When principles of liberty are treated as a vapor of smoke that we blow around but can’t define, defend or embrace, what’s the point? The Founding Documents, when properly understood, provide every answer. How is this possible? The Constitution of the United States rests on a foundation of Natural Rights as described in the Declaration of Independence. Natural Rights are firmly anchored in the bedrock of God’s word. In my opinion, you cannot understand one without understanding all three.
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “if a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was & never will be. The functionaries of every government have propensities to command at will the liberty & property of their constituents. There is no safe deposit for these but with the people themselves; nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”
All evidence indicates that the staff, reporters, and columnists at the Idaho State Journal; every law enforcement agency in Bannock County; and the readers of the Idaho State Journal are unfamiliar with this quote. Let us examine a few recent stories from the Journal.
Debby Bryce, a reporter for the Journal, covered the story of an 18 year old man who “was spotted behind Pocatello High School armed with a handgun and a baseball bat“. Per Bryce, this young man has a long criminal history. In all likelihood, it is a very good thing that he was stopped and arrested. It appears to be completely appropriate that this young man was disarmed.
All seemed good and right until I scanned the list of charges. These charges include, “possessing a weapon on school property”, and this is where things get a bit sticky. The Journal article reported that this young man was “walking down South Garfield Avenue behind the school“. Wait a minute. Does the school own Garfield Avenue? Obviously not. If I am not mistaken, the Pocatello Police had to turn to a Federal Gun Law which effectively extends school property 1,000 feet beyond any property line.
The Tenth Amendment is clear. If the Constitution does not delegate a specific power to the Federal Government, then that power remains with the states or the people. A careful examination of the Constitution clearly shows that no power to create gun laws is delegated. Per Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton and more, the states and the people have a constitutional duty to not enforce laws that spring from undelegated powers.
The police who brought this federal gun charge violated their oath to the Constitution. Chief Scott Marchand, the City Council, and Mayor Brian Blad are all in violation of their oaths to the Constitution.
Another story of great interest is the sad tale of an injury to Canyon Mansfield and the death of his dog, Casey. At the hands of the Federal Government and with the aid of a M-44 Cyanide Bomb, the public has been placed at great risk and Canyon has suffered a tremendous loss. In the Idaho State Journal, this story has been covered multiple times. Journal reporters Shelby Harris, David Ashby, and an unnamed staff writer have weighed in. Columnists Andrea Santarsiere and Ralph Maughan took a swing at this government outrage. An outside source, Western Watersheds Project, wrote a piece that was published by the Journal. Gary Scholer and Tom Williams wrote letters to the editor. Finally, I counted 99 Idaho State Journal Readers who commented on the Journal web site. All the reporters, columnists and commenters magnified the ignorance of which Jefferson warned. The most shameful was the story that covered Sheriff Lorin Nielsen’s demand to remove M-44 devises from Bannock County. Nielsen said:
You can’t justify using something that is poisonous to kill a coyote, and I don’t think there’s a place in Bannock County where it can be guaranteed that one of these bombs will never hurt somebody, it all just stinks.
Everyone recognized that the use of these Cyanide Bombs was an unnecessary threat to the public. Not one writer, commenter or law enforcement officer recognized that they are the ones who are responsible for the damage to the Mansfield family. I am not trying to be disrespectful, but I doubt the Mansfield parents, and even you, understand your responsibility in this outrage.
How are we responsible, you might ask. Remember my opening quote in which Jefferson spoke of government powers and said, “There is no safe deposit for these but with the people themselves; nor can they be safe with them without information. where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.” All government power is vested in the people and we are to jealously guard those powers. However, that safety requires an informed people. That safety requires a free press, but it cannot be free if those who write the words, are uninformed. That safety requires that the people have the ability to read and understand when the press gets it wrong.
The Constitution delegates no power for the federal government to take money from our pockets to kill Coyotes. Nor to use our money to protect the Cattle industry in an effort to pick winners and losers. Nor to use our money to exercise any level of management over state lands. If the people were aware of the power vested in them and the associated responsibility, they would have demanded that Sheriff Nielsen drive illegal federal agencies from the county years ago. If Sheriff Nielsen had any level of constitutional understanding, he would have realized that his first duty is to protect the people by securing the guarantees of the Constitution. If we or Nielsen had understood our responsibility, Casey would still be anxiously waiting for Canyon to come home from school.
I have read two articles about a shooting that occurred on Olympus Drive near Highland High School. Both were written by an unnamed staff writer. According to these articles, members of the State Police stopped and attempted to arrest Rocco Coacon Jr. on two felony probation warrants. At the time, Coacon was in a car with an unidentified female passenger. According to both articles, the police opened fire when Coacon attempted to drive away. Driving away may be a crime, but there is no suggestion that the lives of officers or other people were put in danger.
Apparently, Coacon is a criminal at some level. Apparently, there are valid reasons to take him into custody. Do these valid reasons justify the use of deadly force if there is no immediate threat to others? According to the Declaration of Independence, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed“. Therefore, we can easily evaluate the justness of any government action by asking if the people have a right to do the same? So, does one person have a right to arrest another for criminal activity? The answer is yes and, therefore, we can and have delegated that same power to government, in this case, the State Police. If a person is attempting to make a legal arrest on another, and if the person being arrested drives away without causing an immediate and significant threat, does the arresting person have the right to open fire? The obvious answer is absolutely no. If the people do not and never did have this right, then how could we have delegated it to government? If police use deadly force in a way not properly delegated by the people, who is the criminal, those in front of the gun, those behind the gun, or both?
The unforgivable tragedy of this story is that the female passenger, a girl just 21 years of age, was not wanted in connection with the activities of the driver. Even so, she was shot three times and is now listed in critical condition as she fights for her life.
If these three stories are represented accurately by the Journal, there are only two possibilities. Either these public servants, members of the media and the people chose intentional ignorance, or they are simply corrupt. Either way, the actions of these civil servants are criminal and the actions of the media and the people are grossly irresponsible.
The Founding Documents, when properly understood, provide every answer. How is this possible? The Constitution of the United States rests on a foundation of Natural Rights as described in the Declaration of Independence. Natural Rights are firmly anchored in the bedrock of God’s word. In my opinion, you cannot understand one without understanding all three.
When principles of liberty are treated as a vapor of smoke that we blow around but can’t define, defend or embrace, what’s the point?
Please contact me to schedule a free Constitution Workshop where we will reason together for the good and freedom of us all.