By David Codrea
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- “I stood in awe while I was there seeing the gravesites of all of those men and women who served America to keep us safe,” a Memorial Day email from Rep. Dave Joyce to his constituents begins. “My father was a World War II veteran who was wounded while on the battlefield, and I keep his Purple Heart in my office as a daily reminder that freedom is not free and that it must be defended.”
Those are true and solemn words from my congressman. All indications are they’re well-intended. After all, he earned an “A”-rating and endorsement from the National Rifle Association. True, he still has some work to do as far as the more demanding Gun Owners of America grade goes, having only earned a “B.”
Similarly, he gets a “B” from Numbers USA on immigration issues, reflecting a deference to Chamber of Commerce types that precludes true leadership on the one issue that threatens the Second Amendment more than any other: A “pathway to citizenship” for untold millions of foreign nationals who show an overwhelming preference for Democrats and for “gun control.” A supermajority in the legislatures combined with court confirmation powers means the 5-4 Heller decision is but a hostile black robe away from reversal. And the rest of the aging Supreme Court justices aren’t going to be around forever.
Bottom line: Joyce (and not just him, but a lot of Republicans) has been fair-to middlin’ on important issues, but not really a stalwart champion of RKBA. He’s voted right most of the time, but hasn’t really done anything stellar to establish himself as a figure that innovates and inspires, which is what a leader is supposed to do.
That could change. And his Memorial Day message suggests how.
That’s because gun owners who visit the resting places of veteran loved must do so under federal prohibition against exercising that which shall not be infringed, as clearly required by Article II of the Bill of Rights.
“VA regulations 38 CFR 1.218 prohibit the carrying of firearms (either openly or concealed), explosives or other dangerous or deadly weapons while on VA property, except for official purposes, such as military funeral honors,” cemetery websites warn, and that is backed up with signage stating the same at the locations. “Possession of firearms on any property under the charge and control of VA is prohibited. Offenders may be subject to a fine, removal from the premises, or arrest.”
“No person while on property shall carry firearms, other dangerous or deadly weapons, or explosives, either openly or concealed, except for official purposes,” the Code of Federal regulations mandates. “Possession of firearms, carried either openly or concealed, whether loaded or unloaded (except by Federal or State law enforcement officers on official business, $500.”
There are also rules against “[p]ossession of knives which exceed a blade length of 3 inches, “and even “unauthorized possession of any of the variety of incapacitating liquid or gas-emitting weapons” is forbidden.
“Conduct in violation of the rules and regulations … subjects an offender to arrest and removal from the premises,” visitors are warned. “Whomever shall be found guilty … is subject to a fine. Violations … may also subject an offender to a term of imprisonment of not more than six months…”
It seems a curious attitude for the government to impose on the living, particularly on ground established to memorialize those who risked, and sometimes gave all in defense of freedom and the Constitution they swore an oath to uphold. As those enforcing the rules can provide no actual evidence that depriving citizens of rights is either compelling or that they are Constitutionally-authorized to mandate it and override “shall not be infringed,” it would appear to be one of those “null and void” regulations jealous and paranoid minds in government are so bent on imposing.
There is no legitimate reason the government, or gun rights opponents, for that matter, can give that should supersede the rights of deceased veterans’ survivors. While we absolutists would prefer to see all bans immediately lifted, realistically, that is not going to happen without effort and support that do not appear to be forthcoming. That said, as was the case with National Parks, there is no reason why military cemeteries should not defer to the laws of the state in which they exist.
It’s time for Rep. Joyce and others who express such high-sounding sentiments to set themselves apart from politicians who just make noise and add some substance to their stirring words. My message to him and to them:
Be leaders. Show us what “A”-raters are made of. Really earn that gun owners support that’s been instrumental in your positions of privilege. The honored dead who fought for freedom did so for the living. Please show political courage and fidelity to your oath to the Constitution by introducing a bill to overturn the military cemetery gun ban.
Readers are urged to send the same request to their representatives who have benefited from good grades and endorsements. And you might want to copy any gun groups you belong to, and ask them why they haven’t been leading in this as well.
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.
In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.