Posts Tagged ‘Federalist Papers’

Real World Graduation, Question 91: Legal Exemptions

RealWorldGraduation_Question_91_Legal_Exemptions   <– PDF

A Bill was introduced in House of Representatives during the 111th Congress (2009-2010) called H. R. 45 (6 Jan 2009), named “The Blair Holt’s Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009”. The bill, if passed into law, would require

1) Every person to obtain a federal license to buy, sell, or possess any firearm;

2) All persons who owned a firearm prior to enactment of the law to obtain a license for those firearms;

3) Each person to apply for renewal of the license every five years;

4) Payment of a fee to obtain the license;

5) All firearm sales to be permanently recorded in a federal database;

6) All persons seeking to buy or possess a firearm to submit to a background check;

7) A possessor to report theft or loss of a firearm to federal authorities within 72 hours;

8) Secure storage of all firearms such that persons under age 18 cannot access them;

9) Firearms owners to permit the federal government to search without warrants any facility where firearms are stored, manufactured, or held;

10) Persons seeking a license to pass an examination on handling, use, and storage of firearms; and

11) Imposition of various penalties for violations of any of the foregoing.

However, Section 801, called “Inapplicability to Governmental Authorities”, states:

“This Act and the amendments made by this Act shall not apply to any department or agency of the United States, of a State, or of a political subdivision of a State, or to any official conduct of any officer or employee of such a department or agency”.

One of the stated justifications for the bill is “to protect the public against unreasonable risk of injury and death associated with the unrecorded sale or transfer of qualifying firearms to criminals and youth”.

Why is it necessary to exempt every level of the government and their employees from this Act?

a) Requiring government agencies and their employees to comply with this Act would reduce their efficiency.

b) Requiring government agencies and their employees to comply with this Act would cost too much money that could be devoted to more important objectives.

c) Requiring government agencies and their employees to comply with this Act would cause unnecessary confusion over which agency is to defer to which other agency.

d) Requiring government agencies and their employees to comply with this Act would interfere with the powers of the governments under the respective Constitutions.

e) All of the above.

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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Posted in Bill of Rights, critical thinking, Federalist Papers, government powers, gun control, James Madison, Revolutionary War, Second Amendment, U. S. Constitution | No Comments »

Regarding the Policy Toward Syria

RegardingThePolicyTowardSyria   <–  PDF version

The civil war in Syria has been in progress for about 30 months, and an estimated 100,000 people have been killed thus far.  The U. S. government has claimed to have evidence that the national forces in Syria loyal to President Bashar Assad used some form of chemical weapon on 21 Aug 2013 in a suburb of Damascus, resulting in the deaths of 1429 people, of which 426 were children.  This information was detailed in an unclassified document released by an unidentified component of U. S.intelligence services, according to U. S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry on 30 Aug 2013.  Members of Congress and the administration have been given further classified briefings on the subject.  In Mr. Kerry’s address, he cited “clear and compelling” evidence that Mr. Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons, noting America has an “obligation to act”, and that “Assad must be punished for his crime against humanity”.  President Obama stated on 31 Aug 2013 that that America must “hold the Assad regime accountable for the use of chemical weapons” in order to confirm the “writ of the international community” against the use of those weapons.  Although he did not mention it, presumably Mr. Obama was referring to prohibitions on the use of chemical weapons per two treaties, The Geneva Protocol and the Chemical Weapons Convention [1, 2].  The President also claimed that America “can not and will not turn a blind eye to what happened in Damascus”; that “this menace must be confronted”; and that although he had unilateral authority to attack Syria in response, he would seek authorization from Congress when it returned from summer vacation on 9 Sep 2013.

On 1 Sep 2013, Mr. Kerry further stated that “we do not grant impunity to a ruthless dictator to gas his own people”.  Senator Jack Reed likewise stated that America must “vindicate this principle of international law” against the use of chemical weapons; and former Senator Joseph Lieberman called Mr. Assad a “mass murderer”.

Mr. Obama has clarified the extent of any military action, saying a) it will be of a limited duration, b) it will not cause any U. S troops to be deployed in-country, and c) it will not seek to overturn the government of Mr. Assad.  According to public reports, these limitations imply that any U. S. attack on Syria will involve only cruise missiles, likely targeted at either chemical weapons factories or air bases.  The urgent tone of Mr. Kerry’s 30 Aug address, implying that action was imminent, followed by Mr. Obama’s 31 Aug announcement that he will wait nearly two weeks for a Congressional vote has caused some confusion in the Middle East.  The Syrians and their Iranian allies are celebrating an apparent political victory.  The Israeli’s are angry at Mr. Obama’s timidity and question his sincerity about another ultimatum he previously issued regarding Iran’s development of nuclear technology.  The Syrian rebel forces are disappointed but hopeful that a positive vote by Congress will assure them of consistent aid by the American military.  Meanwhile, the British Parliament has denied Prime Minister David Cameron’s request to pursue military action against Syria. France has announced it is in favor of some action, but has declined to say what they are contemplating.

The focus on chemical weapons by the administration derives from a speech given a year ago by Mr. Obama, in which he referred to the use of any chemical weapons by the Syrian regime as a “red line” that would trigger a response by the U. S.  Given the current confusion over the actual policy, it is clear that Mr. Obama issued a “red line” threat without having a firm approved plan in place to act if the red line were crossed.

There is some confusion among the American ruling elite regarding Mr. Obama’s unilateral powers.  Some, like Senator Rand Paul advise Mr. Obama that he requires authorization from Congress.  But there are many others like Representative Peter King, who claims that Mr. Obama “does not need Congress to authorize a strike on Syria”.

Let us consider some facts outside this jungle of rhetoric.  First, it is important to remember that the population of Syria is Arab.  Nearly all Arabs practice the religion of Islam.  The religion of Islam demands a totalitarian government, preferably a religious one.  But most Arab nations are governed by secular dictators, having succeeded in winning the secular tribal wars and neutralizing the active religious elements.  An Arab dictatorship (or an absolute monarchy) is a good thing for Arab nations: these totalitarian governments maintain some semblance of peace and order; otherwise the Arab race would have exterminated itself several centuries ago in intra-Islamic religious warfare.  History shows that the Arab race requires absolute government for its very existence, whether provided by the Romans, the Byzantines, the Turks, or their own domestic tyrants.  The Arab people, with their long and distinguished history, expect the worst from their governments, as they also expect the worst from each other. If in fact Mr. Assad used chemical weapons against the Syrian people, it is not much of a surprise to them.  On the other hand, it will also be no surprise to them if it is found that the rebel forces or Hezbollah used them.

Second, the American people should expect this whole Syrian debate to be a continuing fountain of political hypocrisy by the respective ruling Parties.  If Congress authorizes an attack on Syria, but the President decides not to follow-through, he will be accused of weakness and abandoning Israel.  If Congress authorizes it and he does launch a very limited attack, the President will claim a great moral victory but will in fact accomplish nothing.  If Congress refuses the authorization, and the President attacks anyway, he will justify it as a police action and not an act of war; two weeks later he will claim he went to war to preserve international consensus.  If Congress refuses the authorization and the President abides by it, the ruling elite will have somehow managed by accident to obey the intent of the Constitution (Art. 1, Sec 8).  For any attack upon Syria is an act of war, even if it is limited to cruise missiles.  (If Canada launched cruise missiles against Ft. Drum (Watertown, NY), or Mexico against Ft. Bliss(El Paso TX), both would surely be regarded as acts of war by the entire ruling elite.)  The U. S. Constitution was founded on the notion of just war in the interest of the American people, not the interest of people fighting in foreign civil wars; nor to satisfy the moral conscience or ambition of government officials.  As John Jay wrote in The Federalist #3:

Among the many objects to which a wise and free people find it necessary to direct their attention, that of providing for their safety seems to be the first.  The safety of the people doubtless has relation to a great variety of circumstances and considerations, and consequently affords great latitude to those who wish to define it precisely and comprehensively.

At present I mean only to consider it as it respects security for the preservation of peace and tranquility, as well as against dangers from foreign arms and influence, as from dangers of the like kind arising from domestic causes.  As the former of these comes first in order, it is proper it should be the first to be discussed.  Let us therefore proceed to examine whether the people are not right in their opinion that a cordial Union, under an efficient national government, affords them the best security that can be devised against hostilities from abroad.

The number of wars which have happened or will happen in the world will always be found to be in proportion to the number and weight of the causes, whether real or pretended, which provoke or invite them.  If this remark be just, it becomes useful to inquire whether so many just causes of war are likely to be given by United America as by disunited America; for if it should turn out that United America will probably give the fewest, then it will follow that in this respect the Union tends most to preserve the people in a state of peace with other nations.

The just causes of war, for the most part, arise either from violations of treaties or from direct violence. America has already formed treaties with no less than six foreign nations, and all of them, except Prussia, are maritime, and therefore able to annoy and injure us.  She has also extensive commerce with Portugal, Spain, and Britain, and, with respect to the two latter, has, in addition, the circumstance of neighborhood to attend to.

It is of high importance to the peace of America that she observe the laws of nations towards all these powers, and to me it appears evident that this will be more perfectly and punctually done by one national government than it could be either by thirteen separate states or by three or four distinct confederacies.

Jay’s main argument is that the thirteen states would be better able to obey treaty provisions, and to negotiate better ones, if united under the Constitution than by entering into treaties individually.  Likewise a united nation will be better prepared to respond appropriately to violations of treaties by foreign powers.  We can discover the meaning of “the law of nations” from the same source as the Founding Fathers did, the eminent English jurist William Blackstone [3]:

If man were to live in a state of nature, unconnected with other individuals, there would be no occasion for any other laws than the law of nature [morality, or the duty towards one’s neighbor], and the law of God.  Neither could any other law possibly exist: for a law always supposes some superior who is to make it; and, in a state of nature, we are all equal, without any other superior but Him who is the author of our being.  But man was formed for society; and, as is demonstrated by the writers on this subject, is neither capable of living alone, nor indeed has the courage to do it.  However, as it is impossible for the whole race of mankind to be united in one great society, they must necessarily divide into many, and form separate states, commonwealths, and nations, entirely independent of each other, and yet liable to a mutual intercourse.  Hence arises a third kind of law to regulate this mutual intercourse, called “the law of nations”, which as none of these states will acknowledge a superiority in the other, cannot be dictated by any, but depends entirely upon the rules of natural law, or upon mutual compacts, treaties, leagues, and agreements between these several communities: in the construction also of which compacts we have no other rule to resort to, but the law of nature; being the only one to which all the communities are equally subject …”

These show that committing an act of war against Syria is justifiable under only two circumstances: a) if Syria were to attack the U. S. directly; or b)Syria had violated the terms of a treaty and the violation is either against the U. S. directly, or obligates the U. defend other signatories.  Neither case arises here: a) Syria clearly did not attack the U. S.; and b) secondly, neither of the aforementioned treaties prohibits the use of chemical weapons in a domestic conflict, nor do they obligate any signatory to respond to any use in violation thereof.

If the U. S. does attack Syria, it will do so only because our ruling elite has arrogated to itself the power to regulate the internal affairs of other nations.  The President has claimed that such an attack, if accomplished, will not involve an actual invasion.  But these so-called minor military adventures sometimes expand in scope as recent history has proved.  We should also remember that if a great power like the U. S. attacks a minor power like Syria to interfere in a civil war, the U. S.will end up with imputed responsibility for the outcome.  A previous paper [4] provided a crude means to estimate the cost and duration of full-scale wars as fought in Iraq and Afghanistan; for such a war in Syria, the cost would come to about $ 179 billion, and the duration would be about 2.7 years.

[1]        The Geneva Protocol, formally known as the “Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare”, was signed 7 Sep 1925.  The U. S. abided by the provisions of the Protocol, but was not formally ratified by the U. S. Senate until 16 Dec 1974.

[2]        The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits production and use of chemical weapons, provides for scheduled destruction of chemical weapons, but contains no provision for punishment of violators.  It was signed 13 Jan 1993 and ratified by the U. S. Senate ratified 24 Apr 1997.

[3]        Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1765, Vol. I, p. 43; the sections in square brackets are summaries of Blackstone’s footnotes.

[4]        Edward D. Duvall, Formulas for Estimating the Costs of War, 24 Mar 2012.  For Syria, the value of f is 4, and g is 6.25.  Syria’s area is 186.4 sq. km and its population is 22.53 million.  See archives for Mar 2012 at, or directly at

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Practical Gun Control (complete)

PracticalGunControl_complete   <== PDF version

Dear readers:

This post contains the full 8-part series on gun control.  Due to its length (33 pages), it is available only as a PDF.

Thanks for reading,


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Posted in Alexander Hamilton, Bill of Rights, Federalist Papers, gun control, James Madison, Second Amendment, U. S. Constitution | No Comments »

Practical Gun Control, Part 8 (end of series)

PracticalGunControlPart8   <== PDF version

We have seen thus far that gun control does not have any positive benefits: it certainly does not reduce crime, nor affect suicide rates.  It is a well-known fact that the places in America with the strictest gun control suffer from the highest crime rates.  So why do so many politicians continue to introduce and vote for legislation that restricts the keeping and bearing of arms by the citizens?  Note that I singled out, as they do, the citizens; there are exactly zero gun-control laws on the books that negatively affect the arms possessed by government and its employees.  I believe there are two classes of gun-control advocates at the political level.  First is the wishful thinker who actually believes that regulation of liberty and property will lead to a “safe and just” society.  The second is the more obvious: these are the ones who seek absolute power over the people.  Both agree that more government is the solution to man’s problems in modern society, conveniently forgetting that governments are staffed by men with the same inclinations, faults, ambitions, and criminal tendencies in about the same proportion as society in general.

The first category of gun control advocates are an odd lot to be sure.  These are the one who believe out of blind confidence in their fellow man (for there is no evidence to support it) that the death rates from accidents, crimes, and suicides can be made arbitrarily low if only the rate of gun ownership can be made arbitrarily low.  They believe without reason or facts that the primary cause of untimely death and injury is you, the citizen, exercising your rights.  They believe that with suitably strict regulation, the evil within men that leads to crimes will be suddenly expunged, and we will, by simple rule of law, enter into a period of peace, harmony, and happiness; primarily because they have confidence that everyone else (including the current gun-owning future/potential criminals) are just as benevolent deep down as they are; the problem is not the evil motivation of men, only the hardware they possess.  I do not need to point out that this type of thinker is divorced from reality, and even worse, is willing to reject all the contrary evidence in order to maintain their self-imposed fictions.  The British have been disarmed within the past twenty years; but the streets of that nation are not safer than before.  A British soldier was recently fatally stabbed and nearly beheaded on a London street in broad daylight by two fanatics who were happy to explain it all to the camera while holding the bloody axes and knives in their hands.  The people of Chicago, Detroit, and Los Angele shave been disarmed within living memory, but those places are likewise more dangerous than they were prior to the 1960’s.  I am doubtful that anything can be done about this first class of gun control advocates; with contrary facts in plain view, they persist in seeking to “educate” the people about the virtues of disarmament.  They are wildly successful because most members of the popular media and most famous celebrities agree with this basic (false) notion about the inherent goodness of men; hence the ubiquity of their propaganda campaigns.  Repeat a big enough lie often enough and pretty soon it becomes part of the mechanical subconscious, especially among the young.

Now before we get to the second type of advocate, it is important to understand the common attributes of all gun control laws [1].  The common characteristics are:

a.  Manufacturing, sale, and importation of firearms and ammunition, or parts thereof, to be performed only by enterprise or individuals licensed by the government

b.  The principal components of all firearms must be labeled with a serial number.

c.  Only persons of a certain age, who are of sound mind, and have not been convicted of crimes are eligible to own firearms

d.  Records of all sales and transfers are to be maintained by the licensed dealers and manufacturers, including name and address of recipient and serial number of firearm

e.  Government organizations at all levels are exempt from all provisions.

It is not necessary to analyze them any further, for all the desired power and ultimate disarmament flows from these few provisions.  Once these general conditions are in place, it is a simple matter to further alter the regulations to impose taxes on possession, requiring licenses for ownership of guns and ammunition (not only manufacturers), make people liable for the actions of others, make them liable to surprise inspections, restrict the nature and type that may be possessed, regulate ammunition, restrict the types of persons who may buy and sell, and even cancel licenses as necessary to make gun and ammunition ownership impossible.  Then the government has all the power.

But what is the underlying motive for governments to enhance their arbitrary power by obtaining a monopoly on personal arms?  There are probably three general reasons, given, as shown previously, that gun control leads if anything to more dangerous conditions for the people.  First is the desire or belief that regulation of every aspect of everyone’s lives will lead to a perfect society; in this respect the politicians are infected with the same delusions as the first class, which also infected Lenin, Stalin, and Mao.  But it also means that the government would have both the means and the motive to purge the nation of “undesirables”, same as Hitler in Germany, Stalin in Russia, the military dictators in Guatemala, the Ottomans in Turkey, Pol Pot in Cambodia, and the temporary internment of American citizens of Japanese descent by Franklin Roosevelt in the U. S.  A second possible reason is that governments want power for the sake of power such that their jobs are made easier and less dangerous, as they will have nothing to fear from the people.  This would allow the government to have a monopoly on the commission of crimes with no possibility of retribution or prosecution.  It also makes life easier for the criminal element, who would become the natural allies of the government.

Licensing leads invariably to registration, and registration leads to confiscation as soon as the political conditions are right. Once the government knows who has what types of firearms and ammunition, it is a simple matter to target those people for taxation, restriction, and eventual confiscation (or as U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder put it, “mandatory gun buy-backs”).  In America, the politicians are proud to point out that the federal gun control laws prohibit the establishment of a registry of gun owners.  But there is a fallacy to this argument, namely, that although it is technically prohibited, there is no penalty associated with violating it, and, lacking specific definitions and penalties, no one can be prosecuted.  If a secret federal registration of gun owners exists in America and is uncovered, the worst that can happen to the government employees is a month-long taxpayer-paid administrative leave/vacation during the “investigation” followed by raises and promotions.  The goal of all gun control, historically considered, is the disarmament of the people; the most efficient path to disarmament is registration and confiscation under the rubric of “public safety”.  History has shown that it takes only a few sensational crimes, as in Great Britain, Australia, and the U. get the politicians babbling about “public safety”.

The politicians in America are likely to use the recent United Nations “Arms Trade Treaty” to implement a de facto registration of gun owners in America.  They can claim deniability by saying they did not realize the treaty could be used as an excuse by the bureaucracy to supersede the Second Amendment to the Constitution.  This treaty protects and defends the same entities that have been responsible for at least 100 million mass murders by governments; but restricts you, the individual, from possessing tools necessary to defend yourself.  The U. N. accuses you, the individual, of being the cause of worldwide mass murder.

If the police chiefs, mayors, governors, members of Congress, and the President wish to claim that public safety demands that your Second Amendment rights be restricted, let them first swear under penalty of perjury that they have permanently disarmed the ethnic mafias, the Cripps, the Bloods, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), the Hell’s Angels and all the other professional criminal gangs, and further let them swear under penalty of perjury they have disarmed all non-affiliated criminals. Let them swear under penalty of perjury that no criminal will ever acquire arms. Let them swear that no officer of the law will ever commit a crime.  Let them swear that all their bodyguards are disarmed.  They will never do any of these, since they know it is impossible, and will accuse you of making unreasonable demands.  Secondly, they will not do it because if all the aforementioned persons were disarmed (an impossibility, but for sake of argument), the only guns left would be in the hands of normal citizens, which are not a threat to public peace or safety.  Their refusal only proves that they respect the criminals more than they respect your rights.

It would be wise to recall the basic principles of the U. S. Constitution and its allocation of legitimate powers, as explained by Hamilton and Madison.  First, no legitimate government can exempt itself from the laws [The Federalist No. 57]:

I will add, as a fifth circumstance in the situation of the House of representatives, restraining them from oppressive measures, that they can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass o society.  This has always been deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people together.  It creates between them that communion of interests and sympathies of sentiments of which few governments have furnished examples; but without which every government degenerates into tyranny.  If it be asked what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of society?  I answer: the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant, manly spirit which actuates the people of America– a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.

If this spirit shall ever be so far debased as to tolerate a law not obligatory on the legislature, as well as on the people, the people will be prepared to tolerate anything but liberty.

Secondly, the American people have a legitimate right to resist tyranny [The Federalist No. 28]:

If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success against those of the rulers of an individual State….

The obstacles to usurpation and the facilities of resistance increase with the increased extent of the state, provided the citizens understand their rights and are disposed to defend them.  The natural strength of the people in a large community, in proportion to the artificial strength of the government, is greater than in a small, and of course more competent to a struggle with the attempts of the government to establish a tyranny….

 I think I have shown that there is no practical formula for “gun control”, as it magnifies the powers of the criminal element the government alike at the expense of the people.


[1]  Jay Simkin, Aaron Zelman, “Gun Control”: Gateway to Tyranny, Milwaukee, WI: Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, 1993, pp. 84 – 93


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