“Gun Control” — Can Someone Please Make That Man a Ham Sandwich?

Gun photo from RGBStock

On January 5, US president Barack Obama unveiled his first major policy action of the new year: A  batch of new victim disarmament — or, as its supporters  call it, “gun control” — measures which he intends to impose by executive order.

The response from Republicans in Congress is, pardon the pun, weak tea. They merely accuse him of “executive overreach,” claiming that the powers he claims lie with Congress, not the presidency. He retorts that the orders are “well within [his] legal authority.”

Both sides are wrong. The language of the US Constitution’s 2nd Amendment is clear and its intended meaning is well-documented. The framers of that amendment — who had just emerged from a long war against the world’s most powerful army, a war won by an armed citizenry — understood the right to keep and bear arms as a right “of the people.” They specifically and intentionally barred the president, Congress, the state legislatures, your local city council, ANYONE, from infringing it. Every “gun control” law now on the books is unconstitutional and therefore, per Madison v. Marbury, void.

Not only is Obama’s executive order sortie, taken in conspiracy (“consultation”) with the Attorney General of the United States and other government functionaries, not within his legal authority, it’s a crime.

Under US Code Title 18, Section 241, “If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same … They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section … they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.”

I’ve heard it said that a grand jury will, if asked to do so by a prosecutor, “indict a ham sandwich.” Is there a prosecutor and a grand jury in the US brave enough to bring Barack Obama, Loretta Lynch and their co-conspirators before the bar of justice?

Probably not. But with 300 million guns in the hands of 100 million Americans, it’s unlikely that this regime’s attempted depredations can be made effective. Like Walt Whitman said, “resist much, obey little.”

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


  • I didn’t notice much effect from “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder” by Vincent Bugliosi. I read the book. It seemed well setup. I imagine the root of all this government overreach is the lack of Bill of Rights enforcement (L. Neil Smith). http://ncc-1776.org/index.html

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  • Leo Harris

    “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.”

    Well it seems like he is right in line with the 2nd amendment. He is regulating the militia, which is the people. What part of that is so hard to understand?

    • Leo,

      Well, first of all, there’s the construction of the amendment. It gives the REASON for the amendment (“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state”), then it gives the EFFECT of the amendment (“the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”).

      The REASON is not the EFFECT. If some legislator suggests raising the speed limit on a road to 80 mph “because people who take that route are in a hurry,” it does not follow that I’m only allowed to drive 80 mph if I’m in a hurry.

      Secondly, the writers and ratifiers of the amendment spoke and wrote volumes about their intent, which was that neither the state nor federal governments should have any control whatsoever over private possession of arms.

      Thirdly, “well regulated” did not mean, circa 1789, what you seem to think it means. The meaning of “regulation” as “government control” is a later linguistic development. At the time, it meant “well functioning,” and the primary concern there was that the militia should be available for service ASAP on call, which in turn meant that it was desirable for every male of military age to have already furnished himself with a state of the art infantry weapon (usually larger weapons, such as cannon, were bought by or for clubs styling themselves town militias, not by individuals, although it was not unusual for the rich guy in town to put up the money — and probably accept the title of captain or colonel in the club).

      Fourthly, the president, per the US Constitution, is only the commander in chief of the armed forces when they are “called into the service of the United States.” He doesn’t get to order them around (in the modern sense of “regulate”) at other times.

      Fifthly, if you are interested in what the term “the people” as used in the Constitution means, I suggest reading the late SCOTUS justice Rehnquist’s opinion in US v. Verdugo-Urquidez. Suffice it to say that rights of “the people” are not subject to either the state or federal governments, which get their own bailiwicks in the Constitution.

      Sixthly, even if we admit the assumption that the 2nd Amendment means neither what it says, nor what it clearly means, nor what the people who wrote and ratified it said they meant it to mean, the key case for the 20th century “gun control” argument was US v. Miller. Read that ruling sometime. Its actual language basically says that only military weapons are protected by it. So under that ruling, maybe Congress could regulate your fowling piece or your deer rifle, but your right to have a .30 machine gun, a bazooka or a 155mm howitzer is explicitly protected.

      Seventhly, even if we once again admit the assumption that the federal government could regulate arms, that power would clearly lie with Congress. “Executive orders” that have the effect of legislation are clearly unconstitutional — especially when they have the effect of implementing legislation that Congress has explicitly REJECTED.

      And, finally, the right to acquire, possess and use the means of self-defense is a human right preceding and superceding the right of any overgrown street gang calling itself a “government” to dictate to anyone. The instant a “government” tries to abridge that right, it is proclaiming its own illegitimacy. A constitution permitting that would be, as Garrison called the US Constitution vis a vis slavery, “a covenant with death, an agreement with hell” which all good people would be bound by any reasonable ethos to reject and, if necessary, overthrow.

      I hope I’ve adequately responded to your question.

  • richyankee

    It is accurate to describe this as a conspiracy, as Thomas says. The penalties are harsh as he also points out.

    And, as Neill Smith reminded me, it is very difficult to make an effective prosecution of a criminal of this sort work in any court in the united states.

    I thought this was a country of laws until,after spending several years engaged in this sort of thing, I realized not only that most people don’t give a crap about rights, don’t know the difference between power (force) and rights, and, sadly for those of us who do (know and care), it is (as a judge in Milford NH once said to us) – ‘it is futile to argue for rights in this court’.

    I would like to prosecute every legislator who deprives a constituent of his representation by using the power of his office to promote or assist any business (and in case someone doesn’t understand the principle – it is this: that the people get the vote becuae the representation is for them and the businesses and corporations don’t get teh vote because the representation is obviously exclusive to the people ).

    Why don’t we give it a good go? We have nothing left to lose at this point except a fraudulent representation of a constitutional government – and a fraudulent monetary system to boot.

    Just kidding of course. Long liv eteh king!

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  • The gun control issue has motivated Bill St. Clair to become a Republican voter. Curious.


    • Bill’s not an idiot, and he still has two months until election day. I’m confident that he’ll puzzle out how stupid that idea is between now and then.