There is no doubt about it. Totin’ your AR15 into a Starbucks is a little bit weird. But the whole story really begs weird from beginning to end. In the first place, I figure it’s a little bit weird to pay $5 for a cup of fru fru coffee. But hay, maybe a double shot of Bailey’s in a Cafe Ole after Thanksgiving dinner – but that’s about it for me.
And besides, who ever heard of sauntering into the old west saloon with a long gun in the first place? Surely you watch TV. In all the westerns I’ve seen, when the cowboy crashes through the swinging saloon doors with a rifle, he’s either looking for the bad guy so he can shoot him, or he is the bad guy and he’s gonna shoot somebody. Either way, he isn’t looking for trouble, he is trouble.
The fact is, however, all the other fellas in the saloon are also packing heat. They’ve got their revolvers in holsters, or maybe even tucked inside their jacket – if the patron is more gentlemanly. When whoever slams through the swinging saloon doors, all the other cowboys at the bar and sitting at the tables turn around to see who it is – with their pistols in their hands. Ronald Reagan would be proud.
They say Texas is an “open carry” state. I ain’t from thereabouts, and I don’t really feel like wasting the bandwidth to look it up, so I don’t know if that means they can carry their long guns, and not their pistols, or if they can carry either one or both in plain public view. However, I do know this. The US Constitution guarantees the right to keep and bear arms. It seems to me that “open carry” and “bear arms” are synonymous terms.
The fact is, no state has the right to abridge the Constitution in the first place. The fact is “open carry” is the constitutional law of the land in every state and every city, whether New York likes it or not. But of course, we all know local authorities rule anyway they feel, and cases that should go to the Supreme Court never have. And these days the Supreme Court, lead by Republican John Roberts, is just as likely to violate the US Constitution as they are to uphold it. It’s a dangerous trend. If so many citizens are opposed to the right to keep and bear arms, there is a process for changing the Constitution. Although, that would invoke the concept of “inalienable rights.”
The State of Alabama is pretty much the same way. They recently decided that employees of a company at least have the right to carry their firearms to work, as long as they stay securely locked in their vehicle. Seems like another constitutionally redundant no-brainer to me. But what if you’re not part of the vehicle owner caste. You have no constitutional rights because you ride the bus? For my money, the constitutional right to bear arms means in any public place, and that means any public place that is open to public business. Neither Starbucks or the County Courthouse, in my constitutional opinion, have the legal right to deny patrons openly carrying a firearm into their publicly open establishments. If you expect to do business with the public, then public constitutional rules apply.
And for the record, I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, the State of Alabama needs to go ahead on and ratify the US Constitution and join the Union. I hate it that folks call it “Alabama the Backwards,” but it’s true. Even I was surprised when Alabama voters returned fascist religious zealot Roy Moore back to the Alabama Supreme court – as Chief Justice no less. And to underscore the point, the Huntsville school system is now engaged in a battle over zoning with the Department of Justice. In that battle, both fhe current and past school Superintendents are actually advocating “separate but equal” facilities to solve segregation and rezoning problems.
The Tea Party zealots believe, incorrectly, that they have the right to rule the state according to old testament legalism. To suggest the Alabama legislature is often in-line with Islamic law and Al Qaeda, would be putting it nicely. They don’t understand the importance of separation of Church and State, and that it is actually what protects their religious freedoms to begin with.
I say they don’t understand, but you always have to remember that politics is ruled by money. The business owners are always in favor of constitutional rights – for their business caste. If you don’t happen to belong to their aristocratic class, they don’t really care about your constitutional or religious rights. But if it so happens that they can control the legislative sail by letting the common naives believe it’s because of their religious values – then more power and money to the business class!
Now, that finally brings this commentary full circle. The trouble with the NRA, even though they are a membership organization, is that they have become a business, and are largely controlled by big business. They don’t actually approach their business based on the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. They approach the business from what’s most popular, the conservative version of “politically correct,” and how much profit is involved for big corporate sponsors. It may seem that the ultimate goals are synonymous, but in this case they may not actually be, because the foundation of their thinking is different.
If your real concern is the money, then you start to trim off the fringes that seem to be too much trouble or too much expense. Slowly but surely, that approach erodes the underlying constitutional values. The Texas weirdos are the perfect example, but not the first, of how the NRA isn’t always in touch with the underlying concepts of the constitutional right to keep and bear arms (TOCC.tv keyword: NRA.) The weirdos in Texas may be a bit weird, but they sure know how to make their point. The bottom line is, a gentleman probably won’t carry an AR15 into a coffee shop, but he ought to have the right to holster his pistol if he wants to.
© 2014 – Jim Casey
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