Hessians and Assault Weapons

Mon, 2012/12/17 - 2:42pm | Your editor
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I know little about constitutional law, but do know about Hessians and NYC locals' need for self-defense against the German mercenaries who fought against the American Revolutionaries'  “well-regulated militia”. The battle of Fort Washington took place in the autumn of 1776 to control the lower Hudson River from the New Jersey Palisades and what is now Washington Heights where I grew up. The site of Fort Washington was Bennett Park, the highest point in Manhattan, where the Hessians overran American forces. It was the park I played in with my nursery school class, all of us children of German-Jewish refugees who had settled in the neighborhood, the northernmost part of Manhattan and its hilliest.

What gave this history extra spice was that my parents, refugees from Germany, were both Hessians.

The Americans were incompetently commanded by Mr. Magaw (of Magaw Place, where the World War II draft board was located), and the British by Mr. Tryon who is commemorated in the much larger Fort Tryon Park. There was also a heroic revolutionary gunner, Margaret Corbin, the first woman to fall in our Revolution, after whom the Fort Tryon Park restaurant was named.

The 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution says: “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.” The idea was that Americans should own and know how to use weapons if faced with another invasion or threat from Britain, Hesse, Canada, or Mexico. Americans may protect themselves and their communities by bearing arms. But New Yorkers are subject to state and local laws which regulate and restrict my right to bear or own or hide a gun; not so Connecticut folks. States regulate guns now. New Yorkers under no circumstances are allowed to own an assault weapon, for fear for public safety. Regulation seems to be inherent in the wording used by the Founding Fathers. I don't think they meant that protecting our liberty requires allowing us to own and conceal semi-automatic combat assault weapons, with 30 rounds in the clip, as used by mad monster Adam Lanza, among other things because they didn't exist in the 18th century.

The 2000 election pitted gun-lover George W. Bush against gun-control advocate Al Gore. When Gore was defeated, with help from the National Rifle Association, W's Administration refused to renew laws restricting combat weapons. The Supreme Court which had decided the 2000 election, in 2008 ruled against a Washington DC ban on hand-guns. The impact was to link any control on guns to the 2nd Amendment and scare the Democrats away from any gun-control.

Recall that the first amendments to the Constitution also worked out how a census should count slaves. That wasn't written in stone. Nor is the right to bear arms. You are not allowed under the rules of free speech to yell “fire” in a crowded theater either.

Our government has banned use of term “lunatic”. It can interpret the Constitution to protect little children in their schoolroom, families going to the mall, high school or college students, young people at the movies, worshippers at a Sikh Temple, constituents meeting their Congresswoman. Yes, nutters can kill by other means. But a handy gun makes it easier to kill masses of people on an impulse. To do this with a knife puts the killer at risk; to murder with explosives or box-cutters take time and careful planning. But a semi-automatic combat weapon which lets you fire 30 shots with one clip without reloading encourages impulse mass murders.

 

I will dash away for London Weds. There will be no blog on Thursday when I arrive jet-lagged for Christmas (or Cliffmess.) There will be no blogs Xmas Day, New Year's Day, and Boxing Day, the British second day of Christmas. We go to Paris in the New Year, too briefly.

We began our Christmas holiday last night with a lovely choral service at St. Peter's Church in Chelsea (West 20s of Manhattan). The church, opened in 1832, was unconsecrated by the Episcopalians and is now a non-denominational musical inclusive faith center-food pantry. A college classmate sang bass. The service included a reading of the neighborhood favorite writer's “A Visit from Saint Nick” by two Irish actors. Even apart from the accents, I was struck by how un-Anglo-Saxon the 1823 poem by Clement Moore is, with a Turkish saint, and reindeer named Donner and Blitzen.

Then we went to basso John's house where the goyish buffet (choice of shrimp or ham) offered by a couple born Jewish and half-Jewish was lit by Chanukah candles. I today got a Christmas-themed card from the Confucius Institute for Business, part of SUNY. The next Chinese year is The Year of the Snake, it told me. Welcome to multicultural NYC.

One of our stocks topped the chart in today's Financial Times reports on the best performing stocks, and the worst. Other picks were 13th and 14th worst performer. And over the past month, a Japanese stock I bought for my own portfolio but not that of my newsletter (mainly because our Japan reporter doesn't like it) ranked 5th best. I told my paid subscribers about Fanuc, a maker of robots for building cars. Now you can buy it too. It us up over 20% in the past 4 weeks.

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