Saturday, May 28, 2016

Speech to the Illinois State Line Rifle Association on April 27th, 2016



Written on April 27th, 2016

Edited on May 28th, 2016



            The following piece was written as an introduction to my 2014 piece “Altering the Second Amendment to Protect Conscientious Objection”. At the Illinois State Line Rifle Association (S.L.R.A.)’s April 27th meeting in Round Lake Park, Illinois, I read the following piece to an audience of about fifteen people, followed by that article on the relationship between gun control and draft registration.



            Thank you very much for having me. My name is Joseph W. Kopsick, and I’m a candidate in the race for the U.S. House of Representatives, representing my home town of Lake Bluff, as well as Round Lake Park, and much of the North Shore, including most of Lake County, and parts of northern Cook County.
            Illinois state “sore loser laws” prevent me from running as an independent, so I’m running as a New Party candidate, and seeking the nomination of the Libertarian Party. I am the only candidate in the race besides incumbent Republican Bob Dold; and challenger and former congressman, Democrat Brad Schneider.
            A little bit of background on me: I was born in Lake Forest, grew up in Wildwood, went to preschool right around the corner in Grayslake, and when I was five, my family moved to Lake Bluff. I attended Lake Bluff public schools, and graduated from Lake Forest High School in 2005. In 2009, I graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, having majored in political science.
            Growing up in an upper-middle-class suburban household, I was never around guns; I never went hunting. In fact, before the age of eighteen, the closest thing I ever saw to a hunting rifle was a potato gun. For part of my idealistic, na├»ve liberal youth, I even thought that it was immoral to defend yourself… and then I turned fourteen. Since then, I’ve handled a few guns, but I’ve still never fired one.
            I started showing some conservative inclinations during high school, and throughout the Bush era, I grew to value the Bill of Rights and civil liberties. I was especially concerned that I’d be drafted, since I was upset about being required to register for the draft at the age of seventeen, with a $125,000 fine threatened against myself and my parents for failing to ensure that I registered. It was only recently that I noticed the connection between the Second Amendment and draft registration.
            In 2007, I discovered Ron Paul and libertarianism; my interest in civil liberties; individual rights; and personal, social, and economic freedom only grew from there. I went on to run for Congress from Wisconsin’s 2nd District in 2012, and Oregon’s 3rd in 2014.

            In early 2011, after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, I saw the demand for increased gun control grow exponentially. Since that, the massacres in Aurora, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, and other places, have only added fuel to that fire.
            Calls for quote-unquote “common-sense” gun legislation abound; especially at the federal level, despite the contents of the Second Amendment. Bans on so-called “military-purpose assault rifles”, high-capacity magazines, stronger background checks, elimination of gun-sale background check loopholes that arguably don’t exist, safety precautions – like safety locks, requirements that guns be stored in locked places, and even requirements that guns only be able to be fired by their owners, perhaps through the use of a fingerprint scanner – these regulations are based on purely cosmetic differences, they are unenforceable, they are written and defended by gun-illiterate people, and they have disastrous unintended consequences.
            Some say “guns don’t kill people; people kill people”; others say guns do kill. But accidentally shooting yourself or someone else does not mean guns kill by themselves. Many defenders of gun control are peaceful, well-meaning people, but their rhetoric is flawed, and they fail to see the connection between guns and our freedom.
            I’ll get to that in a minute, but first I want to say that if I am elected, I will not support any gun control legislation at the federal level. Since I believe in the Tenth Amendment as much as the Second, I would not cast a vote that interferes with the states’ rights to legislate on matters of guns.
            However, any such laws can only, rightfully, be applied to the intrastate manufacture of guns; not interstate manufacture, and certainly not to commerce and trade of guns across state borders, due to the Commerce Clause. Furthermore, while I would not vote to interfere with the states’ rights to craft constitutional gun control legislation, I would also support the resistance to overbearing state gun laws, by supporting communities’ rights, counties’ rights, jury nullification, and civil disobedience of such unjust laws.

            The only (arguably) “pro-gun-control” position I would take, is that I would oppose protections for gun sellers and manufacturers, from being sued by victims of gun violence and their families. But I take this position because, as it says in 42 U.S. Code Section 1981, “All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States, shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue”, among other things.
            Don’t get me wrong, I believe that after a gun is manufactured and sold to you, it becomes your property, and what you do with it is your responsibility. And the seller – and especially not the manufacturer – ought have any positive obligation (outside of direct contract with you) to do background checks on you, nor take any other measures to ensure that you will be responsible with it.
            I believe such lawsuits are frivolous, and I believe that they should be settled out of court, and laughed out of court. If Ben Carson hits his mother in the head with a hammer, it wouldn’t make sense for her to sue Ace Hardware, but I’d welcome her to try. I oppose these protections, also, to take a stand against corporate privilege.
            To those who would argue that this position puts me to the left of Bernie Sanders on the issue of lawsuits against gun sellers and manufacturers, I’d respond that while Sanders voted for such protections, he was glad that Sandy Hook victims’ families won in a preliminary judgment concerning their right to sue, so Sanders has not been consistent on this issue.

            But on to my main point: I’d like to read a piece that I wrote several years ago, which is entitled “Altering the Second Amendment to Protect Conscientious Objection”. I think this information is crucial, especially now, a time when seasoned liberals – from Carl Bernstein, to Robert Reich, to Charlie Rangel, to Rahm Emanuel – are openly calling for some form or another of mandatory national civil service; even calls to require women to register for the draft.