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Thoughts on Independence Day

by Gila Hayes

A few days after we release the 198th edition of our monthly online members’ journal, the United States of America observes its 248th anniversary of declaring that we “are, and of right ought to be Free and Independent States,” not colonies under British rule. The work we’ve done during the Network’s 198 months is a tiny fraction of the human experience played out on American soil and on the foreign battlefields where Americans fought to make our people safe and free for nearly two and a half centuries.

In a few days, 4th of July parties, parades, picnics and politicking will be in full swing. While I insist on recognizing Independence Day, more Americans call it the 4th of July, a trend indicative of how few will stop to ponder why they have the day off work, or consider the reason there is a parade, or acknowledge the sacrifices of those who fought for our freedom.

Fifty-six Americans, in a bold act of treason (a capital crime, read, punishable by death), defied Britain and signed the Declaration of Independence. A few were nearly senior citizens (especially at a time when a 70-year-old had exceeded the average lifespan by double!), but many were between 30 and 40 years old. Not all lived to see Americans undertake self-rule, dying during the Revolutionary War, while others were captured and tortured, or lost sons to the war, families were broken apart, health destroyed and some later died penniless despite having been quite wealthy when they signed the Declaration.

Today’s Americans have descended from tougher stock than the litany of complaints we hear and read about in 2024 suggests. The cost of living, election fraud, unrewarding job prospects, declining health care systems, and deteriorating infrastructure are leading complaints. We’ve lost sight of how our ancestors declared independence, broke free of a greedy, tax-happy king, and undertook the daunting challenge of organizing a government led by the governed themselves. Now, to echo the words attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the question is whether or not we can keep our freedom.


With a little flurry of opinions emerging from the US Supreme Court over the past few weeks, I’ve been pleased when several examples of administrative over reach were corrected when the majority of the Justices called out attempts by regulatory agencies to make law by imposing rules independent of legislation passed by Congress. With many friends celebrating defeats of regulations created and imposed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), I share their sense of satisfaction while also wondering if our elected representatives in the House and Senate have gotten the message that they are supposed to be the law-makers.

I heard that concern voiced by Wall Street Journal editorialists several months ago when the Court considered a case that could strike down Chevron deference, and again over the past few days in response to the USSC majority opinion striking down the bump stock ban and echoed by several gun rights bloggers yet again when a TX Federal district court vacated the pistol brace ban. Gun bloggers are split on whether the BATFE will appeal the TX decision. It is hard for me to see why the agency would not.

Ironically, if legislation had come before the House and Senate proposing to turn bumpstock or pistol brace owners who failed to surrender their gun accessories into felons, the tide of public opinion might have swept the restrictions into law and possibly made the prohibition much harder to overturn. Instead, in the aftermath of the “hurry up and do something” opportunism that inevitably follows mass murder atrocities committed with a firearm, the only study into whether there was any substantive benefit to then-President Trump’s bump stock ban and later to President Biden’s pistol brace ban was at best window dressing and at worst, measured consideration was nonexistent. That’s what happens when presidents side-step Congress, and try to legislate from the Executive Branch.

Thank God there remains enough independence in the United States Supreme Court to stand up to these violations of the separation of powers so fundamental to our system of government.

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