L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 215, March 17, 2003
IT'S DOWN TO ME
Gun Freedom Now!
Special to TLE
Most gun owners are aware of the myriad gun-control laws which plague our nation and violate our Constitution. We are frustrated that more of these asinine laws continue to get passed every year. However, what most people don't know is that we can protect each other from these laws using a simple, traditional right that has been with us since our nation was founded.
Our Founding Fathers understood that one of the main purposes of jury trials was to protect people's rights from infringement by the government. To quote Thomas Jefferson: "I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution." That means it is a jury's duty to insure that government doesn't overstep its constitutional limits and violate the God-given rights of citizens. How? Jurors can "just say no" to bad laws by refusing to convict people accused of violating them. Lysander Spooner said, "It is also their [the jurors] right, and their primary and paramount duty, to judge of the justice of the law, and to hold all laws invalid, that are, in their opinion, unjust or oppressive." That right is called "jury nullification" or "jury veto-power" and it is foundational to our freedom as Americans.
Today, however, this right is being trampled by judges in most states in America. Judges will tell jurors that they cannot use their consciences in determining a verdict; that they can consider only the facts of the case and must obey the law as he gives it to them. In short, they lie.
What can we do to regain our rights? Two things.
First, we can join together and work to change the judicial procedures at our state, county and city levels. Concerned gun owners can mail prepared letters (or write their own) to their representatives and legislators, and even help hand out Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) literature at court houses. Despotic judges HATE that.
Second, until we are able to get the laws and procedures changed we can use the time honored practice of peaceful civil disobedience. Let me explain.
We The People of the United States created government to serve us and protect our rights. When it fails to do so it is violating its covenant with us and then it is our right—indeed our duty— to step in and take action. If you doubt this then simply read the Declaration Of Independence. When judges remove people from juries who understand their rights as jurors, or force jurors to take an oath to obey the law as the judge gives it to them, those judges are acting as despots and tyrants. We need not obey them.
Say whatever you have to say to get on the jury. Since judges have no right to ask prospective jurors most of the questions they ask, we are not under any moral obligation to tell the truth. If you are asked if you own a gun, say no. If they ask if you have any pro-gun bumper stickers on your car, you don't. If you are worried about them checking on your car in the court house parking lot, just park somewhere else. You don't belong to any gun clubs and you're not an activist. Present yourself as a middle-of-the-road, average American, who doesn't have any strong feelings about gun issues, jury rights, the U.S. Constitution, or freedom. Like good American sheeple you will, of course, agree to obey anything the judge tells you. Just don't say "baah" during the questioning—that might give you away.
Of course, anyone who practices civil disobedience takes the risk of being found out, and in this case it is possible, though unlikely, that after the trial the judge could find out that you lied and bring charges against you. Nobody ever said that fighting tyranny was safe or easy, but if we're not willing to fight for our rights then we don't deserve them.
Once on the jury, determine whether the defendant is guilty of a mere technical violation of some asinine firearms law and is therefore innocent, or if he has harmed someone without cause using a firearm and is therefore guilty. If you think he's innocent you have two choices when you are sent to deliberate in the jury room.
If you're brave you might want to try to convince your fellow jurors to find the defendant innocent. This may entail educating them about jury rights, the U.S. Constitution, the Second Amendment, etc. However, using this method you run the risk of a jury member telling the judge and getting you cited for contempt of court for not "obeying" the judge's instructions. Welcome to police-state America.
If you're not that brave then you can simply refuse to convict. However, since power hungry, judicial despots recently made "failure to deliberate" a reason to remove an obstinate juror from the jury, you need to do this properly. You can tell the other jurors that you're not convinced by the evidence; that you don't believe the testimony of the cops or the witnesses (you got the impression that they weren't telling the whole truth, that they were holding something back or lying); that you don't believe the defendant's confession. You have the right to disbelieve any and all testimony. As long as you give any of these reasons for voting "not guilty", you cannot be removed from the jury. Neither the jurors nor the judge can force you to explain any more than this. Even if all the other jurors want to vote guilty, your vote will "hang" the jury and the defendant cannot be convicted.
Jury nullification is our last peaceful line of defense against government tyranny, and it has never been needed more than today. It's high time that We The People "reminded" our government that we don't exist to serve it—we created it to serve us! Freedom isn't free—and it isn't guaranteed to last.
Please also join the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) to help fight for jury rights nation wide. Call them at 1-800-TEL-JURY and visit their Web site, www.FIJA.org. If you live in the Colorado Springs/Denver area, feel free to call me at (719) 473-4241 (or write: address is on FIJA Web site) to help with our fight for freedom locally.
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