Most of the one side of my family has lived in and around Warren County for a very long time. In discussions I have had with family and others in the area, the perception of leadership since the 1980s has seemed to steadily decline in the areas of government leaders, law enforcement, and even dealing with drugs and other illegal activities. Even though the County and the town of Front Royal has seen times of infrastructure improvement and new businesses welcomed into the area, there is perceived to be through media and “talk around town” a steady decline in morals, ethics, and just common decency and transparency from the standpoint of governmental leadership, enforcement of law and order, and related business dealings for which the citizens deserve and should demand as residents, voters, and taxpayers.
This spring brought the ultimate clarity of a decline when the top of local law enforcement, the sheriff, took his own life with the presumption of illegal activity looming for this long serving public servant. This should be a loud wake up call to everyone that the corruptness you thought existed and suspected in at least some areas most likely exists and has tentacles into other areas of town and county politics and government as well as some businesses, but the courts and investigators will have to determine hopefully the true depths as well as guilt and innocence of this activity, and all the individuals involved.
If the residents of Front Royal and the County of Warren expect to see a return of peaceful and orderly living for them and their families and desire a Respect and Trust in the elected officials and employees of the Town and County, than folks in the local organizations, churches, households, and businesses are going to need to pull up their bootstraps as American tax paying citizens and stand up.
One clear way to pull up those boot straps would be to clean house. Not to proclaim guilt or misdoing on any person in particular myself as that is for the courts and evidence to prove out the truth, but to clear the air and give the community a renewed confidence in their leadership, may I suggest that citizens need a whole new supervisory board and council, new leadership in the town and county law enforcement, and these selections need to be backed by your state representatives and state law enforcement to remove all of the suspected and/or perceived corruptness that has been a cloud over the area for a long time.
Further, don’t think you are cleaning house if you end up electing people to office that are even remotely related to anyone or any event in question that has occurred in the County or Town over the last 20-25 years, or you are fooling yourself that things will get better; much less re-elect previous people that have stepped down, etc… Because the corruptness will just carry on for the next generation of your family to have to deal with. Lastly, electing any person who moves into the community and just wants a hobby into a public leadership role should be looked at carefully. The public should always want the opportunity to have the final say.
As a man who has fond memories of spending time in Warren County as a boy, I hope and pray that the next quarter century is better for this community, but the citizens have to want that by making your voices loud and clear that enough is enough, and by showing up at the ballot box to make your voice have substance, and showing up in numbers at council and board meetings. I hope that each person will take this time in local history very seriously for your community and your family’s sake.
Martinsburg, West Virginia
Let’s ‘cut to the chase’ regarding the 2nd Amendment and more proposed gun control
Disregarding the U.S. Constitution for a moment, in my opinion, being able to protect yourself, family and property is a HUMAN right, not subject to compromise or negotiation with government agencies or any other entity, period! The Declaration of Independence had it correct, we all have an unalienable Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Considering the existence of violent threats only a firearm gives one the ability to effectively respond.
Firearms ARE the means to ensure Liberty. Vast public ownership of firearms in America is one of the major elements that distinguishes us from the rest of the world. Maintaining a free citizenry is only guaranteed through the public ownership of firearms.
The right to keep and bear arms is only ‘affirmed’ in the Second Amendment in the Constitution. The actual Right was addressed previously above. Since a primary reason for separating from England was to have religious freedom, that is enshrined in the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. It is no coincidence that the affirmation of gun Rights was addressed next because the Framers knew that it was only through force that other Rights in the Constitution could be guaranteed. The Framers purposefully used the phrase ‘Shall Not Be Infringed’ to emphasize the absoluteness of that Right. No other Amendment has similar language. The gun Right provision was prescribed to the PEOPLE since all adults were to comprise the militia. That’s in essence the basis for the Supreme Court Heller ruling that the Second Amendment applies to individuals, not to a collective government institution.
The arguments by some that hunters don’t need semi-automatic rifles, large capacity magazines or other accessories, that may seem scary to some, are irrelevant because access to such products has nothing to do with NEED. It’s about the freedom to choose what we want and not be told what is appropriate for us. To guard against tyranny the public has a right to any weapon that is generally used by soldiers in the military, end of argument.
The problem with Progressives (Democrats), in my opinion, is that their brains are more tuned to emotion than logic. They are the ‘feelers’ as opposed to (Republicans) being the ‘pragmatists’. Unfortunately, emotions can be a stronger force than intellect. That’s why advertisements such as children with medical problems and neglected or abused animals are so effective. Democrats are wired such that they have a need to ‘do something’ to address a problem even if the proposed actions have little, if any, real affect.
While mass killings, especially in schools, are extremely tragic there is nothing that can be done to absolutely eliminate that as a possibility in our future. Even if guns magically disappeared from the planet, mentally damaged or evil people would construct bombs, use biological agents or employ other weapons to kill and injure. That’s why I believe we’re seeing the rash of gun control proposals by the Democrat majority in the upcoming Virginia Legislature. They have to ‘do something’ even if its only symbolic rather than practical or effective.
Democrats seem to exist in a fantasy-land where they think they can legislate a perfect, risk free world. They cannot accept the reality that making certain conduct or products illegal will actually prevent criminals from evil activities. You’ve no doubt heard arguments that draconian restrictions are justified if just one person is saved from harm or ill-consequence, regardless that they’ll restrict liberty for a multitude of law abiding citizens as a side effect. The problem though is that their gun control proposals conflict with Liberty and there can be no middle ground at this point between those concepts. This is exhibited by the overwhelming level of demonstration we are seeing by freedom loving people against their anticipated proposals. Approximately half of Virginia’s county’s have already passed or are considering resolutions of support for the Second Amendment even if such action is only symbolic.
It has been said that Ben Franklin once stated something to the affect that ‘those that would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.’ I believe he was right on the money. Personally, I would rather die a free man than live as a dependent or slave of the government. We’ve lost too many liberties already and this is a bridge too far! Even in a democracy there are some things that can’t be compromised and most of what the Democrats are proposing is simply unacceptable. Thomas Jefferson once said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Fortunately I believe we haven’t reached that point yet and much of what is advertised that Democrats will propose would be ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court if actually enacted into law. Also, lower courts would almost certainly enjoin enforcement of such laws until the highest court could make it’s ruling.
Regardless though, all Liberty loving citizens should act now in an attempt to prevent dangerous laws from being passed. Contact the authors of the objectional Bills and make rational arguments against their proposals. Ensure that you and those you know are registered to vote so we can expand pro-liberty influence in the Legislature in 2022. Contribute money if you can to organizations and representatives who promote liberty and logic over more government and ineffective restrictions on our freedoms. Be willing to take the time to participate in public, non-violent demonstrations against further gun laws.
Finally, speak with your family, neighbors, friends and anyone else you come in contact with and explain the logic of why more gun laws are detrimental because only law abiding citizens are negatively affected.
Front Royal, Virginia
A Libertarian Patriot
The Christ of Christmas
The Christian church year begins with the Advent of Our Lord, the four weeks of getting ready for the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem on Christmas Day. Advent is a time of joyful preparation for the wonderful time when the Son of God came to earth to live as a person among the people.
The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming” or “arrival.” The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in His First Advent and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in His Second Advent.
The Christian Christmas is a brief season (twelve days), beginning on Christmas Day, December 25, and continuing through January 5, celebrating the Name of Jesus which is the eve of Epiphany. Christmas is a season of thankfulness for the goodness of God. The purpose of Jesus Christ’s birth was to save us from our sins, to reveal the Father to us and lead us to Him and to reveal the Kingdom of God so that we can live according to God’s Way. Jesus came to reconcile us to God so that we can have eternal life. “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
Our Christian desire is to turn the eyes of all men and women upon the true Creator and Christ of Christmas. The true light of the world has come. The Christmas season and celebration presents the Church with an outstanding opportunity to preach the good news; that men can be made righteous and have peace with God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Merry Christmas and God bless us, every one!
Mark P. Gunderman
Stephens City, Virginia
Some thoughts about the “2nd Amendment ‘Sanctuary’ drive” article
Let’s start with a simple evaluation of the efficacy of HB 2. It sounds like a great idea, right? let’s be clear on what this really means and whom this is aimed at, because it’s not retailers, its private citizens.
How about a word swap; Firearm = Motor Vehicle and Background = Drivers License. Now let’s read that again.
“Requires a Drivers License check for any Motor Vehicle transfer and directs the Department of State Police (the Department) to establish a process for transferors to obtain such a check from licensed Motor Vehicles dealers.”
Such checks would become mandatory, rather than voluntary. Selling without the required Drivers License check would be declared a Class 6 felony; receipt of a Motor Vehicle without the required Drivers License check would be classified a Class 1 misdemeanor.”
Putting the same language to that very simple test shows that it is unreasonable. First if we wouldn’t put the burden of validating a person’s driver’s license on the person selling a vehicle, so why shouldn’t the same be true for selling a firearm. Second the sale of the gun is what’s being made a felony, but the purchase is only a misdemeanor. If the goal is to keep guns from criminals, why is the penalty less for the theoretical criminal buying the gun? Now on the other hand if the goal is the widening of bureaucracy and over burdening an already understaffed state agency it might sound like a swell law. Or perhaps its just designed to pray on the fears of the citizens of Virginia? Theoretically the goal is to keep guns from those already bared from having them so shouldn’t it be written that way and not to place an undue burden on law abiding citizens?
To the earlier metaphor comparing guns to cars, driving a car requires you be a minimum age, get a permit, show proficiency with a road test. Many drivers will only ever go to the DMV to get a new photo or register a new car. There is no continuous requirement to prove themselves eligible to drive. Yet every gun I have purchased over the past 20 years has required a background check, including my black powder, to prove I was eligible to make the purchase. Just like driving you must be of legal age to purchase a firearm. Obtaining a permit to carry requires not only a background check but a review by the circuit court for approval, after submitting proof of proficiency with a firearm. Every future purchase will still require an additional background check for each gun I buy. The dealers from whom I have purchased these guns face a mountain of paperwork. Each dealer is required to maintain completed forms for 20 years in the case of completed sales, and for 5 years where the sale was disapproved as a result of the NICS check. If I went to any auto dealership in town do you suppose they have records proving person they sold a car held a valid license even 5 years ago.
On maximum clip or magazine size: “Another aspect of SB 16, the maximum clip or magazine size, is another legitimate topic for legislative debate. Should the general public have access to military-sized clips carrying 30 or more rounds? Is a 10-round clip limit too small or too large for recreational shooting use? Is there justification for public access to larger clip sizes, and if so, how large? Correct me if I’m wrong hunters, but to my knowledge semi-automatic assault-style rifles and their large clips are not legal for hunting, and certainly wouldn’t be very sporting if they were.”
Do you enjoy country music, or perhaps classical, or R&B maybe? What’s the point? Just like there are many types of music and fans there are many types of gun owners and shooting sports. Just because the popular misconception is that the only legitimate private use of a firearm is hunting doesn’t make it true. Simply because someone may not be fully versed in sporting arms and the various ways in which other individuals may choose to enjoy the use of their firearms dose not make those pursuits any less valid than an individual’s personal choice in music. Under that same flawed logic NHRA, NASCAR, and F1 should not exist because cars are for transport to work and not racing. There are many a gun owner whom have never stepped foot into the woods to hunt and have no desire to do so, but it doesn’t mean that their right to enjoy shooting targets should be limited due to a lack of knowledge on the part of others.
There are a lot of statements made, often with little or no supporting facts given, and the responsibility is then on the reader to “fact check” and determine what is “news” and what is “opinion”. We are frequent Royal Examiner readers because in general you do a good job of limiting the rhetoric and clarifying what is opinion. However, some statements like this that refer to trends, really need the numbers to help clarify the magnitude of what we are discussing.
“Okay, I can live with background checks. In fact, in the face of the rising tide of mass shooting violence in America I believe a majority of Americans, perhaps even a majority of gun owners, support them.”
So, these are some of the “facts” as I understand them from sources, I was able to find readily available via Google. (numbers are from 2017 with sources cited below).
- There were 4.26 times the number of deaths due to overdose (1,507) than to gun related homicide (353).
- Automobiles accidents (843) accounted for 2.38 times the number of deaths as gun related homicide (353).
- Gun related deaths (1028) in Virginia represent 29.2% of the top three causes of non-natural death (Motor Vehicle, Gun, & Overdose totaling 3520).
- 10% of the other than natural deaths in Virginia in 2017 were gun related homicides (353).
- 64.5% of gun related deaths in Virginia are suicide.
- 7.8% of all deaths (6,7762) in Virginia are of unnatural causes (5,298).
- Gun related homicides (353) represent 0.52% the all deaths (6,7762) in Virginia.
- Gun related suicide (664) represent 0.98% the all deaths (6,7762) in Virginia.
- 79% of gun-related assault injuries were among persons aged 15-34 years, 89% were male, and 77% were minorities.
- 47% occurred in the Eastern region, followed by 34% in the Central region.
- 51% of gun-related self-harm injuries were among persons aged 25-54 years, 76% were male, and 74% were white.
To my earlier metaphor comparing guns to cars, driving a car requires you be a minimum age, get a permit, show proficiency with a road test. Many drivers will only ever go to the DMV to get a new photo or register a new car. There is no continuous requirement to prove themselves eligible to drive. Yet every gun I have purchased over the past 20 years has required a background check, including my black powder, to prove I was eligible to make the purchase. Just like driving you must be of legal age to purchase a firearm. Obtaining a permit to carry requires not only a background check but a review by the circuit court for approval, after submitting proof of proficiency with a firearm. And any future purchase will still require an additional background check for each gun I buy. The dealers from whom I have purchased these guns face a mountain of paperwork. Each dealer is required to maintain completed forms for 20 years in the case of completed sales, and for 5 years where the sale was disapproved as a result of the NICS check. If I went to any auto dealership in town do you suppose they have records proving person they sold a car held a valid license even 5 years ago?
If were looking for things that need to be discussed in our community, commonwealth, and country let’s try a few of these:
- Let’s start looking at the under lying socioeconomic issues that result in firearm violence.
- Let’s start focusing on the treatment and prevention of mental health issues.
- Let’s start focusing on the growing suicide epidemic.
- Let’s start focusing on education both for gun safety and understanding.
- Let’s start putting funding into micro-loans to foster economic development.
- Let’s start helping community leaders develop mentoring programs.
- Let’s start by installing hope and breaking cycles of violence.
- Let’s start focusing on the growing addiction crisis in our community.
As a responsible gun owner, I have the right to hunt, target shoot, and project myself, my loved ones and my property. My second amendment right is not a bargaining chip for anyone, pundit or politician, that would use my ownership of guns to strike fear in others.
Patrick A. DeZess
The absolute hope and promise of Christmas
Christmas once again; when we joyfully celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Who is He? Isaiah 9:6 proclaims, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given… and his name shall be called… The mighty God, The heavenly Father…”. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Verse 14 says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us… the only begotten of the Father…” Why? God had to become flesh to die! He had to shed His own blood! This is the price God Himself set for our redemption/salvation; and His being willing to pay that price resulted in the birth of the Christ Child at Christmas! Called Immanuel, meaning “God with us”!
Being known to utter amazing and profound things concerning you and me; it seems He was speaking from His heart; the heart of God, to our hearts! Saying (John 10:10), “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Saying, in effect, He came to offer the remedy to the scourge and surety of death! The natural life, suffering death and dying, is both fleeting and temporary. Therefore, Jesus is not speaking of it here. Rather, He is saying He came to give us something we didn’t/don’t already have: Life (never-ending)! The free gift of God revealed in Romans 6:23; Therefore, we will have life forever!
As to “abundantly”, abundant means “existing in plentiful supply; abounding.” An adjective, it here describes the subject “the new life!” We do have spiritual and other blessings in this life, but it here seems opposed to prosperity; for prosperity means “being successful, flourishing, material well-being.” Maybe a care and problem-free life now. Therefore, “abundantly” is speaking to the subject: eternal life, not of “more of”, “better than” or even happiness in this temporal life. Hence, “abundantly” is referring to the plentiful, abounding supply of what we don’t have in the now. It’s what He came to give us: eternal life!
Knowing of our pain, struggles and sorrows, Jesus said in Matthew 11: 28-29, “Come unto me… and I will give you rest… rest unto your souls.” Amazingly, in John 16:33, He said, “…in this world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Also, saying in Revelation 2:9, “I know thy works, tribulation and poverty, but thou art rich!” The more abundant life is achieved in this life in part only, however, in the fact that he will never leave or forsake us. Thus our greatest happiness, glory and joy is in our walk and talk with Him!
Jesus said (John 1o:25-26), “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and… shall never die.” In effect, guaranteeing to those who believe, are saved/born again, the abundant, never-ending life! Saying in John 14:2-3; “I go to prepare a place for you… I will come again and receive you unto myself…”
Clearly a “done deal”; The sealing of the deal!
Forever in the place He is preparing, an abundant life guaranteed by our eternal guarantor Jesus Christ, being sealed in His blood!
This then, is the absolute and sure Hope and Promise of Christmas!
Rev. Jess Shifflett
Front Royal, Virginia
As surprising as this may sound, presidents behaving badly is not new. President Trump is just the latest. Politicians have been skirting the law since the creation of politicians. This in no way condones bad behavior, yet if every conversation of every president was investigated, I believe we would be shocked at what we learned.
Trump’s Ukraine conversation in some ways is not unlike when President Obama was overheard telling the Russian President that he could be more flexible with missile defense after his reelection. Obama’s conversation was not illegal, but may walk a moral line. As for Trump, Congress will have to determine if the President’s conversation is an impeachable offense, but what may end up hurting Trump even more is a possible cover-up of a complaint.
We have seen before where the cove up is worse than the crime for presidents. Richard Nixon had no part in the Watergate burglary, his crime was the cover up after the fact. With this same president, we also saw his downfall come because of a whistleblower, who went by the code name Deep Throat. Nixon and Deep Throat are responsible for the most famous presidential take-down, but they are not the only one. The 1912 election saw the take-down of President Howard W. Taft by whistleblower Louis Gavis.
In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt decided not to run for his own second term and instead handpicked his successor. Taft was completely qualified for the office and Roosevelt liked his progressive ideology, but even more he liked Taft’s lack of personality that would not outshine Roosevelt himself. Roosevelt might be stepping down, but he did not intend to give up control. It turned out that Taft would be his own man, to the frustration of Roosevelt, and one issue in particular forced Roosevelt to return from his African safari to block Taft’s nomination for a second term. This incident became known as the Ballinger-Pinchot Affair.
When Taft took over the White House, one of his appointment changes was replacing James Garfield, son of the late president, as Secretary of the Interior with Richard Ballinger. Roosevelt and his friend Gifford Pinchot, head of the U.S. Forest Service, were upset with the appointment. They feared Ballinger would not follow through with the conservation policies they had enacted. The two men were right to fear Ballinger. Once in office, he opened up federal land for commercial use.
Louis Gavis ran the Portland field office of the U.S. Forest Service. He came to suspect Ballinger was illegally selling rich coal lands in Alaska to private companies. He brought his suspicions to Pinchot, who suggested Gavis present his findings to President Taft. When Taft questioned Ballinger, he responded with a 730-page defense of his practices. Taft only took a week to investigate the charges, including reading Ballinger’s response, and cleared Ballinger of all charges. Taft followed up his investigation by firing Gavis for insubordination.
In retaliation Gavis went to Collier’s Magazine and gave his account. The story was so sensational that Congress called a hearing to look into the matter. Though Ballinger would be cleared by the hearing, the investigation turned up other improprieties. It proved that Taft was trying to protect Ballinger by firing Gavis. The investigation showed that a letter Taft circulated, claiming he wrote it before the firing of Gavis, was actually written after the fact and was written by Ballinger’s attorney.
Finally, during the trial Gifford Pinchot testified against Ballinger. When the trial was over, he too was removed from his position by the Taft Administration. Roosevelt was so incensed that it was one of the reasons he decided to challenge Taft for the Republican ticket in 1912. When Taft was successful in retaining the Republican nomination, Roosevelt and the progressive members of his party broke away to form the Bull Moose Party. With the Republicans split, the Democrats were able to elect their candidate for only the second time in fifty-six years.
Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog or Facebook at @jamesWfinck.
New mayor should take lead in altering proposal to interfere with the work of local journalists
With the recent swearing-in of Eugene Tewalt as Mayor of the Town of Front Royal, we at the Royal Examiner trust that he will turn his attention immediately to a misguided public relations draft proposal that would, if enacted, be a blue print to managing the way local reporters do their jobs.
Todd Jones, whose job description is the town’s “Information Technology Director,” earlier this month put forward a four-part public relations program that included a naive proposal that would bar area journalists from seeking information directly from council members or town officials. In other words, reporters would be required to ask questions through his office and answers would be managed to conform with public policy.
In effect, this would be a way of muzzling the press, a plan doomed to failure before getting off the ground. Reporters would develop their sources anyway, and work around any such short-sighted rule. It isn’t that this ploy has not been attempted many times over the years by public officials in various places.
Such efforts may reflect ignorance of the way the media works and its overall responsibility of relating the thought processes of public officials to the public they serve. A worst-case scenario for the more suspicious would be a desire to shield those officials from revealing too much about their motives and thought processes.
What is an “information technology director” anyway? There’s nothing in that title that pertains to press and media relations, never mind telling local reporters and editors how to do their jobs. In Front Royal, the community development and tourist information offices are pretty effective, so taking those out of the equation, what does this leave our “information technology director” to do?
The Chamber of Commerce does a good job of encouraging new business; and the revamped Economic Development Authority (EDA) Board of Directors and Administrative staff seem to be working hard at business recruitment and retention under trying circumstances. There are other business-promoting groups who round out that part of the local economy, and the Front Royal Police Department continues to do nice work of public relations in the law enforcement area.
While Jones’ initial Communications Policy draft demonstrated a clear lack of knowledge of the media’s responsibilities, the periodic “Town Hall” meetings he proposes would be a plus, as would assuring that Town departmental staffs present a consistent and accurate response to public inquiries about how Town services work and can best be accessed to the public’s benefit.
Hopefully Jones will follow up his admission to Royal Examiner’s Roger Bianchini when confronted about the media aspect of his proposal with a substantive alteration of his original draft as it applies to the media and its work. Jones’ admission appeared to be a sudden realization that there is a substantive difference between the communications lines between public officials and the press on the one hand, and that between Town staffs and the public as to how Town services work and are accessed.
And if Jones doesn’t make that adjustment to his proposal, it will be up to the town council under the leadership of our new mayor to see that such a change is made that will not set up unjustified barriers between the press, working on the public’s behalf, and the community’s elected and appointed policy makers.
(Malcolm Barr Sr. of Rockland has spent 70 of his 86 years as a local and national reporter, including with the Associated Press, in three countries, including a 25-year stint as a public affairs manager and officer in three federal government departments in Washington, D.C. During his 18 years in Warren County, he has contributed to news coverage by the Warren Sentinel, the Warren County Report, the Royal Examiner, and occasional “Opinion” pieces to the Northern Virginia Daily.)