Guns and cigarettes

Picture of Daniel Webster

Picture of Daniel Webster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Both are killers.

Just imagine how difficult it would be to control smoking if the right to cigarettes were protected by an amendment to the Constitution. Many still die each year because making and selling cigarettes is still profitable. However, the number who die is declining due to education and increased taxes. “The power to tax is the power to destroy,” according to Daniel Webster and John Marshall. Today in addition, many laws regulate where smoking is permitted.

If only it were as easy to regulate guns as it is to regulate cigarettes. However, the second amendment and the NRA make common sense regulation of guns more difficult and about 100 Americans die every day because of gun violence. Trayvon Martin was only one of the approximately 100 who died that day. Little notice taken of the other 99. If only education and taxation could reduce the number of guns in circulation and the number of gun deaths. Perhaps then we could enact sensible laws about the number and types of guns that people are allowed to own.

It is estimated that 90% of the guns in the hands of Mexican drug cartels are made and sold in the US. We are arming all sides in the drug wars and profiting from the deaths on our doorstep. The Fast and Furious operation was an attempt to trace the various routes US guns travel to Mexico. Many small purchases are made of assault weapons and others by individuals who buy to resell to the drug cartels.

Supreme Court

Washington DC: United States Supreme Court

Washington DC: United States Supreme Court (Photo credit: wallyg)

I was thinking about the US Supreme Court, one of our three co-equal branches of government. With the retirement of John Paul Stevens in 2010, the Court no longer has any outstanding members. I do not know the complete history of the Court; however, the two members of the Court I hold in highest esteem are John Marshall and Louis Brandeis.

John Marshall was Chief Justice from 1801 to 1835. His decisions and policies set the precedents that still guide the Supreme Court. During the Revolutionary war, Marshall served with Washington and later wrote a multi-volume biography of his friend. He served as Secretary of State under John Adams and functioned as president when Adams was out of the capital. That was the custom then before the vice-president took over that responsibility.

Louis Brandeis served as an Associate Justice from 1916 to 1939. After he resigned from the Court, he devoted his full-time energies to the cause of establishing Israel. Before Brandeis joined the Court, he was America’s highest paid lawyer. However, he devoted only 50% of his time to earning money. The other 50% was devoted to social causes where he did significant good for no charge. He was a pioneer in using economic data to promote his legal cases before the courts. He changed how cases were argued before the Supreme Court, and after joining the Court, he  helped change how the Supreme Court decided cases. In my estimation, two admirable Justices.

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