The current leading Democratic Party contender for the U.S. Presidency in 2016, Hillary Clinton, who equivocates on most issues, has no qualms about letting the American public know precisely where she stands on the matter of gun ownership and gun possession in this Country. On that issue she speaks with self-assurance, even arrogance, expecting the public to accept her false, illogical pronouncements about guns and gun violence as self-evident truths, requiring neither legal analysis or logical validity, nor accurate statistical evidentiary support.
Case in point: during a town hall meeting, held on a College Campus in Keene, New Hampshire, in October of this year, Clinton responded to a question posed by an elderly man from the audience who, apparently referring to the 1996 Australian Government gun confiscation program of which he was aware, asked, beseechingly, whether we could do that here and if not why not. Clinton clearly relished the question. In response she remarked that Canada, the UK, and Australia have all implemented national “gun buyback” programs. Remarking further on Australia’s 1996 massive gun buyback program, Clinton asserted, in her typical preachy, irritating way, that the Australian Government offered to purchase hundreds of thousands of “automatic weapons” at “a good price” and that the Government then “clamped down [on gun purchases] going forward.”
The Government’s “gun buyback” program to reduce the number of firearms in the hands of the Australian populace was hardly voluntary. It was a carefully orchestrated compulsory, gun confiscation scheme, concocted by the Government, ostensibly in response to a lunatic’s April 28, 1996 shooting of 35 tourists in Port Arthur, Tasmania. Yet, Clinton deviously intimates that this clearly coercive 1996 Government “gun buyback” program was, in some sense, truly voluntary, since, according to Clinton, the Government offered to give to Australian gun owners a “good price” for their weapons. But, it stretches credulity to believe that hundreds of thousands of Australian citizens would voluntarily surrender to their Government for wasteful destruction, well over 600,000 perfectly functional firearms, even if one accepts at face value Clinton’s disingenuous remark that the Australian populace was actually getting a “good price” for them.
Of note, Clinton didn’t bother to elaborate on what specific “automatic” weapons were surrendered to the Government authorities; nor did she bother to elaborate on the specific “good price” each Australian happened to receive for his or her weapon or weapons. Indeed, how would Clinton know the price any Australian received for a particular weapon? And, if the price were unknown, then it would be patently ridiculous to assert that Australians received a “good price” for those weapons.
Indeed, Australians, who were compelled to surrender their weapons, may not feel that the Australian Government gave them a “good price” for their weapons. More to the point, one might stop to consider that, to the typical Australian gun owner, who thought it important enough to purchase and possess a firearm in the first place, no price is a good price for a weapon that had to be forfeited to the Government. For, once forfeited, Australians knew that they would never again be able, lawfully, to obtain suitable replacement firearms.
Of course, no one at the New Hampshire Town Hall meeting bothered to weigh-in on these matters. And Clinton, for her part, did not trouble herself to offer argument in support of her statements, relying only on bald assertions, lest she defeat the poignancy of her rhetoric. And, this is the most aggravating thing about Clinton, even if one is drawn to her at all. She treats her adult, target audience as if she were speaking to grade school children. In her remarks to the public she routinely tends toward gross exaggeration, conflation, pontification, embellishment, evasion, falsehoods, over-generalizations, over-simplifications and outright lies. If one tries to pin her down, she refuses to respond, flamboyantly throwing her hands up in disgust.
Clinton’s goal is securing the Oval Office, whatever the cost. Doing so would be the culmination of her quest for self-aggrandizement. In pursuit of that goal she forever engages in shameless self-promotion. Everything she says is carefully orchestrated for emotional effect, not for intellectual clarity. A Town Hall meeting is not, apparently, the place where the American public is expected to pose hard, well composed questions to this Democratic Party candidate for President of the United States; nor should the public expect detailed, cogent, intelligent answers. Clinton doesn’t relish a lively, frank, intelligent debate before the public – ever!
Continuing to address the matter of “gun buyback” programs, at the Town Hall meeting in Keene, New Hampshire, Clinton said that communities in this Country have implemented such programs. She added that she would like to see a gun buyback program instituted on a national level, asserting, “I think it would be worth considering doing it on the national level, if that could be arranged. . . . I do not know enough detail to tell you how we would do it, or how would it work, but certainly your [the audience member’s point] is worth looking at.” And, in those candid declarations rest a critical slip-up to Clinton’s otherwise carefully framed, calibrated remarks concerning her policy position on gun ownership and possession in the U.S. For, as an attorney, Clinton must know that a coercive “gun buyback” program, on a national level, is patently illegal. Congress would never oblige. And, even if she, as U.S. President, would dare, through an illegal executive order, to implement such a vast gun forfeiture scheme, she must know that the result could invite insurrection. Perhaps that is why Clinton added, somewhat obliquely and lamely – although the damage had already been done – that she didn’t know how such a massive undertaking could be instituted here in the U.S., for the mechanism of a gun buyback is surely simple enough. Just ask the Australian Government. But, in the U.S., it is the public’s response to such a program that would be particularly problematic to Clinton and to other antigun proponents, both in this Country and abroad, who wish to dispossess Americans of their firearms. Clinton is evidently suggesting that she doesn’t know how she could get the majority of law-abiding American gun-owners to acquiesce to a quiet coup d’état by the Federal Government; for a massive gun confiscation scheme is exactly that: a takeover of the Federal Government from the People.
The mainstream news media – apparently, and rightfully, concerned that members of the public who do not share Clinton’s views on gun ownership and possession – namely, the vast majority of us – might object to the idea of a massive gun forfeiture scheme carried out on the national stage – created a news blackout of her remarks, lest the American public find a Hillary Clinton Presidency too repugnant to even contemplate. The mainstream news media obviously realized — even if Clinton, herself, did not immediately realize the serious ramifications of her blunder — that a federal government seizure of millions of firearms from the hands of the American public means nothing less than the seizure of government from the People! Such an undertaking is unforgivable. It is legally and ethically indefensible even if seemingly tenable to an irrational antigun crowd, unable to truly appreciate what it would presage for Americans’ rights and liberties, and even if desirable to a predacious, calculating and scheming cabal of international socialists who would like very much to see the United States Constitution discarded and a Free Republic dismantled.
Under our Constitution a national, coercive gun confiscation program is patently illegal, and rightly so. Such coercive confiscation programs that have taken place in Australia and in other commonwealth nations are only possible given those Countries’ history. If one can appreciate the critical differences between Australia and the U.S., one can truly appreciate how outrageous – even insulting to the American public – Hillary Clinton’s emulation of the Australian Government’s coercive 1996 gun buyback program truly is.
So, let us for a moment consider Australia’s history and compare it to our own. For, one must consider the context in which a massive gun confiscation program might occur that would make it feasible and legal in one Western Country, but not in another. It is legally defensible and feasible in Australia. It is not legally defensible here in the U.S., even if it were feasible, and it isn’t. Australia’s history as a Nation is wholly unlike that of our own. And the Constitutions of Australia and the U.S. are notably quite different.
Before the American Revolutionary War, the United States was not a sovereign Nation. The “United States,” as such, did not exist. The Country was simply a loose collection of colonies – thirteen of them – dependent upon Great Britain. And it was Great Britain that exerted its sovereignty over these thirteen colonies. It took a war against Great Britain to completely sever that dependency. Unlike the United States, Australia, like Canada, never fought a war of independence from Great Britain. As an ex-commonwealth Nation, Australia, unlike the U.S., is still, in a real sense, a subject State of Great Britain. In fact Australia is described as an “autonomous” Constitutional Monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II, the reigning Monarch of Great Britain, is also Queen of Australia. She is not Queen of the United States. Moreover, Great Britain has a deeply entrenched class structure – consisting of the royalty and nobility at one end, and the commonalty on the other. A rigid class structure that is a mainstay of Great Britain’s history sees expression in Australia’s Constitution. The royalty and nobility do not trust the commonalty – the “ordinary people” – to keep and bear arms. This mindset exists in the Government of Australia. It is a carry-over of a time when Australia was a commonwealth of Great Britain.
Consider, too, the framework of Australia’s Government in comparison to our own. Our Legislative Branch consists of a House of Representatives and a Senate. The Legislative Branch of Australia’s Government – the Parliament – consists of, one, the House of Representatives, two, the Senate, and, three, and most extraordinarily, the Queen, who is represented in Australia by a Governor-General.
Certain members of Australia’s Parliament – its ministers – also function as members of the Executive. Thus, the British Queen not only has influence over Australia’s national government, she has both a law-making function in Australia and an executive function, the latter of which sees that her laws are carried out. In the U.S., which our founders created as a Free Republic, the Queen of England has no place in the Legislature Branch or in the Executive Branch of our Government. Just imagine if she did!
So it is that Australia’s Constitution is framed as one of powers, existent in the Government itself, not in its People, who are treated more like subjects of “the Crown,” and less like citizens in their own right. Our Constitution, unlike that of Australia, is framed as one of rights and liberties preexistent in the People. And “We the People” are not subjects of the State, much less of a monarchy. The powers of our federal government are expressly limited and such powers that the federal government does have exist only by grace of the People, in whose hands true and ultimate power alone rests. But, since Australia’s Constitution is framed, in the first instance, as one of powers, existent in the Government itself, rather than as rights and liberties preexistent in the People, such rights and liberties that Australians might have are not preeminent. In fact, Australia’s Constitution does not speak of rights and liberties of the People at all. Try as you may you will find Australia’s Constitution devoid of a Bill of Rights, which means that, in Australia, there are no rights preexistent in the People and, therefore, no rights existent in the People, independently of a Government maxim that extends particular rights and liberties to the People. Properly speaking, Australians are not “citizens” at all. They are subjects of “the Crown.” Thus, it should come as no surprise to anyone that a gun confiscation program, on an order of magnitude that took place in Australia in 1996 – and others that have taken place in that Country in the past and more that may take place in the future – are an anathema here. Clinton’s off-the-cuff remark, if effectuated, would be tantamount to an illegal usurpation of power by the federal government from the American People.
What, specifically, precludes a national gun confiscation program from occurring in this Country that took place in Australia is established in the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution: “We the People.” The primacy of “We the People” over the federal government is particularly efficacious precisely because of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Secondarily, the primacy of “We the People” is protected through a system of checks and balances within the federal government itself, as established in the Articles. But, it is the very existence of the Second Amendment, as a codification of a natural and inalienable right of the American People to keep and bear arms – “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” – that precludes confiscation of guns from the hands of the People.
The assertion of that right, etched in stone, serves two purposes. It serves, one, as an emphatic reminder to those who serve the People – the Congress, the Executive and its bureaucrats, and the Judiciary – that together comprise the federal government – that the sovereignty of this Nation rests in, with, and upon “We the People.” The American People will suffer no rule under any other nation or under any trans-national or international ruling body; nor will they be subordinate to the federal government. And, the assertion of that right in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution serves, two, as a constant reminder to those elected to serve the American People and to those appointed or hired as functionaries to serve the American People that ultimate power rests in, with, and upon the People and that those limited powers the People have granted to the federal government are for no purpose other than to serve the People. The American People reserve to and for themselves alone, the absolute power to revoke any and all federal government powers if or when that government ever subverts the Will of the American People.
In light of these facts it is exceedingly odd, even perverse, that the leading Democratic Party candidate for President in 2016, Hillary Clinton – who graduated from an elite law school in the United States – would dare emulate Australia’s gun buyback, confiscation program and that she would assert how much she would like to see a national gun “buyback” program played out in this Country since such an undertaking is patently illegal under our Constitution. In the assertion Clinton dares to express her blatant contempt for the American People.
But there is more. Apart from the legal constraints, precluding a massive, coercive national gun confiscation program, there is another matter to consider. It is one that is rarely if ever discussed. It is the ethical theory upon which massive, coercive gun confiscation programs are grounded. The Australian Government argues, at least tacitly, that gun confiscation programs maximize “the good” for society, for “the Collective.” But, “the good” referred to here has nothing to do with crime reduction. It has everything to do with maximizing control over the citizenry, over the commonalty. This ethical theory is called utilitarianism. It is based on the notion that “the good” equals what is best for society, that is to say, what has “maximum utility” for society as a whole. But who decides what “the good” for society is? In Australia, it is the Government that decides. Moreover, whatever “the good” for society – for “the Collective” – is or is presumed to be, will, most likely, not be good for the individual in that society. And, therein lies the root problem with utilitarianism.
The drafters of our Constitution did not subscribe to utilitarianism. Our Constitution, framed on the idea of limited government and on a Bill of Rights, incorporating the right of the People to keep and bear arms – a right that shall not be infringed – clearly expresses the sanctity and autonomy of the individual over the collective “good” of society. Ethics in this Country, as manifested in our Bill of Rights, is grounded on what is “morally right,” not on what maximizes utility (“the good”) for the collective. Ethical theories that are based on the notion of what is morally right are known as deontological theories, in philosophy. The two ethical theories, utilitarianism and deontology, are mutually exclusive; for, what is morally right and in the best interests of the individual in society is antithetical to what may happen to maximize “the good” for society as a whole, for “the Collective.” No better example of the conflict of the two ethical theories exists than that illustrated by massive, coercive gun confiscation programs, such as those created and implemented by Australia’s Government, on the national stage.
Taking away the guns of the citizenry will enhance a government’s control over its citizenry. Enhancing government control, as perceived by the antigun crowd and by international socialists, equates with maximizing “the good,” maximizing “utility” for society, under the utilitarian ethical model. But, taking away guns from the law-abiding citizen does not enhance safety for that citizen, as an individual, in his or her own right. Rather, the individual is less safe as the individual is essentially defenseless against an armed psychopathic criminal or a lunatic. Moreover, the individual is harmed by that individual’s own government since an unarmed citizenry cannot adequately defend itself against the suppression of the citizenry’s rights and liberties. So, gun coercive confiscations programs are unethical under a deontological theory of ethics, grounded on what is “morally right,” even if such programs may, to some, appear to maximize “the good” for society as a whole, that is to say, for “the Collective.” And, in light of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and given the primacy of “We the People” as set forth in the Preamble to our Constitution, such coercive gun confiscation programs – whether or not cloaked as seemingly benign gun buyback programs – are facially illegal.
Hillary Clinton, as well as President Barack Obama, clearly holds to utilitarianism – an ethical theory that is repugnant to the sensibilities of our founders as reflected in the Constitution the Founders drafted for future generations of Americans. On both legal and ethical grounds the position of President Obama and Hillary Clinton on gun ownership and gun possession in this Country is unsound. It is little wonder, then, that, although voicing constant rancorous, vociferous objection to gun ownership and gun possession in this Country, they offer no sound argument in support of their position – only empty emotional rhetoric and platitudes – because sound argument in support of their dubious position on gun ownership and gun possession in America simply does not exist.
The existence of our Bill of Rights is a testament to the fact that our founders did not hold to utilitarianism. Our Constitution is predicated on a moral code, not a utilitarian one. The criterion of moral conduct is based on what is right; not one that is based on a Quixotic quest to maximize utility for society, for the Collective. The Second Amendment is an assertion of the importance of individual responsibility; and morality is predicated on the right of the individual to take responsibility for his or her actions. Thus, the founders of our Republic believed all the more in emphasizing, exemplifying, and extolling the sanctity of and the moral worth of the individual, and significantly less on maximizing utility for an amorphous society – for “the Collective,” which effectively denigrates the individual.
Gun confiscation/forfeiture programs illustrate distrust of government in its own citizens. The citizen is told that, for his or her own good, the citizen must be dispossessed of firearms. The philosophy of President Obama and Hillary Clinton exemplify the predominance of government might over individual rights and liberty; government control over the citizen, rather than citizen control over government; inculcating obedience to authority and subservience to the State, rather than enhancing freedom of expression, individuality, and personal autonomy.
Americans, of late, suffer endless exhortations that they ought sacrifice their rights and liberties for the Societal Collective “good.” Strident remarks against gun ownership and gun possession should serve, especially, as a warning to Americans that if they do not take steps to preserve their Constitution, they will lose it. A Free Republic cannot long endure under a Constitution whose precepts are ignored and denigrated. And, a free People cannot long remain free if the rights and liberties of the individual are systematically trampled upon. It has become abundantly clear that neither President Obama nor Hillary Clinton really care.Copyright © 2015 Roger J Katz (Towne Criour), Stephen L. D’Andrilli (Publius) All Rights Reserved.