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Last Year’s Individual IGOLD Effort

January 22, 2010

What follows is a letter I wrote and printed multiple copies of a year ago. It was hand delivered by me to each of those people listed and to my State Senator Larry Bomke during last year’s IGOLD gathering. As we approach the anniversary of that delivery, I have yet to hear one even word in response from anyone it was delivered to. However, a couple things I wrote about were partially addressed judicially and legislatively.

The Illinois Supreme Court did define what a ‘case’ is in Illinois vs Diggins. The ILGA also passed a small reform as well. This progress is sadly lacking. As we move closer toward the Supreme Court turning over a hundred years of jurisprudence on it’s head, which is exactly what is afoot, just how minuscule those reforms are will be exposed for all to see. One thing is for sure, the things I wrote a year ago will be vindicated in full and we here in Illinois will be able to exercise our Second Amendment rights in ways many thought impossible.

As for the right to redress of grievances, I guess we can seek them but be 100% ignored. It’s pretty sad when a person takes the time and makes the effort to communicate with elected officials in writing, via hand delivery, and they all ignore it as if it was never delivered to them. Anyway, at least they cannot say they were not warned.  I know I am far from alone on that front, but at least I know I tried personally as an individual Citizen and I look forward to doing so again in a little over a month.

Some will take issue with what I had to say about incorporation a year ago. Well, to that I say this. McDonald will, because there is no alternative but to do so, refer to Heller and that means Heller is the substance McDonald will rest upon. That means Heller incorporated and McDonald will simply be the admission of it.

Gee, I wonder if this year’s letter will focus on a certain premise I disagreed with last year? Harrumph. Enjoy.

To: Senate President John Cullerton, House Speaker Michael Madigan, Governor Pat Quinn, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Secretary of State Jesse White and all Senators and Representatives reading this letter,

Today is my day, as a private citizen, to directly lobby my government for redress of grievances.

I engage in this individual petition in order to call upon you to effectively employ your positions to bring about the corrective changes needed in Illinois law that will reflect, respect, observe and protect my constitutional protection specifically known as the second amendment. Illinois government is the only state government in this country that abuses it’s citizen’s inalienable right to keep and bear arms by disallowing the peaceful exercise of this right absolutely by going so far as to punitively punish the exercise of it. It is long past time to correct this injustice. It is my hope that this petition will help to bring about positive changes that are required before untold amounts of tax dollars are wasted trying to defend something that is already settled all the way up to the Supreme Court.

Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a landmark ruling that settles many parts of a longstanding and hotly contested debate. The decision in this case, known as D.C. versus Heller, declared several things that make moot some basic positions which have long been used to support Illinois firearms laws as they stand today. While it did not address every instance in the specific, some things must change as a result of this ruling. In light of the written words so ordered by the author of the majority opinion, Antonin Scalia, “But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table.”, we all must recognize that Illinois Law regarding firearms has to be changed. I don’t know if you have read this decision but if you have not, I encourage you to do so. I am going to offer some more tidbits from it in supporting the position that my individual rights are being violated by Illinois State Law. The following is one that I consider to be most profound.

“A constitutional guarantee subject to future judges’ assessments of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all. Constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them, whether or not future legislatures or (yes) even future judges think that scope too broad. We would not apply an “interest-balancing” approach to the prohibition of a peaceful neo-Nazi march through Skokie. See National Socialist Party of America v. Skokie, 432 U. S. 43 (1977) (per curiam). The First Amendment contains the freedom-of-speech guarantee that the people ratified, which included exceptions for obscenity, libel, and disclosure of state secrets, but not for the expression of extremely unpopular and wrong-headed views. The Second Amendment is no different.”

The last sentence in that quote declares, without question, that the second amendment is an individual right belonging to each and every citizen in this country. It puts to rest the notions that the second amendment is somehow tied to various forms of military service or that it is some kind of collective right only to be exercised in defense of country and that these are a means to justifiably remove completely individual firearm possession and carrying rights. This declarative sentence establishes, in no uncertain or ambiguous terms, that the second amendment itself is an individual right. The second amendment is now codified as an incorporated, enumerated, inalienable right belonging to each and every person, individually. I realize these statements may be redundant, but the scope of this decision is so immense that I believe some redundancy is required to drive home the point effectively. Repetition is a valuable tool when used appropriately. If there is any question remaining, this next quote should resolve it.

“Putting all of these textual elements together, we find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation. This meaning is strongly confirmed by the historical background of the Second Amendment. We look to this because it has always been widely understood that the Second Amendment, like the First and Fourth Amendments, codified a pre-existing right. The very text of the Second Amendment implicitly recognizes the pre-existence of the right and declares only that it “shall not be infringed.” As we said in United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, 553 (1876), “[t]his is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed” “There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms.”

This establishes, without any remaining doubt, that we all hold an individual right that government did not give us, and therefore cannot take away without individually applied due process of constitutional law. The Supreme Court ruled quite clearly that there exists an individual right to possess and carry weapons. Illinois Law specifically equates “possession” to “unlawful use” and thus unjustly removes completely a law abiding citizen’s constitutional rights. This cannot stand in light of this ruling. It is crystal clear violation of individual rights and is as unjust as removing the first amendment rights.

I understand that there is room here for debate regarding “open carry” versus “concealed carry”. Illinois is the only state where neither is allowed. There rests the main grievance that must be addressed. It is your responsibility, your duty, along with others who will receive this letter, to change Illinois law so that it observes, respects and protects what are now, without question, constitutional rights belonging to all individuals. One or the other, or both, has to be lawfully allowed. The constitution demands it and now so too does the Supreme Court.

In the next quote, another profound declaration is made about the second amendment concerning it’s application, it’s meaning and it’s purpose. If the last one wasn’t clear enough, this one has to be.

“Under any of the standards of scrutiny the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, this prohibition—in the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most acute—would fail constitutional muster. Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional.”

The right to defense of self, family and property, and the use of firearms to those ends, is lawful. While this case dealt specifically with the home, it is unreasonable to view this declaration as applying only to the home in light of the previously quoted declaration that the second amendment itself is “no different” than the first amendment. We all have a right to pray, peacefully assemble, speak and associate outside the confines of our own homes. We must be allowed to exercise our second amendment rights outside the home as well. To offer otherwise would mean a person is presenting the position that we only have other individual rights within the confines of the home. Application of common sense dispels such a position handily. Also handily dispelled by this declaration and application of common sense is the notion that firearm possession everywhere, at all times, is lawful. For example, if I tell person A that they are not welcome to carry their firearm on my property, I am not violating their rights in any way, shape or form. They are free to make the choice to go elsewhere if they disagree.

Illinois Law totally removes the ability to carry a firearm and ammunition on or about your person. A firearm, absent ammunition, is akin to being broken down or bound by a trigger lock. In this way, Illinois Law renders it’s citizens unable to mount the constitutional right to defense of self. I hold a right to travel freely to and fro – it cannot be reasonably argued that I have a right at my home, but I lose it while in private transit and then gain it back upon arrival at my destination. This is like saying I have a right to free speech at home, but I don’t have that right during my private travel, but that I have it once again when I get to my friend’s home. This is pure nonsense.

I think it prudent to make a meaningful distinction with which I believe the Supreme Court has in part, would, and eventually will, agree. It is a distinction that I think our legislature should be bound by in drafting and passing the needed resolution. The right to possess and carry, to keep and bear, is not to be infringed, while the power to determine lawful and unlawful uses, outside defense of self, rests properly and rightfully with the institutions of government. There is a fundamental difference between “having & holding” and “using”. The prior is an individual right and, absent use in defense of self, family and property, the latter is not. Illinois firearm laws must respect this line of separation in order to be just. Today, they do not do so and as a result are unjust.

Nobody will get any argument or opposition from me that governments, local, state and federal, are tasked with establishing, adjudicating and punishing people for unlawful uses. Everyone will, however, get argument and opposition from me when they attempt to support and justify Illinois law as it stands. The very act of exercising my individual constitutionally protected right is deemed unlawful in this state. This is clearly unconstitutional and thus a travesty of the highest order. Antonin Scalia, in the majority decision referenced above, explains why.

I have an individual right to petition my government, but it is a punishable crime, which will see that right removed, if I exercise it? I have an individual right a fair trial, but if I exercise that right, it is a punishable crime which will see that right stripped from me? I hold a right to free association, but if I actually exercise that right, I then lose that right as punishment for exercising it? Of course, all of these questions are ridiculous on their face and amount to complete nonsense. This is the very same nonsense that Illinois Law displays in stating that me exercising my second amendment rights is cause for removing my second amendment rights along with other punishments like fines, jail time and confiscation of my personal property. This nonsensical circular reasoning must be removed from Illinois codes and replaced with constitutionally sound parameters.

Equally nonsensical is the F.O.I.D. card. An ID is so special that it is required for gun ownership, purchase, inheritance and even handling of firearms and ammunition belonging to someone else, yet it isn’t valid enough an ID to be used for cashing a check or entering an establishment that sells alcohol? Seriously? Something doesn’t quite fit. Many like to compare this to registering to vote. Yes, I must register to vote, but I don’t have to pay for that registration nor must I pay to re-register again and again. Such a poll tax has been deemed unconstitutional regarding voting because voting is an individual right. It now must be recognized that firearms ownership and carrying are also individual rights. Law must be changed to accommodate this recognition.

While I understand the usefulness of such a program, if it is unlawful to charge me money so that I may exercise my right to vote, then it is unlawful to charge me money to handle a firearm or ammunition that belongs to me or someone else. Antonin Scalia addressed this point in the opening quote I wrote in this letter. Just because something is useful, just because merit for something can be brought to the table of debate, doesn’t mean the action is allowable. That a right exists is superior to the merit brought. Charging me money to exercise individual rights is unjust.
Let’s compare the F.O.I.D. card to a driver’s license, as is often done in conversation. Seems reasonable enough on it’s face, right? Oh, but wait. Driving is a privilege, having and holding firearms is a right. This basic difference shows that it is not reasonable at all, even though it appeared to be at first glance. Let’s say for the sake of debate that open carry is a right but that concealed carry is a privilege. ( I disagree with that premise, but I say this in an effort to shorten this letter while offering this example) The first cannot require a paid for license, but the second could. Instead of just scrapping the F.O.I.D. card infrastructure, how about folding it into the concealed carry process?
While on the subject of vehicles, inside my vehicle is space that belongs to me just as inside my home belongs to me. In some cases, people’s vehicles are their homes so this space is one and the same. Illinois firearms law entering this domain and completely removing individual rights is well beyond improper. It is unjust and requires changes as a result. A Federal appeals court has upheld the constitutionality of law protecting gun owners ability to exercise their second amendment rights within their vehicles. This has to mean, in conjunction with the Heller decision, that it is unconstitutional to deny people their rights within their vehicles. Yet. Illinois Law does exactly that. This cannot stand, as it is unjust.
I am a gun owner of both the long gun variety and handgun variety. I do not hunt and I do not intend nor have I committed or directed harm toward anyone not first attempting to harm me and mine. Heck, I do not even allow my children to have toy guns like squirt guns or airsofts. You know why? I teach them that guns are not toys. As a responsible gun owner, I think that education is the key that will unlock the door that ever more aggressive and infringing laws have failed miserably to unlock. The infringement of second amendment rights, as displayed so well in Chicago, is a complete failure. Removing access to firearms has only served to make more people ignorant of the knowledge required to handle and use them safely and effectively. A change of course, of mind set, must take place in order to make quality gains that gun control advocates seek. One cannot educate by ban.
On the concealed carry point, I will offer a bit of personal experience. I used to live in Oklahoma, a place where gun owner’s rights are observed far and away better than here in Illinois. I will tell you this, concealed carry there brought an interesting observation to my attention. . People were much nicer to one another. People didn’t engage in needless drama with each other. This is especially true regarding thug-ish groups of youngsters. You see, they did not feel empowered to engage in that thug-ish behavior with the knowledge that they were the only ones in the area who were armed, as they do here in Illinois. They knew otherwise and it showed directly in their behavior. This is part of the benefit of concealed carry. It isn’t the sight of open carrying that brought about this different behavior, it was the knowledge that anyone could be armed and that they had no idea who was and who wasn’t that did.

I would like to tell you a story. One day, my wife was at work. She noticed a tow truck hooking up to a coworker’s vehicle so she thought a communication to that owner was warranted. That way, this coworker could retrieve personal possessions from within the vehicle before it was towed away. As it turned out, the vehicle was being repossessed so the information that my wife offered was quite welcomed by the owner. Evidently, this information was not welcomed by this coworker’s husband. When he came to pick up his wife from work, he made physical threat of bodily harm to my wife and others involved. Indeed, he told my wife and others that he was ‘bout to kill ‘em for gettin’ in his business. Yes, police were made aware of this happening.

For several days, I delivered my wife to her job and picked her up from her job with a handgun in close quarters. Nobody saw it, nobody had it pointed at them and nobody was threatened with it in any way, shape or form. Knowing what was at stake, I made the choice to reasonably put first the ability to successfully defend my wife’s life from a direct threat made to it. I find no shame in admitting that. If a person will prosecute me for such a thing, then I suppose that is how it has to be. I didn’t do anything wrong, I simply exercised what is now so ordered – my individual right to defend family from a direct threat.

I purchased a stun gun for my wife when this happened. I thought, OK, we will do this so there are no worries about her travel from work to parking place, which can be blocks depending on the day and time of year. She would have the means to protect herself and we would not be breaking any laws. A friend told me that I had better check the law closely to make sure. Literature that came with that defense technology advised the same thing. To my surprise, Illinois law considers carrying such an electrical device to be the same violation as carrying a handgun. I thought to myself, how can this be?? How does Illinois law expect a person to defend themselves. So, I put the stun gun away and began to read.

That reading forced me to the conclusion that Illinois Law is set up to punish all forms of self defense with arms of any type. Seeing as how self defense, with arms, is an individual right, this cannot be allowed to continue. This incident is something that compels me to write this letter. My wife and I work very hard to follow the rule of law. We teach our kids that doing so is the foundation of a civil society. We believe that law must be just. Forcing us to forfeit our lives, boxing us in to the point that we are not allowed even the most basic tools with which to defend ourselves cannot reasonably be considered just. Unjust law must be removed and just law must be put in it’s place. That is what needs to take place now in Illinois. You, as lawmakers and law enforcers expect that we citizens follow just laws, in turn, we citizens expect that you lawmakers and law enforcers give us just laws to follow.

In conclusion, I offer this summary. I put forth to those who represent me in my state government that – my right to defense of self, family and property is being violated by Illinois law, my right to keep and bear arms is being violated by Illinois law, my right to be secure in my property is being threatened by Illinois law in return for exercising inalienable individual constitutionally protected rights and charging money for a required F.O.I.D. card amounts to an unconstitutional poll tax. I respectfully and formally ask that my government restore, in law and in practice, my individual rights that have been so unjustly removed.

Mike Marvin

P.S. I notice that hearings for firearm related bills were scheduled just prior to arrival of the IGOLD participants. I find this to be an example of the corruption that has led to the very rights violations I seek resolutions to. Everyone tasked with this scheduling knows full well that a substantial group of citizens are coming to voice their positions and to be heard by elected officials about this subject. This taking place is a current example of underhandedness demonstrated by our former Governor and it is not promising to see such a tactic being employed now by those who are supposed to be representing us after his removal. It occurs to me that this action taken is a slap in the face to all who come to exercise our constitutional rights. I suppose that is to be expected here in Illinois anymore, but expectation doesn’t mean acceptance. If hearings and votes go forward in the hours prior to the arrival of so many coming to be heard, then incredible shame is due for all those responsible. Such an action, in my eyes, constitutes a dereliction of duty and a willful and intentional assault on the democratic process that does more damage to the foundation of this Republic than an “assault” rifle could ever do or has ever done.

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