Friday, October 8, 2010

Federal Catch-22?

     Many of you reading this have purchased a firearm or two at some point, and so are familiar with Form 4473. For those who might be unfamiliar, this is where you tell the government (specifically the BATFE) exactly who you are, what you are, and where you are. Then you answer a series of questions with perfect and complete honesty about whether or not you are a notorious criminal or other dangerous or unsavory person.

     Ex: "Are you a fugitive from justice?"
           "Why, yes, actually. See contact information above for current whereabouts."

     The idea, presumably, is that in addition to being prosecuted for gunning down a casino full of nuns, you could also be charged with lying on your 4473.

     I was thinking recently about one of the questions which asks (and I'm paraphrasing from memory here), "Are you a member of any organization which seeks to overthrow the government of the United States by force?"
     Well, no.
     Because when I see that question I think Al Qaeda sleeper cell, or the Mahmoud Ahmadinijad Fan Club. But those of us who follow the discussions surrounding the 2nd Amendment have repeatedly read that the purpose of the amendment, the reason for an armed citizenry, is for that very reason.
     So has the federal government imposed upon us the ultimate Catch-22? Has the government, in the form of the BATFE, set up a situation where they may safely impose tyranny upon a populace legally helpless to purchase the means to defeat them?

     Actually, no.
 
     Those who may feel this way are probably thinking of the statement by the founding fathers that if a government becomes too destructive, then "it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government".
     Well and good, except that I have seen some refer to that principle as a constitutional right. That statement does not appear in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, and therefore is not a principle of law (actual lawyers , let me know if I'm wrong here).
     It is, in fact, from the Declaration of Independence , and that whole paragraph should be read to put the statement in perspective. Even in the context of this declaration, which is to enumerate the oppressions inflicted upon the colonies by England, and to therefore justify our lawful separation from their rule, the founders were careful to qualify this sentiment. The following sentence in fact states: "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes..."
       So short of a political situation comparable to that of the American Revolution, that's not what we're talking about.
    
     And what about the 2nd Amendment? Well, what the 2nd Amendment does is provide a means for armed resistance should our government decide to overthrow us. In short, it acknowledges our right to defense - not offense. Big difference.
     Unhappy with our government? Aren't we all. So do what we are all doing - rally, go to meetings, speak out, and vote. The current anti-incumbent sentiment and nationwide anti-political mood in general has politicians almost as scared as if they actually did have a gun to their head.
     That's how it's done. Not by gathering ten of your best highly trained "operator" friends and storming the Capitol. That just gets you and your bereaved families on the news, and makes it harder on the rest of us gun nuts the next time the definition of "militia" gets debated.

     So on your next 4473, don't try to get all pseudo-constitutional and check that box with a "yes". Just take your gun home, go out and shoot it, and be grateful that you were able to answer another question on the form:

     "Are you an American citizen?"

     Yes.

3 comments:

  1. As to the overthrow question. I had a similar question on a squirrel type job appl.

    Do they really think someone is going to answer "Yes"? Or worse "Yes, the little voices in my head told me to"

    ReplyDelete
  2. I consider the voices in my head "corroborating witnesses".

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've read a variety of comments some forums, usually from Internet tough guys, about how it's time to overthrow the government, take back our country, blah, blah, blah... I've given up reminding them that we have a nice tool to do just that without spilling a drop of blood. Their side loses one or two elections and it's the end of the world. That goes for extremists on both ends of the political spectrum, too.

    We don't have bloody revolutions in this country because we can vote the bums out.

    Which I'd heartily recommend we do on Nov. 2nd.

    ReplyDelete

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