(Denver Post, Feb. 3) Firearms are dangerous. When learning to use a rifle in boyhood, and later when training with a handgun, I was drilled hard on this. Instructors barked at my least show of carelessness.
But the force of government and political power is more dangerous than any gun. Our public officials are trustees over the organized monopoly of legitimate violence in this country. Under due process of law, they hold the dispensation of life and death over us all. How chilling if this fearsome power were to be used carelessly.
Unfortunately, instances of its careless use are all around us, often on a massive scale and with disastrous consequences. That’s why in these United States we live not only under laws – in which the government tells the people what they may and may not do – but also under constitutions, in which the people tell the government what it may and may not do.
This recently came to mind as I listened to state legislators taking their oath “to support the Constitution of the United States and of the state of Colorado,” and last week to President Obama swearing for his second term “to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
In Barack Obama’s heart, however, it seems his constitutional agenda is more transformative than protective. He’s on the record in a 2001 radio interview, thinking aloud about the need to “break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution