Down in Concord, the legislative season has begun. The House of Representatives spent the first day tinkering with their Rules.
Rules – or not?
Would you play poker without rules, where the opponent gets to decide what the rules are on the spur of the moment? Or imagine that you are playing baseball, the umpire is a member of the other team and something happens that calls for him to make a ruling. Imagine him saying, “Yes, I know this situation is covered in the written rules, but there is precedent for ignoring the rules. I remember a similar situation in 1957 when an umpire ruled the other way. And that’s why my ruling stands even if the rules say it should be otherwise.”
That is essentially what the Democrats are doing down in Concord. There is a set of written rules, Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure, that covers just about every parliamentary situation that has arisen in any U.S. state legislature in over one hundred years. Mason’s is a primary source for the House rules. But the Democrats have decided that past precedent will trump Mason’s rules. The problem is that past precedents are not collected and written down anywhere. The Speaker of the House could rule however she wants, ignoring the written rules, simply declaring that she remembers a precedent from back in 1957 that trumps the rules.
Governments write tens of thousands of pages of rules that the rest of us must follow. Then the government finds a way to ignore its own written rules. What a way to run a government.
Redress of Grievances
The New Hampshire Constitution, like the U.S. Constitution, has a Bill of Rights. Unlike the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights is the very first part of the NH Constitution. Article 31 states the purpose of the legislature: It “shall assemble for the redress of public grievances …”. Article 32 states that the people have a right to petition the legislative body for “redress of the wrongs done them, and of the grievances they suffer.”
Redress of grievances is an important check and balance. Governments do make mistakes; they do hurt innocent people. The people have a right to request that the legislature correct the wrongs done by government; the legislature has an obligation to hear those petitions.
The previous (Republican) legislature created a committee specifically for hearing petitions for Redress of Grievances. The Democrats have decided to eliminate that committee. Instead of actually doing something about a petition for redress of grievance, they will print a very short summary in the calendar, then file it away. Coincidentally, a petition from 1779 was recently discovered in the files. Will this year’s petitions be rediscovered in the files more than 200 years later?
One of the most fundamental rights is the right to defend self, family, and community. This right predates our NH and U.S. Constitutions; the Constitutions simply affirm this basic right. Millions of people exercise this civil right by carrying a firearm. Yes, a firearm IS a tool for self-defense. And it is by far the most effective defensive tool ever developed. It is the great equalizer, allowing the weak to defend against the strong, the unskilled against the skilled. The fastest growing group of gun owners is women who recognize that they do not have the physical strength or training of a bad man.
Democrats have decided to turn the House Chamber and Gallery into a defense-free zone. Members will be prohibited from carrying a firearm to defend themselves and their colleagues. The rest of the State House, including rooms of the Senate, Executive Council, and Governor, are not covered by the new rule. A bad guy could legally carry a concealed weapon throughout the State House right up to the doors of the House.
Statistically a “gun-free zone” is a very dangerous place to be. A bad guy can kill dozens before the police arrive. Conversely, armed civilians can stop the bad guy early, before he commits a massacre. On average 14 people are killed before the police can stop the killer. By comparison, 2½ people are killed when an armed civilian stops the bad guy.
Democrats live in a fantasy world
The Democrat legislators apparently live in a fantasy world. They seem to think that passing a rule solves a problem. The bad guys will obey the rules. They will stop and turn around if they see a “No Guns Allowed” sign. In the real world, the bad guys prefer gun-free zones because they think nobody will have a gun to stop the bad guy.
In their fantasy world, Democrats decide how much money to spend, then they predict that is how much money they will raise. When the real world revenue doesn’t match their fantasy forecast, they raise taxes and fees – as they did the last time they were in control.
In their fantasy world, government never does wrong so there is no need to redress any person’s grievance. If any kook does submit a petition for redress, merely printing it in the calendar will solve the problem.
When Democrats in California, New York, Maryland, or Washington, DC wanted more money to spend, they fantasized that they could just raise rates on the “rich”. In the real world, the rich moved away, taking companies and jobs with them, or they found other legal ways to reduce their tax burden. In the end, the governments actually collected less money.
The Democrat politicians may enjoy their fantasy worlds, but those of us who live in the real world have to suffer the consequences of their follies.