- The Washington Times - Monday, December 11, 2006

Gun rights

The article “Right to bear arms applies to militias only, city tells court” points out that there is considerable disagreement on whether the rights under the Second Amendment apply to individuals or to militias (Metropolitan, Friday).

The ambiguity exists because the language of the amendment infers rather than states the existence of the underlying right of the individual to keep and bear arms.

What it explicitly states is that even if individuals bearing arms were to band together for a common purpose, their right to bear arms cannot be infringed provided that the bands are in the form of well-regulated militias. Thus the Second Amendment can be looked upon as an extension of the right to bear arms to include armed groups, i.e., militias.

To understand the intent of the amendment, it is necessary to recognize that the framers of the Constitution made clear that the document was not meant to be an exhaustive list of the individual’s rights. After all, the individual’s right to bear arms was included in the 1688 Rights of Englishmen, which had been the law of the land up until the Revolution.

In addition, the individual of that day could not be expected to forgo the protection of his firearms against wild animals or criminals. But the framers did not want to create a totally unfettered right to establish groups of armed individuals.

James Madison, who wrote the Second Amendment, certainly recalled the Bacon Rebellion in 1676 Virginia, in which a militia, formed under the command of Nathaniel Bacon but not approved by Gov. William Berkeley (i.e., not well-regulated), attacked Indian lands.

Bacon’s actions eventually took on the cast of a rebellion which resulted in the burning of the state capital at Jamestown. Thus, the language of the amendment allows for armed men to band together for the common defense in the form of a well-regulated militia, but not to engage in insurrection or the sowing of disorder.

VICTOR CHOLEWICKI

Washington

Obama in ‘08

Barack Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, has been captivating audiences since his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention; he now holds the media captive with his movement toward the presidency (“Hillary’s Iraq stand seen aiding Obama,” Nation, yesterday). But is the presidency truly what Mr. Obama is seeking in 2008?

Concerning the qualities that Mr. Obama brings to the fledgling presidential race, it has been suggested that he gives people hope, has charm and charisma, yet lacks the experience needed to be president in the age of global terrorism.

Having read both “Dreams of my Father” and “The Audacity of Hope,” I found his writings to be inspiring and introspective but lacking of depth that some might hope a future president would have regarding many of the major issues this country is currently facing.

Regarding the ever-increasing field of Democratic candidates for president, Mr. Obama seems to be playing second fiddle to the leviathan that is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. As 2008 draws nearer it may become apparent that Mr. Obama sees the vice presidency as a more attainable office.

Knowing that there are candidates with vastly greater experience than he (such as Al Gore and Evan Bayh), Mr. Obama may position himself heading into primary season as a resident-in-waiting. Assuming he knows that four years of service in the Senate is not enough to convince the American electorate to send him to the White House, he will work toward securing the nomination for vice president.

Any scenario with Mr. Obama as the vice presidential nominee works in his favor. If the ticket happens to win, he has four to eight years to prep for a run in 2016, all the while gaining critical experience needed to be commander in chief. If the ticket happens to lose, Mr. Obama is the perfect candidate for 2012, having had theexperience of a full-scale presidential run as well as four more years sitting in the Senate.

I believe Mr. Obama is politically astute enough to realize his chances of getting the top of the ticket in 2008 are unlikely, but a nod for the vice presidency will be his best hope at attaining the office he truly wants.

MARCO LANZ

Minneapolis

What about the children?

While “Hospitals eye disaster response” (Nation, Friday) highlights a model for dealing with casualties during a disaster, it didn’t include how the emergency needs of America’s 82 million children will be met.

Children continue to be an afterthought when it comes to emergency preparedness. A report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found that half of the hospitals in the United States do not have all of the essential equipment and supplies to manage pediatric emergencies, including needles, oxygen masks and breathing tubes for children of all ages and sizes.

Children are not little adults, and their developing minds and bodies place them at significant risk during an emergency. Pediatricians, including primary care pediatricians, pediatric specialists and surgical subspecialists must be included in emergency and disaster planning at every organizational level to address the health care needs of children.

Federal, state and local disaster plans need to include specific guidelines for managing pediatric casualties. The Emergency Medical Services for Children program, which funds pediatric emergency care improvement initiatives in every state, must be funded at $37.5 million per year for the next five years.

The IOM met yesterday in Washington to disseminate its pediatric emergency care report findings to health professionals and policy-makers so improvements can be discussed. For our children’s health and future, we hope they are implemented.

DR. STEVEN KRUG

Chairman

American Academy of Pediatrics

Committee on Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Washington

Wage law is a raw deal

Now that House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi and her gang have taken control of Congress, one of their signature issues has surfaced again, that is the raising of the minimum wage (“Democrats face pressure to pass minorities’ bills,” Page 1, Dec. 2).

According to a recent Fox poll, 70 percent of Americans support a rise in the minimum wage. The problem is that in this case, as often happens, the majority is misguided and the minority opinion is correct. Most people do not understand the fundamental principles and consequences of having a minimum wage. Actually, the debate in this country should not be whether or not to raise the minimum wage, but should be on the merits of having a minimum wage at all.

What the government is saying when it enacts a minimum wage law is that if you’re a prospective employee but no employer is willing to pay you that minimum wage, then it is literally illegal for you to work. It doesn’t matter to the government that you would freely choose to work for a wage below the minimum in order to survive.

What are the consequences? The employers reduce the number of unskilled labor jobs available because they cannot afford to pay the minimum wage, thereby increasing unemployment.

After all, the government cannot force employers to hire people. It can only force employers to pay a certain minimum. If an employer does not believe that he will get the minimum wage value of labor from that prospective employee, then the candidate will not be hired.

Prospective employees who cannot find work in the legal marketplace are then driven into the underground economy and are deprived of the benefits and protections of having a legal workplace.

There should not be obstacles to enter the work force for prospective workers with low-level skills or talents. The government should not be creating barriers for people to get jobs. The minimum wage was signed into law for the first time by Franklin Roosevelt, under his New Deal program. Instead of giving low wage workers a new deal, the minimum wage law gave them a raw deal.

ALAN E. KLEIST

MICHAEL CARROAD

Cheverly

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