Tahlequah Daily Press

November 15, 2012

Local group rallies for more liberty

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — A new group formed in July to push for change in government aims to achieve its goal by educating area residents in the standards of liberty, inspiring voters to hold government leaders to their proper roles, and empowering citizens to seek positions of authority.

The Oklahoma 2nd District Liberty Movement hosted its first official meeting Oct. 15 at the Tahlequah Armory Municipal Center to explain the six state questions voters would tackle in the Nov. 6 general election. On Nov. 13 at the same site, the group brought Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association founder and President Tim Gillespie to the podium for a discussion on the state’s recently passed open carry law and other Second Amendment issues.

The organization focuses on issues that affect everyone in the state, said Oklahoma 2nd District Gadsden League District Chairman Mike Stopp. The Gadsden League promotes strict limits on government.

“[We want to] to talk about how we can make changes in our government and redefine how we as voters see the role of the state government as it compares to the federal government,” he said. “One of the most important rights we have in holding back the federal government is our right to bear arms and the establishment of state militias and that kind of thing.”

Gillespie said the group’s next meeting will be Jan. 7, and will feature Amanda Teegarden of OK-Safe. Gillespie said she will talk about “Obamacare” – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – and how it will affect Oklahoma.

Gillespie, who is married to a police officer, is pastor of a Seminole church. He’s also  a permit-holding gun owner who wearing his sidearm while he speaks from the pulpit. He considers defending yourself a biblical matter and noted that the Second Amendment, as part of the U.S. Constitution, is rooted in words found in William Blackstone’s “Commentaries on the Laws of England,” as well as the Bible.

“One of my favorite quotes from the founding era is something that Benjamin Franklin said. He said democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner. Liberty is a well-armed lamb casting the votes. They understood the need for the Second Amendment. They understood the need for the people to be able to basically cause the government to be a little afraid,” he said. “As a matter of fact, Jefferson said where the people fear the government, there’s charity, and where the government fears the people, there’s liberty. They understood the importance of this.”

He said that’s especially true when citizens speak of their need to be armed for self-defense, though that’s not the entire purpose of the Second Amendment.

“That wasn’t what it was all about. We need to look back at what influenced our founding fathers. Blackstone’s [law book] was one of the major influences, but the other book that they quoted most was the Bible,” Gillespie said. “And as a pastor, one of the things that aggravates me to no end is the pacification of the pulpit that’s taken place in our country over the last decade. Not just on the gun issue, but across the board.”

He said he preached his pre-election sermon a couple Sundays ago, and a visiting family got up and walked out.

“They didn’t appreciate what I was saying, but the fact of the matter is, God instituted three – and I’m not going to preach at you – there are three institutions: the family, the church and government. And if the church is out of government, what can we expect other than for evil to prevail in government, and then that will affect the other two institutions.”

Pastors need to speak about these things and not just focus on abortion or sexual orientation issues, said Gillespie.

“All of these issues are moral issues. They’re not just political issues, and on the Second Amendment, there are several scriptural passages that talk about this,” Gillespie said. “Exodus 22 it says that if somebody breaks into your house and there’s bloodshed, it’s not on your hands. In Matthew 24, Christ said, ‘Know this, that if the master of the house had known of the hour that the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.’ Makes sense, right?” he said. “Luke 11-21 says when a strong man fully armed guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. Then in Luke 22, he told his disciples if you don’t have a sword, go sell your coat and buy one. So obviously, the idea of defending yourself is not anti-biblical. As a matter of fact, it is a biblical idea.”

Gillespie also discussed the role of militia and the importance of community as citizens maintain their right to bear arms in any setting.

“Richard Henry Lee said a militia, when properly armed, is in fact the people themselves. The Japanese during World War II pretty much said the reason they never invaded the continental United States was because there would be a rival behind every blade of grass,” he said. “Folks, when you have an armed citizenry, that is a safe country to be in. It’s a safe place to be.”

Gillespie added that Oklahoma has some of the more restrictive gun laws in the country, while Vermont has the least restrictive gun regulations – and the lowest crime rate.

“It is critical that we engage this issue at the national level, but also the state level. If enough states engage on this issue and tell the federal government ‘no,’ there’s not anything the federal government can do about it. Nothing,” he said. “Vermont has the freest gun laws in the country. Basically if you’ve got it, you can carry it wherever and whenever you want to. Guess which state has the lowest crime rate? Vermont. I know, it’s brain surgery.”

Jesse Dickinson, a permit holder who lives in Peggs, agrees with Gillespie’s notion that Oklahomans should be able to openly carry their weapons in every setting.

“I feel like I should be able to carry my handgun wherever I go. I mean, I would respect people’s private property rights, but the government really has no right to tell me that I can’t defend myself, is what it comes down to,” Dickinson said. “[The government] has the right to prosecute me and punish me if I do evil things with [my gun] or anything else, for that matter, but it has no right to tell me I can’t take what’s legally mine wherever I go. I just think that it’s interesting, specifically to open carry, before Nov. 1 our state was basically telling us how to wear our clothes. Because the guns were already there, we just couldn’t pick our shirt up over it. It’s really that simple.”