Category archive

Rod Miller

Rod Miller: Guns and Law in Wyoming

in Column/Rod Miller
5736

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Rod Miller, Cowboy State Daily columnist

Thirty years or more ago, I had a beer with a friend who had been dean of the UW College of Law. One beer, and it took about three hours. While my beer went flat, I got a senior seminar on the Constitution of the State of Wyoming and my mind blown. What a magnificent document our Constitution is!

In our republic, states are often called “the laboratories of democracy” and each state’s constitution is the Petri dish where new variants of the U.S. Constitution are tested. Here’s an example: Everyone knows that our federal Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and enumerates the inviolable rights of citizens, 10 of ‘em. But the 45 framers of our Wyoming Constitution went a bit further.

Article 1 of our state Constitution is our “Declaration of Rights,” right there up front, and not appended as amendments. Rights, in Wyoming, are not an afterthought. And there are 37 of them! Those 45 old, white guys who framed our Constitution, I believe, wanted to make it abundantly clear that civil rights come first in Wyoming.

And I also believe that they listed these rights in a sort of ordinal hierarchy, the most important being first. The first three sections of Article 1 are some of the most inspiring political writing I have ever come across – “All power is inherent in the people,” and “all members of the human race are equal.” The framers took great care to address how political power would be wielded here, and how it should be equally distributed among all citizens. Powerful stuff, my friends!

Article 1 proceeds to define how these rights will be protected through the processes of law, habeas corpus, open courts, religious liberty, separation of church and state, the freedoms of speech and assembly, protection of labor and education. The logic is easy to follow, and its a roadmap for a free, civil society.

The framers enumerated 23 citizens’ rights before there is any mention of guns. You heard me correctly, guns come in 24th. Section 24 reads, “The right of citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the state shall not be denied.” This, to me, is much clearer language than the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but guns are still way down the list.

I don’t believe that firearm ownership was an afterthought to our framers. Instead, I believe they wanted to take care of first things first. They, very wisely, defined citizens’ rights first and then defined the means to protect those rights on a personal level.

This brings us to a moment of cognitive dissonance in this year’s election. Why are a handful of gun zealots campaigning from a position of firearms being the most important thing in life? The implication is that if you have a gun, all of the other stuff in life is somehow taken care of. Like the first 23 sections in our “Declaration of Rights” don’t matter.

Guns have become powerful political symbols, and these candidates and the organizations that fund and encourage them are masters at manipulating that symbology. They appeal to raw emotions and fear, trying to supplant our entire body of law with a man-made tool. It’s almost as if nothing else matters to them.

That brings us back to Article 1, Section 1, “All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority…” So, the people of Wyoming, through their sacred right of voting, can reject this single-issue idiocy if they so choose. They can vote for candidates who embrace the entire Constitution, not just one sentence in it.

I hope your beer didn’t go flat while you were reading this, and perhaps I’ve prompted you to go dust off your copy of the Wyoming Constitution to see exactly where gun rights fall in the thinking of its framers. Twenty-fourth. So let it be written, so let it be done.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Rod Miller: Anonymous Political Organization WyoRINO is a Coward That Acts Like Antifa

in Column/Rod Miller
5010

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Rod Miller. Guest columnist, Cowboy State Daily

Acting as a self-appointed arbiter of conservative political correctness, WyoRINO is riding herd over Wyoming’s elected leadership, making sure everyone toes their line.

WyoRINO is an anonymous political organization registered with the Wyoming Secretary of State through a P.O. box in a little town in western Wyoming. He/she/they publish scorecards of legislative voting based upon a narrow slice of our collective political life. Those that don’t meet their muster, they term RINOs…Republicans in Name Only.

But there are no names of actual human beings associated with WyoRINO. None. Let me repeat that: they will not tell us who they are, but they want us to listen to them.

WyoRINO is an exercise in political cowardice. To hide behind the mother’s apron of anonymity when discussing politics in Wyoming requires only an opinion and a forum, but is lacking the most important ingredient of politics….courage. Until WyoRINO emerges into the bright sunlight of Wyoming and lays personal claim to his/her/their rhetoric, they remain political cowards.

You might be able to get away with that childish behavior on either coast, but here in the Cowboy State, we aren’t afraid to show our faces when we talk. WyoRINO is behaving like some self-appointed star chamber or political inquisitor, blathering about political purity without any basis for accountability. They are acting like Antifa.

Debates over doctrine and platforms within a political party are very healthy and necessary. WyoRINO seems to disagree. They would rather that our entire legislature be composed solely of politicians for whom the future of mankind is decided by the question of guns, abortion and taxes. Nothing else seems important to them.

And they are certainly welcome to that position. There is a narrow wedge of voters in Wyoming who respond to that argument and agree. But for an anonymous organization to try to force-feed that dogma to an entire state is laughable. And to do so from behind mom’s apron is cowardly.

Both our western myth and our reality require that we show our faces when calling someone out. The gunfights in all those old western movies occurred at high noon for a reason. I can’t remember a single western that featured a sheriff or a cowboy hero hiding in some dark corner and sending snarky notes to the bad buy without signing his name. WyoRINO is trying to write a new script, and this cowboy ain’t buyin’ it.

I’ve already had Alexander Hamilton thrown in my face, so don’t try it here. Hamilton used the nom de plume “Publius” in his commentaries in “The Federalist Papers”, and someone recently told me that his example justifies political anonymity. Horseshit!! Hamilton was no cowboy, but rather an east coast elite. He would have been tarred, feathered and run out of any Wyoming town on rails because he lacked the courage to stand on his own two feet and show his face.

If the Wyoming GOP leadership permits WyoRINO to speak for them, then they are complicit in cowardice. If they do not strongly condemn political anonymity, then they have relinquished their right to call themselves “cowboy”.

My name is Rod Miller. I live at 2803 Central Ave. in Cheyenne. My phone number is 307-343-5527, and my email is rodsmillerwyo@yahoo.com. I wrote the above, and if you, WyoRINO, disagree with it, tell me to my face and give me your name. That’s how we do things in Wyoming.

Rod Miller is an author, poet, and longtime Wyoming political operative.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Go to Top