- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 24, 2002

Whither citizen self-defense?

The Second Amendment opens with the words, "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state ." Alas, when free citizens the militia are unarmed and vulnerable, it is easy for a lone gunman, bent on stealth and the application of his deadly skill, to bring a free state to its knees and enslave its people in fear.

As the Washington-area sniper claims another victim and threatens more, ordinary people run the other way in zigzag formation, of course. The sniper escapes to strike another innocent victim another day. While the sniper stalks, people cower behind tarps to gas their cars, keep their children safe indoors and hide behind closed drapes, fearful of peering outside, where only the sniper is free to roam unafraid.

We need more armed citizens citizens emboldened by their ability to defend themselves. Citizens who, instead of cowering behind a barrier as another victim is claimed, shout, "Sniper, there," and converge on the predator. We need more responsible and armed citizens, people of the stature of ordinary citizens such as Todd Beamer, who led his fellow airline passengers against armed hijackers. Citizens who rise to the challenge and quietly urge their fellow citizens: "Sniper, there. Let's roll."

"Let's roll": words that embody the American spirit of our founders and our fathers.


EMMETTE BOONE

Ladson, S.C.

Beware North Korea's big brother

The item "Missile deployment" from Inside the Ring (Nation, Friday) is a needed reminder of the growing danger of nuclear proliferation in East Asia.

North Korea's recent admission that it has a program to develop nuclear weapons, after years of denials, is at the center of world attention now. It is important to remember, however, that Taiwan has faced an even clearer and more present missile threat from the People's Republic of China (PRC) for many years.

The PRC never has ruled out the use of force against Taiwan to realize its goal of unification, and its defense budget grows larger every year. It should not be surprising, then, that the people of Taiwan reject the PRC's "one country, two systems" formula, which is now being applied in Hong Kong. Political and press freedoms in the former British colony are eroding while the people of Taiwan already enjoy free and fair elections, human rights and free speech. The PRC's brazen disregard for the concerns of the governed offer no incentive for Taiwan to give up the democracy its people have worked so hard to establish.

Despite the PRC's threats and efforts to isolate it, Taiwan has worked ceaselessly to foster peace in the Taiwan Straits. President Chen Shui-bian has repeatedly shown good will toward the PRC since he was inaugurated in 2000. In his National Day message on Oct. 10, Mr. Chen called on the PRC to remove the approximately 400 missiles aimed at Taiwan, saying, "Only by engaging in rational discussions and allowing the 'doors of dialogue' to be reopened can the antagonistic deadlock in cross-strait relations be resolved."

The European Parliament on Sept. 5 passed, by a vote of 448-26, a resolution in which it "expresses its concern at the arms buildup between China and Taiwan; urges both sides to de-escalate the arms buildup, and in particular, for China to withdraw missiles in the coastal provinces across from Taiwan."

My government understands the threat posed by regimes with military power far beyond what is needed for national defense, not to mention the fact that Beijing has even turned its tanks and machine guns on its own people. At this potentially dangerous time in East Asia, the American people should remember that they have an ally in the region who shares their commitment to freedom, democracy and human rights: the Republic of China on Taiwan.


PON-TO PENG

Acting director

Information division

Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States

Washington

U.N. can have its birthday cake and beat it, too

Bill Garner's Editorial page cartoon on Tuesday, which features the U.N. building under the heading "Tower of Babble," appears to have a double meaning. Those familiar with the biblical story of the Tower of Babel know that men decided to build a huge tower to glorify themselves, as opposed to God. Today's United Nations appears to be a true Tower of Babel, as men and women from all over the world gather to worship themselves. Has the United Nations ever put out a statement asking for assistance from God or even acknowledging His existence? Of course not. Instead, politicians and statesmen the world over give praise to the United Nations, bowing to its artificial authority while submitting the sovereignty of their countries to it.

Unlike the United States, the United Nations does not recognize any authority greater than itself. So in honor of its birthday today, the United States should give this atheistic Tower of Babel a worthy present: complete and total withdrawal of all funds and support and a nice bon voyage party as we banish this organization from our shores.


MARK A. KWASNY

Ashburn, Va.

Jurors let conscience be their guide

I did not even finish reading Bruce Fein's column on "Sabotaging the rule of law" (Commentary, Tuesday) because he is so far off base it would be a waste of time. Since Mr. Fein thinks that juries cannot make a ruling contrary to the written law, he obviously must believe that a jury must uphold a law no matter how bad it is. A juror's right, however, to rule on the facts and the law is presently legal, so how can notifying a juror of this right as South Dakota's Amendment A seeks to do be sabotaging the law?

Mr. Fein should study the history of jury nullification, which has its roots in English common law and, in turn, was adopted by our Founding Fathers. In particular, he should study the history of the Quakers, who suffered religious prosecution in England under unconscionable laws. Their experience helped effect our rights to freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and the right to a jury trial.

Mr. Fein appropriately notes that juries meet in secret and are bound by their conscience. They already have the right of "jury nullification." The problem is that judges and prosecutors will do contortions to avoid telling them so, and in some cases force the juries to swear away this right by making them take an oath to decide only as the judge tells them, not as their consciences dictate. In this case, why do we need juries at all? Why not use computers?

Far from being a violation of law, the ability to judge both the facts and the law were early on established in American history and are a valued instrument of social change. (As John Adams said, "It is not only the juror's right, but his duty to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgement and conscience, though in direct opposition to the instruction of the court." Or, in the words of Alexander Hamilton, "Jurors should acquit, even against the judge's instruction if exercising their judgement with discretion and honesty they have a clear conviction the charge of the court is wrong.")

To cite one historical example, it is my understanding that Prohibition came to an end when juries across the country began ruling "not guilty" in alcohol convictions. Confronted with a populace that refused to support a (bad) law, the lawbooks were amended, starting with the Constitution. It is only within recent history (the past 50 years or so) that judges and prosecutors have conspired to deny juries the right to jury nullification.

Please have Mr. Fein do a little historical legal research and write a somewhat different column on South Dakota's initiative, which merely reminds Americans of their ancient right.


RANDAL MORGAN

Aurora, Colo.

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