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The gag rule
February 25, 2013 - John Stack
First I was going to write about Dan Stec, the newly minted Assemblyman that took over for the infinitely more principled Teresa Sayward. He’s been in office about a month, and he’s already thrown down the partisan hatchet, wanting to repeal the SAFE Act. Except it passed easily, and there is no chance of that. But, that’s not my problem with it. Stec claims that the majority of the opposition he has gotten to this was the WAY this law was passed, under virtual cover of darkness and without hearings or public review. No Dan, the people want it repealed because they believe it is bad legislation. If the governor passed a law in the opposite direction, you wouldn’t say a word. Not to mention Stec’s naïve ‘petition’ to repeal the law. Who is he petitioning, himself? He’s the one who votes…
But, Stec has been overshadowed by a comrade of his in the Missouri legislature, Mike Leara (R-St Louis). Mr Leara wants to make it a FELONY to exercise First Amendment rights. He wants to make state legislators guilty of a class D felony if they introduce legislation "that further restricts an individual's right to bear arms."he goes on to claim “We seem to be having a lot of people willing to further restrict our constitutional rights and take our rights. It is a push-back to the people who don’t believe in our constitutional rights. There have to be consequences to removing our constitutional rights.”
Believe it or not, the second amendment is not the only amendment in the constitution. In fact it is preceded by the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. How many ways does Mr Leara plan on violating the first Amendment? Of course he is making it a felony for someone to even talk, violating their freedom of speech. But, freedom of speech, freedom of press, is often construed one way or another, and is not absolute. You can’t yell “FIRE!!” in a crowded movie theater. You cannot print libelous statements. Yet, it sure looks like a slam dunk that he would violate freedom of the press and free speech.
But what he is violating most egregiously is the Petition Clause “"Congress shall make no law… abridging … the right of the people… to petition the government for a redress of grievances." Introducing legislation is the most basic form of petitioning the government for redress. Back in the early 1800’s, Congress attempted (successfully for a while) to impose a gag order on introducing any legislation that would outlaw slavery. John Quincy Adams flaunted every procedural rule possible to oppose this. After 7 years, he finally got the gag rules voted down, never to be returned. Although seemingly completely unconstitutional, the gag rules survived until 1844.
Now, Mt Leara wants to pass a law that completely and obviously violates multiple parts of the First Amendment. And amazingly, he claims he is doing this to protect constitutional rights. It amazes me every day the unbelievable cognitive dissonance that some politicians have. Pass a law that clearly violates the constitution to supposedly stop people from thinking about a law that might possibly violate the constitution? The rest of the constitution is a roadmap to how laws are challenged, and how the constitutionality of a law is decided. But Mr Leara wants to cut out the middle man and just restrict their right to even offer a gun bill.
Why do most Americans feel it is great to be an American? Is it their right to Bear Arms? Prohibits the forced quartering of soldiers during peacetime? No, its about our freedoms. Freedom to say and feel as we choose. Freedom of religion. A free press. And what makes this possible? The ability to redress our grievances via the first amendment. Our laws are not fiats from a sovereign. They are laws voted upon by our elected representatives. These representatives main duty is to redress our grievances. That is the foundation of our Republic. Its amazing these people get voted back into office after ridiculous stunts like this, which of course slows down government business and costs taxpayers money all in the name of political theater.
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