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“The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one. Their strictly Puritanical origin, their exclusively commercial habits, even the country they inhabit, which seems to divert their minds from the pursuit of science, literature, and the arts, the proximity of Europe, which allows them to neglect these pursuits without relapsing into barbarism, a thousand special causes, of which I have only been able to point out the most important, have singularly concurred to fix the mind of the American upon purely practical objects. His passions, his wants, his education, and everything about him seem to unite in drawing the native of the United States earthward; his religion alone bids him turn, from time to time, a transient and distracted glance to heaven. Let us cease, then, to view all democratic nations under the example of the American people.” — Alexis de Tocqueville
Long before French historian, Alexis de Tocqueville, birthed the concept of American exceptionalism by name with these famous words in 1831, our nation had been busy fleshing out the inspirational phenomenon of “The Great Experiment” on practical, measurable, and meaningful terms. From the willingness of the Founding Fathers to sign their own death warrants by placing their names boldly on the Declaration of Independence to the courage and resolve found in the common American family, prepared to risk everything they had in an all-or-nothing bid to stake their personal claim on the uncertain future of the great and intimidating Western frontier that was Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase to the gargantuan national effort that was required to build the Transcontinental Railroad to the steadfast endeavors of the Wright brothers, who risked life and limb in their nearly endless attempts to invent the first flying airplane to the persevering dedication of Thomas Edison, whose never-give-up attitude led him to remain ever vigilant through 6,000 failed attempts to create the first working version of the commercially-practical incandescent light bulb, Americans have exuded the confidence and exhibited the can-do attitude to succeed in the face of almost certain defeat.
It is with this singular, roll-up-your-sleeves brand of American grit that has inspired our country’s scientists, inventors, businessmen, and cultural leaders to consistently accomplish that which, at the time, appeared seemingly impossible. For instance, one of the most critical American scientific breakthroughs in the history of mankind that resulted in profoundly positive worldwide implications was the advent of the Green Revolution, where American agronomist, humanitarian, and Nobel laureate, Norman Borlaug, overcame the Malthusian projections of worldwide famine by developing high-yield, disease-resistant crops that saved at least a billion lives all over the planet.
And the legacy of American exceptionalism has continued through to modern history. Naming a select-few, game-changing inventions that society now takes for granted, the world was introduced to refrigeration, the telegraph, assembly-line production, extra-galactic astronomy, the liquid-fueled rocket, EEG brain topography, the digital computer, nylon, the transistor, the video game, cable television, radio carbon dating, the credit card, the nuclear submarine, the laser, carbon fiber, the integrated circuit, the weather satellite, the birth control pill, kevlar, the compact disc, the space shuttle, the graphical user interface (GUI), and the global positioning system (GPS) through American ingenuity, creativity, innovation, desire, and sheer effort.
However, despite all of the evidence to demonstrate the validity of this inspirational phenomenon, the concept of American exceptionalism is, in modern times, almost as hotly-debated a topic as the 2nd Amendment, especially amongst academics. Many have questioned whether or not American contributions towards the forward progress of mankind have truly stood head-and-shoulders above those achievements that have come from other parts of the world. While the liberal professoriate in this country decries the very notion of this unique hallmark of American distinction, reality and history clearly prove otherwise.
Even when one moves beyond the inventions and innovations listed above and leans towards the loftier ideals that help define the human condition with moral fiber and dignity, American exceptionalism can be very clearly demonstrated through the common desire to see fairness and equality extended to all citizens of this country, a powerful and defining notion that speaks to the very character of our national identity. Time and again, civil rights activists have tapped into the American consciousness in their plea to end slavery, in their bid for women’s suffrage, and in their attempts to gain racial equality. Famous historical figures such as Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Susan Brownell Anthony dedicated their lives towards causes and political movements that served the greater good. Their victories in promoting social progress were always earned through great personal sacrifice and, in some instances, their struggle for equality eventually cost them their lives.
On the wider scale of human progress, it is that unique brand of American exceptionalism that engendered our nation’s history of promoting and protecting civil rights which inspires even those citizens of the world who live beyond our borders. The people of Iran, Egypt, Syria, and all over the Middle East have risen up against their tyrannical regimes in recent times as a direct result of American exceptionalism, both motivated on principle by our country’s freedoms and because of the timely efforts of our nation’s pioneering innovators, whose vision and legacy became Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter, and revolutionized the social media space that was necessary to make a home-grown and instantly unified national uprising possible.
Utilizing this same social media technology that is driving societal progress in the Middle East, a living and breathing example of modern American exceptionalism is now being clearly demonstrated in California, where common, law-abiding citizens, demonized by the mainstream press, politicians, and the gun control lobby establishment over the past three decades for doing nothing more than exercising a basic, fundamental, and enumerated civil right to self-defense, have found each other online to simultaneously stand up en masse and shoulder-to-shoulder in ending the gun control lobby’s ceaseless advance against the 2nd Amendment in the Golden State by stopping every single gun control bill introduced in the State Legislature cold in 2010.
Once attacked and vilified to the point of nearly-forced silence, law-abiding California gun owners now draw upon that uniquely-muscular brand of American courage that inspires them to hold their heads high and stand tall in defense of the time-honored traditions and principles that helped to forge and shape this country into being. They do so against great adversity, and like their forefathers and fellow civil rights trailblazers did before them, exhibit the courage of conviction to rise up in the face of deliberate injustice and societal oppression. Gun ownership, once spoken of in almost hushed tones for fear of being marked by an immense anti-gun social stigma, is now being publicly proclaimed with a proud and patriotic defiance, as common, every-day Californians are staking their names, faces, and professional reputations in defense of their basic, fundamental, and enumerated civil right to self defense.
And the courageous efforts of these living and breathing examples of modern American exceptionalism have netted all common, law-abiding Californians a growing number of significant victories in their collective bid to re-secure their 2nd Amendment Rights in the Golden State.
For instance, when the nation’s most recognizable gun control organization, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, teamed up with their legal affiliate, the Legal Community Against Violence, to try and bully tax-paying and law-abiding firearms retailers out of the local San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Pleasant Hill by conspiring with high-ranking City Council members behind closed doors in an effort to force those small businesses out of the city, a contingent of 109 Second Amendment supporters from Responsible Citizens of California, Contra Costa Open Carry, Nor Cal Open Carry, Calguns, the East Bay Tea Party, and other local concerned residents converged on City Hall on a nondescript Tuesday night in April to express their strong opposition to such proposals. These 2nd Amendment supporters’ collective efforts paid off. Not only were these unconstitutional proposals stopped cold, but the owner of one of these Pleasant Hill firearms retailers, City Arms, was also presented with an award by the mayor in the city’s 4th of July parade less than three months later.
Another shining beacon of American exceptionalism at work in California is clearly demonstrated by the People’s victory over San Francisco County Sheriff Michael Hennessey’s blatant disregard for State law mandating that he have a written policy for concealed carry handgun permit (CCW) applications in place. Being that California is a “may-issue” concealed carry State, many County Sheriffs have abused their authority by effectively hiding behind the “may-issue” statute to impose a “will-not-issue-under-any-circumstances” reality. The only exceptions to this rule would be if the applicant is a friend of the Sheriff or was a significant political contributor. This was clearly the case in San Francisco County. After more than a decade of flaunting the very law that he is duty bound to uphold, the Calguns Foundation, at great cost through their own exhaustive legal efforts, was able to force the 32-year career law enforcement official to comply with State law.
And Calguns’ efforts in forcing the San Francisco County Sheriff to obey State CCW laws do not stand alone. Recently, the California 2nd Amendment advocacy organization scored another victory in Ventura County when Superior Court Judge Henry Walsh ruled that the county must release information about concealed carry permit applications that are pertinent in helping Calguns determine whether or not CCW permits are being issued in a lawful and uniform manner. This information is critical in helping future CCW applicants in establishing “good cause” before a CCW permit can be issued by Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean. This ruling also establishes a clear-cut court precedent for other counties inside California to comply that have, thus far, been reluctant to produce their own corresponding documents under Freedom of Information Act requests.
These 2nd Amendment victories in California come on the heels of other successful efforts to re-secure the basic, fundamental, and enumerated civil right to self defense in the Golden State. If there is a living and breathing example of the anti-gun establishment’s hostility towards Right-to-Carry laws, then it was very aptly demonstrated in February of 2010 when East Palo Alto Police Detective Rod Tuason, threatened to shoot law-abiding Open Carry advocates for doing nothing more than exercising their fundamental civil rights. When Calguns posted Tuason’s threatening and discriminatory Facebook comments online, State and nationwide outrage ensued. Hoping that this controversy would completely disappear over time without threatening the anti-gun status quo, the East Palo Alto Police Department took no corrective action on the hot-button topic, despite multiple attempts by concerned citizens to follow up over the next several months. However, the non-profit, Right-to-Carry advocacy organization, Responsible Citizens of California (RCC), would not let the matter die without a fair and just resolution. After more than five months of stonewalling, the East Palo Alto Police Department finally issued a public statement condemning Tuason’s Facebook comments on the same day that RCC staged a protest in front of the East Palo Alto City Hall to speak out against this months-long injustice.
However, like all progress involving civil rights in America, individuals within this Movement who have stood up to defend the 2nd Amendment in California have, at times, paid a very high and personal price. It is their character and integrity that has set them apart as shining examples of modern American exceptionalism. For instance, when Responsible Citizens of California Chairman of the Board Sam Wolanyk was improperly arrested by the San Diego Police Department for exercising his Open Carry rights, he decided to stand up for the entire Movement in California by enlisting the Calguns Foundation’s legal expertise to not only seek damages but also, more importantly, to secure his petition for a Finding of Factual Innocence from the City of San Diego, thus forcing the city to admit that no reasonable cause for his arrest existed and therefore, effectively set a precedent for all Open Carry advocates in California facing similar circumstances in the future.
It is against this type of open, anti-gun hostility that 2nd Amendment activism in California has not only survived, but also thrived in that pressure cooker of all civil rights endeavors, forged by the fires of American exceptionalism. For instance, when South Bay Open Carry decided to attend the Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair in September of 2010, they thoughtfully showed the etiquette of setting up a meeting to set at ease any fears that the Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair Association may have in regards to their attendance. However, instead of accepting this extension of courtesy and diplomacy as an act of good faith, the anti-gun Manhattan Beach Fair Association Board and local police officers attempted to circumvent the law by enacting a weapons ban to bar the Open Carry advocates’ attendance. However, then-South Bay Open Carry President, Harley Green, was very well-versed in the law and pointed out that such a weapons ban would be a direct violation of Article 11 of the California Constitution and through extensive back-and-forth legal wrangling, where the local government realized that they could not act unilaterally to pass a weapons ban on public property without due process, was able to achieve yet another meaningful victory against the gun control lobby’s illegal efforts to curb every law-abiding Californian’s 2nd Amendment Rights in the Golden State. As with all Open Carry events across the State and the country, gun control advocates’ fears about public safety were met with the facts–the Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair went off without a hitch and no threats to public safety ever materialized. Furthermore, it is because of the scores of highly-publicized Open Carry events such as the Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair being covered in the print, radio, and television media without the slightest hint of a threat to public safety that the non-gun-owning general public is now becoming increasingly aware of the fact that the gun control lobby’s arguments against the Open Carry Movement in California simply hold no water.
And these clear-cut examples of American exceptionalism being demonstrated by 2nd Amendment activists in California show no signs of letting up any time soon. For instance, in a concerted bid to coalesce the efforts of all gun rights groups in the Golden State into an even more focused force multiplier on the political and legal stage, Calguns has organized a Second Amendment Weekend starting on Saturday, July 30, 2011 at 1 PM at the Murphys Historic Hotel in Murphys, California to review the remarkable progress that has been made over the past two years as well as discuss future plans that all 2nd Amendment activists can contribute to in re-securing their basic, fundamental, and enumerated civil right to self defense on the West Coast. With discounted hotel rates already negotiated beforehand for all event participants, most of the local hotels have already been booked to capacity, as more than 100 guests have already pre-registered for the event. However, there are local bed and breakfasts as well as campgrounds nearby for those wishing to exercise that option. For others still wishing to attend the event, organizer Kevin Thomason has recommended that those who have yet to register are welcome to bring sleeping bags and overnight accomodations will be made for any 2nd Amendment activists wishing to participate. As one of the largest 2nd Amendment advocacy gatherings in the history of the Golden State, there will be many prominent faces within the gun rights community in California speaking at this engagement, including several Calguns Foundation Board Members and at least one prominent civil rights attorney.
With these historic developments in mind, the future of the 2nd Amendment advocacy in California is looking brighter with each passing day. Characteristic of the fellow countrymen who came before them, those wishing to uphold and defend their basic, fundamental, and enumerated civil right to self defense have embraced the ideals of American exceptionalism wholeheartedly and the quickened pace of forward social progress that is a hallmark of the American identity is now very clearly coming into focus in the Golden State.
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