Chapter 8 -- pps 168-170
Author's note: Kennedy and Newfoundland join the USA in 2016.
The quintessential example of the “framers intent” that we were able to implement first in Kennedy and Newfoundland (two new US states) was in the area of gun control. I do not in any way shape or form disagree that the Second amendment gives the right to bear arms. We, however, took a much more rational rather than historical or patriotic approach to reinterpret this right to exclude concealed weapons and all assault weapons.
Handguns and shot guns were allowed, but only under license and permit and certainly under overall guidelines on how they should be maintained and when they could be utilized. Of course, in 2016 the usual rhetoric started about the rights and freedoms of Americans but with the support of our new American citizens in Kennedy and Newfoundland, who did not want guns in their states, we were able to frame an argument to continue gun regulation that would not have been possible at any other time. The initial trial period and success of the efforts in Kennedy and Newfoundland eventually led most of the other states to implement similar laws. Today in 2043, only Texas and Alaska have not implemented some form of gun control.
I have been accused on occasion of not defending the Constitution fully, but I disagree with this assessment as the Constitution was always part of any and all discussions. Our argument was based once again on the intent of the founding fathers. It is pretty clear that the right to bear arms is matched with a desire to keep unwanted military personnel out of one’s personal premises. This was of course the result of three guiding objectives in the 1700s. One, the British were to be fought at all costs, two, the right to own property and the subsequent right to protect your private property was something worth fighting for and three, the freedom to be left alone. Of these three, I clearly think that the second point was the one that the founding fathers were trying to protect at the time. Let`s face it, it was the mid-1700s and property was scarce so the point was that a homeowner who had taken the time to develop and build a property had ever right to know that the property could not just be taken away from them and that the use of personal force against any usurper was appropriate. Keep in mind that the new Americans in the 1700s were trying to establish the concept of private property since they did not have ownership rights while they had been in Europe. Also, home owners did not have to acquiesce to any type of governmental expropriation of property. This too was a substantial structural change by Americans who were unable to resist against the land owning classes and, in fact, their goods and possessions as well as their private persons were ultimately owned by their superiors while in Europe. These rights would have to be defended by force whenever necessary by the new Americans.
Utilizing this rationale, the case was made that the use of firearms to protect private property was universally justified but limited to handguns. Hunting of course was a prominent part of the culture in Kennedy and Newfoundland and that was not going to change, so shotguns were perfectly acceptable as well. What were not welcome were concealed weapons and assault weapons, both of which were banned and considered illegal from day one of Kennedy’s and Newfoundland’s founding. Personal protection on the streets was not considered a valid reason to carry a gun.
Three items made this approach possible.
The first, as mentioned earlier was the willingness of our new US citizens to go along with this approach, and as I mentioned it was actually a mandate of the new Americans joining the USA. Second, was the harsh punishments handed out by the courts towards anyone found with a gun of any sort in their possession without a license or hunting permit. As well, not having your gun secured properly at home or within mobility situations, for example, driving to a campsite, were met with exceptionally large fines. For example, all guns during transportation had to be unloaded, in a hard-shell gun case, in a locked position and never in an unlocked part of the vehicle except for loading and unloading.
The third thing was that no costs were attributed to licensing or registering of guns. All guns had to be registered and it was a very easy and non-bureaucratic process. You provided your name, your address, the gun make and model as well as the registration number on the gun. Ammunition did not have to be registered. If you were found with a gun anywhere on your possession or on your property that was unregistered it was an automatic jail sentence and then a probationary period.
If someone used a gun in the commitment of a crime against another then the automatic jail time period was a minimum of two years. Discharging a weapon in the commitment of a crime carried with it a minimum sentence of ten years and if an injury was incurred then it went to twenty years. Murder with a gun became an automatic death penalty regardless of what the motive was determined to be. If a husband killed his wife he received a death sentence, if someone killed an innocent bystander they received a death sentence. Guns were not to be tolerated under any circumstances in the execution of violent crime.
Some people at the time, considered the automatic death penalty as particularly harsh and inhumane. Considering of course that the death penalty did not even exist in Canada prior to joining the US it was also a bit of a surprise. The new citizens of Kennedy and Newfoundland though were adamant that the violence that is associated with certain parts of US culture would not come to their states. The new Americans associated the American violent streak in relation mostly to the prevalence and acceptance of guns by the community at large in the United States. They felt that harsh deterrents were the best way to combat any infiltration of this poor part of own US culture.
As previously mentioned, one significant problem with the US legal system in the early twenty-first century was that all deterrence had been removed from the system. Now, as we know, forgiveness is a big part of the American way but as I have mentioned many times throughout these pages, personal responsibility had to become more of a hall mark of being an American. This was especially so in the world of violent crime. For too long, perpetrators of violent crime were too often able to escape appropriate justice due to a number of excuses such as over-crowding of prisons, bureaucracy, inept legal representation, access to superior legal representation and a myriad of other rules that were designed to protect their right.
Being considered innocent rather than guilty was a fine moral principle and one that I support fanatically as everyone knows. But once guilt has been established, especially in this instance where we were referring to gun usage, punishment needed to become very severe. The main thing that citizens came to understand that if guns were utilized in an appropriate manner and in the proper way then absolutely no retribution would ever come to that person. However, when guns because utilized in criminal enterprises then there would be zero tolerance. It only took six months of harsh punishments before the issues surrounding guns virtually vanished over night in the new states. In Kennedy there were only eight murders in the entire calendar year of 2020 and only one involved a gun. In Newfoundland there were no murders and only two people even got shot. Let`s face it, the fear of actual and real punishment is really the only option you have against a criminal as they have already demonstrated the they are not committed to societal norms and expectations.
Also, as I mentioned earlier I am not opposed to more harsh sentences for people under-taking wrong-doing, especially in relation to violent crime. The lack of personal accountability and the ridiculous tone of the legal profession made prosecution of violent offenders almost impossible in the early part of the century. I felt very strongly that this had to change and I fully supported the desire of Kennedy and Newfoundland to not only impose the death penalty but to utilize it.