CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When I read in the Gazette that several West Virginia sheriffs would refuse to enforce any new federal firearm regulations, I could almost hear the whoops and YEE-HAWs rising up from the hills and hollers.
These ignorant and misinformed law enforcement personnel, as well as those in other states who have made the same vow, should be removed from their positions immediately. It is not their job to interpret the Constitution. It is their job to enforce the laws of the land, with those emanating from the federal government taking precedence over those emanating from the states (Supremacy Clause, Article VI, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution).
This entire gun debate is based on an outdated, outmoded amendment to the Constitution that was inserted as a compromise to slave states. In the first draft of the Second Amendment, James Madison wrote, "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed, and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country..." The problem, though, for southern slave states, was that this implied all militias were to be regulated by the federal government alone, which would jeopardize the power of the slave-patrol militias whose purpose was to quash slave uprisings.
The majority of Northerners opposed slavery, and Southerners feared they would use the Constitution and the process of inducting slaves into a federal militia to achieve what they called "manumission" -- the emancipation of slaves. Patrick Henry wrote to James Madison, "In this situation, I see a great deal of the property [slaves] of the people of Virginia in jeopardy, and their peace and tranquility gone." So, in order to assure Southerners they would be allowed to maintain their slave patrols, Thomas Jefferson insisted Madison change the wording to, "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".
Even if we decide the second amendment is sacrosanct, we cannot parse that amendment to include only the parts we like and ignore the portions we dislike. The amendment begins with the words, "A well-regulated militia". What part of "well regulated" is unclear? The federal government is empowered to impose those regulations on a nationwide basis.
The most pervasive current argument I hear from advocates of semi-automatic weapons with massive ammunition magazines are paranoid delusions that such weapons are necessary for defense when President Obama's tyrannical forces descend on private residences to confiscate guns and ship all the conservatives off to FEMA camps in railroad cars equipped with shackles and torture chambers. Sorry, but if the federal government decides to take you out, you'll still be reaching for your AK47 at the first hint of whirring from the unmanned drone that blasts you into a mist of blood vapor.
Such plans for armed insurrection against our government -- "We the People" -- are patently un-American. We have a system of government in this country that affords us frequent opportunities to remove those legislators and executives with whom we disagree. We are enjoined to utilize a device called elections, and it's worked peacefully, though not always flawlessly, for more than 200 years.
We are a nation of laws, and we have those laws to ensure rights, enforce the obligations and responsibilities that accompany those rights, and maintain peace and safety to enjoy those rights. And, we have courts to amend, tweak and annul those laws that do not pass constitutional muster. It is not up to individuals to decide which of those laws or those rights they choose to honor.
If local sheriffs and other law enforcement agencies are unwilling or unable to fulfill their duty, they need to go. This still is the United States. We fought a war over it. Remember?
Namay is owner of PC Specialist, Inc.