Thursday, December 31, 2009

Beware the UN Small Arms Treaty

If you think the Obama administration doesn't need help in dreaming up new schemes to reinterpret the Constitution and add new restrictions on our freedom, think again.

President Bush, for all his mistakes and miscalculations, never allowed his U.N. representatives to participate in such negotiations. But President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reversed course and agreed to join the negotiations.

Secretary of State Clinton announced in October that the U.S. would join the negotiations "if they are based on consensus," implying that the U.S. could exercise a veto if negotiations went off course. That implies that the U.S. would reject any treaty that violates our Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms. The problem is she can't make that promise or guarantee that outcome.

The truth is it is very dangerous for the U.S. to go down this road no matter how many assurances are given by President Obama and his minions. Once committed to the "process of negotiations," it is hard to reject a product based on "international consensus."

There are good reasons why the U.S. ought to stay out of such negotiations, and many good reasons to be wary of any international treaty on the subject.

To put this whole matter in perspective, ask yourself how well existing arms-control agreements are working and how well international agencies are enforcing those agreements.

There is an existing conventional arms-control treaty among nations in Latin America. How well is that working? Does it prevent the Mexican drug cartels from buying advanced weapons on the black market in Asia and Europe? Hardly. Does it prevent Hugo Chavez from buying arms from Iran, North Korea and Russia and providing them to rebel groups in Colombia and Central America? No.

Has the U.N. and the International Atomic Energy Agency stopped Iran from developing a nuclear-weapons program? Shouldn't we expect some semblance of success from such existing agreements before launching new ones?

What conventional arms treaties do is constrain the actions of law-abiding nations and law-abiding citizens while allowing outlaw nations and leftist guerrilla groups to build their arsenals.

If you think such international treaties apply only to sales and exchanges among nations and not to individuals, you have not been paying attention to the Obama administration's agenda and to what activist judges have been doing in American courts.

What is especially galling is to hear gun-control advocates use the Mexican drug cartel violence as an excuse to further restrict gun sales among private citizens inside the United States. This is exactly what the Obama Justice Department and its sister agencies have been doing lately.

The federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been claiming that 90 percent of the guns used by Mexican drug cartels come from the United States, and have added new manpower to north-to-south border inspections on the U.S.-Mexico border. Curtailing illegal arms smuggling is a good idea, but to claim that the U.S. is the main supplier of the Mexican cartels is deliberately misleading and dishonest.

That much-used 90 percent statistic is based on only the guns that are turned over to the U.S. for tracing. The truth is over 80 percent of the guns seized from the cartels and from crime scenes are not traceable to the U.S. The Mexican government will not admit that huge quantities of guns and vehicles and body armor used by the cartels come from – are you ready? – the Mexican government itself.

This example of outright distortion and dishonesty by the Obama administration is important because it reveals the hidden agenda. If the U.S. Department of Justice will conspire with the Mexican government against the interests of American gun owners, what can we expect when federal agencies can cite "standards" and "obligations" under an international treaty? The drug cartels are laughing, but American gun owners are not.

It is reasonable to assume that any international treaty on "small-arms trafficking" will be used by domestic gun-control advocates and liberal judges to further restrict the ownership, use and exchange of firearms by individual citizens.

This past month we saw a new demonstration of U.N. arrogance and hypocrisy at the Copenhagen conference on Climate Change. The Third World nations that now dominate the U.N. are eager to impose obligations of hundreds of billions of dollars on the U.S. and Europe to pay for their compliance with carbon-emissions targets.

But we need not speculate about future U.N. actions. We have the record of its malfeasance in following existing mandates. Does anyone want to trust the U.N.'s Human Rights Council to tell Americans how to shape civil-rights laws?

Public officials and political leaders in the U.S. have an obligation to oppose further erosion of American sovereignty in the face of U.N. designs and ambitions.

Teddy Bear Song:

Thy Word:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Bill of Rights Day

December 15 is neglected by most Americans for its historical significance as the anniversary of the Bill of Rights. Even worse, American politicians neglect the actual Bill of Rights on a day-to-day basis.

Whether or not the Bill of Rights can ever be an effective means of limiting the government is open to debate. However, the Bill of Rights does offer a fairly good outline of a free society, and it shows how far our country has strayed.

In an America with a full respect for the Bill of Rights, there would be no Federal Communications Commission regulating the airwaves and forbidding certain speech, no Federal Election Commission limiting how much Americans can donate to political candidates or what they can say in independent political ads, no Food and Drug Administration harassment of pharmaceutical and wine producers regarding their commercial speech, no federal laws that have anything to do with religion whatsoever, and no federally established "free-speech zones."

There would be no federal laws disarming Americans, prohibiting airlines from allowing pilots or passengers to carry guns on planes, or limiting how much ammo or what kind of firearms people can buy and own.

There would be no Patriot Act, no secret searches, no spying on telecommunications without a warrant.

There would be no civil asset forfeiture, no horrendous eminent domain abuses, no kangaroo courts, star chambers and phony hearings for the accused.

There would be no torture in America's "terrorist" dungeons.

There would be no federal laws against starting a business without a license, buying and selling drugs, competing with the government to provide its "services" at a better cost and higher quality, or seceding from the central state.

There would be no federal programs not authorized by the Constitution: no Departments of Energy or Education, no Medicare or Social Security, no Federal Reserve or Selective Service, no farm subsidies or corporate welfare.

We've come a long way, haven't we?

If either the ninth or tenth amendment alone had full recognition, almost everything now done by the federal government would come grinding to a halt. A government that obeyed the Bill of Rights would cost a small fraction of its current size, and would not require an income tax to fund. The young would be liberated from Social Security and any fear of conscription ever coming back. The streets would be safer, free from the violent crime augmented by the War on Drugs and gun control. America would no longer have a higher per capita prison population than Saudi Arabia, Russia and North Korea. The free economy would be unleashed to produce the largest revolution in technology and commerce and greatest increase of the American standard of living since the Industrial Revolution. The productive sector would no longer be persecuted by the political class for producing too much, not enough, or not according to the specifications of central planning.

Many if not most political tensions would be decentralized down to the state level, and after that, competition and experimentation among states would likely point the way to the benefits of liberalizing and shrinking government at all levels.

The blessings of free association would again sweep America, as people's rights to hire, fire, work for, and enter business and organizations with whomever they wanted would allow economic productivity to balloon, and religious, ethnic and racial hostilities to decline. Immigration would no longer be seen as such a threat as decisions to associate or not to associate would be left to the states and, much more ideally, private-property owners.

Healthcare would be more affordable and of a higher quality. The price of food staples would plummet, as the feds would no longer subsidize clumsy agricultural practices with price supports, and even the poorest workers would have far greater access to necessities and luxuries than almost anyone in the history of the world.

Many tens of thousands of federal employees would have to find honest work.

With the Bill of Rights respected and enforced, the War on Terror as we know it would be impossible. The federal government would no longer have any powers not delegated to it by the Constitution -- rendering such unconstitutional projects as Iraq and Afghanistan totally prohibited. Americans would stop dying in foreign wars, and foreigners would have far less reason to attack the United States.

Americans would become more responsible, tolerant, caring, cooperative, industrious, wealthy and safe. A lot of problems would still exist, but without the amplification that they now get in the political process.

If today you hear an elected official mention the Bill of Rights -- a politician besides Ron Paul, that is -- try to imagine which Bill of Rights he's referring to. Which Bill of Rights is it that allows for three-and-a-half-trillion-dollar budgets, airport Gestapo, thousands of gun laws, a federal war on drugs, No Child Left Behind, bailouts of Wall Street, stimulus spending, Obamacare, Cap and Trade and McCain-Feingold? Where in the Bill of Rights does it say that the president can disqualify suspected terrorists from their rights to a trial, an attorney, and due process?

The officials who violate the Bill of Rights are breaking the very law that supposedly brings their jobs and the government that employs them into existence. And yet we are supposed to take them seriously when they talk about "the rule of law," "law and order," and "justice."

I celebrate Bill of Rights Day, not out of some delusion that we have the enumerated and unenumerated freedoms protected by the document, nor with some nostalgia for a past when the Bill of Rights was perfectly obeyed. It never was. George Washington and John Adams violated the Bill of Rights. Ever since Lincoln, the document has suffered major violence, and eight years of Bush and one year of Obama have probably done more harm to the freedoms in the Bill of Rights than this country has seen in several generations.

But Bill of Rights Day is still a good time to think of that document, which comes as close to a perfect founding legal charter for a free society as any in the world. Celebrate Bill of Rights Day, if only to think of the great freedoms that might exist, that could exist, and that can exist, one day, in fuller force and greater glory than ever before.

Adapted from an article by Anthony Gregory that ran on in 2004

Blue Christmas:

The Holly And The Ivy: