Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Founders and the Second Amendment

Pro-gun attorney Stephen Halbrook's new book, The Founders’ Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms, gets a positive review:
Lynn Moses, of Idaho, was incarcerated in prison on August 6, 2008, for violating the EPA’s Clean Water Act. He was found guilty of “discharging” “pollutants” into one of the “waters of the United States” and “pollut(ing) a spawning area for Yellowstone Cutthroat trout.” He is scheduled to spend 18 months in prison.

Did Moses dump fuel oil or pesticides into a trout stream to earn such a harsh sentence? Nope. He removed gravel and debris from a dry streambed — something, by the way, that he was mandated to do! You see, Moses built a subdivision by Teton Creek, a creek that because of irrigation diversions holds water less than two months of the year. To get a building permit, his county required him to modify the stream bed by removing gravel bars and downed trees to prevent future flooding of the proposed subdivision. The Army Corps of Engineers came to a planning meeting for the subdivision, but didn’t stay because they said they had no jurisdiction over “intermittent” streams.

Then he was charged with violating the Clean Water Act and was found guilty because the activist judge wouldn’t let the jury consider any information about the original agreement of the subdivision or any interaction that Moses had with federal officials that validated his position. (See the article “Feds to Imprison Idaho Man for Protecting Homes From Flooding,” online at thenewamerican.com for a more detailed story.)

In Moses’ case, the EPA, an organization that Congress had no constitutional authority to create, applied the law in an arbitrary, capricious, and vindictive manner against a U.S. citizen who was doing his utmost to follow the law, and it worked hand in hand with a federal judge in what could only be called a travesty of justice. Imagine if such abuses became commonplace; imagine that it was you or a family member who was going to prison, leaving, like Moses, who is a single parent, your 17-year-old daughter with friends.

The Founding Fathers of this country designed the Constitution and the Bill of Rights specifically to forestall just such an abuse of federal power by strictly limiting federal authority and by retaining the ultimate instruments of popular self-government — militia. Such is the historical lesson at the heart of Stephen P. Halbrook’s book The Founders’ Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms.
[Halbrook's] research is so thoroughly done that one can say with a certainty that anyone who says that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect an individual’s right to firearm ownership, or says that the federal government may restrict this right, may justifiably be called either ignorant or a liar. In fact, the depth of Halbrook’s research is both his greatest asset and his greatest flaw. As the book moves forward, there are so many similar sentiments about the Second Amendment backing an “individual right” perspective that occasionally the sheer redundancy makes one’s interest drag.

Review here. As noted in this post, Mr. Halbrook is one of the attorneys representing Dick Heller (of D.C. v. Heller fame) and several others in another lawsuit against Washington, D.C.'s newly passed gun-control law.

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