By John Klar
In 2004, Vermont implemented a medical marijuana registry, promising patient confidentialityon its state website. Then, in 2018, Vermont legalized recreational marijuanause and imposed a universal background checkon gun-purchasers.
Here’s the rub: the federal government was not consulted, and the ATF maintainsthat anyone using marijuana will be denied clearance to purchase any gun. This was already the case prior to Vermont’s recreational cannabis legalization — those who were on the state’s marijuana registry were not allowed to buy gunsfrom federally licensed dealers, as the state of Vermont provided the list of registrantssurreptitiously to the federal government. Yet those on the cannabis registry could still purchase guns from neighbors — that is, until the vaulted “universal background check” closed that “loophole” for sick people to defend themselves. All without public discussion, or even awareness.
This is how government steals liberties. The Second Amendmentwas specifically crafted to ensure that government would never intrude itself between the right to defend one’s home and country and the Creator of the universe, who alone can bestow or withdraw “inalienable rights.” There was no discussion in the Vermont Legislature of the elimination of this right for pain-suffering Vermonters whose government promised them confidentiality. There will be no discussion when that unilateral power is employed to eliminatethose with depression, PTSD, or various otherattributes from the list of those eligible (that is, who “hold the right” granted by government) to purchase a weapon. This is the creeping hand of government tyranny, happening already in many states. (Sadly, such policies will discourage veteransand othersfrom seeking treatment.)
Our First Amendment is being similarly suffocated by government — Americans are attacked for displaying Confederate flags, and the government tacitly accedes. We are admonished that attacking citizens for a flag(or MAGA hat) is OK because the First Amendment restricts government, but not private citizens. That is true, but if government does not shield the protected rights of private citizens, has it not become complicit in the elimination of those freedoms? Prohibiting racism in private businesses in the Civil Rights movement was not limited to government action — the Commerce Clause was creatively employed to expand federal power, and for good reason.
If the government stands aside while people are assaulted for MAGA hats, it is failing to enforce laws against assault. If it ignores mobs of radical protesters who block streets or parades, it is failing to keep public order. This is nonfeasance versus malfeasance. And if today the government condones assaults for MAGA hats and Confederate flags (ignoring stare decisis and existing free speech laws that protect even swastikas), then tomorrow, it may step aside for the elimination of other personal symbols, including the American flag itself (already disappearing).
Some people see the American flag as a symbol of liberty, others as one of imperialism or oppression. One group proudly mounts the flag in places of honor; the other burns that same flag in angry public protests. This is free speech.
The left wishes to create an imbalanced constitutionalism. Many seek to expand the power of government in the civil rights arena, including rewriting textbooksand importing black peopleinto white areas in the name of diversity, like bussing for adults. But when the federal government enacted laws that compelled a restaurateur to serve a hamburger to a black customer, it did not compel that server to eliminate his racist thoughts. Naturally, that is impossible.
Vermont is seeking to do exactly that: employ government as vehicle to indoctrinate thought. The problem with this becomes evident when government seeks to indoctrinate people who are not racist into believing they are racist so that they can be liberated from the racism they lacked. This is patently racist, divisive, and unconstitutional.
Liberals have been chiseling away at our rights for many decades. They have eroded the gun rights of sickly Vermonters, and no one even knows it. They have eliminated the Confederate flag that Lynyrd Skynyrd usedas a symbol of rebellion. That flag is permitted only one meaning now: slaveholder. Soon, the American flag may be permitted only one meaning — the one they impose, the one that calls for its universal removal. Soon, MAGA hats will be joined by other symbols deemed offensive to the P.C. McCarthyites. Like the erosion of gun rights through background checks, those with the levers of stifling power will simply turn a blind eye as Antifa, BLM, and yet unseen antagonists expand their one-sided list of prohibitions. None of this will be government action, and so (the fatuous argument goes) there is no infringement of anyone’s constitutional rights.
Unchecked, this ends badly. Either we reclaim our constitutional heritage, or we collapse in barbaric anarchy that will make us wish we were instead at the fall of Rome. The prescription is not some new ideology, utopian fantasy, or deconstruction of “the system.” The prescription is to defend the Constitution against the insidious creep of tyranny.
John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield. Originally published at American Thinker.