"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.