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Who woulda thunk it?  Today, many Americans are concerned that our own government seeks to nullify the constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms that put the “exceptional” in “American exceptionalsim”.  Both the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2012 subvert constitutional protections against unreasonable government search, unwarranted government arrests, and permit indefinite imprisonment without legal counsel or a public trial by jury.  These laws rescind the rights guaranteed to citizens by the constitution.  But there is one constitutional right that has not been attacked and is unlikely to ever be softened or weakened: the Second Amendment right to bear arms.  The reason for this has nothing to do with the government's regard for the constitution and our civil liberties and everything to do with corporate profits.

I recently wrote an article about the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2012 (here: http://www.dailykos.com/...).  This measure was passed by the Senate, and now awaits reconciliation with a version passed earlier in the House, and will then go to receive Pres. Obama signature.  

The NDAA 2012 authorizes expenditures to pay for the US military.  It also includes two provisions that severely limit constitutional protections regarding the rights of US citizens.   One provision of the bill mandates that the US military (not the Justice Dept. or US courts) hold and try all Al-queda members and members of affiliated terrorist groups.  US citizens would be exempt from this provision.  A second provision give the US military the authorization to arrest and detain US citizens suspected of terrorist activities anywhere in the world, including right here in the USA.  This provision, which does apply to US citizens, also allows for indefinite detention of suspected terrorists and terrorists sympathizers without access to legal counsel, habeus corpus protections, or a trial by jury.

This bill if signed into law by Pres. Obama, would take away our constitutionally protected civil liberties as set forth in Article III of the constitution, and Amendments V,VI, VIII, and IX.  The bill joins with the Patriot Act in eroding the US constitution and limiting or removing our civil freedoms.  

The Patriot Act, signed into law by George Bush in 2001 and renewed and expanded by Pres. Obama's signature in 2004, erodes the Fourth Amendment protections against unwarranted search and seizure by allowing law enforcement agencies broad powers to search citizens' private telephone and email communications without judicial review, search through medical, business, and financial records again without judicial review, and eased restrictions on using foreign intelligence gathering methods within the US.  The bill also widened the definition of who can be considered an enemy of the US, to include all those who provide “material assistance” to “terrorists”.  And let's not forget that to the British of the 17th century, those living in the colonies who came to be called “Patriots” and “Americans” were the very spitting image of terrorists.

Since 2001, the US congress and the presidents have seen fit to widely undermine the US constitution's protections for individual rights and liberties.  We are told this is being done to protect us and keep us safe from terrorists and other enemies.  But there is one constitutionally protected right that faces no danger of restriction at the hands of congress and that is the Second Amendment.  This statement may be of some surprise to vigilant gun-owners who worry that the Second Amendment is under constant attack.  However, the last time the congress imposed any restriction on gun sales was 1994, a ban on sales of assault weapons.  That restriction was allowed to expire in 2004 and has not since been re-instituted.  

However, the House of Representatives did recently pass a bill to expand the rights of gun owners.  H.R. 822 (the National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act) would allow gun owners who have conceal-carry permits in one state to carry their concealed weapons in ALL states, regardless of the laws of the individual states.  Yep, the GOP controlled House was willing to subvert their strongly held convictions on the importance of states' rights to put more guns in the hands of more people.  At a time when congress with broadly hacking at individual rights in so many other areas of law.

Why do the rights of the people to own guns receive such special consideration over the rights of citizens to be protected against unreasonable search and seizure, the right to Habeus Corpus, the right to legal representation and counsel, and the right to a public trial by a jury of their peers?  You would think that in an effort to make Americans safer from people who would try to kill us, limiting guns would be a good place to start.  After all, the Centers For Disease Control reports that during the years 2001-2009, 450,000 Americans suffered an non-fatal gunshot injury, and during the years 2001-2007, 212,000 Americans suffered a fatal gunshot injury (representing a crude gunshot death rate of 10.3 per 100,000 persons).  Compare those numbers to the number of Americans killed in actual terrorist attacks here on US soil during the same period of time: clearly, if al-queda wishes to kill large numbers of Americans they should do what Americans do and buy lots and lots of guns.  

The reason why the Second Amendment gets supported and expanded, while Amendments IV, V, VI, VIII, and IX are being softened and eroded, is because there are large corporations that make a lot of money selling guns and ammunition.  In 2009, US gun sales for that year alone topped 14 million guns, and profits for gun manufacturers were in the billions of dollars.  Those corporations that profit mightily from gun and ammunition sales want to sell as many guns and as much ammo as they possible can to continue and grow their profits, and so they oppose any restrictions on gun ownership.  So spending money to buy the legislators and the laws they want makes good business sense.  For these corporations, the Second Amendment not only guarantees the right to bear arms, but also customers, sales, and profits.

Conversely, who stands to profit if citizens are protected from having their phones tapped, or their emails read?  Which corporation makes money when citizens are permitted a hearing before a judge to determine if their detention is legal?  Who will fund a gaggle of lobbyists to descend on Washington to uphold the right to a jury trial?

Small wonder then that rights to gun ownership are upheld and expanded while so many other constitutionally guaranteed rights are being undermined and eroded.  Indeed, if we consider how many private businesses are now contracting with states to provide services to prisons and to run private for-profit prisons, we can see how some business are set to profit from stripping Americans of their rights to unreasonable arrest and to challenge their incarceration in a court of law.  For these businesses, more prisoners mean more profits.  These businesses find it profitable to lobby their representatives for changes in laws to allow them greater prison business opportunities.  So lobbying legislators for eliminating the rights that protect citizens from arrest and imprisonment may be horribly un-American, but is a great business strategy.  And just what prevents profit-hunger corporations and American law-makers eager for campaign contributions from having such a conversation?

The individual rights of the citizens as described in the US constitution are no longer being protected by our government.  Instead, it is the corporate interests that stand up for the rights and liberties of individuals, but only when the corporations feel it is profitable for them to do so.  And conversely, we are in danger of losing those rights should corporations think they can profit from the repeal of constitutional protections.  

Gun owners and gun enthusiasts will probably find this article vexing and upsetting.  As should all Americans who care about their individual rights and our heritage of constitutional law.  My point here is not to criticize Amendment II or gun owners (though I reserve the right to do so in another Dk diary), but to criticize the erosion of our democratic system of government to the point where our constitutionally-protected liberties are only supported if a corporation can profit from them.  I worry that widespread gun ownership amongst the citizenry may now be the only support and protection available to our constitution and our civil liberties against the growing lawlessness of our own government.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (3+ / 0-)

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 08:10:43 AM PST

  •  The law passed w/ the Feinstein Amendment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib
    A second provision give the US military the authorization to arrest and detain US citizens suspected of terrorist activities anywhere in the world, including right here in the USA.

    The Feinstein Amendment makes clear that the new bill does not expand the scope of the AUMF with respect to detention authority.  Whatever authority the government they had under the AUMF is all they have now.
    •  Missing the forest because of one tree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cville townie

      While you are correct that the Feinstein amendment to the NDAA 2012 bill does not alter the current authority relating to detention of suspected terrorists, neither does the amendment state clearly whether the US military can or cannot indefinitely detain US citizens.

      However, you appear to have missed the forest while viewing this one small tree.  The NDAA 2012 bill has many problems for American civil liberties, and the Feinstein amendment addresses only one of them.

      Moreover, the Feinstein amendment does nothing to strengthen the US constitution from the predatory profit-hungery corporations or the power-hungery legislators that appear so willing to disregard our constititutional protections.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 09:28:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It passed with the THIRD of three amendments (0+ / 0-)

      Feinstein proposed, and by far the weakest of them, after the Udall amendment was already shot down.

      Now why would Democrats have had to push for three much stronger amendments against this bullshit? Why was a compromise even necessary on such an issue? There were already three amendments proposed to specifically restrain the bill's authority in different ways, and all of them failed, with some Dems joining in the opposition. Only this wishy-washy bit passed.

      The Dems who voted no on the previous amendments should be ashamed. This goes especially for the duos from MI and RI.

      •  And both of the Senators from MO (0+ / 0-)

        It sounds like Levin may have been right, Obama wants to be able to bypass the 4th and 5th Amendments in order to jail Citizens for an inderminant timeframe.

        And SEVERAL Dems support this as well.

        This stinks of the US PATRIOT Act.  Who wants to give their opponant a freebie 'the other guy loves TERRORISM!' ad durring an election year?

        Please, folks  - like me - whose Democrat Senator voted FOR this bill and against the Udall Amendment, make sure that they do not run as teh ONLY Democrat for the seat.

        Bowers v. DeVito "...there is no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered." Member of the Liberal Gun Club

        by ErikO on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 10:13:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  There are no guarantees and a document (0+ / 0-)

    is not able to protect anyone from anything.  If human rights are to be secured (rather than people), then people have to respect them.  And if our agents of government do not respect the people who rule and become insubordinate, then they need to be removed.  That's what elections are for.

    The AUMF needs to be rescinded. The Convention on the Rights of the Child needs to be ratified. The International Human Rights Convention needs to be honored and the International Court of Justice needs to be respected by the U.S.

    Blaming the President for bad legislation is a subterfuge for getting our corrupt Congress off the hook.

    People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

    by hannah on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 10:49:00 AM PST

    •  Hannah you make a good point. (5+ / 0-)

      How is a "terrorist sympathizer" defined?

      If a fellow comes forward and says to me:  "I hear you're looking for a financial backer regarding that farm purchase - are you willing to raise some animals for my market?
      They would have to be slaughtered according to the laws of Islam - "Halal" it is called in our language, would you do this?

      In return, I will provide the money for you, and take both animals and money in repayment."

      Three years from now, a military helicopter and two black vans teeming with Homeland Security/FBI/DIA arrive and take everyone down at gunpoint... backed by this aerial gunship circling overhead.

      "... did so conspire with a known agent of terrorism, to provide aid and comfort to the enemy, launder money, and provide financial support to..."

      What crime did the market-owner commit?  Having a "known terrorist" back his market venture?  Perhaps just due to a lack of acceptable food (not unlike Kosher) in the area?

      This is a poorly written "OPEN SEASON" bit of legislation.

      To those who say:  You vote-out these people.  You hire a lawyer and sue the hell out of them.

      Not from a goat pen in Gitmo.  You just become one of the "disappeared".  Look up the history of that bit of phraseology and tell me there's nothing to worry about.

      A man who stands for nothing, will fall for anything. ~ Malcolm X.

      by 43north on Mon Dec 12, 2011 at 07:39:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Drivers licenses are recognized between states (7+ / 0-)

    marriage licenses should be.

    Why not conceal licenses?

  •  " My point here is not to criticize Amendment II.. (7+ / 0-)

    ...or gun owners..."

    May not be your intention, but you are doing a pretty good job of it. Why pick a fight with folks who should be your allies in protecting against the erosion of our civil liberties?

    Texas, home to Rick Perry and big oil will be the first state to become uninhabitable due to climate change. Ironic and proof there is a just God.

    by wishbone on Mon Dec 12, 2011 at 08:08:36 AM PST

  •  Permit reciprocity has (6+ / 0-)

    nothing to do with gun ownership, or expanding the number of gun owners. It will not put "more guns in the hands of more people".

    Permit holders have very low crime rates--lower than the general population, and according to the state of Florida, lower than police officers. Reciprocity will not cause any increase in crime.

    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Mon Dec 12, 2011 at 08:37:26 AM PST

  •  Which corporations are the ones pushing.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gerrilea, Otteray Scribe, KVoimakas

    the Second Amendment, in what ways, how much funding and what percentage of funding in comparisom to various orginaisations' individual Citizen membership?

    "I worry that widespread gun ownership amongst the citizenry may now be the only support and protection available to our constitution and our civil liberties against the growing lawlessness of our own government."  

    Worry about it?  You should celebrate the fact that we have that final resort available to us.  All to many peoples do not.  While I certainly do not relish the thought of having to take up arms against a government gone rogue, I cherish the ability to do so should all other means fail.

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