a sequel to “Re-thinking the Second Amendment” - 9 January 2013

Since VP Joe Biden was appointed to head a task force to make recommendations on preventing gun violence, I have been thinking about what this task force will come up with. These thoughts are not from anything I've read or heard on radio and TV. The only thing I've heard so far is that on January 9, Biden said that that the president is going to take executive action and by-pass Congress.

Imperial edicts have come to characterize this president's reign. We have come to expect it, so one more will be no surprise.

But just what will Biden recommend and how will that affect us?

Plan on these elements:

1. A ban on assault weapons, whatever those are. Certainly anything scary-looking, anything with interchangeable magazines having a capacity of greater than seven rounds, and anything perceived as being semi-automatic. They will make an exemption for double-action revolvers, which are semi-automatic, but they won't think of that until later. (Some D/A revolvers hold seven rounds in .357 magnum, and some .22s hold as many as nine rounds.)

2. Registration of all firearms, with high fees and fingerprinting to do so. This is especially onerous for those with specific licenses and permits. For instance, if you have a concealed-carry permit, you probably have a hand gun. Register it, or your concealed-carry permit will not be renewed. If you are a Maine Guide or are a licensed firearms dealer, register your personal guns or give up your license to guide or sell.

3. A hefty federal tax on all firearms and ammunition, ostensibly to fund prevention programs. This is already leading to window stickers saying: "Due to the tax on ammo, I can no longer afford to give a warning shot."

4. A ban on the manufacture of lead projectiles. Maybe the ammo you already own will be "grandfathered" but maybe not. To protect the "environment" the Biden rules are likely to include a provision that anyone caught shooting with lead ammunition will go to jail and forfeit all guns. Ammo manufactured after the edict goes into effect will contain chemical markers to trace it to the offending gun.

5. If you get caught defending your home with an un-registered gun or lead ammo, you will go to jail and forever forfeit all your guns. If you kill an intruder with an unapproved gun, the castle doctrine notwithstanding, you will go to jail for life. (If you commit any act of violence, including self-defense in your home, with an un-registered gun: jail for life.)

6. If you get caught shooting a game animal in season with an un-registered gun or lead ammo, you will go to jail and forever and forfeit all your guns.

7. If you knowingly permit a person to use an un-registered gun in your presence, same consequences.

8. If you sell a gun to a friend or swap guns, and do either without going through a licensed firearms dealer and submitting to a new, delayed background check, same consequences.

9. If you possess more than a very restricted amount of ammo of any one caliber, perhaps 100 rounds, and store it in your home, same consequences.

10. If you fail to store your firearms in a certain way -- never mind that I have built my own gun cage and ammo vault -- same consequences.

Of course, all of this is unconstitutional. But that will force responsible gun owners into a corner. There will be a deadline for registering and severe penalties for refusing. Personally, I think most will refuse. I've seen various suggestions, such as, register just one gun, or submit a thousand fake registrations per household to swamp the system, or register not just guns but kitchen knives, baseball bats, cigarette lighters, croquet balls, and anything else that has been shown to kill more people each year than firearms.

And so, if you own a couple of rifles and shotguns for hunting and a handgun or two for home defense and you don't register by the deadline, you will forever fear being found out. Your children will be asked in the doctor's office whether there are guns in the home, and this, under a later version of the imperial edict, will be reported to the feds, who will obtain search warrants. Search warrants will be given out on any suspicion -- a pair of empty hooks in the back window of your pickup.

It's coming, and even though it will later be challenged before the Supreme Court, the framework will become permanent. If the president's edict is infringed by the Supreme Court, it will nevertheless still exist and will merely become a later act of Congress, and the high court will then decline to hear a challenge to it, considering it moot.

None of this will prevent another massacre by an insane person. But it will stir some talk of revolt by those who are willing to push back. As one friend recently pointed out, he had just read Thomas Paine's pamphlet, "Common Sense", and if you substitute "United States" where it says "England", it's all about America today.

Maine has its population of defiant citizens capable of overt civil disobedience. But I think the states where there will be an especially interesting reaction to the edict will be Texas, Oklahoma, Alaska, and a couple others in the west. I have recently read about one town that passed an ordinance prohibiting its local officials from enforcing regulations that are not constitutional. Now I can't locate the article, and the Supreme Court has struck down other examples such as this in the past, but at least that community has bought some time. There is plenty of precedent as well that an unconstitutional law, regulation, or edict, is no law at all and does not have to be obeyed, however the president has the power at his disposal to make things immediately miserable for a lot of responsible citizens for a long time.

It will be an interesting year. It's too bad that Biden's task force won't do something meaningful to prevent future massacres. He's targeting the wrong group of citizens.

I am reminded of a few lines from a poem by James Russell Lowell, "The Present Crisis", written in 1844 during a period of great turmoil over slavery and over the pending annexation of Texas by the United States, which gave rise to the war with Mexico in that same period:

"Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side...

Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,—
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own."

Wrong is on the throne, and for the sake of the victims of the next mass shooting, and the one after that, and the one after that, I pray that God is keeping watch, for the ones who are pretending to address the problem have another motive in mind, and it has nothing to do with saving the innocents.