Rep. Dean Poised to Trample Constitution
by Ari Armstrong, October 23, 1999
The U.S. Constitution reads, "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." The Colorado Constitution states, "The right of no person to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall be called in question..."
House Majority Leader Doug Dean took an oath to uphold these documents. But apparently some of Dean's promises aren't worth much more than Bill Clinton's marriage vows.
Dean has, at times, defended the right to bear arms, and for this he deserves credit, but his recent comments are disturbing. In a letter to the Colorado State Shooting Association from early October, Dean wrote,
On the other issues that we agreed with the Governor on: Including... raising the age to purchase HANDGUNS from 18 to 21, there should be no disagreement. Note: The Youth Summit paper had a typographical error -- it did not intend to raise the age to purchase firearms at gun shows to 21, only HANDGUNS, which as you know, is already federal law. We should have no trouble re-stating that in state law.
Are those ages 18-21 somehow not defined as "people?" They can vote, drive tanks for the army, get married, sign contracts, and be charged criminally as adults; are they not "people" so far as the Constitution is concerned?
Here is how Dean seems to want to interpret the Colorado Constitution: "The right of no person [except those we choose to discriminate against] to keep and bear [politically correct] arms in defense of his home, person and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall be called in question [unless we want to]..."
Or, to adapt George Orwell's words from Animal Farm, "All people are equal, but some people are more equal than others."
This issue has particular meaning for me. I have a 16 year old sister. If she's living on her own when she turns 18, she has a significantly increased risk of being raped, assaulted, or killed if Doug Dean and other politicians deny her her rights of self-defense. As Professor John Lott has shown, anti-gun laws have already cost many women their lives and physical safety (More Guns, Less Crime). How dare state politicians play political games with the lives of our wives and children!
Of course, civil liberties are always most easily denied minorities. Young gun owners are a relatively small voting block, so politicians feel they can trample their rights with impunity.
"But the feds are doing it!" Apparently Dean never heard that old wisdom from his mother, "If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you follow after them?" Does the fact that federal politicians have passed unconstitutional laws denying young adults their fundamental civil liberties imply that Dean can or should pass similar laws in Colorado? The answer should be obvious.
Apparently, federal subsidies are more important to some Coloradans than their basic civil rights. State politicians tend not to buck federal dictates for fear of reprisals. To those state politicians who cower at the unconstitutional edicts of the federal government, I offer the words of the great patriot Samuel Adams. When he signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, Adams pledged to support liberty with his life, his fortunes, and his sacred honor. His oath meant something. Today's state politicians would ignore their oaths and sell out our liberties for 30 pieces of silver from the federal treasury. To these types of politicians Adams writes:
"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your consul, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you; and may posterity forget ye were our countrymen." -- Samuel Adams
What might Dean do, other than "lick the hands" of the federal politicians? According to Thomas Jefferson (for the Constitutionally-challenged, he's the gentleman who wrote the Declaration of Independence and helped inspire the delineation of rights in the Constitution), the individual states have the right to declare federal laws unconstitutional. A 1798 Kentucky resolution, which Jefferson helped draft, says,
Resolved, that the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that... they constituted a general government for special purposes...; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unathoritative, void, and of no force.
Instead of seconding the unconstitutional laws of the federal government, why doesn't Dean lead the charge in challenging unjust federal laws on the state level? To do so would take courage, and that seems to be in short supply among many of today's politicos.
But Dean is not content to threaten the rights of young adults. He continues in his letter:
That leaves the issue of background checks at gun shows. Frankly, this makes me uneasy because it may be perceived as a step to registering firearms owners. But we know the Democrats are going to try to do this. So what I ask from the firearms community is a little help and guidance. If it becomes inevitable that we end up with a bill requiring background checks at gun shows, I want it done OUR way. Not the Democrats' way. If there is a way to do it without trampling on the rights of the law-abiding, let's see if we can find it.
Dean's quest is futile: there is no acceptable way to disparage civil rights. Reading Dean's message, one would think the Democrats held control of the Colorado legislature. But the Republicans hold the House, the Senate, and the Governor's seat. If new anti-gun laws go through, it will be because the Republican Party supported them. Blaming the Democrats won't make up for the Republicans' lack of spine.
Politicians are disarming the populace a few people at a time. New regulations make owning and buying guns more expensive, more time-consuming, and more dangerous. (With some guns, a typographical error can land one in federal prison on felony charges.)
Background checks won't do anything to prevent crime. Dean has never said they might. His willingness to compromise has nothing to do with public safety, and everything to do with political games. Anti-gun activists claim background checks will increase safety, but they offer no convincing evidence to support their case. In some cases, background checks have cost honest people their lives, because some were denied a gun improperly or they were made to wait. Background checks do give politicians and militarized government forces the information they need on private citizens to eventually confiscate guns. It can't happen? It already has happened to varying degrees in Canada, England, Australia, New York, California, and Washington, D.C.
It can happen, and it will happen, unless some of our politicians find the will to take their oaths seriously and stand up for our freedoms.