to have extensive testing for mental illness before being licensed in the near future.  After all, a precedent will have been established.  How extreme and of what type must the mental illness be before one is denied a license?  Yes, she talks of being a threat to oneself or others, but this is pretty speculative stuff and does not the Precautionary Principle so beloved by the Progressive Elitists require a very low bound on the possibility of danger?  If one were ever diagnosed as having a mental illness, would one be forever denied a license to bear arms?  Given how dear the right to bear arms is for Anne Kaiser, how long before the same problems arise to get that license for the exercise of freedom of speech?  You must have much more faith in the goodwill of government than I do to feel at all comfortable with these issues.  Ignorance of history or total irrationality would be a precondition for such faith.

As for the new mental health bureaucracy this law will set up in the state of Maryland, I can only imagine the horrors to come.

It is comforting to know that more than half the number of votes needed to pass this bill in the Maryland House of Delegates may have been cast by the 26.2% of the delegate population with diagnosable mental illnesses.  The remainder of those for this bill may have been voted into office with most of the votes from the 26.2% of Maryland voters who are estimated by the very Progressive Elitist National Institute of Mental Health to have diagnosable mental illnesses.  To be sure, such mental illnesses may be far more common among the Maryland Delegates than among the population at large.

The violation of individual rights by the state of Maryland and by the federal government has become a habit.  There is nothing one can trade one's basic individual rights for that is worth the trade.  You should note that the Declaration of Independence informs us that the only legitimate function of government is the protection of individual rights.  Governments that violate those rights become morally illegitimate no matter how many popular votes the politicians may collect.   Evil thrives in the state of Maryland because collectivist politicians here collect hordes of votes.

The Maryland House of Delegates is coming to help us exercise our responsibilities.  Be afraid ...  no, be terrified!

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