Jenkins: The 'last bastion' standing for us?

jim.jenkins@newsobserver.comMarch 6, 2013 

On his colorful website, freshman state Republican Rep. Michael Speciale of New Bern says he read the Declaration of Independence on July 4 at high noon last year because the United States is at high noon “with regard to our independence.” A retired Marine with what seems to be a proud allegiance to tea party ideas, Speciale is no fan of President Obama, which he’s made clear with a resolution that passed the House Rules Committee this week.

It’s quite the piece of work, with the rather broad title of “A House resolution expressing support for the preservation and defense of the Constitutions of the United States and the state of North Carolina.”

Nothing in there about motherhood, which I’m confident Speciale supports, or apple pie. (He may be a cherry man.)

Sounds harmless enough. Read on, though, resolution-wise, and you will be shocked, shocked we tell you, at the outrage uncovered by this lawmaker and the courageous stand Speciale is taking against people he says are “infringing” on the rights of Americans. People being President Obama and Vice President Biden.

What has got Speciale agitated are the efforts on the part of the president and vice president to get something done on laws to curb gun violence in the wake of the tragedy now known only as “Newtown,” the murders of 26 people, including 20 first-graders, in a Connecticut elementary school in December.

"Every time there’s an incident, they want to infringe on our right to keep and bear arms. And it’s a right," Speciale told the committee. "We just don’t want any more infringement on our rights that have already been infringed upon."

By golly, it’s good we’ve got a man on Jones Street who gets it when it comes to infringing.

Speciale’s resolution, which passed on a straight party-line vote, quotes the Second Amendment (about keeping and bearing arms, of course) and goes on to “whereas” all over the place, counting as “infringements” things like “registering guns, banning certain kinds of weapons and accessories, requiring extreme background checks and restricting concealed carry permits” and then endorses the Second Amendment.

Of course, the main thing Obama and Biden have talked about is background checks and limits on military-style assault weapons along with these ammunition magazines that can hold 30 or so rounds and thus relieve the shooter of the burden of reloading.

It seems reasonable enough, but of course the leaders of the National Rifle Association, who once so angered former President George H.W. Bush that he resigned his membership, are steadfastly opposed to any and all gun regulation improvements.

And then there was the late, great conservative Barry Goldwater, long-time Arizona senator and a fellow not easily intimidated by anybody, including the NRA.

Here’s what he said once about military-type commercial guns: “I’ve been a member of the NRA, I collect, make and shoot guns. I’ve never used an automatic or semiautomatic for hunting. There’s no need to. They have no place in anybody’s arsenal. If any S.O.B. can’t hit a deer with one shot, then he ought to quit shooting.”

And to think, people used to called this guy a true conservative, father of the conservative movement, godfather of the modern Republican Party, all that. Was he, the whole time, a doggone liberal?

Well, no. But he did have a way of cutting to the chase. Straight-shooting, you might say.

Sort of like state Rep. Marcus Brandon of Guilford County, fellow Rules Committee member, who in the discussion of Speciale’s resolution asked, "Do resolutions have to be factual, or can you just make stuff up?"

Brandon’s point was that there were not real facts involved here, just opinion, and Speciale was essentially trying to put the entire state House behind his personal opinion.

Uh, oh. Brandon sounds like another one of those Goldwater liberals.

Ah, well, he lost. The committee passed the resolution on a straight party vote, 12 Republicans in favor and 7 Democrats against.

Speciale summed up his view, perhaps, in saying, “We right now have an out-of-control federal government. We here in the North Carolina General Assembly are the last bastion of hope between citizens and an ever-encroaching federal government.” Encroaching is a lot like infringing.

The last bastion of hope.

Perhaps we need another resolution, organizing an emergency search for more bastions.

Deputy editorial page editor Jim Jenkins can be reached at 919-829-4513 or at

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