Not Just the Second Amendment
By Jeff Knox
(September 9, 2009) The Firearms Coalition is a single-issue organization and GunVoters are a single-issue group, but, while that single issue is generally accepted as being the Second Amendment, the issue is actually the Constitution as a whole. The Second Amendment stands as a bulwark around the Constitution and "gun groups" in defending the Second Amendment are in fact defenders of the Constitution.
Every government official, from the people who take away your water bottle at the airport, to the members of Congress, to the President of the United States, swears an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and to bear true faith and allegiance to it. This being the case, how is it possible that a proposal to require a statement of constitutional authority in all proposed legislation languish for more than 14 years in Congress – through Democrat control and through Republican control – without ever getting out of committee?
In each session of Congress since he was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1994, Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) has introduced a bill which would simply require that "Each Act of Congress shall contain a concise and definite statement of the constitutional authority relied upon for the enactment of each portion of that Act." The bill is called the Enumerated Powers Act and this year is designated H.R.450. It currently has fewer than 50 cosponsors among the 435 voting members of the House and the Senate version, S.1319, introduced by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has only 21 co-sponsors – less than a quarter of the Senate.
The debates over health care reform, corporate bailouts, and government takeovers, have raised serious constitutional questions among many citizens. There is a light dawning among the populace that, like gun control or government censorship, the real question for these issues is not whether the specifics might be a good idea or even necessary, but rather, whether the proposed action is constitutional.
It seems that politicians have decided that the only constraint upon their actions is how much support they can get from their colleagues. The Constitution has become nothing more than a talking point with Politicians routinely voting in favor of bills which they know are clearly unconstitutional. Some will even argue and challenge a bill’s constitutionality in public debates and then give in to partisan pressure or some backroom deal, compromising their principles and their oath to vote for the measure. Presidents have railed against unconstitutional legislation and then passed the buck by signing it with an expectation that the Supreme Court would eventually fix things.
Citizens who have the temerity to challenge the constitutionality of politicians’ actions or programs, are routinely labeled as extremists, marginalized as conspiracy theorists, and subjected to increased government scrutiny. The Department of Homeland Security’s recent report labeling supporters of the Constitution as "anti-government" illustrates the extent of this Orwellian distortion. Of course such twisting escalates the tension and mistrust on all sides, increasing the chasm between the various sides, angers the citizens being ostracized, and increases the probability of acts of desperation committed out of a sense of helpless frustration.
The Constitution of the United States was written to defining the structure and powers of the federal government, and to place clear limits on those powers. Citizens who seek to protect the Constitution should be revered as patriots, not decried as extremists. In the words of Barry Goldwater; "extremism in defense of liberty is no vice." When representatives refuse to abide by the oath of office to "uphold the Constitution," it is their behavior which is un-American.
Barring armed insurrection – or in some cases buckets of cash – citizens can’t control their representatives’ votes, but they do control their own votes. Citizens can decide that they will not tolerate continued representation by someone who refuses to abide by the Constitution and their own oath to support it. Refusal to support the Enumerated Powers Act is a rejection of the authority of the Constitution. Tax groups demand that political candidates sign a pledge to oppose new taxes, perhaps it’s time for politicians to pledge their support for the Constitution by pledging their support for the Enumerated Powers Act. Passing H.R.450 and S.1319 is possible – if voters insist on it and apply pressure to their politicians – replacing those who fail to stand up for the Constitution. Really, on what credible basis could a lawmaker argue against supporting a bill which requires nothing more than that he act within the law?
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