Letter: Some twisted words on Founding Fathers, guns
Op-Ed · February 15, 2013

We humans while away hours of life passing time doing various things beyond responding to biological urges that keep the life of both individuals and mankind going.
These other things seem to be purposeful ways of doing something that to another may not seem like doing much of anything. To wit, a few of us will shoot off our gun while hunting on the back 40 and a few of the rest of us will shoot off our mouths on the opinion pages of the newspaper.

Other moments may even be spent thinking back over wise words passed down by various Founders of our nation. And in this, some of Founders might be a bit surprised if they were to hear what they supposedly said.

Particularly Thomas Jefferson if he were still this side of Deist Land he might shake his head and mumble a line attributed Yogi Berra about other lines attributed to Yogi Berra, “I really didn’t say everything I said.”

This observation on Jefferson was prompted by words put in his mouth in a letter to the editor in last week’s Times: “Those who hammer their guns into plowshares will plow for those who did not.”

As with the letter’s quote of another Founder, Thomas Paine who actually penned the sighted words credited to him under the rubric “Thoughts on Defensive War,” were Jefferson to have issued this paraphrase twist of Scripture, it would likely have reflected his expressed aversion to nation’s having large standing armies and thus been in harmony with the Biblical call for peace among nations:

“He (God) shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many people. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise sword against another.” — Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3.

As for Jefferson’s quoted fidelity to the Constitution that established our government of WE THE PEOPLE, he even publicly affirmed such in his presidential inaugural oath of office — as I also did on induction into the army with the addition to my service pledge to defend our nation “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” This within the safeguard of law and order through a separation of powers in which an unarmed judicial branch is the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution and not the Executive Commander in Chief, or Legislature; both of which respectively enforce and enact laws in accord with what the Court allows to be their enumerated and implied powers.

In what is typical life far short of going to war or suppressing treason, our law-and-order via the ballot box has worked for us far better than that imposed elsewhere from a box of bullets in a banana republic where the self-empowered set the public course down the sights of a gun.

As we know, guns are in the news because of a very tragic slaughter of 20 children and their teachers by an individual who too easily secured a gun that he should not have had. In an instant of disregard he for all time totally took their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

With heartache but calm reason we need to do a better job of keeping guns out of the hands of those who should not have them. And we need to do so in a manner that avoids impeding the long-standing enjoyment of relatives, friends and neighbors in enjoying hunting, target shooting and collecting.

Is a concern for doing better naught but a willingness to tell others how to live their lives? No more so than insisting that people that we care about must live in an armed camp where the drop goes to those that are willing to shoot first.

Public note: Though all rights are limited, the West Branch City Council should refrain from instituting the same kind of ban on writing letters to the editor which by ordinance prohibits the discharge of a gun within the city limits — the pen may be mightier than the sword, but even the loudest mouth in town is no match for AK-47.

Sam Osborne, West Branch

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