“Nor be deprived of…”

Everybody knows that the Fifth Amendment allows one not to answer questions where then answer is self-incriminating.  The specific wording is “nor be compelled to be a witness against oneself” which is actually a much broader restriction than just “self-incrimination”.  But there’s another part to the Fifth:

“Nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

That should not be a difficult concept.  Before you can take someone’s liberty or property, let alone their life, one has to apply due process of law.  Just passing a law saying “we can take it” does not constitute due process.

This enumerated right has already been seriously crippled by things like the “no fly list” and Civil Asset Forfeiture.

Now, President Trump is apparently proposing to take another chunk out of it in the wake of the recent Florida shooting.  The argument is specious.  There was no overwhelming hurry in the case of the Florida shooter.  Given the repeated warnings that were raised before the shooter (I refuse to name him) eventually went on his rampage, there was all the time in the world for due process.  They just didn’t apply it.

There already exist laws–California’s “5150” and Florida’s “Baker Act” which allow up to a 72 hour hold on a person believed to be a threat to self or others.  That’s entirely appropriate–a brief suspension of a person’s liberty (or denial of access to property) while a matter is adjudicated.  Same principle by which a person may be arrested and held until a hearing determines whether they will continue to be held, or be released on bail, or released on their own recognizance.  Due process.

But just declaring “we’ll take their guns and deal with the due process later” is just wrong.  If you think they’re a threat then use  the existing law.  Put them in the 72 hour hold.  Make your case in an appropriate hearing, with due process, that they need to be held longer.  While they’re being held, they’re separated from any guns they own so there’s no need to seize them.  If you can make the case, with due process, then you can seize the guns.  All nicely Constitutional.

But after the precedent of “Civil Asset Forfeiture” it’s pretty clear the “take the guns and deal with due process later” is “take the guns, fail to make the case for due process, but the person never sees their guns again anyway.”

Due process is one of the cornerstones of Rule of Law.  Every assault on it strains government legitimacy and pushes us toward a terrible precipice from which there would be no returning.

Thus, we must respect due process even when it produces results we don’t like, for the alternative, the undermining of Rule of Law, leads to a far more terrible end.


On this date: The Cooper Union Speech

Then candidate for President, on February 27, 1860 gave a speech at the Cooper Institute in Manhattan.  Many historians consider this speech instrumental in his winning not only the nomination as the Republican candidate for the Presidency, but the Presidency itself.

Here it is:

Mr. President and fellow citizens of New York: –

The facts with which I shall deal this evening are mainly old and familiar; nor is there anything new in the general use I shall make of them. If there shall be any novelty, it will be in the mode of presenting the facts, and the inferences and observations following that presentation.

In his speech last autumn, at Columbus, Ohio, as reported in “The New-York Times,” Senator Douglas said:

“Our fathers, when they framed the Government under which we live, understood this question just as well, and even better, than we do now.”

I fully indorse this, and I adopt it as a text for this discourse. I so adopt it because it furnishes a precise and an agreed starting point for a discussion between Republicans and that wing of the Democracy headed by Senator Douglas. It simply leaves the inquiry: “What was the understanding those fathers had of the question mentioned?”

What is the frame of government under which we live?

The answer must be: “The Constitution of the United States.” That Constitution consists of the original, framed in 1787, (and under which the present government first went into operation,) and twelve subsequently framed amendments, the first ten of which were framed in 1789.

Who were our fathers that framed the Constitution? I suppose the “thirty-nine” who signed the original instrument may be fairly called our fathers who framed that part of the present Government. It is almost exactly true to say they framed it, and it is altogether true to say they fairly represented the opinion and sentiment of the whole nation at that time. Their names, being familiar to nearly all, and accessible to quite all, need not now be repeated.

I take these “thirty-nine,” for the present, as being “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live.”

What is the question which, according to the text, those fathers understood “just as well, and even better than we do now?”

It is this: Does the proper division of local from federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, forbid our Federal Government to control as to slavery in our Federal Territories?

Upon this, Senator Douglas holds the affirmative, and Republicans the negative. This affirmation and denial form an issue; and this issue – this question – is precisely what the text declares our fathers understood “better than we.”

Let us now inquire whether the “thirty-nine,” or any of them, ever acted upon this question; and if they did, how they acted upon it – how they expressed that better understanding?

In 1784, three years before the Constitution – the United States then owning the Northwestern Territory, and no other, the Congress of the Confederation had before them the question of prohibiting slavery in that Territory; and four of the “thirty-nine” who afterward framed the Constitution, were in that Congress, and voted on that question. Of these, Roger Sherman, Thomas Mifflin, and Hugh Williamson voted for the prohibition, thus showing that, in their understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything else, properly forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in federal territory. The other of the four – James M’Henry – voted against the prohibition, showing that, for some cause, he thought it improper to vote for it.

In 1787, still before the Constitution, but while the Convention was in session framing it, and while the Northwestern Territory still was the only territory owned by the United States, the same question of prohibiting slavery in the territory again came before the Congress of the Confederation; and two more of the “thirty-nine” who afterward signed the Constitution, were in that Congress, and voted on the question. They were William Blount and William Few; and they both voted for the prohibition – thus showing that, in their understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything else, properly forbids the Federal Government to control as to slavery in Federal territory. This time the prohibition became a law, being part of what is now well known as the Ordinance of ’87.

The question of federal control of slavery in the territories, seems not to have been directly before the Convention which framed the original Constitution; and hence it is not recorded that the “thirty-nine,” or any of them, while engaged on that instrument, expressed any opinion on that precise question.

In 1789, by the first Congress which sat under the Constitution, an act was passed to enforce the Ordinance of ’87, including the prohibition of slavery in the Northwestern Territory. The bill for this act was reported by one of the “thirty-nine,” Thomas Fitzsimmons, then a member of the House of Representatives from Pennsylvania. It went through all its stages without a word of opposition, and finally passed both branches without yeas and nays, which is equivalent to a unanimous passage. In this Congress there were sixteen of the thirty-nine fathers who framed the original Constitution. They were John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman, Wm. S. Johnson, Roger Sherman, Robert Morris, Thos. Fitzsimmons, William Few, Abraham Baldwin, Rufus King, William Paterson, George Clymer, Richard Bassett, George Read, Pierce Butler, Daniel Carroll, James Madison.

This shows that, in their understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything in the Constitution, properly forbade Congress to prohibit slavery in the federal territory; else both their fidelity to correct principle, and their oath to support the Constitution, would have constrained them to oppose the prohibition.

Again, George Washington, another of the “thirty-nine,” was then President of the United States, and, as such approved and signed the bill; thus completing its validity as a law, and thus showing that, in his understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything in the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government, to control as to slavery in federal territory.

No great while after the adoption of the original Constitution, North Carolina ceded to the Federal Government the country now constituting the State of Tennessee; and a few years later Georgia ceded that which now constitutes the States of Mississippi and Alabama. In both deeds of cession it was made a condition by the ceding States that the Federal Government should not prohibit slavery in the ceded territory. Besides this, slavery was then actually in the ceded country. Under these circumstances, Congress, on taking charge of these countries, did not absolutely prohibit slavery within them. But they did interfere with it – take control of it – even there, to a certain extent. In 1798, Congress organized the Territory of Mississippi. In the act of organization, they prohibited the bringing of slaves into the Territory, from any place without the United States, by fine, and giving freedom to slaves so bought. This act passed both branches of Congress without yeas and nays. In that Congress were three of the “thirty-nine” who framed the original Constitution. They were John Langdon, George Read and Abraham Baldwin. They all, probably, voted for it. Certainly they would have placed their opposition to it upon record, if, in their understanding, any line dividing local from federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, properly forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in federal territory.

In 1803, the Federal Government purchased the Louisiana country. Our former territorial acquisitions came from certain of our own States; but this Louisiana country was acquired from a foreign nation. In 1804, Congress gave a territorial organization to that part of it which now constitutes the State of Louisiana. New Orleans, lying within that part, was an old and comparatively large city. There were other considerable towns and settlements, and slavery was extensively and thoroughly intermingled with the people. Congress did not, in the Territorial Act, prohibit slavery; but they did interfere with it – take control of it – in a more marked and extensive way than they did in the case of Mississippi. The substance of the provision therein made, in relation to slaves, was:

First. That no slave should be imported into the territory from foreign parts.

Second. That no slave should be carried into it who had been imported into the United States since the first day of May, 1798.

Third. That no slave should be carried into it, except by the owner, and for his own use as a settler; the penalty in all the cases being a fine upon the violator of the law, and freedom to the slave.

This act also was passed without yeas and nays. In the Congress which passed it, there were two of the “thirty-nine.” They were Abraham Baldwin and Jonathan Dayton. As stated in the case of Mississippi, it is probable they both voted for it. They would not have allowed it to pass without recording their opposition to it, if, in their understanding, it violated either the line properly dividing local from federal authority, or any provision of the Constitution.

In 1819-20, came and passed the Missouri question. Many votes were taken, by yeas and nays, in both branches of Congress, upon the various phases of the general question. Two of the “thirty-nine” – Rufus King and Charles Pinckney – were members of that Congress. Mr. King steadily voted for slavery prohibition and against all compromises, while Mr. Pinckney as steadily voted against slavery prohibition and against all compromises. By this, Mr. King showed that, in his understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything in the Constitution, was violated by Congress prohibiting slavery in federal territory; while Mr. Pinckney, by his votes, showed that, in his understanding, there was some sufficient reason for opposing such prohibition in that case.

The cases I have mentioned are the only acts of the “thirty-nine,” or of any of them, upon the direct issue, which I have been able to discover.

To enumerate the persons who thus acted, as being four in 1784, two in 1787, seventeen in 1789, three in 1798, two in 1804, and two in 1819-20 – there would be thirty of them. But this would be counting John Langdon, Roger Sherman, William Few, Rufus King, and George Read each twice, and Abraham Baldwin, three times. The true number of those of the “thirty-nine” whom I have shown to have acted upon the question, which, by the text, they understood better than we, is twenty-three, leaving sixteen not shown to have acted upon it in any way.

Here, then, we have twenty-three out of our thirty-nine fathers “who framed the government under which we live,” who have, upon their official responsibility and their corporal oaths, acted upon the very question which the text affirms they “understood just as well, and even better than we do now;” and twenty-one of them – a clear majority of the whole “thirty-nine” – so acting upon it as to make them guilty of gross political impropriety and willful perjury, if, in their understanding, any proper division between local and federal authority, or anything in the Constitution they had made themselves, and sworn to support, forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the federal territories. Thus the twenty-one acted; and, as actions speak louder than words, so actions, under such responsibility, speak still louder.

Two of the twenty-three voted against Congressional prohibition of slavery in the federal territories, in the instances in which they acted upon the question. But for what reasons they so voted is not known. They may have done so because they thought a proper division of local from federal authority, or some provision or principle of the Constitution, stood in the way; or they may, without any such question, have voted against the prohibition, on what appeared to them to be sufficient grounds of expediency. No one who has sworn to support the Constitution can conscientiously vote for what he understands to be an unconstitutional measure, however expedient he may think it; but one may and ought to vote against a measure which he deems constitutional, if, at the same time, he deems it inexpedient. It, therefore, would be unsafe to set down even the two who voted against the prohibition, as having done so because, in their understanding, any proper division of local from federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in federal territory.

The remaining sixteen of the “thirty-nine,” so far as I have discovered, have left no record of their understanding upon the direct question of federal control of slavery in the federal territories. But there is much reason to believe that their understanding upon that question would not have appeared different from that of their twenty-three compeers, had it been manifested at all.

For the purpose of adhering rigidly to the text, I have purposely omitted whatever understanding may have been manifested by any person, however distinguished, other than the thirty-nine fathers who framed the original Constitution; and, for the same reason, I have also omitted whatever understanding may have been manifested by any of the “thirty-nine” even, on any other phase of the general question of slavery. If we should look into their acts and declarations on those other phases, as the foreign slave trade, and the morality and policy of slavery generally, it would appear to us that on the direct question of federal control of slavery in federal territories, the sixteen, if they had acted at all, would probably have acted just as the twenty-three did. Among that sixteen were several of the most noted anti-slavery men of those times – as Dr. Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and Gouverneur Morris – while there was not one now known to have been otherwise, unless it may be John Rutledge, of South Carolina.

The sum of the whole is, that of our thirty-nine fathers who framed the original Constitution, twenty-one – a clear majority of the whole – certainly understood that no proper division of local from federal authority, nor any part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control slavery in the federal territories; while all the rest probably had the same understanding. Such, unquestionably, was the understanding of our fathers who framed the original Constitution; and the text affirms that they understood the question “better than we.”

But, so far, I have been considering the understanding of the question manifested by the framers of the original Constitution. In and by the original instrument, a mode was provided for amending it; and, as I have already stated, the present frame of “the Government under which we live” consists of that original, and twelve amendatory articles framed and adopted since. Those who now insist that federal control of slavery in federal territories violates the Constitution, point us to the provisions which they suppose it thus violates; and, as I understand, that all fix upon provisions in these amendatory articles, and not in the original instrument. The Supreme Court, in the Dred Scott case, plant themselves upon the fifth amendment, which provides that no person shall be deprived of “life, liberty or property without due process of law;” while Senator Douglas and his peculiar adherents plant themselves upon the tenth amendment, providing that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution” “are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Now, it so happens that these amendments were framed by the first Congress which sat under the Constitution – the identical Congress which passed the act already mentioned, enforcing the prohibition of slavery in the Northwestern Territory. Not only was it the same Congress, but they were the identical, same individual men who, at the same session, and at the same time within the session, had under consideration, and in progress toward maturity, these Constitutional amendments, and this act prohibiting slavery in all the territory the nation then owned. The Constitutional amendments were introduced before, and passed after the act enforcing the Ordinance of ’87; so that, during the whole pendency of the act to enforce the Ordinance, the Constitutional amendments were also pending.

The seventy-six members of that Congress, including sixteen of the framers of the original Constitution, as before stated, were pre- eminently our fathers who framed that part of “the Government under which we live,” which is now claimed as forbidding the Federal Government to control slavery in the federal territories.

Is it not a little presumptuous in any one at this day to affirm that the two things which that Congress deliberately framed, and carried to maturity at the same time, are absolutely inconsistent with each other? And does not such affirmation become impudently absurd when coupled with the other affirmation from the same mouth, that those who did the two things, alleged to be inconsistent, understood whether they really were inconsistent better than we – better than he who affirms that they are inconsistent?

It is surely safe to assume that the thirty-nine framers of the original Constitution, and the seventy-six members of the Congress which framed the amendments thereto, taken together, do certainly include those who may be fairly called “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live.” And so assuming, I defy any man to show that any one of them ever, in his whole life, declared that, in his understanding, any proper division of local from federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the federal territories. I go a step further. I defy any one to show that any living man in the whole world ever did, prior to the beginning of the present century, (and I might almost say prior to the beginning of the last half of the present century,) declare that, in his understanding, any proper division of local from federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the federal territories. To those who now so declare, I give, not only “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live,” but with them all other living men within the century in which it was framed, among whom to search, and they shall not be able to find the evidence of a single man agreeing with them.

Now, and here, let me guard a little against being misunderstood. I do not mean to say we are bound to follow implicitly in whatever our fathers did. To do so, would be to discard all the lights of current experience – to reject all progress – all improvement. What I do say is, that if we would supplant the opinions and policy of our fathers in any case, we should do so upon evidence so conclusive, and argument so clear, that even their great authority, fairly considered and weighed, cannot stand; and most surely not in a case whereof we ourselves declare they understood the question better than we.

If any man at this day sincerely believes that a proper division of local from federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbids the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the federal territories, he is right to say so, and to enforce his position by all truthful evidence and fair argument which he can. But he has no right to mislead others, who have less access to history, and less leisure to study it, into the false belief that “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live” were of the same opinion – thus substituting falsehood and deception for truthful evidence and fair argument. If any man at this day sincerely believes “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live,” used and applied principles, in other cases, which ought to have led them to understand that a proper division of local from federal authority or some part of the Constitution, forbids the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the federal territories, he is right to say so. But he should, at the same time, brave the responsibility of declaring that, in his opinion, he understands their principles better than they did themselves; and especially should he not shirk that responsibility by asserting that they “understood the question just as well, and even better, than we do now.”

But enough! Let all who believe that “our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live, understood this question just as well, and even better, than we do now,” speak as they spoke, and act as they acted upon it. This is all Republicans ask – all Republicans desire – in relation to slavery. As those fathers marked it, so let it be again marked, as an evil not to be extended, but to be tolerated and protected only because of and so far as its actual presence among us makes that toleration and protection a necessity. Let all the guarantees those fathers gave it, be, not grudgingly, but fully and fairly, maintained. For this Republicans contend, and with this, so far as I know or believe, they will be content.

And now, if they would listen – as I suppose they will not – I would address a few words to the Southern people.

I would say to them: – You consider yourselves a reasonable and a just people; and I consider that in the general qualities of reason and justice you are not inferior to any other people. Still, when you speak of us Republicans, you do so only to denounce us a reptiles, or, at the best, as no better than outlaws. You will grant a hearing to pirates or murderers, but nothing like it to “Black Republicans.” In all your contentions with one another, each of you deems an unconditional condemnation of “Black Republicanism” as the first thing to be attended to. Indeed, such condemnation of us seems to be an indispensable prerequisite – license, so to speak – among you to be admitted or permitted to speak at all. Now, can you, or not, be prevailed upon to pause and to consider whether this is quite just to us, or even to yourselves? Bring forward your charges and specifications, and then be patient long enough to hear us deny or justify.

You say we are sectional. We deny it. That makes an issue; and the burden of proof is upon you. You produce your proof; and what is it? Why, that our party has no existence in your section – gets no votes in your section. The fact is substantially true; but does it prove the issue? If it does, then in case we should, without change of principle, begin to get votes in your section, we should thereby cease to be sectional. You cannot escape this conclusion; and yet, are you willing to abide by it? If you are, you will probably soon find that we have ceased to be sectional, for we shall get votes in your section this very year. You will then begin to discover, as the truth plainly is, that your proof does not touch the issue. The fact that we get no votes in your section, is a fact of your making, and not of ours. And if there be fault in that fact, that fault is primarily yours, and remains until you show that we repel you by some wrong principle or practice. If we do repel you by any wrong principle or practice, the fault is ours; but this brings you to where you ought to have started – to a discussion of the right or wrong of our principle. If our principle, put in practice, would wrong your section for the benefit of ours, or for any other object, then our principle, and we with it, are sectional, and are justly opposed and denounced as such. Meet us, then, on the question of whether our principle, put in practice, would wrong your section; and so meet it as if it were possible that something may be said on our side. Do you accept the challenge? No! Then you really believe that the principle which “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live” thought so clearly right as to adopt it, and indorse it again and again, upon their official oaths, is in fact so clearly wrong as to demand your condemnation without a moment’s consideration.

Some of you delight to flaunt in our faces the warning against sectional parties given by Washington in his Farewell Address. Less than eight years before Washington gave that warning, he had, as President of the United States, approved and signed an act of Congress, enforcing the prohibition of slavery in the Northwestern Territory, which act embodied the policy of the Government upon that subject up to and at the very moment he penned that warning; and about one year after he penned it, he wrote LaFayette that he considered that prohibition a wise measure, expressing in the same connection his hope that we should at some time have a confederacy of free States.

Bearing this in mind, and seeing that sectionalism has since arisen upon this same subject, is that warning a weapon in your hands against us, or in our hands against you? Could Washington himself speak, would he cast the blame of that sectionalism upon us, who sustain his policy, or upon you who repudiate it? We respect that warning of Washington, and we commend it to you, together with his example pointing to the right application of it.

But you say you are conservative – eminently conservative – while we are revolutionary, destructive, or something of the sort. What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried? We stick to, contend for, the identical old policy on the point in controversy which was adopted by “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live;” while you with one accord reject, and scout, and spit upon that old policy, and insist upon substituting something new. True, you disagree among yourselves as to what that substitute shall be. You are divided on new propositions and plans, but you are unanimous in rejecting and denouncing the old policy of the fathers. Some of you are for reviving the foreign slave trade; some for a Congressional Slave-Code for the Territories; some for Congress forbidding the Territories to prohibit Slavery within their limits; some for maintaining Slavery in the Territories through the judiciary; some for the “gur-reat pur-rinciple” that “if one man would enslave another, no third man should object,” fantastically called “Popular Sovereignty;” but never a man among you is in favor of federal prohibition of slavery in federal territories, according to the practice of “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live.” Not one of all your various plans can show a precedent or an advocate in the century within which our Government originated. Consider, then, whether your claim of conservatism for yourselves, and your charge or destructiveness against us, are based on the most clear and stable foundations.

Again, you say we have made the slavery question more prominent than it formerly was. We deny it. We admit that it is more prominent, but we deny that we made it so. It was not we, but you, who discarded the old policy of the fathers. We resisted, and still resist, your innovation; and thence comes the greater prominence of the question. Would you have that question reduced to its former proportions? Go back to that old policy. What has been will be again, under the same conditions. If you would have the peace of the old times, readopt the precepts and policy of the old times.

You charge that we stir up insurrections among your slaves. We deny it; and what is your proof? Harper’s Ferry! John Brown!! John Brown was no Republican; and you have failed to implicate a single Republican in his Harper’s Ferry enterprise. If any member of our party is guilty in that matter, you know it or you do not know it. If you do know it, you are inexcusable for not designating the man and proving the fact. If you do not know it, you are inexcusable for asserting it, and especially for persisting in the assertion after you have tried and failed to make the proof. You need to be told that persisting in a charge which one does not know to be true, is simply malicious slander.

Some of you admit that no Republican designedly aided or encouraged the Harper’s Ferry affair, but still insist that our doctrines and declarations necessarily lead to such results. We do not believe it. We know we hold to no doctrine, and make no declaration, which were not held to and made by “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live.” You never dealt fairly by us in relation to this affair. When it occurred, some important State elections were near at hand, and you were in evident glee with the belief that, by charging the blame upon us, you could get an advantage of us in those elections. The elections came, and your expectations were not quite fulfilled. Every Republican man knew that, as to himself at least, your charge was a slander, and he was not much inclined by it to cast his vote in your favor. Republican doctrines and declarations are accompanied with a continual protest against any interference whatever with your slaves, or with you about your slaves. Surely, this does not encourage them to revolt. True, we do, in common with “our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live,” declare our belief that slavery is wrong; but the slaves do not hear us declare even this. For anything we say or do, the slaves would scarcely know there is a Republican party. I believe they would not, in fact, generally know it but for your misrepresentations of us, in their hearing. In your political contests among yourselves, each faction charges the other with sympathy with Black Republicanism; and then, to give point to the charge, defines Black Republicanism to simply be insurrection, blood and thunder among the slaves.

Slave insurrections are no more common now than they were before the Republican party was organized. What induced the Southampton insurrection, twenty-eight years ago, in which, at least three times as many lives were lost as at Harper’s Ferry? You can scarcely stretch your very elastic fancy to the conclusion that Southampton was “got up by Black Republicanism.” In the present state of things in the United States, I do not think a general, or even a very extensive slave insurrection is possible. The indispensable concert of action cannot be attained. The slaves have no means of rapid communication; nor can incendiary freemen, black or white, supply it. The explosive materials are everywhere in parcels; but there neither are, nor can be supplied, the indispensable connecting trains.

Much is said by Southern people about the affection of slaves for their masters and mistresses; and a part of it, at least, is true. A plot for an uprising could scarcely be devised and communicated to twenty individuals before some one of them, to save the life of a favorite master or mistress, would divulge it. This is the rule; and the slave revolution in Hayti was not an exception to it, but a case occurring under peculiar circumstances. The gunpowder plot of British history, though not connected with slaves, was more in point. In that case, only about twenty were admitted to the secret; and yet one of them, in his anxiety to save a friend, betrayed the plot to that friend, and, by consequence, averted the calamity. Occasional poisonings from the kitchen, and open or stealthy assassinations in the field, and local revolts extending to a score or so, will continue to occur as the natural results of slavery; but no general insurrection of slaves, as I think, can happen in this country for a long time. Whoever much fears, or much hopes for such an event, will be alike disappointed.

In the language of Mr. Jefferson, uttered many years ago, “It is still in our power to direct the process of emancipation, and deportation, peaceably, and in such slow degrees, as that the evil will wear off insensibly; and their places be, pari passu, filled up by free white laborers. If, on the contrary, it is left to force itself on, human nature must shudder at the prospect held up.”

Mr. Jefferson did not mean to say, nor do I, that the power of emancipation is in the Federal Government. He spoke of Virginia; and, as to the power of emancipation, I speak of the slaveholding States only. The Federal Government, however, as we insist, has the power of restraining the extension of the institution – the power to insure that a slave insurrection shall never occur on any American soil which is now free from slavery.

John Brown’s effort was peculiar. It was not a slave insurrection. It was an attempt by white men to get up a revolt among slaves, in which the slaves refused to participate. In fact, it was so absurd that the slaves, with all their ignorance, saw plainly enough it could not succeed. That affair, in its philosophy, corresponds with the many attempts, related in history, at the assassination of kings and emperors. An enthusiast broods over the oppression of a people till he fancies himself commissioned by Heaven to liberate them. He ventures the attempt, which ends in little else than his own execution. Orsini’s attempt on Louis Napoleon, and John Brown’s attempt at Harper’s Ferry were, in their philosophy, precisely the same. The eagerness to cast blame on old England in the one case, and on New England in the other, does not disprove the sameness of the two things.

And how much would it avail you, if you could, by the use of John Brown, Helper’s Book, and the like, break up the Republican organization? Human action can be modified to some extent, but human nature cannot be changed. There is a judgment and a feeling against slavery in this nation, which cast at least a million and a half of votes. You cannot destroy that judgment and feeling – that sentiment – by breaking up the political organization which rallies around it. You can scarcely scatter and disperse an army which has been formed into order in the face of your heaviest fire; but if you could, how much would you gain by forcing the sentiment which created it out of the peaceful channel of the ballot-box, into some other channel? What would that other channel probably be? Would the number of John Browns be lessened or enlarged by the operation?

But you will break up the Union rather than submit to a denial of your Constitutional rights.

That has a somewhat reckless sound; but it would be palliated, if not fully justified, were we proposing, by the mere force of numbers, to deprive you of some right, plainly written down in the Constitution. But we are proposing no such thing.

When you make these declarations, you have a specific and well-understood allusion to an assumed Constitutional right of yours, to take slaves into the federal territories, and to hold them there as property. But no such right is specifically written in the Constitution. That instrument is literally silent about any such right. We, on the contrary, deny that such a right has any existence in the Constitution, even by implication.

Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.

This, plainly stated, is your language. Perhaps you will say the Supreme Court has decided the disputed Constitutional question in your favor. Not quite so. But waiving the lawyer’s distinction between dictum and decision, the Court have decided the question for you in a sort of way. The Court have substantially said, it is your Constitutional right to take slaves into the federal territories, and to hold them there as property. When I say the decision was made in a sort of way, I mean it was made in a divided Court, by a bare majority of the Judges, and they not quite agreeing with one another in the reasons for making it; that it is so made as that its avowed supporters disagree with one another about its meaning, and that it was mainly based upon a mistaken statement of fact – the statement in the opinion that “the right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution.”

An inspection of the Constitution will show that the right of property in a slave is not “distinctly and expressly affirmed” in it. Bear in mind, the Judges do not pledge their judicial opinion that such right is impliedlyaffirmed in the Constitution; but they pledge their veracity that it is “distinctly and expressly” affirmed there – “distinctly,” that is, not mingled with anything else – “expressly,” that is, in words meaning just that, without the aid of any inference, and susceptible of no other meaning.

If they had only pledged their judicial opinion that such right is affirmed in the instrument by implication, it would be open to others to show that neither the word “slave” nor “slavery” is to be found in the Constitution, nor the word “property” even, in any connection with language alluding to the things slave, or slavery; and that wherever in that instrument the slave is alluded to, he is called a “person;” – and wherever his master’s legal right in relation to him is alluded to, it is spoken of as “service or labor which may be due,” – as a debt payable in service or labor. Also, it would be open to show, by contemporaneous history, that this mode of alluding to slaves and slavery, instead of speaking of them, was employed on purpose to exclude from the Constitution the idea that there could be property in man.

To show all this, is easy and certain.

When this obvious mistake of the Judges shall be brought to their notice, is it not reasonable to expect that they will withdraw the mistaken statement, and reconsider the conclusion based upon it?

And then it is to be remembered that “our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live” – the men who made the Constitution – decided this same Constitutional question in our favor, long ago – decided it without division among themselves, when making the decision; without division among themselves about the meaning of it after it was made, and, so far as any evidence is left, without basing it upon any mistaken statement of facts.

Under all these circumstances, do you really feel yourselves justified to break up this Government unless such a court decision as yours is, shall be at once submitted to as a conclusive and final rule of political action? But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, “Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!”

To be sure, what the robber demanded of me – my money – was my own; and I had a clear right to keep it; but it was no more my own than my vote is my own; and the threat of death to me, to extort my money, and the threat of destruction to the Union, to extort my vote, can scarcely be distinguished in principle.

A few words now to Republicans. It is exceedingly desirable that all parts of this great Confederacy shall be at peace, and in harmony, one with another. Let us Republicans do our part to have it so. Even though much provoked, let us do nothing through passion and ill temper. Even though the southern people will not so much as listen to us, let us calmly consider their demands, and yield to them if, in our deliberate view of our duty, we possibly can. Judging by all they say and do, and by the subject and nature of their controversy with us, let us determine, if we can, what will satisfy them.

Will they be satisfied if the Territories be unconditionally surrendered to them? We know they will not. In all their present complaints against us, the Territories are scarcely mentioned. Invasions and insurrections are the rage now. Will it satisfy them, if, in the future, we have nothing to do with invasions and insurrections? We know it will not. We so know, because we know we never had anything to do with invasions and insurrections; and yet this total abstaining does not exempt us from the charge and the denunciation.

The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy task. We have been so trying to convince them from the very beginning of our organization, but with no success. In all our platforms and speeches we have constantly protested our purpose to let them alone; but this has had no tendency to convince them. Alike unavailing to convince them, is the fact that they have never detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb them.

These natural, and apparently adequate means all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly – done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated – we must place ourselves avowedly with them. Senator Douglas’ new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that slavery is wrong, whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure. We must pull down our Free State constitutions. The whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint of opposition to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us.

I am quite aware they do not state their case precisely in this way. Most of them would probably say to us, “Let us alone, do nothing to us, and say what you please about slavery.” But we do let them alone – have never disturbed them – so that, after all, it is what we say, which dissatisfies them. They will continue to accuse us of doing, until we cease saying.

I am also aware they have not, as yet, in terms, demanded the overthrow of our Free-State Constitutions. Yet those Constitutions declare the wrong of slavery, with more solemn emphasis, than do all other sayings against it; and when all these other sayings shall have been silenced, the overthrow of these Constitutions will be demanded, and nothing be left to resist the demand. It is nothing to the contrary, that they do not demand the whole of this just now. Demanding what they do, and for the reason they do, they can voluntarily stop nowhere short of this consummation. Holding, as they do, that slavery is morally right, and socially elevating, they cannot cease to demand a full national recognition of it, as a legal right, and a social blessing.

Nor can we justifiably withhold this, on any ground save our conviction that slavery is wrong. If slavery is right, all words, acts, laws, and constitutions against it, are themselves wrong, and should be silenced, and swept away. If it is right, we cannot justly object to its nationality – its universality; if it is wrong, they cannot justly insist upon its extension – its enlargement. All they ask, we could readily grant, if we thought slavery right; all we ask, they could as readily grant, if they thought it wrong. Their thinking it right, and our thinking it wrong, is the precise fact upon which depends the whole controversy. Thinking it right, as they do, they are not to blame for desiring its full recognition, as being right; but, thinking it wrong, as we do, can we yield to them? Can we cast our votes with their view, and against our own? In view of our moral, social, and political responsibilities, can we do this?

Wrong as we think slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone where it is, because that much is due to the necessity arising from its actual presence in the nation; but can we, while our votes will prevent it, allow it to spread into the National Territories, and to overrun us here in these Free States? If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by our duty, fearlessly and effectively. Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored – contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man – such as a policy of “don’t care” on a question about which all true men do care – such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance – such as invocations to Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington said, and undo what Washington did.

Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT, AND IN THAT FAITH, LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT.

“How would you like to be…

…a black teacher with a CCW after a school shooting.”

Yes, someone actually made that argument as a reason for not allowing teachers who are licensed to carry to do so at schools.

So, let me get this straight.  Since the police are late (requiring the armed teacher to intervene in the first place), incompetent (incapable of doing threat assessment and differentiating between an armed intruder attacking students and an armed teacher defending them–hint:  as a starter, look which way the gun is pointed) and racist (else why mention “black”?) then the teachers should not be armed.

Well, they might have a point with those arguments but far from being an argument for keeping the teachers disarmed, it’s more one for disarming the late, incompetent, racists.

Other arguments they make:

A student might get the gun.

Concealed means concealed.  Look.  It’s not that hard.  I am licensed by the State of Indiana to carry a handgun (Indiana does not differentiate between “concealed” and “open” carry; they are both legally the same and the same license applies to both).  When I carry, which is, frankly, anywhere I am legally permitted to do so, no one knows I even have a gun, let alone where it is on my body.   There are a variety of handguns from small “pocket pistols” that are very easy to keep concealed on up.  There are numerous holsters and other arrangements that will comfortably hold a handgun all day with no one the wiser.

Likewise there are “retention” holsters that won’t release the handgun unless you know the particular “trick” to release them.  So even if somebody spots the handgun, gets close enough to grab it from your body, and actually grabs it, it isn’t going anywhere unless they know the particular retention type.

The teacher might snap and shoot a student.

I’ll be blunt, if a teacher has that poor impulse control and is that prone to violence they need to be out of the classroom entirely and nowhere near my child.  A teacher likely to “snap” will do so without a gun.  They are a menace and need to be replaced immediately.

Do you mean to tell me that you have such menaces in positions of authority over my  child?  Is your vetting of school teachers really that bad?

An accident might happen

Well, maybe.  If the teacher is so childish as to want to play with the gun (or some policy requires them to take it off in some instance while they can wear it in others) and the teacher is too stupid to learn and follow Cooper’s Four Rules of Gun Safety:

  1. Treat every gun with the respect due a loaded gun
  2. Never point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy
  3. Keep finger (or anything else) off the trigger until you are ready to shoot
  4. Always be sure of your target, what’s in front of it, and what’s behind it.

In a circumstance where all of those apply (in which case why are they a teacher again?) then there’s the possibility of an accident.

How much possibility?  Well, in the more than ten years where Utah has done exactly what people are arguing against–allowing teachers who have a Utah CCW who wish to do so to carry in schools–there has been exactly one “accidental” (some insist on the word “negligent”, but I’m willing to “accidental” to include “human error”) discharge.  The only injury was to the person carrying (the most likely event–nearest and largest target).

While it’s not perfect, neither are the police.  Case in point there’s this DEA agent:


I fail to see the justification to hold teachers to a higher standard than police when it comes to safe firearms handling.

The rule should be simple enough:  when in school keep it in the holster unless you actually need it and you’ll never have an accidental/negligent (take your pick) discharge.

The police might mistake you for the bad guy

Well, they might.  It happens, unfortunately.  But that only happens after the bad guy comes through shooting.  So you need to choose between the greater risk of the bad guy shooting you, and the certainty of the bad guy shooting other people and the lesser risk of you stopping the bad guy but the police coming in later and shooting you instead.

Anyone with any sense learns what to do after a defensive shooting when the police arrive.  You put the gun down or away, you comply with police demands.  You sort it all out later with lawyers and judges.  Now, even so, there’s the possibility that the police may just come in shooting, or they may give conflicting confusing commands and then shoot you when they say “zig” but you thought they said zag.”  It happens in situations far away from schools.

Frankly, if the police where you live and work are that incompetent and trigger happy, I don’t think it’s the teachers  that need to be disarmed.  Once again, police incompetence is being used as an excuse for denying the right to self defense.

Teachers aren’t Seals.

They don’t have to be.  We’re not talking CQB, breaking into a building with entrenched opponents, finding and taking out the bad guy.  It’s not hunting where you’re stalking the halls trying to find and eliminate the bad guy.  It’s none of that.  It’s self defense.  You take a defensible position with your charges and you wait.  You don’t hunt the bad guy, you let him come to you.  If he comes, he’s easy to identify.  He’s the one trying to kill you and your charges.  You defend yourself.

It’s not rocket surgery.

Nobody has time or money for this

Maybe you don’t but, again, seven States permit it.  Utah, as one example, has allowed it for more than a decade.  There are a lot of teachers out there who have their CCW license.  They own guns.  In one case a sheriff offered to teach his states CCW class for free to up to 50 teachers.  250 teachers immediately applied.

Nobody’s seriously talking about making this mandatory.  You don’t want to get your license, get the training that goes with that license, and carry to protect your charges?  Fine.  Nobody is insisting you have to.  But others would like to choose differently.

Let them.

Time and time again we’ve seen spree killers going on shooting sprees chose “gun free zones” at their targets.  They will go out of their way to find one if there isn’t one handy.  The overwhelming majority of shooting sprees are at “gun free zones.” The time has come and passed to stop making these free fire zones for bad guys.  You can’t rely on the police to protect you.  Even if they are there, as in the case of the four deputies from the Broward (Coward) County Sheriff’s Department, they are under no legal obligation to act to protect you.  In the end, you are on your own:

You don’t want to act to protect yourself and others?  That’s your decision.  Allow others to make that choice for themselves.  Don’t make it for them.

It’s called “Freedom.” It’s a provocative concept, I know.

Dhampyre the Hunter, a snippet

I usually have several projects that I’m working on simultaneously.  That way when I get stuck on one I can switch to the next.

Dhampyre the Hunter (tentative title) is one I’m trying to write to a schedule.  It’s a very modest schedule which should be easy to meet and maybe later as I gain confidence, I’ll increase the pace on this story.

Here’s a little bit from it, basically the first chapter.  This is a first draft, so I haven’t cleaned it up as fully as I might, and it’s subject to change as the story evolves, but this is how it starts now.

The chill night air burned in my throat as I ran.  Sweat rolled between my breasts.  One vampire I could handle.  Two, were a challenge, but an acceptable one.  Four, however?  That was a different story.

I sprinted toward the edge of the roof.  Alley.  Twenty feet wide.  Next building one story lower.  I could do it.  I had to do it.  My left foot hit the low retaining wall at the edge of the roof.  I leaped. The sound of traffic from the streets below became louder, unimpeded, as I passed the edge of the wall.  I sailed over the alley sixty feet below and cleared the far side by a good six feet.

As I continued to run, I stripped off my jacket leaving me clad only in a sleeveless leotard and jeans.  The jacket represented too much weight, too much heat, for my level of exertion.  Bye, bye, six hundred dollar leather jacket.  I dropped it behind me.

A soft thump to my right indicated one of the vampires landing on the rooftop.  A second thump marked another landing nearby.

Where were the other two?  That was the problem with vampires.  They ran almost soundlessly.  Not only did their tread fall lightly even in a sprint, but they made no sound of breathing to alert you.

I shifted to the left.  I was being herded.  I knew it.  But either they had split up or there were more of them.  In the latter case I wad dead.  But if the four of them had split up, two to herd and two to wait, I had a chance.

Next roof edge coming up.  Abutting buildings.  This one a two story drop.  I kick my feet out in front of me, dropping to the roof into a sliding stop that would have made a major league baseball player proud.  I twisted, parallel to the edge of the roof.  I rolled off, one hand and one foot hooked over the edge of the roof.  I released the foot, hanging down at full extension from one hand, then let go, letting the slight kiss of friction against the wall slow my fall.

I hit, letting my legs flex to drop to a low crouch.  Ahead a shadow loomed, silhouetted against the backdrop of the next building.

I reached over my shoulder and pulled a stake from is sheath.  I charged.  The other charged in return.  I drove the stake forward, a specially built stake with a honed steel point backed by a rowan shaft.

The vampire caught my arm and pulled it to the side and up.  My left hand fell to my waistband with practiced ease. The vampire pulled my captive arm closer, fangs piercing the inside of my arm, seeking the brachial artery.  Pain shot up my arm into my shoulder and side.  My left hand wrapped around the hilt of the Kahr K9 in its holster tucked inside my waistband.  Silver does little to vampires, but lead and copper do nothing.  A little silver solder melted into the cavity of Jacketed Hollow Point bullets made a round that would at least sting.  The trade off was that accuracy went to hell.

I fired three rounds at contact range, up and through the torso of the vampire.  He jerked away a moment before releasing his grip on me.  The movement pulled me off balance.  I continued the motion, dropping to one knee.  My right arm still burned from the bite.  Blood poured from the wounds.  I ignored the pain, ignored the blood, and drove forward and up with the stake.  It pierced the vampire’s flesh just below the breastbone.  I drove in and up, seeking the heart.  I felt the point hit the lump of muscle.  I twisted, putting all the weight of my body behind the shove.  I had to drive the steel through, get wood into the heart.

The vampire shrieked once, a sound abruptly cut off as the stake penetrated.  I stood.  The entire fight had taken mere seconds but the others would be here soon.  I just needed to take the head before…

A heavy weight hit me in the side as another vampire tackled me.  My gun went flying.  The impact drove me toward the edge of the roof.  Toward, and over.

As my head passed the edge of the roof I saw the glaring neon of signs, cars on the street, pedestrians moving purposefully along the sidewalks.  Desperation drove my actions.  First, I hooked my instep, catching the retaining wall with my foot.  This stopped my outward momentum, but did nothing about the pull of gravity.  Four stories to the ground.  The second vampire, my attacker, released his grip on me and began to fall separately.  Freed of that burden, again in desperation I reached back with my right hand to grab a cornice.  My fingers closed on it, then pulled free almost immediately.  I felt the bone in my little finger pop.  The brief grip nevertheless diverted the direction of my fall.  I slammed into the side of the building and hit a windowsill which killed a bit more of my speed before I bounced away from the wall again.  A glance below showed that I had diverted my path enough.

I had time for two thoughts as I rushed toward the awning that marked the main entrance to the building.  How cliché to have an awning break my fall.  And this was going to hurt.

Awnings are not trampolines.  They are not nets to provide safety for circus acts.  They are meant purely to provide a decorative means of keeping rain and snow away from a doorway or window.  Punching through it killed some of my speed, as did my collision with the poor sucker who didn’t get out of the way in time.  I felt a rib go as I hit the concrete.

All in all, I got off lightly.  Even my enhanced constitution might well have not survived the fall.

I staggered to my feet.  Too many people around.  Where was the vampire?

I saw him.  He had grabbed a man by the throat and was holding him aloft in one hand.  The vampire gave the man a shake and the man went limp, his neck broken.

Someone screamed.  As if that sound was a signal others began screaming and stampeding away from the vampire.  He grabbed a young woman before she could flee.  Blonde.  Bottle according to the dark roots.

“Shit,” I said.  I wasn’t supposed to fight vampires in public.

I didn’t have any choice.

I reached over my shoulder, feeling, and found that my second stake was still in its sheath on my back.  I pulled it free and took a step forward.  Fire in my left ankle.  Something else I’d hurt in the fall.

The vampire pulled the woman in front of him.  His hand over her mouth stifled her screaming.  I took another step forward.  The vampire opened his mouth wide, exposing his fangs.  I heard shouts behind me.

Great.  At least a dozen people were seeing this.  I could hope that the reports would be dismissed but too many incidents like this and people would notice.

I took another step.  My vision blurred.  I glanced down.  Blood still pulsed from my arm.  A lot of blood.  I had to wrap this up quick.

With my next step I sprinted.  Okay, it was more of a lumbering run.  The vampire clearly saw that I would not be deterred.  He bit and tore with his fangs, ripping the woman’s throat out.  He hurled the corpse in my direction.

I lunged to the right, ducking the grisly missile.  The vampire turned to run.  Mistake.  I leaped.  I wrapped my right arm around its neck.  My injured arm had little strength, but it only had to remain in place for a moment.  I drove in with the stake, piercing the creature’s heart.

With a short, strangled cry the vampire collapsed to the street and I collapsed on top of him.

I lay on the body for a moment.  I let my eyes close, just for a moment.  I opened them to an unholy keening and a strange pulsing of blue light.  I shook my head and started to struggle to my feet.


I only half understood the word.  I turned in the direction of the voice.

“I said ‘Freeze!'”

Oh.  My muddled brain finally parsed what ears and eyes were telling me.  Sirens, the flashing lights of police cars.  An officer stood, pointing a gun at me.  Young, barely out of the academy I guessed.  I could see terror in his eyes.

I froze.  I’ve hunted vampires for years but there is nothing, absolutely nothing, more dangerous than a terrified rookie cop.

“Hands on your head,” he said.

I complied.

“On your knees.”

Again, I complied and used the movement to cast a quick glance at my right arm.  Blood still surged from it in time with my pulse.

“Officer,” I said forcing my voice calm.

“Shut up.  Just shut up.”

“I’m bleeding out over here, officer,” I said.  My vision started to tunnel. “And I think I’m about to pass out.”

I didn’t quite get the word “again” out before blackness swallowed me.


I woke to a high keening sound.  This time I had no trouble recognizing the siren of an ambulance.  I was strapped to a hard surface.  Backboard.  A thick cervical collar immobilized my neck.  Something squeezed my legs and lower abdomen, an even pressure that ran from my ankles to just above my hips.  A mask covered my mouth and nose, with air, no…oxygen, blowing against my lips.  An IV fed into my left arm and another into my neck under the cervical collar.  I’d lost a lot of blood.

The bouncing of the ambulance told me that we were moving fast.

“Well.  You’re back with us.”

A young man leaned over me.  The nametag on his blue shirt said “Grant”.  A patch on the shoulder carried the logo of what I presumed was an ambulance company.

“We got to you in good time,” the man continued. “You’re going to be all right.”

His words were meant as comfort but I did not need them.  Since I was not already dead, I would recover.  The word for what I am is Dhampyre, the child of a vampire and a human.  Or in my case of two vampires.  My kind is rare.  The male in a pairing has to be fresh from a heavy feeding in order to be fertile.  And when a male vampire impregnates a human female the woman rarely quickens, and even more rarely carries to term.  A vampire female can only carry to term if infused daily with enough blood to kill three strong men for the entire gestation.  Fail even once and the uterus goes dormant causing a miscarriage.

I am stronger than a normal human, faster, more durable, and I heal better.

“Can you tell me where you’re hurt?” Grant asked.

I drew a deep breath, or started to.  The pain in my side reminded me of the rib.  So I started there.

“Rib.  Right side.  Broken I think.” My voice sounded weak, even considering the mask. “Right arm.  Stabbed.  Twice.” I could not tell him that a vampire had bit me. “Right hand.  Broken finger.  Heard it…pop.  Something…left ankle.  Broken?  And…lost a lot of blood.”

“Well.” Grant looked at the wiggly trace on a screen.  Heart monitor.  My heart. “We got most of that.  Hang in there, we’ll be at the hospital soon.”

“Guy I…landed on?”

Grant’s expression sobered. “Other team got him.  I can’t say more than that.”

I squeezed my eyes tight.  People get hurt in my line of work.  Innocents.  But what should have been a simple takedown of one vampire became an ambush by four with two, maybe three depending on whether the one I hit in my fall survived, dead.

The ride was short but it provided plenty of time for me to imagine what I might have done differently what might have left those three people alive.  The options started with letting the vampires have me and went downhill from there.

We arrived at the hospital and I gritted my teeth at the jostling, however slight it was, as the crew unloaded me from the ambulance.  Once inside the ambulance crew handed me off to the emergency room staff and then went off to do whatever ambulance crews do between runs.  Paperwork would be my guess.  That’s the bane of everyone’s existence.

The paperwork on my mission was going to be a nightmare.  A fight with a vampire in full view of multiple witnesses.  A body with a stake in it and two inch fangs in its mouth.  Two bodies if they check the roof and considering how I’d come through that awning, they would.

This was going to be a hard one to keep quiet.

There was a jump in time.  It seemed I was still drifting in and out.  I must have lost more blood than I thought.

While waiting for someone to take me for additional examination and treatment I ran a more detailed personal inventory.  I could not move my head to look so the inventory had to be by feel.  The EMTs had apparently cut my shirt off.  Strapped to the backboard I should be able to feel my holster against my back.  I didn’t.  That meant the police probably had it which meant they were looking for my gun.

Yet another reason they would end up on the roof.  They would have two vampire bodies to play with.  And once somebody had the idea of pulling one of my stakes out?  Wouldn’t that be fun.

Life just got better and better.


The doctors and staff in the emergency room were attentive and efficient, I’ll give them that.  They had me in the examining room in minutes and connected to various monitors.  A nurse drew blood that the fluid they drew was thin, watery liquid, more the stuff from their bags than my own blood was purely my imagination.

I overheard a doctor at the door telling someone I could not answer questions yet.  Good.  The longer I could put that off, the better.  I did not know how Indiana would treat my killing the vampire.  After all, the vampire had already killed two people before I staked it.

Some places that would be a clear cut case of defense of self and others.  You’d get a “thank you” and be on your way.  In others, any killing was prosecuted and you had to prove self-defense in court.

Considering what’s necessary to kill a vampire I really try to avoid having kills come to police attention at all.  Look, despite what you see in the movies, a stake through the heart does not kill a vampire.  It immobilizes it.  Remove the stake and the vampire comes back.  How fast depends on how powerful the vampire is.  To kill it you have to either burn the body completely to ash.  I’ve heard of cases of a few charred bone fragments regenerating.  Or you have to remove the head and stuff the mouth with either garlic or communion wafers, then bury head and body separately.

The doctor was asking me something but my head was still not working quite right.  I tried to shake my head but the cervical collar prevented my head from moving.

The doctor repeated himself. “You’ve lost a lot of blood.  We need your consent for a transfusion.”

I wiggled my fingers. “Can’ sigh’ ‘nyth’ng.”

“Verbal consent will do for now.”

“Yeah. ‘kay.  Do ‘t.”

The doctor gave rapid fire instructions.  I felt another needle go into my arm and saw a bag of dark red liquid hung above me to the side of my bed.  I suppressed a giggle.  This time I got to be the vampire.

The doctor leaned over me again. “We want to take you down for an MRI of your head and neck and of your arm.  Okay?”


The doctor grinned. “Once we get you out of that collar and off this backboard, we can get you to sign some papers.”

This time I let out the giggle.

“‘lways the pap’rw’rk, eh, doc.”

“Always.” He patted my shoulder. “You hang in there.  We’ll get you through this.”

I managed to twist my left hand enough to make a thumbs up gesture.

The doctor gave additional instructions to the attending nurse then swept out of the room, presumably to go deal with other patients.  Perhaps he’d have to deal with the poor sucker I’d landed on.

Yes, that bothered me.  I really hate it when innocents get hurt.  I hate it more when they get hurt because of me.

And on that thought I let unconsciousness take hold of me again.

An Individual Right: A Blast from the Past

Once again the anti-gun freedom-deniers are out in force.  The claim is being repeated yet again that the “individual right” interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is a new one “rewritten” by the NRA.  It’s as much nonsense as it ever was.  There is simply no way in which the argument that the 2nd was required to allow government troops (which is what they are now calling “the militia” rather than the whole of the people capable of bearing arms) to be armed.

The 2nd was needed for the government to arm its own troops?  Really?

This fails on several grounds.

First, there’s the grammatical:

A Well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people, to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

“Look,” says the person advocating limitations on RKBA, “it says “Well-regulated militia.”

Let’s consider a different sentence, exact same structure but using different nouns:

Sweetened-condensed milk, being necessary for a good Key Lime Pie, the right of the farmers, to keep and raise cows, shall not be infringed.

Anyone want to argue that this statement means that the right to keep and raise cows is being confirmed on sweetened condensed milk?  No?  Then no more does the Second limit the right only to the Militia.

Next we have the problem of definitions.  Much is made of the term “well-regulated Militia” and consider that only the National Guard qualifies.  However, as I demonstrate elsewhere, to the people who wrote and ratified the 2nd Amendment, the Militia was the whole of the people capable of bearing arms.  Back then it would have been all white males between the ages of 17 and 45.  Today, we’d drop the limitations on race and sex (particularly as the Secretary of Defense has just directed [ed:  as of the original writing] that women be permitted in all combat fields in the military).  So the Militia is the people and the people are the militia.

The Militia Acts of 1792 underscore that.  The requirement that every household–every household–be required to keep arms and a certain amount of ammunition and other supplies on hand simply emphasized that the militia meant the whole of the people, all of the people, not just those drawing government paychecks.

Then there’s the historical argument.  The idea that the 2nd is only limited to government militias being a “new” interpretation is preposterous. Consider the Dred Scott decision. On giving the reasons why they did not extend full citizenship to “The Negro Race”: If they did it would, among other things, grant to them the right “and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.”  You can think that Dred Scott was a bad decision.  I do.  But it is utterly clear that at the time of the decision the court considered RKBA to be an individual right, not one limited to government troops.  That’s 1857. Hardly something recent.

It’s the idea that the 2nd only limits RKBA to government bodies that’s the new one. It first springs up in the Miller decision where the weapon in question–a short barreled (i.e. “sawed off”) shotgun was considered regulatable because the court did not have “legal notice” that said weapon had a militia utility.  Note that this wasn’t a question of Miller (who was not present, having died before the case came before the Supreme Court, and only the government’s side was represented) being in a government militia, but whether the weapon was militarily useful (it was–such weapons had been in use in World War 1 as “trench brooms”, but with only the government side presented there was nobody to present such evidence to the court, thus no “legal notice”).  Repeating the lie, yes lie, otherwise over and over again doesn’t make the lie true.

Then there’s the logical argument.  Article One of the Constitution includes among other things:

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

The Constitution already gave the government power to arm its own troops, including the militia.  The idea that we’d need an item in the Bill of Rights to give them the same power they already have is simply preposterous.  Nobody with any intelligence and knowledge of the actual Constitution would think it were necessary.  And the folk who wrote the Bill of Rights were certainly people of intelligence and very much did know the Constitution.

Today, the only question is, are the people who make such claims stupid enough to believe it, or are they lying and think we’re stupid enough to believe them?

Without question, and from its inception, the Second Amendment confirms an individual right to keep and bear arms.

Just some reasonable, common-sense restrictions.

There’s this petition over on whitehouse.gov:

Petition Congress To Pass A Ban On Naming Mass Murderers in the Media, To Reduce Glamorization and Copycats.

You should sign it.  After all, we’re not asking to actually violate the 1st Amendment, we’re just asking for some reasonable restrictions. No right is unlimited.  After all, the Founding Fathers could never had anticipated the 24 hour news cycle creating fame and notoriety for killers and inspiring endless copycats trying to outdo each other.  Think of the children.

It’s only common sense press control.

Does that sound stupid?

Does that inspire outrage?

Well, guess what.  That’s exactly  what you sound like when you make those arguments for gun control.