THIS IS A GUEST POST BY LAWRENCE LAFERLA, BROTHER OF 1st CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, DR. JOHN LAFERLA, REPONDING TO CONSERVATIVE EASTERN SHORE BLOGGER, MIKE SWARTZ, WRITING ON “MONOBLOGUE.”
Right-wing blog supports so-called “patriot” groups
Blogger Michael Swartz appears to deny that Andy Harris has in fact endorsed gun extremists who advocate the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. But the second-term, “tea” congressman actually has endorsed gun extremists who do advocate the violent overthrow of our freely elected government. In an open society such as ours, that’s close to treason. It’s simply a fact that Andy Harris supports gun extremists who can be fairly characterized as part of the “Timothy McVeigh wing of the Republican party.” It’s a fact that Andy addressed their right-wing gun rally. They talked of praying with guns in their hands and described our twice-elected president as a “dictator.” Andy gave them his blessing. It’s not unfair to point out that Andy Harris pals around with anti-government extremists.
It’s funny how right-wingers project. Who’s more “despotic,” the president or Congressman Harris? Evidence points toward the latter. Here you see Andy Harris preventing cameras from recording his fracking hearing (as if Andy’s big energy owners actually owned not just the congressman but our entire House of Representatives). Talk about despotism!
Okay, back to the topic of sensible gun policy. I can’t claim to know exactly (as of this writing) what my brother John LaFerla’s position is on gun ownership. (It’s too late in the evening to phone him, and it isn’t stated anywhere on the campaign site.) But we can safely presume that it’s in line with the mainstream. Protect property? Yes. Hunting? Yes. Fight despotic Royal Army? Sure. Overthrow our freely-elected U.S. government? Hell no — are you insane?
That was not in any way part of the intent of the drafters of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights that were adopted in 1789, nor is any right of domestic insurrection to be found in the literal wording of the Amendment. Furthermore, the “militia” that were referred to in the Amendment were supposed to be like juries, with participation from all citizens, not just gun enthusiasts. How do we know? If you have any doubts about this, read the entirety of this excellent exposition on the Second Amendment. And the “well regulated” part means public oversight. You don’t get to proclaim yourself a militia any more than you can proclaim yourself a general or a judge. True citizens militia would have rolling public conscription, like with juries, and would follow state and federal regulations enacted by duly elected public servants. You don’t just form your own little army and make your own rules. When our big army crushes your little army you’re going to cry about “tyranny.” But most Americans won’t call that tyranny. We’ll call it justice.
If you form a right-wing militia, who are you protecting? All of us? Akhil Reed Amar gets it right. Your militia doesn’t necessarily represent my interests as a citizen. You’re just a gun club. Nothing intrinsically patriotic about your gun collection. Nothing at all. And having a gun doesn’t put you in charge of the populace. It doesn’t make you more of an authority than any unarmed citizen. Might doesn’t make right. We have democratic processes in our government of, for and by the people.
Our current President, that thoughtful, decent, moderate, public servant, whom we elected twice with strong national majorities, speaks the truth when he notes that “the government’s us!”
Archive for the ‘Gun Control’ Category
This is an article from Frank Miller, in Talbot County. Frank is a retired school psychologist, activist and supporter of John LaFerla for Congress:
Last December after hearing about the tragic loss of life at Sandy Hook Elementary, my wife Coletta decided we had to do something to show support. She came up with the idea to send a Christmas wreath with 26 angels. We purchased 20 small Serenity Angels and 6 larger ones, and the staff at her elementary school, in Ridgely, Maryland, tied them all on the wreath with white and green ribbons, and signed a card with the wording, “From one elementary school to another.” I made a cardboard box and sent it off to Newtown.
Fearing it might end up in a snow bank, somewhere, I sent it to the Newtown General Store, in the heart of town, a meeting place for kids and adults with colorful candy in clear glass jars, wood floors and a delicatessen as the main draw. The owner called Coletta when it arrived – Brian Williams of NBC News was there when it did we later found out – and displayed it in the store during the holidays. When one of the teachers from Sandy Hook stopped by and saw it, she asked if she could take it to their new building, and that is where it ended up.
For my part, I wanted to organize a project to memorialize the children and their brave teachers. As a graduate of Virginia Tech, suffering a tragedy themselves, I reached out to the editor who put together their memorial issues for the students and faculty who died. He suggested for me to find out what Newtown wanted first, and I later contacted the person in charge of gathering and organizing the tens of thousands of items that arrived in Newtown, in the wake of the tragedy. She was the Human Resources Administrator for Newtown, and despite being buried under an avalanche of cards and letters and paintings and sculptures and quilts and stuffed animals, she was kind enough to return my calls and emails.
On Friday, April 12, my wife and I drove to Newtown to meet with these two wonderful people. We spent over an hour with the HR Administrator in her office. When the mail arrived for the day, it was on a cart, in overflowing plastic USPS boxes. “There’s today’s mail,” she pointed. When we were genuinely surprised, she said, “Follow me,” and took us into the basement of the building, to a secure area filled with cartons of mail, paintings of the children, handmade quilts with their faces, and many other items people had sent to the families of the children. An incredible outpouring of love and support. She allowed us to take photos under the promise not to post them, since the families had not yet seen the offerings. For some it was still too close, too painful.
When we returned upstairs, she picked up her phone and called an associate who was in the process of documenting and cataloging every piece of mail, every piece of artwork, every item sent to Newtown in support of the families. She then directed us to a storefront, across town, where the work was being done, and we headed over there, in awe of the enormity of the project, but even more impressed with the love and dedication of this young woman and her staff of volunteers. Look up “Healing Through the Arts Newtown” (http://www.healingnewtown.org/) to get a small idea of what this work entails.
It was only noon, so we next headed over to the General Store, where we met with the owner and spent the next three hours talking about the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the days that followed, and the months of healing that are now in play. He opened his arms to us, and we felt like we were old friends, coming together again.
What struck us the most, was the kindness and trust everyone showed us, and the prevailing attitude in Newtown that because this act was so horrific, they were determined to make every effort to make sure that everything that followed was driven by love and support for the families, for the children and teachers who died that day, and for anyone else who cried for them and their tremendous loss.
To those pro-gun advocates who think that more concealed weapons will reduce crime, please stop embarrassing yourselves and do some research. I’m going to help you along, by providing some studies by very prestigious researchers in the US. I found these while debating a gentleman who thought that John Lott, Jr’s book, More Guns, Less Crime, was so correct and unimpeachable. Interestingly, John Lott, Jr. has a PhD in economics, not social science or other research specialty, and was employed by the American Enterprise Institute, a far-right, conservative think-tank.
Mr. Lott and his methodologies have been highly ridiculed and debunked by prestigious researchers around the country, including the following studies:
- Most of these studies contend that there seems to be little or no effect on crime from the passage of license-to-carry laws. Some, such as Donohue’s 2003 study, find a temporary increase in aggravated assaults.
- Rutgers sociology professor Ted Goertzel stated that “Lott’s massive data set was simply unsuitable for his task”, and that he “compar[ed] trends in Idaho and West Virginia and Mississippi with trends in Washington, D.C. and New York City” without proper statistical controls.
- Goertzel also points out that econometric methods (such as the Lott & Mustard RTC study or the Levitt & Donohue abortion study) are susceptible to misuse and can even become junk science.
- Ian Ayres, Yale Law School, and John Donohue, Stanford Law School, “Shooting Down the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis,” Stanford Law Review, 2003. This study found a temporary increase in aggravated assaults.
- Jens Ludwig, Georgetown University, “Concealed-Gun-Carrying Laws and Violent Crime: Evidence from State Panel Data”, International Review of Law and Economics, 1998.
- Dan Black and Daniel Nagin, “Do ‘Right-to-Carry’ Laws Deter Violent Crime?” Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 209–213 (January 1998).
- Mark Duggan, University of Chicago, “More Guns, More Crime,” National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. W7967, October 2000, later published in Journal of Political Economy.
- Tomislav V. Kovandzic and Thomas B. Marvell, “Right-To-Carry Concealed Firearms and Violent Crime: Crime Control Through Gun Decontrol?” Criminology and Public Policy 2, (2003) pp. 363–396.
- John J. Donahue III, Stanford Law School, ‘The Final Bullet in the Body of the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis’, Criminology and Public Policy, 2003.
- John Donohue and Ian Ayres. “More Guns, Less Crime Fails Again: The Latest Evidence from 1977–2006″ Econ Journal Watch 6.2 (2009): 218-238.
These are just a few of the many studies that oppose the Lott junk science approach to research.
In response to the dispute surrounding missing data that Lott referred to, in regard to a study he said he had performed in 1996, Lott created and used “Mary Rosh” as a sock puppet, to defend his own works on Usenet and elsewhere. After investigative work by blogger Julian Sanchez, Lott admitted to use of the “Mary Rosh” persona. Sanchez also pointed out that Lott, posing as “Mary Rosh”, not only praised his own academic writing, but also called himself “the best professor I ever had”.
Many commentators and academics accused Lott of violating academic integrity, noting that he praised himself while posing as one of his former students, and that “Mary Rosh” was used to post a favorable review of More Guns, Less Crime on Amazon.com. Lott has claimed that the “Mary Rosh” review was written by his son and wife. ”I probably shouldn’t have done it—I know I shouldn’t have done it—but it’s hard to think of any big advantage I got except to be able to comment fictitiously,” Lott told the Washington Post in 2003.
Well, I never thought that I would see the day when a US Representative, even a Tea Party loon, like Andy “Dr. No” Harris, would seek to violate his oath of office and incite people to overthrow the US government! On Saturday, February 16th, at Harris’ “Town Hall Meeting On Guns and Violence”, in Ocean City, MD, that’s exactly what happened!
In a room of 200 or so, with about 15-20 supporters of stricter regulations, and the rest, a mix of passive to outright raging gun supporters, Harris stood up and said that “…examples exist to support the idea that the people have a right to rise up and overthrow a tyrannical government!” His outrageous comment was in response to a statement I had made, that “there is nothing in the Constitution that gives anyone the right to overthrow the government.” He then proceeded to support his statement with the example of “Athen’s Rebellion”, where, in 1946 Athens, Tennessee, several hundred GIs, broke into the National Guard Armory, stole weapons, then attacked the local Sheriff’s Office and County Jail.
Suffice it to say, that the prevailing political machine that had dominated Athens and the surrounding towns for many years, certainly were acting illegally, by counting ballots in private, without the ability of opponents to oversee them. The GIs, after having returned from WWII, fighting for Democracy, were not going to let the local political bosses deny them of the very rights they had been fighting and dying for. The Sheriff, under the thumb of the Mayor, a boss tweed type, if ever there was one, had been threatening people throughout that election day, harassing voters and poll judges alike. A Deputy even shot one black voter who had tried to vote “the wrong way!”
Needless to say, tempers were hot. By evening, several hundred GIs and their supporters, armed with rifles and some home-made explosives, assaulted the County Jail, where the Sheriff and Mayor had ended up, after absconding with the ballot boxes. Before the boxes were opened, the GIs attacked and eventually used the explosives to blow open the doors, at which time, the Sheriff and his men surrendered. The GIs went in, took control of the ballot boxes and removed them to a safe location, where the ballots were counted, in public view! The vote was, without a doubt, in favor of the GI candidates who were running for Mayor, Sheriff and other City and County positions.
Now, we can certainly look back on this event and say, “The GIs were right to do what they did.” In fact, no one who participated in the action was ever prosecuted! But, we also have to ask, “Is this really how we want to run our Democracy?” If so, then what will keep the “bosses” from getting more people and more guns next time, to take the ballot boxes back? By approving of this kind of action, we are supporting anarchy, pure and simple. Forget the rule of law and 200+ years of legal precedents. ”Mob rule” will control.
This is what Harris was advocating and giving a nod to last Saturday! Anarchy! Overthrow of the government! The ones with the guns make the rules!
My own belief is that Congressman Harris should be censured by his House colleagues, at the very least. This type of behavior, especially in light of the recent mass killings, as well as comments by the gun advocates at the meeting, who predicted that “blood will be spilled” with any new regulations that become law, is unacceptable from our elected officials. By advocating and supporting these kinds of illegal activities, he is violating his oath, to uphold the Constitution and the law. If not prosecuted or censured, he should surely be shown the EXIT door on election day, 2014!
I am not an anti-gun advocate, however, I do believe that the government, whether State or Federal, has the right, and the duty, to regulate and control guns in our society. Regarding a statement that I recently came across by in a LTE, “If that were true then the First Amendment would have been disassembled a very long time ago.” This person seems to be saying that there are no limits or controls on the 1st Amendment! If so, then he is wrong! I know the following may be long, but it is essential in understanding our Constitution and how it works!
As everyone knows, free speech rights can be controlled and regulated, especially when such speech is clearly seen as a danger to the physical safety of individuals. That’s why no one may yell “Fire” in a crowded theater, when there is no fire. The threat of injury supersedes the person’s right to speak.
Also, the Supreme Court has further defined certain speech, also known as “at-risk speech,” as being unprotected by the First Amendment, such as:
1) Burning draft cards to protest draft — prohibited because of superior governmental interest.
2) Words likely to incite imminent violence, termed “fighting words.”
3) Words immediately jeopardizing national security.
4) Newspaper publishing false and defamatory material — libel.
And, the 1st Amendment has other rights that are regulated, as well, including the taxation of religious organizations…if they want to keep their tax-free status, they may not be active in political activities. The “right of the people to peacefully assemble” is also regulated, where the safety, and even the convenience of the public, is jeopardized. Hence, Occupy Wall Street protestors were removed from certain locations, and protestors, anywhere, may not block streets and thoroughfares or may even be required to obtain permits before being allowed to assemble.
The government, Federal and State, has the right to regulate commerce, land use, the protection of our air and water, and so many other areas of our society. How were any of these actions allowed? Simply put, because the PEOPLE wanted these things. And, the PEOPLE are what allow these policies to continue.
I hear over and over again, how the “Founding Fathers wanted this and the Founding Fathers wanted that!” The fact is that the Founding Fathers knew that their wants and desires were limited by their deaths; that the world is ever evolving and changing, as they, themselves, were witness to. (see the diary of James Madison, from the 1787 Const Convention) They realized that the only way to have a government and country that would endure, was to give the PEOPLE the power and authority to make changes (even if it was just the white, male landowners)! Hence, one of the most important parts of the 1st Amendment: “…the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” If the Founding Fathers didn’t want changes to happen, they would never have allowed that right to be included!
Further, the Founding Fathers also realized that they were not infallible. They knew that they were part of a “great experiment” and that, even great experiments fail if their rules and hypotheses are inflexible and not subject to change. Hence, they wanted the Judicial Branch (on par with the Executive and Legislative Branches) to be able to interpret the law and adjudicate disputes. One of the first major cases decided by the Supreme Court of the United States, under the great Chief Justice, John Marshall, was Marbury v. Madison (1803). It is a landmark decision on this important question: “Does the Supreme Court have the authority to review acts of Congress and determine whether they are unconstitutional and therefore void?” The answer: “Yes! The SCOTUS has the duty and responsibility to review acts of Congress to determine their Constitutionality. What this means is that the Court must be able to interpret the Constitutional intent.
Through 200+ years of interpretation, we are at a point where gun-advocates want the right to own any “military-grade” weapon they want to put into their arsenal. These “strict Constitutionalists” are wrong, not only in their Constitutional approach, but also in their thinking that we would all be safer in our beds at night, if well-armed citizens, capable of fighting against the US military, were camped across the street from us. I’m sorry, but I, for one, would not (and don’t) feel safer in that scenario. It seems to me that the lunatics are trying to take over the asylum…and they want to be allowed to be armed to the teeth! The result is not knowing who the “good guys” and the “bad guys” are…and they all want the right to walk down the street with their AR-15, or .44 Magnum! Maybe, we should all get some popcorn and sit along the Washington or Baltimore Beltways at rush hour, and see how that turns out!!