by Marty Hayes, J.D.
In case you haven’t noticed, let me share a little secret. We are smack dab in the middle of political season 2016, and the presidential election is sure to be a doozy. While I don’t like to speak of politics here in the members’ online journal, occasionally we make an exception, and this election calls for one of those exceptions.
What is at stake, literally, is the future of the armed citizen and the citizen’s right to keep and bear arms; the right to carry a gun in public and the right to use that gun in self defense. I cannot recall a presidential election that was so polarized on the issue of guns and self defense. On one side, the candidates want to severely limit your ability to own and use guns in defense of yourself and your family. The other side has committed to keeping your right to bear arms solidly intact. Interestingly, the third party candidates are split on the issue.
Now, having said all that, there is actually very little one set of candidates can do by themselves. After all, the current occupant of the White House would like to ban and confiscate all personally held firearms, but were thwarted by a Congress that has refused to go along and a United States Supreme Court that has ruled that American citizens DO have the right to personally own guns and use them in self defense. The separation of powers has kept President Obama’s lust for gun control at bay. But the 2016 election could re-write the history of gun ownership, and here is how it could happen.
First, let’s talk about the Supreme Court. Currently there is one vacant position on the Court and the U.S. Senate is refusing to bring the current nomination for that vacancy to the floor of the Senate for hearings and a vote. The next president will be able to nominate at least one justice, or the current nominee could be confirmed. But in addition to the current nomination of Merrick Garland for Supreme Court justice, there appears to be at least one more Court vacancy looming on the horizon. It is possible that an additional two or three more Supreme Court justices could either die in office, become infirm or retire, all within the next four to eight years. That means that whichever party wins the White House will get to establish the political leanings of the Court for the foreseeable future.
In addition to the Supreme Court, also at stake in this election is the Congress, especially the U.S. Senate. The Senate is currently run by one party, which has taken a pro-gun stance, refusing to consider anti-gun legislation as well as holding off on the aforementioned Supreme Court justice nomination. If the current party stays in control, it will keep this check in place. What happens, however, if the Senate swings over to the other party, as it does quite often? What happens with an eager gun control president and gun control Senate in place? What happens if our Supreme Court is lost for the next couple of generations? What happens when that Court starts upholding lower court rulings allowing more and more onerous restrictions against the armed citizen? This country will be at a tipping point.
Whom to Vote For?
Many of my friends have been disenchanted with this year’s political process, as I, too, have been. But, just because my candidate of choice did not win either party’s nomination, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a clear choice for me to make. I WILL NOT sit out this election, and I WILL NOT vote for any candidate who has no chance of winning. Unfortunately for America, we still have the two-party domination and that will not change by November.
The Lesser of Two Evils?
I don’t buy it. One candidate is blatantly in favor of gun control. The other, while once a mild control advocate who denounced his former stance on the subject, is stating he will NOT allow more gun control legislation to become law, and has also vowed to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices. That is not evil to me.
It’s All About Power
I have been involved in presidential and local politics my whole adult life. I currently am a precinct committee officer in my local county. But, as the decades roll by, and I see little change in the political process, I have come to the conclusion that politics is all about power, who has it, and who wants it. Doesn’t matter if it is for a local town council position, or the highest office in the land. Most candidates start out wanting to use the power they will gain by winning office for the public good. Unfortunately, many if not most are quickly subverted to worrying about the next election, and their good intentions take a back-seat to re-election concerns. Such is life, and there is nothing we can do about it in the present. What we can do, is not throw our vote away, when there is a clear choice for the future of our country.
On the Local Front
Even if the national politics disgusts you (and who could blame you), you should have local elections to get involved in that can make a difference. For example, in my local area, we have a first year State Representative, Lynda Wilson, who is a staunch conservative and graduate of multiple firearms courses I have been involved with. She is the real deal, and is now running for State Senate in WA State. I wish her well.
To the North of us, we have a long-time State Senator, Pam Roach, who has decided to attempt to gain a seat on the Pierce County Council. She too is a staunch conservative and friend of WA gun owners, and we also wish her well in her election. I only bring up these two examples to illustrate that even if you live in a “progressive” state that is lost to the liberal end of the political spectrum, you can still do some real good by helping the local candidates that might keep the freedom-devouring wolf away from your doorstep. Although all the heat and light is shown on the national level, it is our local elected officials who have the ability to say “yea” or “nay” to local gun control laws.
Click here to return to our August 2016 Journal to read more.