On this special day when America celebrates the 237th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence a key point is often lost, ignored, forgotten or not even known.
That being, of course, that independence was solidified only with the conclusion of the American Revolutionary War in 1783, some seven bloody years and 25,000 patriot souls later.
And, by the way, at the-then astronomical cost of $151 million to the fledgling federal government and the 13 colonial governments. Which, by the way a second time, mostly came in the form of loans from European states which viewed any enemy of their enemy as a friend.
Okay, we got those important details out of the way.
Now comes the second part that really establishes the bulk of this piece.
Surely many (maybe, most) of the patriots were riflemen, likely possessing their own flintlocks originally intended to “tame the wilderness” and fend “off the savages.”
So important were the colonial assemblies that were then called militias they were eventually codified into federal law and the ownership of weapons by individuals became a Bill of Rights' plank.
Of course the meaning of a militia, what constitutes “well regulated” and what arms a person can and cannot own as well as a myriad of other related and sometimes arcane issues is more hotly debated today than it was when the country was still taking shape.
In the process we've pitted once friends against each other, egos standing in the way along with allowing such nebulous statements as “common sense” and “reasonable” gun laws to stumble their way onto the debate platform.
It's sad but true. And as a proud member of the National Rifle Association I can say that much of what it says (make that VERY much of what it says) I agree with. So does my wife, Bev, who has been an NRA member even longer than have I.
That being said I now am going to crawl my way out of the foxhole and into no-man's land.
I view with a disappointing chuckle the NRA's rant against West Virginia's junior U.S. Senator Joe Manchin.
Manchin – along with moderate-conservative Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey – cabled together what many called a bipartisan proposal regarding a variety of firearms-related rules. The chief of these being enhanced background checks via the Internet and at gun shows.
Look, I've read the proposal, and I'm here to say it really ain't all that bad.
In fact, it solidifies some excellent elements in favor of gun owners.
For starters the measure would allow those of us with concealed carry permits to buy a firearm without going through the hassle of filling out the BATF long-form required when purchasing a weapon from a licensed dealer.
Too, if I were to sell a firearm to an individual after that person goes through the enhanced background check I am in the clear if that weapon is later used in a crime. That's the same exemption now enjoyed by firearms dealers.
I also can sell or give away to my daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren, wife, brothers, and friends any of my firearms without jumping through the enhanced background check hoops.
But to listen to the NRA you'd think Sen. Manchin has gone over to the darkside.
The NRA has cut an advert in which it attempts to dump Manchin into the same anti-gun sinkhole as President Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
That's going too far. Or maybe not, as the tide of the gun control issue continues to ebb and flow until saying where the shore meets the water is blurred.
And if the NRA is wrong in attacking Manchin (and it is, at least at the moment) than the good senator from the great state of West Virginia has some 'splaining of his own to do.
You see Manchin has – and I am still totally at a lost to explain or justify why – agreed to allow Bloomberg to host a fund-raiser for the senator, who isn't even up for reelection for another five years.
This fund-raiser is set for 6:30-8 p.m., July 22 at the mayor's presumably plush and heavily guarded New York City home. There are three levels of donations: $1,000, $2,500, and $5,000, writes BuzzFeed Politics in a July 2 on-line story.
If you think this was all done behind Manchin's back please note the fund-raising reception includes the disclaimer “Paid for and authorized by the Manchin for West Virginia.”
Huh? Did I get this all correct?
Yep, and so what we have are two sides – let's properly call them Dumb and Dumber – in a slug-fest that certainly does neither side justice and which never would have remotely appeared on the radar less than one year ago.
I guess I could stop here but I pray stick with me a while longer, please.
Manchin is not the only one who – and I really do believe he does – says he or she supports the Second Amendment but seeks some legal methodologies to help ensure that firearms are kept out of the wrong hands.
That leads us to former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords and her husband, retired Navy pilot, Iraq War veteran and astronaut Mark Kelly.
Without boring you regarding the details following an attempted assassination on her life that left her seriously wounded, Giffords has taken up the cause of what she and her husband consider to be reasonable, fair and effective gun control laws.
They've even formed a 501(c)(3) charitable group called “Americans for Responsible Solutions.”
The couple is now on its self-described seven-day “Rights and Responsibilities Tour,” with a stop today (July 4) in Cincinnati.
A look at ARS's web site details the group's “solutions,” among them being an enhanced background check system, a ban on high-capacity magazines, restrictions on the sale and ownership of “assault weapons” (their words, not mine), tougher firearms trafficking laws, and increasing mental health awareness so that such diagnosed persons can be helped before they can “commit heinous crimes.”
Now, after the long discourse, I come to the heart of the matter.
My rub – the rub – is exactly how far do Manchin, Giffords, Kelly, Toomey, et. al. intend to travel down the firearms restriction/control/responsibility road?
In short, when is enough, well, enough?
In saying they want a ban on high-capacity magazines do Giffords and Kelly stop at the number 17, 15, 12, 10, or 8?
In saying they want restrictions on “modern sporting rifles” (my words, not theirs) does this imply a total ban so that National Rifle and Pistil Matches competitors become law-breakers, or a homeowner who believes such a weapon is a good, front-line tool of self-defense becomes persona non grata?
I also wonder if these are Ms. Gifford's and Mr. Kelly's only objectives.
That raises the possible specter of whether at some point their organization will also support other often-talked-about firearms control issues. Among them being micro-stamping, licensing of owners, registration of firearms, or background checks on ammunition buyers.
We don't know the answer to any of these questions because the Giffords and Kellys of the firearms control movement have never, ever said where they intend to draw the line in the sand.
And that, most assuredly, hurts their movement.
If they are unable or are unwilling to spell out in plain English just how far they will go than gun owners have the right to stop them at the gate until they are prepared to give an account of all their intentions.
As for the Honorable Joe Manchin; Sir, your enhanced background check does fall within my and my wife's prevue of common sense; but by what strength of West Virginia moonshine were you and your campaign aides drinking when you all decided to climb into the political bed with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg?
By doing so you have only eroded gun-owners' faith in your stated support of the Second Amendment.
As for MY NRA: Please stop acting like the Titan god Cronus by eating your young. It's embarrassing and unsavory.
Enough said for tonight. Now back to my latest copy of “Guns and Ammo” magazine.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn