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South Williamsport, PA
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County Hall Corner: Of the People, By the People, For the People?

On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln made a short dedication speech, just 271 words, beginning with “Four score and seven years ago.” It was a forceful reminder that 87 years earlier, a document known as the Declaration of Independence was signed by representatives of the 13 colonies, declaring that they wanted to form a

On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln made a short dedication speech, just 271 words, beginning with “Four score and seven years ago.” It was a forceful reminder that 87 years earlier, a document known as the Declaration of Independence was signed by representatives of the 13 colonies, declaring that they wanted to form a new nation, “conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Unfortunately, not all men were seen to be created equal, and as a result, the issue of slavery exploded in a full-scale Civil War between the North and the South. On that unseasonably warm day in the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, President Abraham Lincoln delivered a message to dedicate a cemetery that was ten sentences and took just over two minutes, but which captured an entire vision of where the country was, where it had been, and where it was going.

Lincoln closed his address by emphasizing that those who had died had not died in vain but instead had given the country a new birth of freedom — and that the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Today, our country is drifting further and further away from Lincoln’s vision. He could not see the ideals of the Declaration of Independence perishing from the earth, but he also never envisioned the United States as it has been in the past couple of years.

At the federal level, we have seen infringement of freedom to citizens in the first and second amendments to the US Constitution. At the state level, we have endured a governor who set restrictions on almost every aspect of commerce. And even at the local level, public school boards dictate mandatory mask standards that go against parental concerns.

COVID gets blamed for most of this uproar, but it is far more fundamental than public health matters. The group that packed the Lycoming County Commissioners Meeting on Tuesday, September 28th, voiced their very deep concerns that public safety was being used as a ruse for gun restriction and confiscation, a direct attack on the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. It is one thing to prohibit gun ownership to former felons, violent offenders, drug addicts, illegal immigrants (when there was such a thing), which are on the books. But the nose of the camel in the tent has opened so wide now, law-abiding American citizens are finding their access to a firearm being restricted, and even those who own weapons are being “red-flagged” to have their weapons taken from them.

“When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns” is an overstatement but is more true than not. Many of those who spoke at the Commissioners meeting noted the results in Australia, which after a mass killing in 1996, endeavored to make gun ownership virtually illegal.

Though Australia has been championed greatly by progressive groups and their media allies as a model for the USA, if truth be told, it has failed in practice in reducing assaults and suicides. Even the Washington Post published a report on a study that showed that homicides by firearms were falling by about 3 percent a year BEFORE Australia’s National Firearms Act (ANFA) was instituted.

In reference to suicides, the Journal of the American Medical Association study on ANFA concluded, “it is not possible to determine whether the change in firearm deaths can be attributed to the gun law reforms.” And a study done by the US Department of Justice on the research pertaining to Australia’s gun ban and confiscation effort concluded that the measure “appears to have had no effect on gun homicide…” Sheriff Lusk, in his usual direct way, said it best at the County Commissioners meeting, “If you wonder if gun restrictions work, just look at Chicago. It has the highest restrictions in the country, and the highest murder rate in the country.”

Resolution 2021-12 to signify the Commissioners’ support for the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was developed with work from District Attorney Ryan Gardner and Sheriff Mark Lusk. The resolution passed unanimously on that Tuesday, September 28th meeting. Though it is rewarding to know that Lycoming County stands on the US Constitution, it boggles the mind that such a resolution is needed to affirm a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

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