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A day after the shooting at Chardon High School, a man in Grand Rapids, Michigan walked into a polling place, a public elementary school, openly carrying a loaded handgun.
Nicholas Looman wanted to vote in the Republican Presidential primary and “to make a point that he should be allowed to carry” a gun while voting. Mr. Looman was asked to leave after he voted. Now he’s demanding an apology and threatening to sue law enforcement, claiming that his rights were violated.
The Supreme Court decision on the Second Amendment from 2008, District of Columbia v. Heller, found that the right to keep and bear arms is about people protecting “hearth and home.” There is no right to carry firearms wherever one wants, much less at a school.
Our Founders drafted our Constitution to prevent force or the threat of force from influencing the political system. In fact, the duty of the Militia, as defined in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, is to “suppress Insurrections,” not to foment them.
Mr. Looman admits that he “open carries” a firearm. Open Carry is not necessary for self-defense. Open Carry is a political statement in the best tradition of John Wilkes Booth, Timothy McVeigh, Sharron Angle, and Ted Nugent. The message is, “Voting is peachy, but if we can’t get what we want through the ballot, we reserve the right to administer ‘Second Amendment remedies.’” Such insurrectionist ideology has been spoon-fed to right wing Americans for years by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Now it seems that insurrectionists are losing patience with the voting part of the equation. Virginia State Senator Janet Howell observed that, “It’s going to be harder to vote in Virginia than it is now to buy a gun.” She was commenting on voter suppression legislation making its way through the Virginia legislature juxtaposed with the repeal of the state’s One-Handgun-a-Month law.
Virginia is not alone. Many Republican-controlled state legislatures are moving to implement voter suppression laws before the 2012 elections. Of the eight states that require residents to show photo identification before voting (Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kansas, Indiana and Wisconsin) all allow residents to purchase firearms without undergoing any type of background check or showing any form of identification.
Twenty-three other states require residents to produce some form of identification before voting. Of those, only Rhode Island prohibits all private sales of firearms. (Connecticut requires background checks for private sales of handguns only.) Some states are now allowing residents to use a concealed handgun permit as an acceptable document to verify identity when voting, but not a student ID card issued by a public university.
Does anyone seriously believe that this was the vision of our Founders, that guys who carry a gun on their hips have greater political rights than senior citizens, minorities, the impoverished, those trying to better themselves through education, or others without immediate access to identification documents? Wasn’t it Second Amendment author James Madison who once criticized state legislators for catering to the interests of powerful constituencies at the expense of others, stating that “so far from being the Representatives of the people, they are only an assembly of private men, securing their own interest to the ruin of the Commonwealth.” When you can buy a trunk-load of AK-47s without identification but you can’t vote, something is seriously wrong.
As Lincoln wrote, “Among free men, there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and that they who take such appeal are sure to lose their case, and pay the cost.” Let’s hope he is still correct.
Excerpted from the Huffington Post.