DAVID ROSMAN: New gun control bill waste of time

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST

"It's déjà vu all over again."  — Yogi Berra, 1964

Yogi Berra was speaking of the home run rivalry between Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris during their heyday at Yankee Stadium. I remember going to those games with my grandfather and cheering both men when they stepped to the plate. In fact, our family knew Yogi; he bought bicycles from my dad’s store.

Today, we can use Yogi’s famous call for our legislators who are readying a new 2014 bill that would nullify any federal gun control law. It is a waste of time all over again.

Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, has posted on his website a copy of his new proposal that would negate federal law. Unlike the 2013 attempt, which was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon, this new bill would not threaten journalists with misdemeanor charges for publishing the identities of gun owners and would limit the circumstances when a citizen could sue a federal official for "violating" one’s Second Amendment right to "keep and bear arms."

There are multiple problems with the new bill, even if it is a bit more, should I use the word, liberal than its predecessor. Oh, the bill refers to the 10th Amendment’s provision that laws not specified in the Constitution are "reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The omission is any reference to Article VI, Clause 2 of the Constitution, the Supremacy Clause. More on this in a bit.

The bill also makes a wild assumption that one can tell who the "bad guy" is simply by looking at him or her. I am still looking for the "good guys wear white hats" amendment to the Constitution or in the DSM-V. Yes, we can say that most of the mass shootings we have seen in recent years, including last week’s shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, were by people with some mental illness. Most, but not all.

Even with the limitations of who could and could not be sued or prosecuted for enforcing federal gun laws, there are still enough holes in this nullification bill to cause it to be taken to court, costing Missouri taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars to defend.

The second grave error is recognizing only the portion of the Constitution of the U.S. that supports their cause. The proposed bill rightfully quotes both the Second and 10th amendments in its long 750-plus word justification — about the length of this column. However, only a portion of those amendments are quoted, and the actual argument concerning whose rights are being infringed is assumed by the author. In reality, the entire discussion revolves around a comma and the lack of standardization of punctuation in the 18th century.

It also fails to recognize that the U.S. armed forces of 1789, by virtue of the Articles of Confederation, were a loosely knit organization of state militias. During the American Revolution, it was mandatory that all free men serve in the state militia, each bringing his own weapons to battle. That is not the case today.

The proposed bill fails to recognize the Supremacy Clause, Article VI, Clause 2, which states that all laws approved by Congress are the supreme laws of the land. Every gun control law currently on the books, from the prohibition of owning specific weapons to the prohibition of felons owning firearms, was voted on by the two chambers, our elected representatives. Any change in the federal laws cannot be enacted by an individual state, but by the representatives of the citizens of those states by a majority vote.

A definition of insanity, often attributed to Albert Einstein, is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."  The changing of some language to appeal to the press and to make it a bit harder to file suit against a federal official enforcing federal law does not change the basics of the proposed law. It is like putting lipstick on a pig.

We have one more year of this insanity under the Gray Dome. We have one more year of redressing old and failed laws, of wasting time and money, of placating to those with the most money, and of ignoring the greater laws of the land. I hope that those who currently seek to be frivolous with the citizens' tax dollars are removed from office before Missouri becomes politically and morally bankrupt.

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. He writes a weekly column for the Missourian.

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Michael Williams November 6, 2013 | 7:59 a.m.

"...the Supremacy Clause, Article VI, Clause 2, which states that all laws approved by Congress are the supreme laws of the land."

No, it doesn't. You complain that "only a portion of those amendments are quoted" and then turn around and do it yourself.

The Supremacy Clause reads, "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding."

David, what is the meaning of the phrase "which shall be made in pursuance thereof"? How do these words modify the first part of the sentence "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States?" You make your living with words, so this grammatical interpretation should be quite easy for you.

Second, that misplaced Constitutional comma to which you refer has been nicely settled by SCOTUS in Heller v. DC. You should read this document, which is likely the most comprehensive compilation of historical thought on gun ownership in the United States.

PS: As for "It is like putting lipstick on a pig", that's the exact phrase I've used for the spin used by liberals to explain the "true" meaning of the President's "You can keep it" lies (or utter incompetence, or whatever, it ain't good either way).

All of which have been recorded, visible and audible for all to see.


(Report Comment)
Michael Williams November 6, 2013 | 8:08 a.m.

Oh, and you don't like nullification.....

So, how are you with nullification of federal drug laws by states and communities?

Are you consistent in your logic and use of the Supremacy Clause in your arguments?

Or do you simply pick and choose when to play your nullification card based upon your personal whim and argumentative needs of the moment?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith November 6, 2013 | 8:16 a.m.

Michael Williams says (to David Rosman), "You make your living with words..."

Are we to understand that Rosman is eligible to receive food stamps?

It's all good, folks; it just bcomes "bad" when it's your ox that's being gored. Come to think of it, you don't see many oxen thse days, just some people who seem as dumb as the proverbial ox.

(Report Comment)
David Rosman November 6, 2013 | 8:22 a.m.

Mr. Williams - I am not in support of nullifying federal drug laws and local laws do not threaten federal officials when performing their duties as law enforcement. These are two different issues.

In terms of state's rights versus federal rights, this is a long and tortured discussion that cannot be solved in the pages of this web site. However, the courts have upheld federal laws concerning the control of the sale and distribution of firearms since the 1920s. Do you really want your neighbor owning an RPG or fully automatic AR-15? All of our "rights" under the Constitution have limitations based on public safety. The only thing that is absolute is that no law is absolute, including the Second Amendment.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams November 6, 2013 | 9:55 a.m.

David: You never answered my question: What is the meaning of the phrase "which shall be made in pursuance thereof"?

What are "two separate issues"? Your comment is unclear and I do not know how to respond.

I am pleased, tho, that you are NOT in favor of Colorado's drug nullification efforts.....or our own fair city's, either. Hopefully you will editorialize against this in the near future as this city discusses whether we can grow our own small quantities of pot....using the nullification argument, of course.

I can make a good argument that my neighbor should be allowed to own an operational M1A1 Abrams but, in truth, I have no desire that he/she do so. And, no, I would not like my neighbor owning an RPG, but a full-auto firearm is ok by me. I also don't think felons should have access to guns. So, yes, I do see the value in LIMITED laws...fully vetted by Congress and SCOTUS to show the federal law is constitutional, passes the Supremacy Clause test, passes the Amendment #10 test, and preserves public safety. If you don't like something in the Constitution....rewrite it according to the rules.

My main gripe is that liberals seem not to understand the use of the word "limited." In my lifetime, the liberal definition of "limited" is "a little bit now, and a bit more in the next generation"....incrementalism, if you will, mainly abetted by politicians who abuse their oaths, a compliant media, and a compliant judiciary.

I disagree the only thing that "is absolute is that no law is absolute, including the Second Amendment." If you don't like something in the Constitution, then that document provides a means to change itself. I will support such means (procedures) but may work against the desired outcome. Additionally, I find your notion of "no absolutes" to be a characteristic of one whose ethic can change solely upon the daily whims of a single brain. With such a brain, today's ethical idea can be unethical tomorrow, and morality becomes a moving target.

PS: I find it amazing that our President believe Americans should not own assault weapons, yet supports sending assault weapons to Syrians so they can defend themselves against a gov't that does not represent them. Almost as amazing as his recent rhetorical pretzeling.

(Report Comment)
Tony Black November 6, 2013 | 5:02 p.m.

As usual Michael, you know what David means about wasting time and money, but again, some people just gotta be........

(Report Comment)
Tony Black November 6, 2013 | 5:06 p.m.

And David, you are correct. The current Mo legislature, like the House in Washington, is into proposing bills that will go nowhere, and cost taxpayers money, just to get recognition. Or something. Not sure why.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams November 6, 2013 | 5:39 p.m.

And Tony, as usual, does not understand that the current makeup of the legislature is doing pretty much what I'd like them to do.

INO, not a waste of time and money at all.

Perhaps their efforts are a waste to you and David, but you two are not the only voters and taxpayers in this state with opinions.

Which means I don't think your post said much, or contributed much, to the conversation at all.

Say something substantial. For example, since David apparently defers, you could answer the question: In the Supremacy Clause, what is the meaning of the phrase "which shall be made in pursuance thereof"?

Care to take a stab, or does the answer lead you to a place you do not wish to go?

(Report Comment)

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