in my view

A few ideas to resolve the gun debate, fiscal woes

Diana Hopson /

I admit I am befuddled and don’t understand how people can excoriate the president for not upholding the Second Amendment and further for not abandoning the First Amendment of the Constitution. The president has taken an oath to protect and support the Constitution, period. You can’t have it both ways.

I’m going to try to address both of those issues.

I don’t claim to be a financial wizard, but here are my suggestions to help balance the budget. I think my ideas will give those clamoring for spending cuts the dollar amount that the Republicans are seeking and at the same time provide the income that the government needs in order to remain viable, pay our bills and carry out the duties of government.

Solving either issue is not going to be easy, because it will require each and every member of Congress to acquire a spine — something that is woefully lacking in our present elected members of Congress. It will also require the religious right and gun-rights people to swallow some bitter pills.

First, the spending cuts. Congress must immediately and without fanfare cut all funding to any and all faith-based organizations, including all religious-affiliated schools, whether set up under George W. Bush or at any other time.

This could satisfy the spending cuts that the Republicans want and, at the same time, it restores the constitutional requirement of separation of church and state as set forth in the First Amendment.

Then, beginning immediately and retroactive to Jan. 1, 2012, all places of worship, regardless of denomination, that partook in any way whatsoever with regard to the national elections of 2012, shall immediately lose their tax-free privileges and must be assessed taxes just like any other business.

Places of worship have the privilege of not paying taxes only so long as they avoid participating in our election process. Those institutions that inserted themselves into the process, either by endorsing a particular candidate or instructing their members to vote in such and such a way, or by “talking points” with regard to particular candidates or issues, have violated their tax-free privilege and now must lose that privilege.

The above spending cuts, along with the additional income generated, should be enough to take care of the “fiscal cliff,” and the necessity to raise taxes on the general population is avoided.

Now, about guns. The Constitution is written in general terms. Edmund Randolph, preparing the first draft in August 1787, stated “certain powerful phrases change meaning over time, as new problems arise and people devise new responses to old problems. Therefore, the Courts must apply the Constitution’s provisions to changing times and circumstances.”

It is obvious the Articles of Confederation were given heavy weight while drafting the Constitution. The Second Amendment refers to a “well- regulated militia” and the “right of the people to keep and bear arms.” But going to the Articles of Confederation, you find they were actually referring to Article VI, paragraph 5, which says “...every State shall keep a well-regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed and accoutered, and shall provide and constantly have ready for use, in IN PUBLIC STORES ... a proper quantity of arms, ammunition, etc. ...”

It seems the general terms of the Second Amendment have been interpreted overly broadly. The actual meaning of “the right of the people to bear arms” probably means the state (the word “state” being synonymous with the word “people”), because that’s what it says, and the arms should be kept “in public stores.” Nowhere in the Constitution or the Articles of Confederation does it state that arms are to be kept in private homes.

Conclusion: The “right to bear arms” was intended as a general term meaning the state, not the individual.

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