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San Bernardino - And the First AND Second Amendments

Friday, December 4, 2015

The mass shooting in San Bernardino has now brought us to a place where we have to take seriously the potential for our neighbors to be radicalized by the Islamic State, resulting in loosely connected “lone wolf” attacks on “soft targets.”

However, it has also brought us to a place where “rhetorical circumspection” is necessary to avoid fertilizing the ground for this radicalization.

For this reason I support the circumspection of our law enforcement professionals.  From their perspective, careless rhetoric runs the risk of gripping our communities with fear.  ISIS knows this well, and seeks to create and exploit an environment of fear to further radicalize our Muslim neighbors – with whom we have lived peaceably over the years.

It seems other conservative voices out there do not get this.

Make no mistake, the Obama administration is in an impossible bind.  Their reticence to use language that might inflame our communities is likely rooted in an understanding of ISIS' tactical goals.  Sow fear in our communities and use that fear to further radicalize the Muslim members of our communities. This circumspection is wise - unless it leaves us ignorant and defenseless.

They are in a bind because they actually think we can defend ourselves with pieces of paper.  We see this at every turn with this administration.  The movements of chemical weapons in Syria was a "red line" - until it wasn't.  And when it wasn't his red line all of a sudden, it was the "international community's" red line because of a treaty.  He apparently thinks Bashar al Assad retires in the evening to read treaties and the latest policy memos from team Obama.  Thousands of Syrians have found out that treaties cannot stop a shell loaded with chemical weapons.

Obama apparently thinks his policy fantasies of what the 21st century is supposed to look like is sufficient to defend the freedom of the people of the Ukraine while Vladimir Putin conducts diplomacy through the barrel of a gun.

And so he is in a bind because ideologically he cannot appeal to what is now the obvious and only way we can preserve our American ideals - by upholding both the First and Second Amendments to the United States Constitution.

Last week I declared my candidacy for California's 52nd Congressional District.  This means I am running to take an oath to "uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States."  In the context of today's news, that means this:

The First Amendment: I am obligated (whether I an running for office or not) to vocally and vigorously defend my Muslim neighbors' natural right to practice their religion peaceably, in public and in private.  This means I must support the effort to be circumspect in our rhetoric that we not play right into the hands of ISIS and end up contributing to the radicalization of a population among whom we have lived peaceably for many years.

The Second Amendment: I am obligated to vocally and vigorously defend our natural right to keep and bear arms.  There will always be a gap in time from when a threat emerges – be it an attack like San Bernardino or someone breaking into a home – and when police arrive to help.  The responsibility for public safety during that gap in time cannot be shouldered by the police; they cannot be everywhere at once.  The responsibility for public safety is first the responsibility of the public.  The gun culture is not a culture of violence; it is a culture of responsible self-reliance.

The President's repeated calls for more gun control is perfectly consistent with his policy fantasies elsewhere.  California's gun control laws are already some of the strictest in the nation.  We have now seen clearly that in the face of a determined individual or individuals what we already knew.  Laws written on paper do not make very good bullet proof vests.

We must defend the First Amendment rights of our Muslim neighbors, and must speak against any and all efforts to dehumanize them by painting them with the broad brush of terrorism.  But we must also insist on our Second Amendment rights to protect ourselves, our families and our neighbors from the few who have perverted Islam.

A citizenry properly vetted, trained and licensed to keep and bear arms is the best way to secure the freedoms we have peaceably enjoyed – both Muslim and non-Muslim – as Americans.

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