What are Second Amendment Rights?

To begin with, there has never been a case of a new prince disarming his subjects. For by arming your subjects, you make their arms your own. Those among them who are suspicious become loyal, while those who are already loyal remain so, and from subjects they are transformed into partisans... When you disarm your subjects, however, you offend them by showing that, either from cowardliness or from lack of faith, you distrust them; and either conclusion will induce them to hate you.

Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince [Daniel Donno translation, Bantam, 1981, p. 73]

Kelley Ross is endorsed for California State Assembly, 40th District, in 1998 by the
Gun Owners of California, the State affiliate of the Gun Owners of America.

Many States refused to ratify the United States Constitution without a Bill of Rights. Proposals for Amendments included the following:

"That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well-regulated militia, including the body of the people capable of bearing arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state," from New York.

"That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided...." from North Carolina and Virginia.

"Congress shall never disarm any citizen, unless such as are or have been in actual rebellion," from New Hampshire.

Police shoot and kill
about 600 criminals a year.
Law abiding citizens shoot
and kill about 1,500 each
year in self defense.
When firearms are used by
citizens for self defense,
2 percent of the shootings
end up involving an innocent
person mistaken as a criminal.
When firearms are used by
police, 11 percent of the
shootings end up involving
an innocent person mistaken
as a criminal.
The actual Second Amendment reads: "A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed." This is not as clear as the original proposals, but it is obvious from them that the purpose of a citizen militia is defense against tyranny, and against the dangers to liberty posed by standing armies, as much as defense against invasion. Also, it is clear that the right to keep and bears arms is independent of whatever function a militia might have. An armed citizenry enables us to have a militia, not the other way around.

Noah Webster said: "Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States."

Now, when even the Postal Service and the National Park Service have their own SWAT teams, the American People are no longer superior to any force that can be raised against them. The government is already fully capable of enforcing unjust laws by the sword, as it does on a daily basis.

A child is 18 times
more likely to die
in a swimming pool
accident than in a
shooting accident.
That is not good enough for our would-be tyrants: they intend in time to completely disarm the citizenry. Their purpose is not to protect us from crime or accidents but to prevent us from protecting ourselves against them. The Gestapo, in disarmed Germany, never had to worry about people shooting back. No, everyone was a good German and did what they were told, even when it meant marching into gas chambers.

Year 2000 Update:  The May 14th "Million Mom March," or the "Million Chump March," presents the pathetic spectacle of people across the country unknowningly trying to reestablish Nazi Germany. Although the "official" line of the campaign was "reasonable" gun laws, the signs of the marchers were more honest, often simply saying "no more guns" -- which, of course, simply means "no more guns" for us, not "no more guns" for the police, who will always have plenty. The Führer would be proud.

Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO)

What Is Called "Gun Control"?

Political Economy

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Vita, Kelley L. Ross

A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded....Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes.

Abraham Lincoln

Why do Kurt Schmoke, the Democratic Mayor of Baltimore, and even Conservatives like William F. Buckley, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell oppose Drug Prohibition and the War on Drugs?

The United Nations even thinks that those who advocate drug legalization are criminals and should be prosecuted. This would, of course, revoke your First Amendment right to free speech, as well as your Ninth Amendment right to self-medication. A 1997 report of the United Nations "International Narcotics Control Board" (INCB) claims that the 1988 U.N. "Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances" prohibits any advocacy of drug use, which would also mean any political advocacy of drug legalization.

The Board notes with regret that despite the fact that...Governments of States that are parties to the 1988 Convention are required to make the incitement or inducement to take drugs a criminal offense, either this has not been done or the law has not been enforced. Prominent people have issued some very public calls to take drugs and have not been prosecuted.

Timothy Leary died just in time! Although in the United States such prosecutions of political speech would be illegal, it is curiously the influence of United States drug warriors that pushes such a hard line from the United Nations. This is revealing:  Drug warriors have no respect for self-ownship and self-medication and this is simply of a piece with no respect for any other fundamental rights.

Drug Policy Foundation

Drug Reform Coordination Network

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Kelley L. Ross

The Wisdom of James Madison


The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

Federalist Paper No 47 [Note that Federal Administrative Agencies, like the IRS, now have executive, legislative (through regulations that have the force of law), and judicial powers (through "administrative law"). This violates the Separation of Powers, but the courts have allowed it to happen.]


It is a misfortune incident to republican government, though in a less degree than to other governments, that those who administer it may forget their obligations to their constituents and prove unfaithful to their important trust.....What indeed are all the repealing, explaining, and amending laws, which fill and disgrace our voluminous codes, but so many monuments of deficient wisdom; so many impeachments exhibited by each succeeding against each preceding session.....

The internal effects of a mutable policy are still more calamitous. It poisons the blessings of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?.....

Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue, or in any manner effecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change, and can trace its consequences; a harvest, reared not by themselves, but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow-citizens.....

What prudent merchant will hazard his fortunes in any new branch of commerce when he knows not but that his plans may be rendered unlawful before they can be executed? What farmer of manufacturer will lay himself out for the encouragement given to any particular cultivation or establishment, when he can have no assurance that his preparatory labors and advances will not render him a victim to an inconstant government?...

No government, any more than an individual, will long be respected without being truly respectable; nor be truly respectable without possessing a certain portion of order and stability.

Federalist Paper No. 62 [Note that Congress and Administrative Agencies DO change the law, and Federal regulations, all the time. The Agencies only need to PUBLISH their new rules, and they acquire the force of law. This means that government is no longer "by the people," but by unaccountable bureaucrats.]

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Kelley L. Ross

The Curse of the New Deal

Since 1932 the foundation of the government of the United States has rested on two lies: First, that the Great Depression was caused by banks and by business; and second that the New Deal was the proper response to the Great Depression and actually had something to do with ending it. Because of these lies, America, for all its success and prosperity since, has been haunted by a shadow of error and misunderstanding. The day of reckoning approaches.

The Great Depression was not caused by banks or by business "speculators." In his inaugural address in 1933, Franklin Roosevelt said:

Practices of the unscrupulous money-changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion....Yes, the money-changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of that restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.

But the "money-changers" had themselves been betrayed. The Great Depression began with a credit collapse, the inevitable result of too many bad loans, an overextension of lending that was also behind the Stock Market Crash. That had happened many times before, as recently as 1908, without causing a Depression. The difference was that in the 1920's the new Federal Reserve System had encouraged banks to extend their credit further than ever before. The banks did, with confidence, since the Federal Reserve System had actually been created in 1913 to stand behind banks that might be threatened in a credit collapse. But when the collapse came, with all the force of a fall from an unprecedented height, and a banking panic began, the Federal Reserve System mostly stood idly by and let the banks fail. By 1933 40% of all the nation's commercial banks had gone bankrupt or been closed by regulators. Nothing like that had ever happened before, because the banks had not let it happen. But the ability of the banks to protect themselves, and the public, had been taken from them and given to irresponsible bureaucrats whose only real interest was to protect themselves, not the banks or the public. The result was that the savings of businesses and individuals were wiped out, the currency deflated tremendously, and debts and mortgages were suddenly many time more valuable than before. Countless bankruptcies and foreclosures followed. Thus, Roosevelt's "money-changes" were not the cause of the Depression but in fact its first victims. After the Stock Market Crash Herbert Hoover immediately set in motion two policies that would turn the credit collapse, even a catastrophic one, into something very much worse. The first policy was to encourage businesses not to cut wages because of deflation. This was based on the theory that high wages would make for large purchasing power, and that this would stimulate the economy. The "demand side" theory, although urged on Hoover by businessmen like Henry Ford, unfortunately was exactly the wrong idea. High wages, which automatically became higher as deflation increased the value of the dollar, actually meant that labor was priced out of the market, which translates into unemployment. Since the most significant phenomenon of the Great Depression, indeed its defining characteristic, was high unemployment, it is significant that the misconceived "demand side" theory about wages continued to be accepted by Hoover's successor, Franklin Roosevelt, and spawned consistent New Deal policies like the Minimum Wage and significant new powers for labor unions, which of course used them to maintain high union wages. Herbert Hoover is sometimes "credited" with anticipating some of the policies of the New Deal; but a more just assessment would be that Franklin Roosevelt should receive the discredit for continuing the disastrous policies of Hoover. For, in truth, the New Deal did nothing about unemployment. From the day Roosevelt assumed office in March 1933, unemployment remained above twenty percent until January 1935. It was again steadily above twenty percent from July 1935 to January 1936, and then again intermittently from April 1938 to May 1939. This was not a record of success, and Roosevelt lost control of Congress in the midterm elections of 1938. Only confusion about what had happened, about economic events that even economists hadn't understood very well, prevented Roosevelt from being completely discredited. World War II saved him, his reputation, and the mystique of the New Deal; for the wage freeze and the high inflation of the War economy finally broke the logjam of high wages and allowed a strong economy to grow again under the tough talk but mostly benign neglect of Harry Truman after the war was over. High unemployment, although anticipated by the still confused economists, did not return.

Herbert Hoover, however, had added another disastrous policy to the criminal negligence of the Federal Reserve System and the disastrously wrong headed "demand side" high wage theory. As the notion of keeping wages high was a kind of protectionism, the logical extension was the full blown protectionism of high protective tariffs. This would presumably made Americans buy more American goods, which would stimulate economic growth. The result was the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. A thousand economists signed a petition and made a public statement to President Hoover on May 4, 1930, warning him that the tariff would be a disaster. He ignored them and signed the bill, which produced the worst single blow to the economy in the whole history of the Great Depression: Unemployment jumped from 6.1% in October 1930, which hardly even looks like a recession now, to 14.4% in December. That was a true Depression level. When the banks began to really fail, unemployment ultimately rose to 28.3% in March 1933. Until then, the highest unemployment in American history had been 18.4% in 1894. Roosevelt continued Hoover's trade protectionism; he even boasted about destroying farm exports. Nevertheless, the United States could boast a positive balance of trade, which just reveals how little a trade balance has to do with real prosperity. The United States had run a trade deficit all during the time it was growing by leaps and bounds in the 19th century.

To Democrats, the New Deal is everything good about America; but even Republicans long ago gave up criticizing or trying to repeal New Deal measures. But the New Deal, what it was supposed to do, and what it did accomplish, are nothing but a tissue of mythology. The New Deal really amounted to nothing more than theft through government with moralistic rhetoric. Any creature can live with a certain amount of parasitism, but the day approaches when programs like Social Security face bankruptcy, and when Social Security revenues can no longer be spent as part of the federal budget, the nation will face bankruptcy as well. Hopefully, at least by then, people will realize that the New Deal was not America. It was really the opposite of everything that enabled the country to grow and become strong. As Henry David Thoreau said:

This government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of the way. It does not keep the country free....It does not educate.

The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way.

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Kelley L. Ross

An Indictment of the United States Government

In Constitutional terms,
the Federal Government is now nothing less than a Criminal Conspiracy.

The United State Government is guilty of multiple acts of theft and tyranny, among which, in direct violation of the United States Constitution, are as follows:

  1. Violations of the SEPARATION OF POWERS (Article I, Section 1, and Article III, Section 1, of the United States Constitution) by legislative acts that cede to administrative agencies in the Executive Branch of government (a) the power to write regulations that have the force of law, merely by being published, without the consent either of the People or of their representatives and (b) the power to summarily levy fines and penalties without any judicial procedure outside of the acts of, or outside the acts of the "administrative law" courts of, such administrative agencies.

  2. Violations of Article I, Section 8, Paragraph 1, of the United States Constitution, "To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States," by imposing taxes for purposes neither pursuant to the Enumerated Powers of the Federal Government (violating the 10th Amendment) nor "necessary and proper for carrying into Execution" those Powers, most of which taxes are not even for the "general Welfare of the United States" but constitute payments to private individuals and private businesses for their own benefit, in disregard of the burden imposed upon others and upon the Future of the Nation.

  3. Violations of Article I, Section 8, Paragraph 2, of the United States Constitution, "To borrow Money on the credit of the United States," by borrowing money for purposes neither pursuant to the Enumerated Powers of the Federal Government (violating the 10th Amendment) nor "necessary and proper for carrying into Execution" those Powers, most of which purposes consist of payments to private individuals and private businesses for their own benefit, in disregard of the burden imposed upon others and upon the Future of the Nation, especially as the accumulation of Debt even in Peacetime is now comparable to a degree of Debt that was never accumulated before except in cases of War. This imperils the Solvency and the Good Faith and Credit of the United States and is a crime against Posterity.

  4. Violations of Article I, Section 8, Paragraph 5, of the United States Constitution, "To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof," by legislative acts that have suspended the coining of money by the United States, that gave the President the extra-constitutional power to seize money from private hands "without just compensation" (violating the 5th Amendment), to uselessly hoard the gold coinage of the United States, and to treacherously void gold clauses in private contracts and in United States Securities, and that gave to the Federal Reserve System the extra-constitutional power to issue legal tender fiat currency, resulting in a continuing system of Theft by way of paper money inflation.

  5. Violations of the FIRST AMENDMENT by legislative acts of Censorship against communications media ("the press"), including television, radio, and the Internet.

  6. Violations of the SECOND AMENDMENT by legislative acts that disarm peaceful, innocent, and law abiding citizens, rendering them unable to resist either private criminals or the criminal acts of federal or local law enforcement officers abusing their authority.

  7. Violations of the FOURTH AMENDMENT by legislative acts that authorize searches and seizures by various federal agencies of private property without warrants, convictions of crimes, charges of crimes, trial by jury, or the presumption of innocence for targeted citizens. These legislative acts of tyranny have VOIDED the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects....."

  8. Violations of the FIFTH AMENDMENT by legislative acts (a) that make "a person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb" by federal prosecutions for acts when State prosecutions for the SAME acts fail and no misconduct in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment can be charged in the State actions, (b) that effectively require a citizen "in any criminal case to be a witness against himself" by reporting criminal acts for the purposes of taxation, the failure to do so is then prosecuted, (c) that enable seizures to take place or fines to be levied that deprive citizens of "property, without due process of law," and (d) that authorize that "private property be taken for public use, without just compensation" by depriving citizens for various purposes of their rights in their property, and the value and use of their property, without any compensation, often instead making ordinary use of their property a criminal offense.

  9. Violations of the FIFTH, SIXTH, AND SEVENTH AMENDMENTS by legislative acts that give to administrative agencies the powers to levy fines and penalties against a citizen without trial by jury, without being "confronted with the witnesses against him," and often, especially in tax and regulatory cases, without being "informed of the nature and cause of the accusation."

  10. Violations of the EIGHTH AMENDMENT by legislative acts that impose "excessive fines" through the fiction of "civil forfeiture" rules and "excessive fines" and "cruel and unusual punishment" by Draconian penalties for the possession of "controlled substances" which pose no harm or threat to other persons and over which the federal government of the United States has no authority anyway.

  11. Violations of the NINTH AMENDMENT by legislative acts that deprive citizens of their Natural Rights to privacy and to the possession, use, and control of their own bodies, especially those legislative acts which deprive citizens of their Right to Self-Medication and to determine for themselves what medical treatments, therapies, devices, and substances are Safe and Effective; and also by legislative acts that authorize administrative procedures that suspend the Common Law right to be presumed innocent of an offense until proven guilty in a court of law.

  12. Violations of the TENTH AMENDMENT by legislative acts (a) that appropriate for the Federal Government powers that are not enumerated in the Constitution to be delegated by it to the United States, nor are "necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers," (b) that tax the Citizens of the United States and borrow money for purposes other than those pursuant to those delegated powers, and (c) that abridge the Natural Liberties, the Privileges and Immunities, of Citizens of the United States by such appropriations of extra-constitutional, unenumerated powers.

By these Multiple and Grievous Violations of the Constitution, which constitute intolerable Crimes of Theft and Tyranny, the Government of the United States of America has forfeited its Moral and Legal Right to be considered the Legitimate Government of the United States of America.

The Proposed Remedy for these Crimes is the following California Resolution.

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Kelley L. Ross

The California Resolution

based on the Kentucky Resolution of 1798 (authored by Thomas Jefferson, at that time Vice-President of the United States and later the Third President of the United States), and the Virginia Resolution of 1799 (authored by James Madison, later the Fourth President of the United States), Nullifying the unconstitutional Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.

That, in a case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers not granted [to the Federal Government] by the said compact [The Constitution], the States, who are parties thereto, have the right and are in duty bound to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil. [from the Virginia Resolution]

WHEREAS the Federal Government of the United States of America has become an ACTIVE SYSTEM OF THEFT AND TYRANNY, as evidenced by the following particulars,

THAT the agents, departments, and agencies of the Federal Government of the United States of America have been authorized to seize Private Property without charges, without trial, without conviction, and even without reasonable evidence of guilt, rendering many Citizens homeless and impoverished, and then to require such Citizens to PROVE themselves INNOCENT, at great time and expense to themselves, when their ability to do so may have been destroyed by the seizure of their substance--all in violation of Natural Justice, of multiple provisions of the Common Law, and of the explicit Letter of the Constitution and Bill of Rights of the United States;

THAT the agents, departments, and agencies of the Federal Government of the United States of America have been empowered to write their own Irresponsible Regulations, having the force of Law, to enforce those Regulations themselves, to hand down summary Fines and Penalties without trial, conviction, or even the discovery of evidence, and then to judge themselves, through the extraconstitutional Fiction of "administrative law," whether their agents have properly enforced their own Regulations, while the appeal to genuine Courts and the protection of Juries is suspended until endless and expensive "administrative remedies" are exhausted--all in violation of Natural Justice, of multiple provisions of the Common Law, and of the explicit Letter of the Constitution and Bill of Rights of the United States;

THAT the agents, departments, and agencies of the Federal Government of the United States of America have been empowered to DENY to the citizens of the United States their inalienable rights to govern the care of their own bodies, through such medical treatment and such determination of drugs and therapies as they judge will be beneficial to them, and to fine and imprison those Citizens of the United States, often with Excessive and Draconian sentences, for the sole "crime" of being in possession of medicinal substances that the Federal Government of the United States deems to be harmful to them, thereby displaying a willingness to destroy the lives and fortunes of Citizens of the United States for the irrational purpose of preventing them from harming themselves--all in violation of Natural Justice, of multiple provisions of the Common Law, and of the explicit Letter of the Constitution and Bill of Rights of the United States;

AND, WHEREAS the Federal Courts and the Supreme Court of the United States have failed to protect the Citizens of the United States of America, in dereliction of their Duty to Preserve, Protect, and Defend the Constitution of the United States, against the aforesaid acts of Theft and Tyranny, and against Multiple Other Offenses and Usurpations of Authority,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the presently constituted and active Government of the United States of America is a TYRANNICAL USURPATION that is no longer the Legitimate and Constitutional Federal Government of the United States of America; and,

FURTHERMORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that all laws, regulations, writs, judgments, orders, sentences, commissions, and commands enacted and promulgated by the presently constituted and active Federal Government of the United States of America are hereby declared NULL AND VOID and will no longer impose any DUTY OR OBLIGATION upon the States or Citizens of the United States, until such time as the Federal Government of the United States be properly Reconstituted within its CONSTITUTIONAL LIMITS; and,

FURTHERMORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Citizens of the United States of America and the constituent States and Territories of the United States are hereby authorized to IGNORE the claims and authority of any agents or officers of the Federal Government of the United States, or of any of its departments and agencies, and that should any such agents or officers of the Federal Government of the United States use force or violence in order to compel Anyone to obey their claims and authority, they are hereby subject to ARREST by the States and the Citizens of the United States for any breaches of the Law as such uses of force or violence would ordinarily render any Private Citizen liable to arrest; and,

FURTHERMORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Citizens of the United States of America and the constituent States and Territories of the United States who are unable or unwilling to physically resist uses of force or violence by agents or officers of the Federal Government are hereby counseled to engage in Non-Violent Civil Disobedience and Passive Non-Cooperation against any such agents or officers, refusing to obey any orders, make any payments, or observe by any positive action any enforcement of Oppressive Federal Laws. If Federal forces should depose duly elected Local or State authorities and impose Dictatorial Rule, such forms of government should also be treated with Non-Cooperation; and,

FURTHERMORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the sole exceptions to the above Nullification, in order that the Defense of the United States should not cease and that Law and Order should not lapse or violent disputes arise in the case of the administration of specific Federal jurisdictions, are:

  1. The authority of the Armed Forces of the United States to exercise their powers under the existing Commander-in-Chief in the defense of the Citizens and Territory of the United States of America against threats or attacks from External Enemies, as long as those Forces can be maintained on the Credit voluntarily rendered to the existing Federal Government of the United States by the States and Citizens for this purpose alone, and,

  2. The authority of the existing Federal Government of the United States to exercise the police powers of ordinary criminal and civil law in those territories over which the Federal Government exercises direct administrative control according to Article I, section 8, paragraph 17 of the Constitution of the United States, as sustained by the ordinary Civil Revenues of those territories.


If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual State... The obstacles to usurpation and the facilities of resistance increase with the increased extent of the state, provided the citizens understand their rights are are disposed to defend them... Power being almost always the rival of power, the general government will at all times stand ready to check the usurpations of the state governments, and these will have the same disposition towards the general government. The people, by throwing themselves into either scale, will infallibily make it preponderate. If their rights are invaded by either, they can make use of the other as the instrument of redress... ..the State governments will, in all possible contingencies, afford complete security against invasions of the public liberty by the national authority.

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Paper No. 28

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Kelley L. Ross