Firearms Banned In Privately Owned Companies: It’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday, a special day of the week where we get to answer questions from you, the listeners! Always answering your questions from constitutional principles! Tune in today as we answer your questions such as Can privatelyÂ owned companies force permit possessing employees to not carrying firearms? Does requiring, “so help me God” in our oaths infringe on our First Amendment right? Is it wrong for the president to get rid of the Johnson Amendment? Â Can pastors address politics from the pulpit now without risking their tax exempt? And so much more, right here on WallBuilders Live!
Air Date:Â 02/01/2018
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith And The Culture
President Thomas Jefferson said, “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves. And if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of Constitutional power.”
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live where we talk about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and other areas of the culture. But always with the same perspective. We always look from a Biblical, historical, and Constitutional perspective as we analyze those issues of the day and talk about them.
We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and the founder of WallBuilders. Also Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor, he’s the president of WallBuilders. And my name’s Rick Green, I’m a former Texas legislator.
You can find out more about us at WallBuilders.com and WallBuildersLive.com. Those are our two websites. And if you go to WallBuildersLive.com, you can get archives of the program. Today we’re doing what we call Foundations of Freedom Thursday. So you can get more of those types of programs in that archive section there at WallBuildersLive.com.
And what we mean by Foundations of Freedom Thursday, it’s just kind of a special day each week where we take your questions on foundational principles and we dive into those particular areas. So, you get to drive the conversation. You can send those questions to [email protected], [email protected].
David and Tim Barton, we’ve got some great questions lined up for today. Y”all ready? David:
You bet. Fire away.
Firearms Not Permitted
Alright, we’re going to dive right into a question from Wesley. He said, “I’m in a situation at my place of employment where the company has accepted terms from their insurance company to have a rate deduction by adding to their company policy manual that firearms are not permitted on the company grounds. This even includes conceal carry permits. Meanwhile, we cannot leave the firearm locked in our vehicles on company property even if we have a permit. This is a privately held company.
“Is this a violation? Can we as employees fight this? Thanks so much for looking into it. I can’t thank you enough for your radio program. It helps me settle so many disputes with others by going to the source of our Constitutional rights with the sources you have available to access.”
And, actually, that’s a great point – folks, if you go to that other website– I mentioned WallBuildersLive.com for archives, but WallBuilders.com, you can access a wealth of information there. And so you can actually go into the search bar at WallBuilders.com and search for different issues. We have a tremendous library of articles, original documents, all kinds of things, that you can access right there on the website. So, sorry, guys, for that side note.
But the question basically is, if a private company says, “We don’t want you carrying your weapon while you’re on company property.” is that a violation of the Second Amendment, or is that okay?”
The Thing We Love About Freedom
Well, the thing we love about freedom is that you get to make choices. Freedom is the ability to make choices. In a free nation, private companies have the ability to get to make choices. And absolutely, a private company can determine if they want all of their employees to carry firearms, or none of their employees to carry firearms. Certainly we would wish it was a scenario where, “Yeah, let’s train all of our employees, let’s allow them all to carry.”
But as a private company, it is– legally it is not a violation of the Second Amendment for a private company to say, “On our premises, you cannot have a gun.” It”d be no different than as a homeowner if you said, “Hey, I don’t want all of my friends coming over bringing their guns into my house when I invite them over for the Super Bowl party. Or for whatever it is, college playoffs, whatever. As a private individual, you are, you have the ability legally to make those decisions.
Again, we appreciate the freedom that we live in a nation where we have the ability to make those decisions. Now, with that being said, the Second Amendment, again, when it was written, the original intent behind all of the Bill of Rights is the limitations on the government. And so the government cannot prohibit us from carrying firearms. That doesn’t mean that a private individual, or private business, can’t say, “I don’t want you to bring your guns in here.” So they do have the legal right to do that.
It’s not a violation of the Second Amendment. As much as it is a disappointment, it’s legally something they can do.
Private Property Rights
Because that’s another right. Right guys? That’s a private property right as well. So, you have a Second Amendment right to protect yourself and your family. But then you also have this other right that we would call private property and free enterprise.
And so that company has the right to say, “no”. They have the right to be foolish, right? So, if they want to have a disarmed employment pool that’s basically a sitting duck for a crazed man to come in with a gun because he knows all those employees are disarmed. If that company’s policy is that, then the government shouldn’t force them to allow employees to carry.
Same thing with a with a restaurant – here in Texas, we call it a 30.06 sign. If they have that sign that has 30.06, which is the part of the code that says,
“You can’t carry in there.”, they have the right to do that. Now they’ve lost my business. I literally will walk away from that business and not go eat there if they don’t allow me to protect my family when I”m there. But, hey, that’s their choice, that’s free enterprise.
I couldn’t agree with you more, Tim.
Well, part of it, too, is the fact that the Constitution does limit the government, but not private entities. You have the right to waive any number of your Constitutional rights. For example, if I go to trial, I have the right to be represented by an attorney. But I also have the right to waive that Constitutional right. I have the right to a trial by jury, I can waive that.
I have the right to not do self incrimination, I can waive that. And so, essentially, what the company has done is waive a Constitutional guarantee, but they have the right to do that. They have the right to waive that. Now, there’s– I think there’s several solutions here. One is, a lot of– he said that this is because the insurance company said, “Well, your rates are down if you don’t have guns.”
Okay, even with that, in many, and I don’t know which state this is, many states still allow you to carry your gun to and from your place of residence. So, I’m leaving my house, I’m coming back to my house, I can carry that gun with me. And I don’t think any company is going to go out there and start inspecting your car to see, did you bring a gun on premise? So many people that we know actually carry their concealed weapons in places with signs that say don’t carry it there because they would rather go out alive then be carried out by six pallbearers.
Rather Be Alive and Deal With a Court Case
So, to that end, I can say that it’s possible, allegedly, I might have taken a concealed gun somewhere, allegedly, possibly, where there was a sign. However, I thought, “I”ve concealed my gun better than your naked eye can see.” And the only way that my gun would ever be exposed is if I’m stopping an active threat who is currently shooting and engaging in violence. And at that point, I would rather be alive and deal with a court case, deal with a trial. But, not that I’m encouraging the violating of company policy, not that I’m encouraging the breaking of laws.
But it’s something, certainly, that you can measure and weight out of, would it be safer, in this scenario, to have a gun or etc.? If you live in a rural area and it seems like a very safe area, it’s probably something okay. If I was working in downtown inner city Chicago, I’d probably think twice about having a gun with me. And so, certainly, you can weigh those options out.
But, dad, as you mentioned, we do know a lot of people that will carry their gun pretty much everywhere regardless because of their thought of protection and self-preservation.
They”d rather have their life than lower insurance rates, quite frankly. And that’s the other thing, is not knowing this company, there may be several people there at the company who carried guns. It’s worth approaching the company and say, “You need to look for other insurance company.” Because there’s a lot of insurance companies across America that do not do that. Because the statistics actually are that where you have more guns, you have less gun violence.
Taking Guns from the Good Guys, Invites the Bad Guys
So, that would actually lower your rate, so let’s go to a different insurance company. Or you can get several employees to go with you to the employer and say, “Can I show you 187 different stories here where the guns have saved lives. It’s always the bad guys who have guns. When you take them away from the good guys, you invite the bad guys in.
Do you really– do you value your employees lives lower than the insurance premium you”re apparently–“
So, I think there are several approaches you can take on this, but the answer to the Constitutional question, Tim”s exactly right. Constitution is not there to regulate private businesses. It”s there to make sure the government does not take those rights away from you. But if a business wants to force you to waive those rights, you don’t have to work at that business anymore. But they do have the right to have that policy on their grounds. Rick:
Going to take a quick break. Guys, we have more questions coming at you on this Foundations of Freedom Thursday. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
Abraham Lincoln said, “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts. Not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”
Hey, guys, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders. I know you hear my dad and Rick talk a lot about our Founding Fathers about the original intent of our nation, a constitutional heritage that we have. And really we’ve seen how far we slipped away from that. And I know a lot of us as we hear my dad and Rick talk think, “I wish there was a place that I could go where I could see these documents and I could read and learn about the Founding Fathers firsthand. Â See the things they did.” Â
I want to give you some websites today that can help you accomplish that very thing. If you get online you can go to places like Library of Congress and you can look under their century of lawmaking or historical documents. You can go to the Avalon Project, to the Founders Constitution, Google Books, or even the internet archives. Â
Or you can just go to WallBuilders.com. We have a section for our WallBuilders Library. And under that section we have different subgroups for historical documents, historical writings, even a place where you can get helpful links to find out more information about other websites. Â Where you can do research for yourself and find the truth for yourself. Friends, this is the time that we need to know who we are and where we came from. WallBuilders.com is a great place to go.
Thomas Jefferson said, “The Constitution of most of our states, and of the United States, asserts that all power is inherent in the people that they may exercise it by themselves. That it is their right and duty to be at all times armed. That they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press.”
“So Help Me God” Optional?
Next one comes from Las Vegas, Nevada. Matt sends in an e-mail that says, “First, I want to thank you all for doing a phenomenal job at WallBuilders Live. I really enjoy listening to the show. I’ve recently separated from active duty and joined the Air National Guard. And in doing so, I had to re-accomplish my oath of office as all service members do anytime they join the military, reenlist, or promote. Before I was about to recite the oath, I was surprised that the person administering my oath asked if I wanted to recite “so help me God” at the end of the oath.
“This is the first time in my military career that the words “so help me God” were optional. I was completely unaware that this became an optional part of the oath in the military. Apparently in 2014, an airman refused to say “so help me God” and the Air Force eventually decided to make it optional under the pressure of lawsuits of First Amendment infringement. Can you discuss the history of oaths and how the Founding Fathers viewed taking an oath, under God, for public office in the military? Did any of the atheist founding fathers have a problem with saying–“
That’s a whole other program, right? Were there any atheist founding fathers?
Yeah, which atheist founding fathers–
–are we referring to here?
Right. –“have a problem with saying “so help me God”. Does making that a required part of the oath of office infringe on our First Amendment rights as claimed by the groups who fought to make it optional to recite this important phrase? Thanks for your time.” Matt, great, great, question and thank you for your service and for your question. And for even catching the idea of this being optional versus part of the oath because of the importance of that part of the oath.
So, David, you cover this in several of the WallBuilders products that are out there and available. I know that specifically in Constitution Alive, you and I talk about this there in the library, but most people don’t know how important the oaths were to founding fathers.
Oaths and the Bible
Well, we also cover it in the Founders Bible in the section Deuteronomy 10:20. Because Deuteronomy 10:20, the Bible says, “You shall take oaths in His name.” And so we say, “Okay, that’s what the Bible says.” So, how did the Founders apply that verse? Actually, you’ll find that there are four characteristics of the oath where that way we get it right out of the Bible.
For example, we take an oath, and you’ll find things like in Genesis 26 where God says, “I’ll perform the oath which I swore to your father.” So, God used an oath. God also said in Ezekiel 20 verses 15, 26, and then 36:7 and elsewhere, “I raised My hand in an oath.” And then actually, you’ll find in Isaiah 62, that God says, “I have sworn an oath by my right hand.” Then as you get into Deuteronomy 10:20, it says, “You shall take oaths in His name.” – which is the “so help me God” part.
So, what you find is the American oath taking process incorporated those four characteristics out of the Bible. You have an oath, you swear an oath, you swear it with your right hand raised, and you swear it in His name – “so help me God”. So, what happened is, every oath requirement given in federal statute, including military oaths, including civilian oaths, including oaths of elected officials, including oaths of the president – every one of them, by federal law, you are required to say, “so help me God”.
Now, there is always an exemption for religious conscience. Although an atheist does not have a religious conscience, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a conscience, he doesn”t have a religious conscience. There is an exception for religious conscience. For example, Quakers will not swear an oath, they will affirm something, they will say, “I give my word”. But they won’t swear an oath because they look at the verse Jesus said, “Swear not at all, neither of heaven or of earth.” and so they said, “We take that literally.”
So, what happens is, there was an occasion where I believe Mikey Weinstein was involved with, as I recall. And an airmen refuse to say, “so help me God”. And so Mikey said, “Oh, you”re forcing this guy to violate his conscience.” Well, sorry, federal law requires that. We follow federal law, you don’t like this, go get the law changed, get a court to strike it down – no court has struck it down.
But the Air Force was capitulating at that point in time. The Air Force was the worst of all the branches of the military of running for cover. When Mikey Weinstein said, “jump”, they said, “How high?”
And after that point in time, US Congressman Randy Forbes had direct meetings with the chief of the Air Force and said, “Hey, this is wrong. You can”t just– Here is the federal law, here is the case law from the courts, and you’re doing it wrong in the Air Force.”
And so that Air Force general, to his credit, went back and got all the GI guys together, they rewrote the code for the Air Force, and it is now one of the stronger codes protecting religious liberty. So, at this point in time, yes, if you have a conscientious section to taking the oath, you don’t have to take it. But it’s not an option on whether you take it. And so the guy who administered the oath, that was probably at the point in time when Mikey Weinstein had the Air Force running for cover. Which is a strange thing to think that a branch as strong as they are, with as much military might as they have, run for cover when an atheist raises an objection and threatens a lawsuit.
They did. I don’t think it’s that way now. And again that is not an option of whether you say, “so help me God”. Now, you can opt out of it, but you don’t have the choice to opt into it. That is federal law. So, that’s the thing on oaths.
Atheist Founding Fathers?
Now, the other question asked was, “Okay, what did the atheist founding fathers say about it?” Â Well, of the 250 individuals that we identify as founding fathers, we don’t know a single atheist among any of them – not even Thomas Paine.
We actually have the six page letter that Thomas Paine wrote to Sam Adams after Sam Adams attacked him for writing The Age of Reason, which was an attack on Christianity. Thomas Paine says, “I am not an atheist. I’m trying to keep the French people from becoming atheist. It’s important to have God at the center of what you do.” So, even Thomas Paine is not an atheist.
Nor, I can think of other irreligious people like Ethan Allen, like Charles Lee, like Henry Dearborn – none of them are atheist. So, the atheist founding fathers had nothing to say because I don’t know of an atheist founding father. But the founding fathers did have many things to say about an oath, and in every single case, an oath was a religious activity. For example, James Madison said, “An oath is the strongest of religious ties.”
Rufus King, signer of the Constitution, said, “In our laws, by the oath they prescribe, we appeal to the Supreme Being so to deal with us hereafter as we observe the obligation of our oaths.” He said, “The pagan world are without the mighty influence of this principle which is proclaimed in the Christian system.” John Adams said, “Oaths in this country are universally considered as sacred obligations.” You also have John Witherspoon who said, “An oath is an appeal to God, the Searcher of hearts, for the truth of what we say.” He said, “And vows there is no party but God and the person himself who makes the vow. An oath is indeed an act of worship.”
George Washington Warned Against Secular Oaths
And I can go through founding father, Oliver Walcott, who signed the Declaration. James *, ratified the Constitution. John Quincy Adams, yes, I can go through all of these. Even George Washington, in his farewell address, warned America never to let oaths become secular. He said, “Where’s the security, for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths and the courts of justice.” So, if you ever let an oath become secular, you’re in trouble.
So, no question about it, what the Air Force did is absolutely dead wrong. Both by case law, and by federal law, and by historical precedent, and by Biblical standards. And that’s where our oaths come from is those Biblical underpinnings. So folks, that want more, I encourage you get the Founders Bible, look particularly at the founders commentary surrounding Deuteronomy 10:20, and the evolution of our oaths, how they became how we use the Bible as the basis of that. But I think you’ll find that the Air Force right now has a different position on administering the oaths.
And those who administer the oaths do not have the option of saying, “Do you want to say “so help me God” or not?” Federal law requires you to say you it. You can opt out of it, but you don’t opt into it.
And those quotes you shared from founding fathers, you’re scratching the surface of the quote you have in your possession. So, folks, check that out in the Founders Bible and on the website at WallBuilders.com. If we had more time on the program, he could share more of them. But there’s a ton there, the evidence is absolutely overwhelming.
Stay with us. Got to take a quick break. We’ll be right back with this Foundations of Freedom Thursday program here on WallBuilders Live.
President Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”
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Thomas Jefferson said, “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live Foundations of Freedom Thursday today. So, we’re sharing your questions and some answers to those questions. You can send those questions into [email protected], [email protected].
Repealing the Johnson Amendment?
Alright, this question actually comes from, it’s even signed, “a fellow Texan” says, “If the executive branch had repealed the Johnson Amendment, that would seem to be bad news from a Constitutional perspective, right?” So, basically what he’s saying, guys, is the Johnson Amendment, since it was legislatively passed, even though it was literally an amendment thrown, on what we would call today a rider, by Lyndon Johnson when he was in the Senate. Since it was passed by Congress and it is technically a law, then is it wrong for the president to get rid of it through an executive order?
Yeah, what we said on previous program was that, in effect, that the Justice Department had repealed the Johnson Amendment. And it’s not that they literally repealed it, because they can’t. And Jeff Sessions, attorney general, knows that.
The president has been surprisingly strong on proper interpretation of the Constitution. I had not expected that from him, I had even talked about that before the election. I thought he would move in a somewhat conservative direction, but I didn’t expect him to move Constitutionally. But as we’ve heard in previous programs, whether it be immigration, whether it be this issue, he has stayed strictly within the bounds of the Constitution.
Same with his executive orders. I”ve been just exceptionally blown away at how well they”ve understood that. And so in this case, since Congress passed the law, the president can’t set it aside, nor can the Justice Department set aside.
But what happened is exactly what happened under Abraham Lincoln when the Supreme Court came down with the Dred Scott decision. Abraham Lincoln, in his inaugural address, said, “They got it wrong and I’m not going to enforce the Dred Scott decision.” Which says that no black has any right which a white man is bound to respect. And that blacks can be reduced to slavery for their own benefit. Lincoln said, “I’m not enforcing that.”
Baiting the IRS
And so what happens is, the executive branch is the enforcer of the law and if they see a Constitutional reason not to enforce that law, they have a right to do so. Now, you can’t go through arbitrarily and say, “Well, my political position is I don’t like this law so I’m not going to enforce it.” You can do that. But if you have a Constitutional basis for why, and by the way, there is a Constitutional basis. Because for nearly eight years, we’ve been baiting the IRS into trying to prosecute a pastor for being political from pulpit.
And I think last year we had over 7500 pastors who gave political sermons from the pulpit, begging the IRS to come after them, and the IRS won’t because they know it’s not Constitutional.
And when you say, “we’ve been baiting them”, there’s a lot of law organizations we”re working with, so it was not just us at WallBuilders. There is a huge group of attorneys–
–alright, of first freedom specialists.
Alliance Defending Freedom, all these guys out there.
Absolutely. Who are begging to get one of these cases saying, “Please, we want this to go to court.” Because they recognize what case law, what precedent, what the Constitution actually says, which is certainly different. But the thing is, you acknowledge that President Trump did, which was so significant is, he says, “We’re not going to to enforce this against churches, this Johnson Amendment.”
And so even though, I mean, very astute of our fellow Texan understanding that certainly law comes from the legislature and so it has to be Congress that is the one to change this law. However, the president does have the ability to determine or direct his agencies of how they enforce these laws. Specifically, when it comes to the Johnson Amendment for sure. And so it is something that we’ve seen positive grounds, but it would be great to see Congress do something to make it permanent not just with President Trump taking the teeth out of it.
Back to Immigration
Yeah, and this is the other thing, too, even going back to immigration with DACA. President Obama implemented DACA by the stroke of his pen, he made it a national policy – you can”t do that as president. He acknowledged when he did it that he didn’t have the authority to do it, but he was doing it anyway. Trump went in and repealed DACA and said, “By the way, Congress, this isn”t your *bailiwick. I’m repealing it because it’s a wrong executive order. Now, if you want this to be policy, you guys in Congress need to act and need to do this.”
And that’s essentially the same place we are with the Johnson Amendment. He said, “This is unconstitutional and we’re not going to enforce it. Now Congress, you’re going to have to repeal this if you want this off the books.” But it can become a moot law simply by the fact that even the IRS knows that if they go to court on this, they’re going to get whacked with this.
As I mentioned, for about eight years, there has been a lawsuit pending out there on a number of Constitutional grounds – the right of free speech, the right of religious expression, the right of association, all these First Amendment rights that churches have. And they do not lose their right to free speech simply because they are a church. So, that’s the basis of this and as Tim pointed out, it is a very astute question, very good observation. But the Justice Department did not overturn the law. What they did was, in effect, overturn the effect of that law by refusing to enforce it.
So, it really makes the law kind of moot, but the Justice Department recognizes it has no authority to overturn a law.
Are Churches Free to Endorse Candidates?
And in the end, the person that sent in the question also asks, “Does this mean now that churches are free to endorse candidates without risking their tax exempt?” Has the risk changed, I guess, is the basic–
Yeah, the risk is now gone. Under the Trump administration the risk is gone. However, I’ll argued that the risk was gone even under the Obama administration because we had thousands of pastors doing it and the IRS refused to enforce it. Because they knew– see, we always explained that the IRS would rather have 384,000 churches think they don’t have the right to say something. Than to go to court, lose a case, and find out they do have a right to say something.
So, they’d rather let 7500 churches get away with it than that 384,000 churches find they have the right to do this.
So, the risk has basically been gone for a number of years even though the law still on the books. Â
Firearms Banned In Privately Owned Companies? Foundations Of Freedom Thursday!
Folks, there”s more questions and answers from Foundations of Freedom Thursday programs at our website, WallBuildersLive.com. Check it out there. Thanks for listening today to WallBuilders Live.
Samuel Adams said, “The liberties of our country, and the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending against hazards. And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.”