Live Free or Die

Advocating conservative principles, the pillars of America

UN Arms Trade Treaty – Overview

Among the numerous ways that United States President Barack Obama has attempted to “fundamentally transform the United States of America“, which he declared prior to his re-election in November 2012, has been to take a hatchet to the Second Amendment to the Constitution, the right to bear arms. This has been recently manifested in his jumping on opportunity provided to him by the tragic Newtown, CT shooting to tug at heartstrings for his political gain. (His ploy proved unsuccessful, as his attempts at

sweeping federal gun control legislation failed in the United States Senate in April, given vast opposition of American citizens to the legislation.) Regardless, for better or for worse, he has attempted to stretch – and in many cases, wholly overreach – the powers provided to him by the Constitution by issuing executive orders that skirt the country’s founding principles, particularly the Second Amendment.

Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, John Kerry, has prioritized a global consensus over advocating the best interests of American citizens in his signing the Arms Trade Treaty.

 

Some would say that the Obama administration’s latest assault on these fundamental American rights was through Secretary of State John Kerry’s signing of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in September. The treaty, according to Kerry, “will not diminish anyone’s freedom. In fact, the treaty recognizes the freedom of both individuals and states to obtain, possess and use arms for legitimate purposes.” Kerry further claimed that the treaty is not aimed to curtail individual gun usage, but rather to reduce the availability of arms trade between countries. In a Reuters article from September, titled, “Kerry signs U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, says won’t harm U.S. rights,” Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said, “It’s significant that the United States, which amounts for about 80 percent of the world’s export in arms, has signed.” This is a clear indication that with the Obama administration taking the first step in committing the United States to this treaty, the treaty holds far greater clout internationally.

The ATT was not ratified by the United States Senate; in fact, there was mass opposition to Kerry’s signing. In a letter written by Senators Jerry Moran (R–KS) and Joe Manchin (D–WV) and signed by 50 senators from both parties, they noted that the treaty only makes a passing reference to individual lawful gun ownership and use, and does not recognize these acts, let alone self-defense, as fundamental individual rights. Consequently, this could infringe upon the Second Amendment and its guarantee that American citizens may bear arms. 181 members of the House, which is responsible for implementing legislation to bring treaties signed by the Senate into effect, sent a similar bipartisan letter.

According to The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, the Obama Administration has implied that it will proceed to implement aspects of the ATT even without Congressional approval. Thus, they argue that both branches must hold hearings on the treaty and the Administration’s intended actions, and prepare a way that Obama (unlikely) or a future President would “un-sign” the ATT “and thereby end this dangerous and senseless experiment with a U.N. treaty and its vague standards.”

The National Rifle Association has been promoting civil rights in America since 1871.

The National Rifle Association (NRA), the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, which promotes the preservation of the Second Amendment, disagrees with the US’ entering the ATT. In the magazine “America’s 1st Freedom”, a publication produced by the NRA, an article in the December issue, titled, “Poison Pen”, author Blaine Smith laid out in greater detail many of the above reasons and others as to the dangers of the ATT, which I will discuss further in my following blog post.

UN Arms Trade Treaty – Analysis

The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was signed by United States Secretary of State John Kerry in September; the stated possible positives and negatives of such a decision, and whether the Senate was correct in not ratifying the ATT, was briefly discussed in my prior blog post. What is riding on whether the ATT ever is ratified by a future Congress, or if US President Barack Obama pushes beyond his executive powers once again to implement some of the ATT’s measures, is whether the United States will maintain its sovereignty in making policies for this country or cater to a global consensus led by countries who allow their citizens far less freedom than does America.

One most significant issues with the ATT is the possibility of the forming of a gun registry. According to the National Rifle Association, vague language in numerous parts of the treaty would likely cause international pressure to force signing countries to create lists of their citizens who purchased guns, and worse, provide these lists to governments to other nations (who, again, provide their citizens fewer rights than America currently does). This goes against federal law in this country, and for good reason. If the government became tyrannical and wanted to overpower its people, the only protection would be the guns that are in the hands of citizens; if the federal government had access to a registry of gun owners, they could send in the heavy artillery to obliterate those law-abiding individuals.

Bearing arms for protection is a liberty that Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who spearheaded the failed gun-control push this past spring, and an Obama ally, clearly does not want the American people to enjoy. Feinstein said in 1995, “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States, for an outright ban, picking up every one of them [every gun], Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ‘em all in. I would have done it.” Feinstein’s remarks is the most obvious evidence of the mission of the anti-gun elite, which also includes billionaire New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s pet entity Mayors Against Illegal Guns: to “fundamentally transform” (Obama’s words) America by making it as easy as possible for the government to have as much control as possible over Americans’ lives, regardless of what pro-citizen stipulations were implemented by a bunch of dead white guys 200 years ago (aka the Founding Fathers and the Constitution they created).

Certainly, when non-American unelected bureaucrats are controlling American citizens, as could transpire with the ATT (as well as a host of other UN treaties over the years), we are succumbing our freedoms as American citizens, lowering ourselves to the standards of countries such as China and Russia. America was founded as a unique experiment, to test how a country whose governments was truly controlled by its citizens could run; the result has been world history’s greatest superpower for most of its history.

For the sustainability of America as we know it, we must not cede control to individuals who do not have America’s best interests at heart, have no concept of the greatness of America, and want every country in the world to be more or less the same. Rather, we must return control to the elected officials of this country, and to the most local level possible; in other words, gun laws for a given state should be primarily governed by the individual states, rather than a single, sweeping law for the entire US set forth by the federal government, and certainly not by international politicians seeking to make America entirely mediocre.

One of the most influential government leaders of the 20th century phrased the gun debate in slightly different words: “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.”

That commentary belonged to Adolf Hitler.

Sharon Football Closes Season on Thanksgiving

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The Eagles fell, 25-8, to archrival Oliver Ames on Thursday, concluding Sharon’s 2013 campaign 2-9. However, with many on-field gains by previously inexperienced players stepping into larger roles, the program has an optimistic outlook on the future.

Note: A version of this article is appearing in The Sharon Advocate on December 6, 2013.

Although the Sharon High football team finished the 2013 campaign with a 2-9 mark after a 25-8 Thanksgiving defeat to archrival Oliver Ames, players and coaches expressed satisfaction in the tremendous strides that the young squad made this fall.

“I thought we played well,” Sharon senior captain Erik Kushner said of the Eagles’ showing on Nov. 28. “Things didn’t go our way. Quarterback got hurt in the first half – that kind of killed our momentum. But we kept fighting, didn’t give up, and I’m proud of every one of the guys.”

Head Coach Dave Morse said, “Our effort was good. We had a hard time executing at the beginning, missed some tackles. But our intensity was pretty good throughout the game – it was a good job.”

On a frigid Thursday morning at Eagle Stadium, Sharon’s seniors were introduced with their parents in a pre-game ceremony, as the anticipation built for the annual Turkey Day battle between the Eagles and Tigers.

Sharon entered 2-8, while Oliver Ames came in 10-1. The Tigers downed the Eagles, 28-0, in the teams’ prior meeting this season, in Easton on Oct. 12.

The teams were scoreless on Thursday during the first quarter and into the second. Sharon senior captain Sean O’Neill was pleased with how the Eagles opened the contest.

“We came out pretty good. We were moving kids off the line, punching them in the mouth in the first half,” said O’Neill, a quarterback.

Morse says that Sharon’s captains, Kushner; O’Neill; senior Frank Sullivan; and junior Adrian Lingo readied the team well for the uniqueness of a Thanksgiving contest.

“The captains did a good job keeping us focused. We had a lot of guys without experience in a Thanksgiving Day game, and our leadership was good,” Morse said.

“We were talking about this game for the past two weeks,” Lingo said. “Everybody talked about this game – this game is the biggest for us. So we came out really hard.”

Sharon held Oliver Ames on a fourth-down run inside the Eagles’ 17, with Kushner and Co. stopping a Tiger rush, returning the ball to the Sharon offense.

Kushner, a two-way starter who racked up 8.5 sacks last season and will play football for Division 1 Colgate University next fall, donned full pads for the first game since missing eight with a shoulder injury.

The captain was buoyed for the opportunity to close his high school career between the white lines. “It was something else. It’s tough when you can’t show it [lead by example] on the field. It was just great to be back out there with my teammates – playing hard, fighting to the death,” Kushner said.

“His intensity was there,” Morse said. “He didn’t miss a beat – took on blocks, made tackles, was all over the field. He did a great job.”

Two plays later, senior running back Evantz Elisma, Jr. received a handoff from junior quarterback Kevin Byrne up the middle, saw an opening to his right, turned the corner, and raced past several Oliver Ames defenders hot on his pursuit along the Eagle sideline, high-stepping across the goal line with a 79-yard touchdown.

“I think it was Kush who had the block to spring me out there,” said Elisma, Jr. “Once I saw the open field, it was a wrap from there.”

Morse added, “It was a great job up front. We blocked really well. There was a nice, little hole there. The guard got through – [junior] Jackson [Hall] did a good job pulling, had a good down block. Evantz hit the hole, and he went.”

Lingo’s extra-point through the Lake Massapoag-side uprights provided Sharon a 7-0 advantage, their first lead over an Oliver Ames squad since 2010.

Physical ailments were a recurring theme for the Eagles. O’Neill entered Thursday’s contest having suffered a shoulder injury that Morse called “horrible” in Sharon’s prior game, Nov. 16.

Although the injury inhibited him from executing a throwing motion, O’Neill played most of the snaps and handed off. “He fought through that,” the coach said.

“The game meant a lot to me,” O’Neill said. “It’s the last game I’ll ever play – I’m not playing in college. I tried to gut it out.”

Later in the second quarter, Byrne was forced out of the game with an injury, another blow to Sharon’s quarterbacking situation.

Oliver Ames responded to Sharon’s initial score with two touchdowns prior to halftime and two more in the third quarter, providing a 25-7 winning margin for the visitors. The outcome provided for an enjoyable ride for orange-and-black-clad fans back to their Easton residences for a tenth consecutive Thanksgiving.

“We dealt with some adversity, and it was a little too much to overcome,” O’Neill said. “We didn’t get the bounces today, but we played our hearts out.”

Kushner said, “It was special. It was something else. It was a great environment in the first half – a lot of people there. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t win this, but we played our butts off – left it all out there.”

Morse says that the Tigers were as good as their playoff run, which landed them in the Division III Southwest Final, indicated. “We hung with them for a while, just as we thought we would. OA was excellent,” he said.

“Every Thanksgiving, no matter how good Sharon is, it’s always a good game,” said Eagles senior linebacker London Chandler. “At the end, they finished out strong, and we didn’t finish out as strong as we should have.”

As for individual Eagle players that impressed him during the game, Morse noted several seniors who suited up for their final football games at Sharon High.

In addition to O’Neill’s efforts, the coach said, “London did a good job on defense. [Junior linebacker] Daylon [Williams-Thomas] had one of his better games – played with intensity. It was a good job by our guys. Good careers by a lot of those guys, and that’s it.”

Regarding the sudden realization that his high school football career had concluded at the final whistle, Williams-Thomas said, “It’s an awful feeling to end it like this, but this is how it is. It’s time to leave. It’s time to take off this jersey, but it’s ‘aight [all right].”

Reflecting on the season as a whole (prior to the season finale), team members were most enthused about the continual progression of a largely young, previously inexperienced squad.

Much of the 2013 team, as underclassmen last year, watched stars like All-Hockomock League then-senior captains Brad Schiff, Sean Asnes, and Adam Block lift Sharon to the program’s first-ever Div. III Super Bowl Championship.

This season, many of these players, now upperclassmen, stepped into those starting roles vacated by the departed graduates and became more seasoned football players this fall.

“We have so many kids who are new to varsity football, so it’s been fun to coach them, teach them everything they need to know,” Morse said. “Every day, we come out, we’re excited as coaches. They’re enjoyable to coach, and it’s also good to see the improvements they’ve made from Week 1 until now.”

Sullivan said, “A lot of maturation had to occur, and it’s occurred really toward the end of the season. All the younger kids that we needed to grow up, grew up, and really took the role of the Sharon football player.

“This is no more Pop Warner stuff. There’s a point where you have to look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I’m a Sharon football player. It’s time to grow up. I need to be the best football player I can be.’ And they did it,” Sullivan added.

Kushner says that the players came together over the course of the season and subscribed completely to the message that Morse and the captains attempted to instill into them. “I think we’ve really made strides since Day 1,” he said.

Morse says that the offensive line’s fundamentals significantly improved and members of the defense executed their assignments with greater regularity. “There’s no real highlights – just seeing the individual improvement by many, many kids,” he said.

“We have a lot of pure athleticism on this team,” said O’Neill. “Defensively, we have, I think, one of the best defensive backfields in the league.”

Sullivan said, “Every aspect has improved exponentially. The only aspect that’s stayed the same is special teams, in that they’ve been pretty dominant all year. Our offensive line has grown a lot. They still need to take some strides before they’re at the level they need to be [in future years].”

Sharon’s first win of the season came in Week 3 against Davenport Division rival Canton, a 32-12 home conquest, which was Sullivan’s favorite game of the season.

“Beating Canton was beautiful. Whether they are the best team, the worst team, I always love beating the Small Hock teams – the team that we’ve always had rivalries with. Taking a 65-yard touchdown to the house felt really good,” Sullivan said.

A 27-0 victory over Davenport foe Milford on Oct. 26 qualified the Eagles for a berth in the revamped (and expanded) state playoffs. #1-seed Plymouth North downed Sharon in the postseason’s opening game, 35-7, a contest in which Morse said the Eagles “played pretty well in a hostile environment.”

Sullivan says that the Eagles’ record (with, at the time, one game remaining) did not indicate the team’s caliber of play, particularly in the later stages of the season.

“Not even close. We’ve grown not only as football players, but as people and as brothers. We’ve really molded, gelled as a team. I think that if you give us 10 more games, we go 8-2, 10-0,” Sullivan said.

Two Eagle juniors were named to the 2013 All-Hockomock League team: Lingo, for his middle linebacker play, and lineman Travis Somers. Kushner was an Honorable Mention.

“They’re two kids [Lingo and Somers] who worked very hard in the offseason,” Morse said. “They committed to practice, doing their job. And they continued to get better – holding their ground, reading their keys, and doing their jobs. Still have big things to come [next season].”

Lingo says that he did not expect to be All-Hock when he approached the fall, his first full season on varsity. “When Coach called me a week ago, I almost dropped the phone. My reaction was unbelievable. I was so happy,” he said.

Lingo, who first played organized from football after immigrating from Poland freshman year, launched a crucial punt under heavy duress from oncoming rushers during the 2012 Super Bowl.

The junior started this season in the middle linebacker spot occupied last season by Schiff, who was named to numerous All-Scholastic teams and sealed the state title victory with a late interception.

Sullivan said, “We expected a lot of Adrian, because you could see the pure skill, how quickly he learned. Adrian did everything for us. He was a beast. Every time we asked him to do something, he threw himself on the line for us. That’s the kind of kid you want to go to war with.”

Lingo was named the team’s fourth captain partway through the season, and says that he cherished his role. On his leadership style, he emphasized the importance of positive verbal communication with fellow players.

“If they [teammate] make some mistake, don’t be like, ‘You did this wrong.’ Be like, ‘Don’t worry about that. Next play, go get ‘em. This is a team.’ Got to be 11 helmets to the football – that’s what makes us. That’s the Sharon football team,’” Lingo said.

Somers reacted similarly to the news of his selection to the All-Hock team. “It came to me as a nice surprise. I was really happy and excited about it. It felt great to know that hard work and dedication really does pay off. I couldn’t have done it without the great coaching and the help of my teammates.”

Sullivan says that the team didn’t know what to expect of Somers entering the season. “He was very, very, very raw up until this year – hearing everything we’ve been telling him but not actually doing all of it.

“This year, he really grew into himself, grew into his body, and utilized his size throughout the year. He just dominated kids with the size. He used his body and pushed people,” Sullivan added.

Sullivan also lauded Somers’ toughness to play effectively despite assorted injuries incurred throughout the season that would have sidelined most other players. “There just isn’t a ‘hurt’ for Travis,” Sullivan said.

“Missing a game is something you never want to do, and I knew that it was important for me to show up and play my hardest,” Somers said. “Football is a tough sport – you’ll get banged up, you’ll be hurting at times, but you have to pull through and put the team first.”

As for other players who posted impressive seasons, O’Neill says that Chandler made many big plays defensively and assisted his younger mates on that side of the ball.

Sophomore twins Bryce and Tyler Smith started both offensively and defensively. O’Neill called the duo “a two-headed monster” in the defensive backfield, with Bryce playing cornerback and Tyler at safety.

“Against Silver Lake, they both had two mammoth hits,” O’Neill said. “I foresee many more hits like that in the future. Bryce playing receiver has made great strides, especially going up and making plays on the ball. [Sophomore Joey] Dowler got injured [ankle], but Dowler was really stepping up his game as starting tight end.”

Kushner noted juniors Akiv Carries and Andrius Bernotas among the players who thrived in greater responsibilities on the field, amplified given an injury-riddled squad. “Guys like that really stepped up this year and took on big roles,” Kushner said.

Numerous players mentioned outstanding team chemistry as among the positive attributes of this year’s team. O’Neill, who quarterbacked the 2012 worst-to-first Sharon team, says that this year was the most fun football season of his life.

“I’m really thankful for this team that I had. This is a special team – the record didn’t dictate how special of a team this was. No matter what happened, we never faulted each other. We always stuck together. I just love all the guys on the team,” O’Neill said.

The conclusion of the season marks the final time that several of the team members, including, Kushner, O’Neill, Sullivan, and Elisma, Jr., were members of the same team.

“It really hasn’t hit me, but this is the last game I’m ever going to go on the field with them,” Kushner said prior to the Thanksgiving game. “It’s been great playing with those guys my whole life and growing up with them, too.”

O’Neill said, “It was truly an honor to play with those guys for the 10 years I’ve played football. I wouldn’t trade this team; I’d rather lose with these guys than win with anyone else. I mean it.”

As for advice for his fellow graduating seniors, as well as underclassmen coming back to comprise the 2014 Sharon squad, Kushner said, “Keep working. Can’t stop. Never be satisfied where you are – get better, get stronger, get faster. Do the little things.”

Next year’s edition of the Eagles will return nearly the entire offensive and defensive line, who gained experienced this season that should prove valuable as Sharon aims to return to the top of the Davenport.

Morse, who confirmed that he will return to coach the Eagles in 2014, said, “We have a larger group of returning starters and letter-winners, who, from everything I’ve seen, will commit themselves to prepare themselves to be better for next year.”

Most of the skill-position players who made an impact on varsity this season will also be returning. Kushner said, “They’ve got a lot of talent, even the freshmen coming up – we had two freshmen start games for us this year. If they work hard and buy into the system, they can accomplish great things.”

Lingo says that he will emphasize the weight room to players for the offseason, saying that players need to be there to increase their physical capabilities every day.

“We have so many good athletes – it’s crazy. But the team needs to get stronger and faster. That’s what we all need,” Lingo said. “I think it’s going to be a great year compared to this year.”

Environmental Decisions – An Individual Matter

In the piece “Solar Panels for Every Home”, written by David Crane and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., in 2012 for The New York Times, an assertion is made that there should be a greater demand among the American people for solar-powered energy, given that power lines were down for weeks in some areas following Superstorm Sandy in the fall of 2012.

Millionaire liberal elitists, such as Al Gore, can install solar panels in their seven- or eight-figure homes not feel it in the wallet, and claim to be ‘green’ and altruistic. (That image is nonetheless untrue, given that in 2007, Gore’s mansion used about 20 times the electricity of an average American home.) With many Americans having been sold on the premise that humans are destroying the environment (which is flat-out not true), and the liberal media not caring to complete the picture of Gore’s and others’ actual energy consumption, purchasing solar panels is a superb public-relations move for these uber-wealthy individuals. However, the reality is that the average American cannot afford to drop thousands on these products when they have real, everyday concerns not shared by Gore and his millionaire pals.

If somebody feels that such an investment is worth it, financially or otherwise, he/she is more than welcome to procure such items. However, these purchases should not be given preferential tax treatment by the federal government. It is an absurd suggestion that the federal government should let those rolling in dough, like Gore, ‘go green’ and keep more of their millions as a result. Rather, it should be taxed like any other purchase.

Although the above is enough to identify Gore as a fraud, that is nothing compared to his deeds in producing his highly biased film, “An Inconvenient Truth”. In the highly sensationalized film, he argued that man-made CO2 was destroying the environment; his ‘proof’ was displaying one graph on top of the other, but one of them was 800 years off, painting an incorrect picture of the impact of humans’ actions on the environment. A has-been politician, Gore is attempting to remain in the news by drawing on the emotion that gets people to pay attention most – fear.

The earth naturally goes through cycles of warmer periods and cooler periods. In fact, for the past ten years, temperatures on earth have been decreasing, and will continue to do so for the next couple of decades, according to Forbes and many other sources. This runs directly counter to many of the assertions that Gore made in his propagandized film, leaving his zealots without a valid backing to their beliefs.

Something that Crane and Kennedy didn’t mention is that a large reason why recent storms have caused more property damage than in the past is because more and more people take up residence on shorelines. In the past, Superstorm Sandy would likely have not have caused such devastation, given that the shorelines would have been so densely populated. However, with so many people residing close to the waterfront, a severe storm like Sandy was an utter calamity.

Crane and Kennedy make a valid point when they advocate for the US government decreasing regulation on developing green businesses. Government should reduce the red tape on this and every other sector of the economy, which would allow businesses, particularly fledgling ones, to develop faster and serve the public better. The American people would much better off if federal micromanagers stopped interceding to prevent the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would create many American jobs and reduce the price of oil for citizens.

Those who want highbrows at a far-distant capital dictating their lives are more than welcome to reside in the innumerable countries that fit that bill. However, in the United States of America, the decision to ‘go green’ or make any other purchase – be it health insurance, food, or anything else – should be allowed to occur and determined at true market rates, with Americans being allowed to decide for themselves if it is in their personal best interests to do so.

Values Stem from Parents, Not Media

The concept of morality is a much-debated one. We undoubtedly live in a far different age than even just a few decades ago with different (in many cases, lowered) societal norms. However, I believe that morals are passed down to children by parents foremost, with mass media and peer pressure only playing a role if inconsistent actions by parents allow those groups to take hold.

My mother was once at a Parent Teacher Student Organization meeting when the subject of the student dress code. When one parent remarked that it was inappropriate that girls wore tops that were low-cut, my mother retorted that kids take after their parents’ choices. (The mother was donning a shirt of the ilk to which she was raising the objection.)

Although there is no guarantee that just because a parent dresses a certain way a child will follow suit, kids certainly cannot be blamed for dressing skimpily when their parents are doing just that. The same goes for other actions; if parents overeat, watch mindless TV soap operas, and are judgmental towards others, their kids are more likely to do the same.

Parents are a far bigger influence that mass media and peer pressure. Kids naturally have a tendency to rebel when restrictions are placed that they deem arbitrary. For example, if a kid sees no harm in drinking and sees it as a fun activity, he will engage in it. However, if parents instill in their children that certain actions are morally wrong for legitimate reasons that they comprehend, and kids see their parents refraining from them, there is a very high likelihood that the kids will fall in line.

There is a myth that marketers make parenting extremely difficult. This may be true for parents whose words and actions are contradict each other or who set arbitrary rules for their children without the latter understanding the rationale for such restrictions. Be the reason for moral conduct religious or otherwise, even the greatest marketing technique in the world will not force children to do something that they know is not right, such as wearing inappropriate outfits or gossiping about others. (Additionally, until the kids are earning money, they only have the material goods that their parents opt to buy them.)

My parents have taught me important concepts from the Torah, such as attempting to find the positive attributes of each person. I consider myself highly fortunate to have been raised by an upstanding mother and father who have ingrained in their character many of these positive attributes. I see them consistently working to raise the level that they are on, so I am motivated to attempt to improve my actions, as well.

As I alluded to in the above paragraph, that I have been raised by a married mother and a father in a single home has been enormously important. There have been certain character traits that have resonated more with me from my father, and in other areas, my mother’s words and actions have been more crucial. The absence of one of them would likely have led to me going down a different path – one I know I do not want to be on. I can certainly say that I would not be the person I am today were it not for both of their tireless efforts to better themselves and set examples for me to follow.

A War of Personal Freedom

Note: The following appeared in the Political section of the Sharon (MA) High School Newspaper, The Talon, in February 2013.

The United States’ Founding Fathers set up the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution in a purposely ambiguous fashion.

Over the past 221 years, the 2nd Amendment’s meaning has been debated passionately. Whether its framers would be pleased with the country’s current gun laws is disputed with equal vigor.

The Founders’ Intent

The Bill of Rights, which was adopted on Dec. 15, 1791, stated, ” A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” James Madison, who drafted the Bill of Rights, said, ” [The Constitution preserves] the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation … [where] the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” Thomas Jefferson, who authenticated the Bill of Rights as the Secretary of State, rhetorically asked, ” What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.”

Nelson Lund, Professor of Constitutional Law and the Second Amendment at George Mason University, says that Madison initially feared that a military sponsored by the federal government could oppress its people.

“But [Madison] also pointed out a decisive difference between America and Europe: the American people were armed and would therefore be almost impossible to subdue through military force,” Lund said.

Interpretation

University of Chicago Law Professor Geoffrey Stone saysthat like one’s 1st Amendment rights does not allow one to cause a panic by shouting ” Fire!” in a theatre, the Founding Fathers intended for some limitations on the 2nd Amendment.

“Even if we agree that the Second Amendment forbids the government to ‘infringe’ the right to ‘keep and bear arms,’ that does not mean that the government cannot reasonably regulate the manufacture, sale, ownership and possession of firearms,” Stone said.

Moving ahead to 1868, the 14th Amendment was created to protect individual freedoms, including the right to bear arms, from being cut down by the states, says Carl Bogus, Law Professor at Roger Williams University.

“One of the key reasons forgun control laws passed in the South after Reconstruction when Jim Crow was imposed was to take away the gun rights of black citizens so they would be defenseless in the fact of intimidation, assaults, and murders,” Bogus said.

George Mason, who wrote the Virginia Bill of Rights in 1776, said, ” To disarm the people — that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”

Recent History

Many of the strongest gun control restrictions have been enacted by city or state governments.

The District of Columbia’s handgun ban was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2008, which ruled that bearing arms was an individual right for traditionally lawful purposes.

Supreme Court Justice and 2nd Amendment Advocate Antonin Scalia

However, justice Antonin Scalia, in the majority opinion, says that the ruling does not mean that one’s 2nd Amendment protection is unlimited.

“[It is] not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose,” Scalia said.

Scalia specifically mentions the mentally ill and people while in schools and government buildings as among those whose gun access should be restricted.

Two years later, a case was centered on Chicago’s firearms regulations, which included a handgun ban, impractical registration red-tape requirements, and burdensome annual fees for firearms owners.

McDonald v. Chicago made its way to the Supreme Court. Hans von Spakovsky, a Senior Legal Fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, says that the Court got the case right. “The opinion holds that the right to keep and bear arms is among the most fundamental rights necessary to this Nation’s system of ordered liberty and is deeply rooted in our history and tradition,” von Spakovsky said.

Gun Control Measures

Charles Heller, President of Jews for the Preservations of Firearms Ownership, says that there should be very few reasons to have any limitations placed on one’s gun use:

  • Prior criminal gun use
  • Mental incompetence, as declared by a court
  • Being under age 18

Heller says that one is responsible for every shot one fires and that anybody in the government ” who tries to remove a gun from you for any but the reasons above [should be] immediately imprisoned, and severely fined … All other laws should be repealed.”

Bogus says that Heller’s limited guidelines for gun control interfere with legislation to potentially prevent gun-related tragedies such as the Dec. 14, 2012 shooting of 26 people in a Newtown, CT school by a mentally wayward man.

“Mass slaughters occur because madmen obtain dangerous weapons. The simple reality is that it is possible to control guns, but not possible to control emotionally disturbed people. We can’t always identity them, and even when we can, we can’t always predict if they will be dangerous,” Bogus said.

 

Fordham University Law Professor Nicholas Johnson says that the federal government’s firearms supply, as compared to that of its people, has greatly increased.”There was an essentially even balance in the 18th century.

“Today, the government’s capabilities are overwhelming and achieving the 18th century balance would be untenable — it would require an expansion of the capabilities of individual arms or a diminution in the armament of the state,” Johnson added.

One suggested reason to enact stricter gun regulations now rather than in the past is the development of gun technology. However, Heller said, ” No. Principles do not change with technology. It’s like asking if the Talmud [Rabbinic commentaries on the Torah] would be better on an iPad.”

Gun Law Debate

As for what the coming years will hold for the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, vastly different views continue to take hold.

One month after the Newtown shooting, US President Barack Obama announced 23 executive orders, including limiting magazine rounds on guns, which he contends will reduce gun violence.

The National Rifle Association, a pro-gun-rights organization, said subsequently, ” Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation.

“Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy,” the NRA added.

Rep. John Lewis, D-GA, sees the US’ citizens as safe from enemies and thus favors measures to further restrict access to certain types of guns. ” The British are not coming … We don’t need all these guns to kill people,” he said.

Heller says that citizens’ having access to high-caliber weapons remains crucial today, 229 years after America won the Revolutionary War.

” ‘The British’ ” is now our government, and if they ever attempt to overthrow The Constitution, it may be necessary to use deadly force on the agents that they send to destroy our liberty. At that time, you would want the best gun for the job,” Heller said.

Future of Firearm Possession

von Spakovsky says that when the next lawsuit regarding gun rights reaches the Supreme Court, it is unlikely that the majority opinion will be similar to that in McDonald.

Supreme Court Justice and 2nd Amendment Detractor Elena Kagan

He reasons this because Justice Elena Kagan, prior to her appointment by Obama in 2010, drafted an executive order to restrict certain semiautomatic rifles and compared the NRA to the Klu Klux Klan in a memo.

“Kagan was apparently thus so hostile to gun rights that she compared the biggest gun-rights organization in the U.S. to one of the most vicious and despised racist hate groups in our history,” von Spakovsky said.

Stone says that the NRA is to blame for skewing the intent of the 2nd Amendment, preventing legislation that would make firearms more difficult to access.

“Those who oppose stricter gun laws have organized, they have aggressively promoted their positions, and they have been extraordinarily effective in electing candidates who support their policies and defeating those who oppose them,” Stone said.

Hubert Humphrey, US Vice President from 1965-1969 and, like Kagan, a Democrat, says that protecting individuals’ 2nd Amendments rights is critical.

 

“Certainly, one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms,” Humphrey said.

Although the precise intentions of the Founding Fathers will never be fully known, they would now undoubtedly recommend that lawmakers debating gun regulation on Capitol Hill and in state houses nationwide consider the words of one of the most powerful government leaders of the 20th century.

“The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.”

That commentary belonged to Adolf Hitler.

NPR Propagates Liberals’ Immigration Agenda

Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) continues to ardently fight for people who have entered the United States illegally to not be granted a pathway to citizenship, against the whims of liberals who feel that this form of cheating should be rewarded by the United States government.

In a highly slanted article written by the taxpayer-funded National Public Radio, which has become a mouthpiece for liberal politicians to spew their skewered ideology on American citizens, titled, “Immigration Debate In Congress Riles Up Texas Republicans”, author David Welna, a liberal talking-head, does all that he can to bash Cruz’ Constitutionally-principled values. (Ironically, the article was published on Independence Day of 2013.)

Cruz, one of the most outspoken Congressmen today, who delivered a 22-hour expose on the Senate floor last month detailing the numerous ills of Obamacare, is derogatorily referred to as a “Tea Party renegade” in the piece.

According to Merriam-Webster’s, “renegade” is defined as “someone or something that causes trouble and cannot be controlled”. Precisely which of Cruz’s statements have been so renegade-like? Was it when he was quoted in the article as preposterously saying, “I think we need to treat legal immigrants fairly, and I think granting a path to citizenship is not fair to legal immigrants”? (Sarcasm intended on my end.)

Welna offers ample quote space and does not offer a confirmation or counter to the proclamations of Congressman Joaquin Castro (D) of San Antonio. Without any backing, statistical or otherwise, Castro states, “Most Texans favor comprehensive immigration reform.”

That unsubstantiated claim clearly has no basis in fact, given that Cruz and fellow Sen. John Cornyn (R), as well as numerous conservatives in the House, were elected by their Lone Star State constituents in large part thanks to their refusal to cower to President Obama and Congress Democrats’ demand to allow illegal immigrants to become full United States citizens.

Another point of contention in the article is that Republicans should alter their principles to cower to an increasing number of Hispanic voters, who are supposedly, at least according to the liberal media, Democrat-leaning.

However, Cruz’ own father was an immigrant from Cuba; individuals who follow the proper channels to enter this country and work their way up the ladder, as first- and second-generation immigrants have done in this country for hundreds of years, tend to have conservative ideals. As 2012 Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney said, “We are a nation of immigrants.”

The test will be whether conservative Congressmen from Texas and other states will change their philosophy to attempt to win over new Hispanic voters. I feel that this would be a highly flawed strategy; the reason that conservative ideals have flourished in many parts of America, particularly in the past several decades, is that rational individuals from all backgrounds, when allowed to think for themselves and not infiltrated by the lies of the liberal media, realize that they are necessary to the sustainability of an America as the Founders envisioned it.

It is obvious that Obama and his liberal allies in the ‘news’ media would like conservatives to become afraid and change their stance, but it will be up to the American public to send a message to their representatives not to cower to sly media tactics when they cast their ballots for them – or withhold their vote – in the 2014 mid-term election.

Conservatives Stand Tall on Immigration

Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) continues to fight for people who have entered the United States illegally to not be granted a pathway to citizenship, against the whims of liberals who feel that this form of cheating should be rewarded by the United States government.

In a highly slanted article written by the taxpayer-funded National Public Radio, which has become a mouthpiece for liberal politicians to spew their skewered ideology on American citizens, titled, “Immigration Debate In Congress Riles Up Texas Republicans”, author David Welna, a liberal talking-head, does all that he can to bash Cruz’ Constitutionally-principled values. (Ironically, the article was published on Independence Day of 2013.)

Cruz, one of the most outspoken Congressmen today, who delivered a 22-hour expose on the Senate floor last month detailing the numerous ills of Obamacare, is derogatorily referred to as a “Tea Party renegade” in the piece.

According to Merriam-Webster’s, “renegade” is defined as “someone or something that causes trouble and cannot be controlled”. Precisely which of Cruz’s statements have been so renegade-like? Was it when he was quoted in the article as preposterously saying, “I think we need to treat legal immigrants fairly, and I think granting a path to citizenship is not fair to legal immigrants”? (Sarcasm intended on my end.)

Welna offers ample quote space and does not offer a confirmation or counter to the proclamations of Congressman Joaquin Castro (D) of San Antonio. Without any backing, statistical or otherwise, Castro states, “Most Texans favor comprehensive immigration reform.”

That unsubstantiated claim clearly has no basis in fact, given that Cruz and fellow sen. John Cornyn (R), as well as numerous conservatives in the House, were elected by their constituents in large part thanks to their refusal to cower to President Obama and Congress Democrats’ demand to allow illegal immigrants to become full United States citizens.

Another point of contention in the article is that Republicans should alter their principles to cower to an increasing number of Hispanic voters, who are supposedly, at least according to the liberal media, Democrat-leaning.

However, Cruz’ own father was an immigrant from Cuba; individuals who follow the proper channels to enter this country and work their way up the ladder, as first- and second-generation immigrants have done in this country for hundreds of years, tend to have conservative ideals. As 2012 Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney said, “We are a nation of immigrants.”

Granting illegal immigrants amnesty would be a major political gain for Democrats. These people, who have zero sense of what it actually means to be an American, who are newly eligible to vote in this country, would thank the politicians who gave them the full rights of a US citizen by checking their name in the ballot box (perhaps more than once).

People who cheated their way into this country to gain a “slice of the pie” have inherently decrepit moral standards. While it is understandable that they may want to depart their current country, they are violating American law to enter the US in such a manner. I would argue that these individually, since they think their actions are acceptable, would be likely to engage in unscrupulous business practices, tax evasion, etc.

The test will be whether conservative Congressmen from Texas and other states will change their philosophy to attempt to win over new Hispanic voters. I feel that this would be a highly flawed strategy; the reason that conservative ideals have flourished in many parts of America, particularly in the past several decades, is that rational individuals from all backgrounds, when allowed to think for themselves and not infiltrated by the lies of the liberal media, realize that they are necessary to the sustainability of an America as the Founders envisioned it. As the Conservative Political Action Conference slogan states, “New Challenges, Timeless Principles.”

Will Obama’s “progressive” ideology be allowed to further progress America into the abyss of mediocrity, or will conservatives stand up for what has made this country the greatest in the world? It is obvious what outcome NPR and other liberal ‘news’ outlets desire, but it will be up to the American public to decide the above question when they cast their ballots in the 2014 mid-term election.

World of Warcraft Not for Me

Upon beginning this course (UMass-Amherst Exploring Society RAP Seminar)’s assignment for the current week, playing the computer game World of Warcraft, I realized that this activity was not for me. Many people in America enjoy playing this game that involves simulated killing, but I do not feel that it is appropriate for me to play such a game. As a religious Jew, I believe in the 6th Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” I believe that this prohibition translates to simulated, fiction games.

Even though when one plays such a game, it doesn’t mean he/she will be more or less compelled to engage in the actions done by the characters in the game in real life, I do not believe that it would be a good thing for me to become accustomed to killing and to come to enjoy it on the screen. There is a concept in Judaism that one should put a fence around the Torah (the Jewish bible, or, as people of the Christian faith call it, the “Old Testament”) to avoid violating any of its laws; in other words, if the Sabbath begins at 7:00 pm, some have the custom of bringing it in at 6:55, as to not risk violating any Sabbath restrictions after 7:00. I believe that this situation is similar; if one does not play such a game, he/she would not possibly come to think (from this venue, at least) that killing is a mundane act to which one should become numb or even relish.

As far as other people’s decisions to play World of Warcraft, that is up to them, and I am not saying that it is right or wrong. That is for each individual to decide. It could, in fact, be a positive for some people; several friends at high school have told me that playing such a game allows them to get out their frustrations in a safe, non-destructive environment (the only thing being ‘destroyed’ is people on a screen, as compared to breaking actual objects). For them, playing the game is just the outlet that the need to remain peaceable in real life. However, I know that this game is not one that I would play.

Monitoring Video Game Usage is Parents’ Responsibility

Video games are not an extremely new phenomenon. Stretching back into the late 20th century, many people, particularly youths, have been infatuated with characters, in some cases violent ones, moving on a screen at their direction. Be it the Nintendo 64 in the 1990s, the handheld GameBoy of last decade, or the XBox 360 of today, many individuals have devoted countless hours to mastering this craft. (The merits of such pursuits can be strongly debated, but will not be specifically addressed here.)

What seems to be a mounting development, according to The Guardian Education Correspondent Jessica Shepherd, in her piece, “Children becoming addicted to video game fantasy worlds, teachers” (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/apr/03/children-addicted-violent-games-warn-teachers), printed in April 2012, children as young as four years of age act out in the schoolyard the violence exhibited by their favorite video game characters. Shepherd says that these youngsters take to heart these characters’ on-screen personas, feeling that emulating them in real life is appropriate. Another concern that the piece cites is that some children are routinely tired for school, which can be frequently attributed to late-night video-game sessions.

The article intimates that parents are being irresponsible with the ages at which they allow their children to play certain games and/or do not know or care that their children are staying up late to play the games (possibly due to the fact that the consoles are in their bedrooms). In fact, the teachers’ union clearly thinks quite poorly of parents’ job performance; a union executive, Marty Bousted said that parents must be “remind[ed]…that they have a very real responsibility for their children and that schools can’t do it alone.”

It is appalling that a member of an organization comprised of members whose salaries are paid for by taxpayers would make such an outlandish statement, bashing the very people who opt to fund the schools. When Bousted intimates that schools are to be alone credited for the upbringing of good young men and women, he completely tosses aside parents’ efforts. This appears to be a negotiating tactic, attempting to leverage his side with the supposition that teachers are the only thing that separates children from going completely off the rails, given that parents are (supposedly) not doing their jobs.

Clearly, many parents have failed with regards to allowing their children to play video games above their maturity levels and/or for too long a period of time. However, there was no mention regarding whether the schools informed parents when their children were misbehaving; if this communication was, in fact, missing, perhaps parents would have been able to make the necessary alterations to their children’s video game playing.

Regarding the comments of unnamed teachers in the article that youngsters who play too much video games may not be socially up to par, aside from this being highly anecdotal evidence, it is not the school’s job to parent a kid. That, amazingly enough, is his/her parents’ job. Given that (most right-minded) parents want the best for their child, they will allow them to play the amount/type of video games (or any other activity) that they feel is appropriate for their well-being. Perhaps if parents were more informed regarding their child’s misbehavior in school, they may be able to make more astute decisions at home.