Local Missouri Legislator Responds To Charge That He Apparently Condones The Use Of Violence Against The Government

Late last week I posted an email I sent to a local state representative named Charlie Davis. The issue was something Mr. Davis had said on a local right-wing radio station regarding a proposed amendment to our state constitution. Well, I heard from Mr. Davis on Monday.

For the purpose of tidiness, I will post my initial email to Rep. Davis, followed by his complete response, followed by my second email to him:

______________________________________

Representative Davis,

I heard you on KZRG this morning say the following about the proposed new amendment to the state constitution:

“It gives the constitutional right to keep and bear arms and also to have your ammunition and any other object that is a normal function of such arms. Because we see what the federal government is trying to do. They say, yeah, you have the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, but it doesn’t say anything about ammunition. Well, for us common-sense folks here in Southwest Missouri, “keep and bear arms” means arms, ammunition, the things that you need to protect yourself from an individual or from an overextension of government.”

Sir, I like to think of myself as one of those “common-sense folks” who lives here in Southwest Missouri. But I’ll be darned if I know what you meant by “overextension of government” in this context or exactly what kind of overextension of government would justify a Missourian picking up a weapon and shooting and perhaps killing a government official doing his or her duty. Please enlighten me as to a specific circumstance in which you, a state legislator, would condone the use of violence against any government official.

Sincerely,

R. Duane Graham
Joplin, MO

_________________________________________

Mr. Graham,

I appreciate your email and also for you listening to ZKRG Radio [sic].  I will try to answer your email in as short of a response as possible.  I believe in accountability when it comes to ownership of guns.  Unfortunately it seems like we have been attempting to get law abiding citizens to be accountable and not the criminals.  We pass legislation in this country constantly that attempts to ban more and more items or actions, yet it is only the law abiding citizens that are effected.  Criminals do not follow or comply with the law.  We have had a ban on murder and rape since this country was formed yet criminals continue to commit these horrible crimes.  We have banned the sale of alcohol to minors, yet I can take you to places in our neighborhoods that these teenagers drink and party it up.  We have banned drugs of so many sorts yet we have a severe drug problem in our country.  Simply banning things is not the solution, changing hearts is.  We have to educate our children about the adverse effects of drugs and ensure they are informed and have the opportunity to make the right choices.  We have banned God and morality from our schools, not so much in our area, and kids don’t know right from wrong.  They are taught there are no moral absolutes.  Laws are not the solution, changing hearts is.

We have seen a huge push over the years to ban as many “styles” of weapons, ammo and accessories as possible.  Even here in Missouri, Representative Ellinger filed a bill requiring law abiding citizens to turn in their guns and magazines within 90 days or be charged with a felony.  Who would have turned in their guns?  Law abiding citizens? Criminals?  We know the criminals would not have.  One study indicates that ‘legal’ guns are used 2.5 million times per year to properly and lawfully protect citizens. There’s also a possibility of the gun itself being legal, licensed to someone, but the criminal carrying it had stolen it. Approx. 95% of “gun crimes” are performed with a gun that has been obtained illegally.. Therefore, gun crimes won’t really decrease by not allowing law abiding citizens to carry guns.  You mentioned in your email “a Missourian picking up a weapon and shooting and perhaps killing a government official doing his or her duty… Please enlighten me as to a specific circumstance in which you, a state legislator, would condone the use of violence against any government official.” I am a bit confused, I don’t remember saying we need to kill anyone.  We have a legal right to keep and bear arms, ammunition and accessories because I feel it is our Constitutional right, I never said  we should use them against a specific individual.  Peace through strength.  We have alarm systems in our homes and businesses to deter crime, that is why we put stickers in the windows and in the yard.  I do not like RAP music because of the degrading messages in just about every song but I do believe in the Constitutional right to free speech.  I simply educate my children in the content and they choose to not listen to it.  Education, that’s the key.  Educate our citizens about their responsibilities with the liberties and freedoms our Constitution protects.  Just because something is not against the law doesn’t make it ok to do it or right.

I hope this answers your question.

Regards,

 cid:image001.jpg@01CEA64A.B286C310

Charlie Davis
Missouri House of Representatives
District 162
Room 201BA
Phone: (573) 751-7082
cid:image002.jpg@01CEA64A.B286C310

_________________________________________

Mr. Davis,

Thank you for the timely and courteous reply. 

I will not attempt in this email to address some of the dubious claims you made (like, for instance, “We have banned God and morality from our schools…”). Rather, I want to follow up on the original reason I emailed you.

Your response ended with, “I hope this answers your question,” and I want to tell you that it certainly does not answer my question. In fact, with all due respect, your response seems to, purposely or otherwise, miss the point I was making by asking you the question in the first place.

You say you are “a bit confused” and that you “don’t remember saying we need to kill anyone” and that you “never said we should use [arms] against a specific individual.” Okay, let me attempt to make the issue clearer. No, you didn’t say we need to kill anyone. No, you didn’t say we should use weapons against any specific individual. Of course you didn’t put it that way. But what you did say is that we need to expand our right to keep and bear arms in this state, including the right to keep and bear ammunition, because we need arms and ammunition to protect ourselves “from an individual or from an overextension of government.”

Now, presumably, if we are to use guns to protect ourselves from either individuals or from government (in context you were talking about the federal government), that suggests we may possibly have to do so by actually firing the weapons at real people, either individuals acting on their own or acting as representatives of government. We can’t always count on the mere brandishing of arms to do the trick.

I certainly understand what it means to use guns for protection against, say, someone who breaks into your home. I get that. Bang, bang! They’re dead. What I do not understand is what it means to use guns for protection against “an overextension of government.” That sounds a lot like what happened in this country’s Civil War or, more recently, what those Bundy-friendly folks in Nevada did when they chased away federal officials with guns. If that is what you mean, feel free to say so. If you think it is okay for citizens to ultimately settle disputes against the federal government by resorting to arms, admit as much.

But if that is not what you mean, if you really don’t think disputants have the constitutional right to shoot it out with the feds, please clarify what you said on KZRG. Please explain what it might mean to say that someone can use their right to bear arms against “an overextension of government” without actually having the right to fire on a government employee who is representing the interests of the government, of “we the people.” And please explain who gets to decide what “overextension” means.

Or you could simply say that you made a mistake. You could admit that you misspoke. You could tell Missourians that you did not mean to imply that they would—if voters approve the change to our state’s constitution that you champion—have the right to challenge the authority of the federal government by aiming at and, if necessary, shooting at one of its agents. That is up to you. But hiding what you mean behind a maxim like “Peace through strength” simply won’t do.

Sincerely,

R. Duane Graham
Joplin, MO

6 Comments

  1. RDG,

    Thanks for focusing attention on the disturbing remark made by Rep. Charlie Davis. Equally disturbing is his refusal to answer a direct question. “Peace through strength” is a phrase first attributed to Roman Emperor Hadrian. Ronald Reagan borrowed it to criticize what he believed to be President Carter’s weak foreign policy during the 1980 presidential campaign. “If you’re explaining you’re losing” is more germane if tossing out an old maxim from the late former president.

    Rep. Davis,

    Regarding your moral decay laundry list, I would remind you that illegal drug use is on the decline, replaced by prescription drug abuse. Contact Rush Limbaugh for more details.

    Like

    • Juan,

      Nice to have you back!

      Disturbing remark by Davis, indeed. As I told Anson, he shouldn’t get away with obfuscation. He has to answer the question of whether it is okay for people to take the law into their own hands, with permission from the Missouri constitution if it is amended the way he wants.

      And as for his “moral decay laundry list,” I could have written an entire post on that. Geeze.

      Duane

      Like

  2. ansonburlingame

     /  May 14, 2014

    Well here comes Anson, again. Here is MY email back to both Charlie Davis and Duane, for what it is worth.

    Charlie and Duane,

    Charlie, Duane asked a good question in his LTTE and your email back to him failed to answer it, in my view. All of the back and forth is public as Duane has posted the exchanges on his blog. Good for him. Let’s talk about the real issue, gun ownership, right of wrong, not just legal, etc.

    When the Constitution was written and ratified and then quickly amended to insert the Bill of Rights Americans needed guns in many places to live safely. Such is not the case today. While I have legally owned a shotgun all my adult life (and childhood as well) I only used it for recreation, hunting. And I didn’t need to hunt to live for sure. While I still have my shotgun I haven’t taken it out of its case for 15 years now as I no longer hunt. And I don’t keep it “handy” for self protection today. I rely on government, the police, to keep me safe and my phone to call 911 right by my bedside is all I need or want, thank you very much.

    Now if Duane and his liberal friends decided to protest in front of my house because of political differences I certainly would not “get out my gun”. If I felt threaten I would simply use the phone and call for help. Daniel Boone could not do that with Indians at his doorstep. But I can and would. Times change.

    Guns have two uses. One is recreation, hunting, and when all is said and done, such guns kill things, whether the things are needed for food or simply “for fun and recreation”. OK, go ahead as far as I am concerned if that floats your boat.

    But the only other use, ulitmately, for a gun is to kill or wound PEOPLE. I see no need for such today in the modern world.

    The word missing in your exchanges is the word “deterrence”. Some believe guns are needed to deter criminals. Others say let the police do it. I come down, in a modern world, to trust government in America to deter criminals and don’t demand that wherewithal, on my own, to undertake such actions.

    BUT, if I decided I wanted to deter someone, I would use a shotgun now to do so, NOT a hand gun. Much easier to kill or wound someone with a shotgun instead of “shooting myself in the foot” with a hand gun. So yes, outlaw all hand guns as unnecesary is my point of view. Need I add “assault” weapons, etc. I can, even at age 72 still use a shotgun to shoot intruders.

    Deterrence of crime is a GOVERNMENT function, not MY responsibility or concern other than to report such activity if or when I see it or think it might happen. Doing something about crime is up to government and such government must be held accountable for such actions. If government fails to act as I see fit then I get to weigh in with my views on government failure, not my “right to go kill someone”!!

    I will also add that suggesting that I need a gun to deter government from doing harm to me is crazy in a modern democracy. For me to even consider shooting at an FBI agent is so far beyond the realm of plausible actions by any citizen in America as to be almost unthinkable, today.

    I will also add that I am in the minority in Jasper County that feel that way and thus what I say is not politically expedient. But at some point political expediency, playing to majority views, comes up against what is just right and wrong, in America, today. I understand why a politician says such things, but I disagree with the implications for sure, Charlie.

    Respectfully,

    Anson Burlingame

    Like

    • Anson,

      Thanks for putting this issue once again on the editorial page. So far, I have not received another response from Rep. Davis. Have you? I wonder if he will write to the Globe instead? He can’t stay silent, can he? You wrote,

      For me to even consider shooting at an FBI agent is so far beyond the realm of plausible actions by any citizen in America as to be almost unthinkable, today.

      It may be unthinkable to you and to me, but it is not unthinkable to Charlie Davis, apparently. You will notice in his response that he did not nix the idea. He just tried to obfuscate. I don’t think he should get away without having to answer the simple question: Does the proposed amendment to Missouri’s constitution allow Missourians to shoot at federal officials if they think those officials are engaged in “an overextension of government”?

      I hope someone at the Globe pursues this and actually forces him to answer that important question, especially before voters face the question later this year.

      Duane

      Like

  3. I agree with you, Anson. Well said, and I can understand why that might not be the prevailing view where you live. Maybe we can have an effect on things if we find more points of agreement. I’m betting they exist.

    Like

  4. ansonburlingame

     /  May 15, 2014

    mgaden,

    While I remain the “duty conservative” commenting on the site, I am not completely such. I have long been for gun control, outlaw all “weapons” (guns) except ……. to be held by citizens. Then we can argue about what goes on THAT list, guns to be allowed, rather than a piecemeal argument over what is not allowed. I would start with only shotguns (up to three shell capacity magazines) and listen to other “suggestiongs” to be added with always a “why do you need that gun” type question.

    I am also decidedly Pro-Choice regarding abortion. Let adult women decide with the help of their Doctors what to do. If women younger than 18 are involved then parental consent should be included. Other than that, keep abortion “Safe, Legal and Rare” as well said my Claire M., our Senator but do it morally, not legally.

    Where I differ with most on this site is my determination to hold inviduals accountable for bad choices and not always provide a safety net when some needs arise. No one should starve, everyone should have shelter when needed and some form of life saving medical care should be available to all, hang nails excluded of course. Safety nets, by and large should be constructed to preserve life. The biggest problem in HC,, in my view is EOL care. Just how far in terms of money must society go for the old and infirm is a huge issue in that field.

    But comfort in life should be up to individuals and they should be forced to live with their own bad choices. Of course when kids enter that equation, kids being mistreated by adults, etc. well hammer the hell out of the adults, legally, hold THEM accountable, and then provide assistance to kids under someone’s supervision other than lousy adults. And you bet, I have seen some social workers and school counselors that fall into MY category of “lousy adults”. I would put SOME teachers there as well who need to be held accountable as well.

    The other point driving my own form of politics is the concept of “honor”. I claim no corner on the market for that value for sure. No one can. But being held accountable in society for DISHONORABLE ACTS should come in a close second to illegal acts, by society not the courts of law. Tough job for sure. But the “village” in which I was raised, a small town in KY in the 40s and 50s did that for me. At least I KNEW right from wrong, whether I followed that code or not being a different matter.

    Anson

    Like

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