Response to Perry Mann Column

In response to this article , I would like to submit this short letter.

Dear Mr. Mann,
  The Bill of Rights is not an a la carte menu from which you may pick and choose; it is what is, the law of the land.  I find it more than a little ironic that as you exercise your Right as guaranteed by (not provided by) the First Amendment you would throw out the Second. 

A firearm is a tool, and like any tool can be used for good purposes or ill.  A knife, pencil, hammer, plow, or a gun are neither good nor evil.  Only the actions of the tool-user can be called such, as any non-juvenile would understand.  It would indeed be a great tyranny (even to you) if every firearm were treated as you have proposed.  I would feel the same anger and resentment over this, as I would if the same proposal existed to treat books as you propose.  Both items are given equal weight in the Bill of Rights.  Both are lawfully acquired property.  I am sure you familiar with the quote that begins "Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew." However, whenever a government becomes tyrannical, everyone suffers.

Let's provide an analogous situation: Would you like for every book to be required to have a unique serial number, and before you could read the book or take it in public you had to pay fees, take training, and be subject to laws making sure your books were of the proper genre?  How about if the book had more than a certain number of pages, or were of certain dimensions, you had to pay a $200 tax, be fingerprinted, have a background check by the FBI, and pay again every time it changed hands.  It's a ludicrous statement, but this is what people who own and shoot certain kinds (not all) of firearms.

Interestingly enough men like Hitler, Marx, and Mao have all written books whose ideas have more than 100 million deaths at their feet.  Books are dangerous, sir, but their lack is even more so.

The Second Amendment is hardly ambiguous. as you claim.  "Shall not be infringed" is pretty darned clear, sir.  Unlike the protections against search and seizure (are these okay, or should we toss those out, too?), there are no Constitutional provisions for any federal involvement in the issues of firearms.  You claim that firearms are the tools of juveniles.  I would agree in that we train a whole bunch of 18-year olds to carry and use firearms in our... what is it four foreign wars we're up to now?  But more importantly, firearms are tools of women who would not be victims to sociopaths, of men who would protect their families, of Police who would protect you, and many other honest and good people.

When a person has to resort to ad hominem attacks, he has effectively emptied his store of reasoned argument.  The real reason men like you, and others who would disarm their fellow citizens, have an issue with the "power" firearms provide is because when you are speaking with an armed man you must use reason.  You, by your own words, would rather resort to force.

Do you find it interesting that as you would send down the power of the state and police to use force against us to steal our legally acquired property, that we maintain a civil discourse in the political arena?  I certainly find it so.  Would-be tyrants often act alike.

It is also interesting to me that your focus is on inanimate objects, and not the actions of responsible people.  I mean responsible in that they must be held accountable for their actions.  This, sir, is a juvenile perspective. 

If you have read much American history, or the philosophical underpinnings of the Enlightenment Era, you would be aware that in the parlance of the day, "pursuit of happiness" meant the acquisition of property to men like John Locke and not coincidentally our nation's Founders.  Even if you take it at modern-face value (although I am not sure why you would), the pursuit of happiness is not the guarantee of its possession.

If you read Article 1, Section 8 of the Federal Constitution, you will find the only powers of Congress.  They are explicit, and a closed set of powers, as clarified by the 9th and 10th Amendments.  In short, Congress cannot lawfully do as you suggest.  If they undertook such a program, they would be a rogue cartel calling themselves 'government,' and it would be right and just to treat them as such.

Not only at the Federal level, but here in WV we recognize this Right which is ours by virtue of birth, not gifted by government, in the WV State Constitution in Article 3, Section 22:   "A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, and for lawful hunting and recreational use."  You may notice keep and bear (meaning to carry).  In WV, if a person may legally purchase a pistol or revolver, he or she may carry it outside their clothes with no permit.  The Second Amendment is permit enough.

If you would chose to live in a state where the only firearms carried are illegal firearms (or by Police), feel free to do so.  Illinois has an open boarders policy, as I understand it.

If I might be so bold as to suggest it, I would encourage you to read the Founding documents (The Declaration and Constitution), as well as the Federalist and the Anti-Federalist papers.  In the dialogues of the Constitutional Debates, there is a large section about the wording of the Second Amendment.  The words were not chosen haphazardly.  "Shall not be infringed," was meant to mean what it means.

I would also like to offer to take you to a shooting range, I will provide targets, rifles, pistols, ammunition, safety equipment, a copy of the Constitution, and information on an Appleseed Marksmanship and History workshop all at my cost. 

Thank you for exercising your Rights as guaranteed by the First Amendment, Mr. Mann.  Freedoms must be exercised else they will be lost.  And the price paid was far to high to let them go wantonly.

--- Kevin Patrick, Jr
    Morgantown, WV

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