Hamlet: Is not parchment made of sheep-skins?
Horatio: Ay, my lord, and of calf-skins, too.
Hamlet: They are sheep and calves which seek out assurance in that…
Hamlet, Act V, Sc. 1
Virginia today is under a Constitutional crisis. The Party of Big Government has absolute power here and is wielding it arbitrarily under authority of the tyranny of the majority. It is arbitrary power because it is unconstitutional. Notwithstanding any pettifogging legalese, “shall not be infringed” is as plain as English can be spoken. Recognizing that tyranny may come from a majority as well as from a monarch, the Founders constituted as the best guarantee against despotism a federal form of government that diffused power. Further recognizing that power corrupts, and that ambitious men will always find a way to gain power over constitutional restraints, the Founders implemented a Bill of Rights, which are the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution. These enumerated rights are not rights granted by the government. They are inalienable, God-given rights that no just government may infringe, violate, or destroy. They may only be voluntarily relinquished by the people themselves. Ambitious men seeking dominion over their fellow citizens, therefore, may not force this on them. They must use persuasion. Powers of enforcement may come later. History has shown us the effectiveness of persuasion by the ministries of propaganda in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Today, modern information technology gives power-seekers advantages undreamed of by Stalin and Hitler.
The First Amendment protecting the right of free speech, and the Second Amendment guaranteeing the right to keep and bear arms have both been infringed with the acquiescence of the citizens by persuading them that these infringements will make them safer. One cannot yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre, and one may not walk the streets with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Most have agreed that these are reasonable infringements, but the danger to our civil rights and liberties lies in the fact that “reasonable” and “common-sense” are arbitrary terms that can be manipulated by power-seekers in government.
The more the inalienable rights of citizens are restricted, the more power accrues to government. Now we have arbitrary laws against “hate speech”, and arbitrary “common-sense” gun control laws. “Big Brother” is watching. Once implemented, there is no end to more. For one example, the Southern Poverty Law Center – a hate-based scam – may provide government with specious rationale for surveillance with its arbitrary “hate map,” potentially intimidating law-abiding citizens into silence; for another, gun registration schemes and “red flag” laws are the first steps towards unwarranted government search and seizure.
Government cannot implement these laws without the consent of the governed, but “the consent of the governed” is not universal. It is only the consent of a simple majority who have been persuaded to have their inalienable rights diminished or destroyed. But this destroys the inalienable rights of the minority who have not been so persuaded. There, then, is the tyranny of the majority: a naïve majority who are selling our inalienable rights down the river to the Party of Big Government in exchange for a specious promise of “security” - or a calculating majority in league with the Party of Big Government!
As Alexis de Tocqueville observed, political parties may be looked upon as lesser nations within a greater one, and in this country they are increasingly alien to each other. If one nation can act tyrannically towards another, can it be denied that a political party can act tyrannically towards another? If a man possessing arbitrary power may abuse it by wronging an adversary, may not a collective of men possessing arbitrary power do the same? Men do not change their character by uniting with one another. Asserting that the majority can do no injustice, and therefore its Rule of Law must be submitted to without question, is the language of a slave. In the reign of Henry VIII, Parliament decreed that one Richard Rose “be boiled alive without benefit of clergy” under the Rule of Law.
These arbitrary, unconstitutional “common-sense” gun laws imposed upon Virginia infringe not only on our guaranteed rights under the Second Amendment, but, with the frighteningly dangerous “red flag” laws, they infringe on due process, assuming a citizen is guilty until he proves himself innocent. As a result, Second Amendment sanctuaries have arisen like a flood tide across Virginia. They do not deny the right of the majority to command justly. They deny the right of the majority to command arbitrarily.
A native of Lynchburg, Virginia, the author graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1967 with a degree in Civil Engineering and a Regular Commission in the US Army. His service included qualification as an Airborne Ranger, and command of an Engineer company in Vietnam, where he received the Bronze Star. After his return, he resigned his Commission and ended by making a career as a tugboat captain. During this time he was able to earn a Master of Liberal Arts from the University of Richmond, with an international focus on war and cultural revolution. He is a member of the Jamestowne Society, the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Society of Independent Southern Historians. He currently lives in Richmond, where he writes, studies history, literature and cultural revolution, and occasionally commutes to Norfolk to serve as a tugboat pilot