Cannon Ownership, The 2nd Amendment, And More – On Foundations Of Freedom: Is Biden correct that people could not own cannons when the Bill of Rights was passed? What is the 2nd Amendment actually about? Should inalienable rights be limited by age? Tune in to hear the timely answers to these questions and much more!
Air Date: 07/07/2022
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Faith and the Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live. We’re taking on the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective. And it’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday, so this is our chance to answer your questions. You can send them into [email protected], [email protected].
I’m Rick Green, America’s Constitution coach and a former Texas legislator, here with David Barton and Tim Barton. Tim’s a national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. David Barton is America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders. And these guys are going to tackle your questions as I asked them from you. So be sure to send them in. If you haven’t sent one in for today yet, okay, we’ll get to it in future weeks, that’s [email protected].
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Alright, guys, we’re getting to that stack of questions. The first one is going to come from Randy. He’s got two questions for us. He said “At the time of the signing of the Bill of Rights, what were the limits on personal ownership of weapons? Biden claims that when they signed the Second Amendment, people could not own a cannon, is that true? Thanks for all you do.”
The Bill of Rights
And so just timeframe, guys, I guess we’re talking here. So 1787 was the convention, then the Constitution is ratified, then they get into that first congress in 1789, the Bill of Rights is debated. So they probably talked about this type of thing when they debated the Bill of Rights. Then it’s proposed, then it goes back to the states and the states ratify the Bill of Rights. So they sent out 12 amendments to the states to be ratified in that first Congress.
They proposed 12, but the first two were not ratified, at least not initially. We get one of them many, many years later, of course, we talked about that in our constitution class. That’s not the topic for today. But the third through the 12th did get ratified, became the Bill of Rights. And of course, the people doing this proposing and ratifying, it was the founding fathers, so what did they think David, Tim, what did they define as weapons, I guess, back then?
First off, let’s just I don’t know that the quote is accurate from Biden, but the question asked us, says Biden claims that when the Second Amendment was signed, people could not even own a cannon. So first off, the Second Amendment was never signed. There’s no signature anywhere on the Second Amendment.
There was a signature on the bottom of the 12 amendments that they sent to the states. When they pass those 12 amendments, Rick, you talked about, you had the signature of John Adams, the president of the Senate, and Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, the Speaker of the House, but nobody signed the Second Amendment. So Biden said somebody signed the Second Amendment, I’m really looking forward to seeing that document. That just doesn’t exist.
Next thing is when you go and look at what happened, for example, in Boston, and in Georgia and elsewhere, we’ve looked at those state laws on guns, and you could have a cannon and they let you have a cannon; anything the military had, you could have. Now what they did was they said, hey, please don’t shoot your cannon within a mile of town, you know, so you had more of a sound code than anything. But you could have cannons back then.
Well, and specifically, they said, do not fire your cannon in town unless it is for the offense of the town. So if you’re defending the town against these foreign invaders or pirates, whoever it would have been, then you can totally defend the town with your cannon. But yeah, it makes it sound like it’s more like, hey, guys, 4th, July party, don’t fire your caterer in the town. Like that’s not what we’re doing right now.
And dad, I’ll go even further, this notion that they couldn’t have cannons. It wasn’t just that they said that you can’t restrict military grade weapons, whatever else, that certainly was the understanding of it. But what you do see from individuals and even from some of the proposals from the state conventions or the states that sent delegates to the first Congress, we remember, let me make sure we are keeping everybody listening are on the same page.
After the Constitution is done, September 17th, 1787, it’s sent back to the states to be ratified. It takes nearly two years before all of the ratification process is completed. New Hampshire is the ninth one to ratify, they need 9 out of the original 13 colonies to be on board with this. But as it is happening, Massachusetts is really one of the first states that they’re state number six. I think in the first year, from like December through January, there were five states to ratify, Massachusetts was a sixth state.
And when it came to Massachusetts, you had a lot of patriots very loyal patriots, Sons of Liberty, I mean, like Boston area, these are incredible Founding Fathers and they said we’re afraid that we have not limited the government as much as we should. We need to do more to limit the government.
There needs to be amendments that protect the rights of the individual, that place limitations on government. So Massachusetts said we will ratify this on the condition that the first Congress proposed amendments, because that’s actually one of the things in Article Five is that Congress can propose amendments, it comes back to the States and they said we want to make sure that Congress proposed amendments.
When Massachusetts did that, you then have states 7, 8, 9 that join, and they joined with a similar agreement, that we will ratify this, but there needs to be amendments, there need to be a Bill of Rights. And so they ended up getting enough states to ratify the Constitution. But in that first congress, literally, individuals who were sent to that Congress were sent with the express purpose of coming up with amendments to protect the freedom and the rights of the states and individuals and to place greater limitations on the federal government.
That’s where James Madison came with his proposed 20 amendments and then the house then passing 17. It goes to the Senate, the Senate debates and navigates, taking it down to 12 and then it comes back and that’s where the House approves the Senate list, and those 12 go out.
The reason all this context matters is that when you realize that states came specifically in that first congress, those congressmen came to propose amendments. There were several states that sent amendments to protect the individual’s right to keep and bear arms.
And if you go back and read some of those proposed amendments that came from the states, one of the themes that you see pretty consistently, is they said that the people should never be disarmed, and as long as the citizens were peaceable, they should be able to have their own weapons. Now that peaceable does become interesting, because that seems like maybe that’s a level of subjectivity.
Except we would even agree today that if there’s a violent felon who’s gone to jail for murdering somebody, for sexual assault, for doing these violent physical actions, and they get out of jail, like yeah, I’m okay with that person not having a firearm for the safety of the rest of us.
But the Founding Fathers, the only limitation they placed on firearms was on the citizens being peaceable. And again, peaceable become significant, even in their context, because you could look at the Founding Fathers and say, Wait a second, but they weren’t really peaceable because they went through a war, they had the American Revolution, these weren’t peaceable guys. Well, that is an argument. Except if you remember the shot heard around the world, they didn’t fire the first shot. Once the British fired into the Americans, then they believe now it’s a justified war because we’ve been attacked.
At this point, we do believe and this was I’m saying we collectively like the American idea, the American conscience, they believe they had the right of self-defense. And so if somebody comes and they take a swing and they punch you in the face, you have the right to defend yourself in that moment. You didn’t go out looking for the fight. You didn’t pick the fight. They fired at you, you can return fire. This was part of the Founding Fathers idea and notion.
So not only did they say the only limitation was that you had to be a peaceable citizen, there literally is not a single suggested limitation in any of their original writings other than being a peaceable citizen. They don’t suggest that you can only have certain kinds of flintlocks or that you can only have a one barreled weapon and not a two barrel weapon, not a cannon. Like there’s no limitation on caliber.
The only limitation was on the kind of citizens on being a peaceable citizen, and then even peaceable was not as complicated as we’d probably try to debate and make it today. For them, it was very easy, as long as they’re not a violent…
And I would even offer, I think their definition peaceful was used in self-defense rather than offensive because we have seen their codes that said, you can’t use a weapon in an offensive manner. You can use it in a defensive manner. And so I think maybe a way to say peaceable citizens is a defensive minded citizen who’s willing to defend himself but not necessarily start a fight.
And so then maybe in some of these scenarios, if there has been a violent felon offender who’s been in prison and gotten out, if they’ve shown themselves to be a violent aggressor, alright, so maybe in that case, you have shown yourself to be on the offensive side of trying attack people and physically hurt and assault people, so yeah, at that point, you’re not a peaceable citizen anymore.
Nonetheless, the point is if you go back and read their actual writings, the only limitation they said was peaceable citizen. So there’s nothing about how many barrels or how many rounds, how many balls are my stuff in this cannon for this, whatever kind of birdshot effect. Like no, literally, the only limitation was peaceable citizen. And so for President Biden suggests that individuals couldn’t own cannons, that’s been fact checked in multiple places and known to be false.
But not only is easy to show that was false, dad, as you mentioned, where you can see some of the laws in some of these early downs talk about the limitations on individuals who’ve had cannons that you couldn’t fire the cannon in town unless you’re defending the town, don’t arbitrarily set your cane and off for no reason, Rick, as you mentioned, might scare the horses, individuals did own cannons back then.
And they did not have a law at the Founding Era at that point that said that individuals cannot personally own cannons. That ]wasn’t a thing that they were fearful of.
It was a different mindset they had. Because they knew what the Founding Fathers largely promoted, it was religion and morality. And they knew if you have a moral and religious people, it doesn’t matter what weapons they have because they’re not going to do vile, evil, sinful things with them. So it’s not about what weapons you have. It’s about the heart and the condition of man. And that’s what they were more concerned with.
And they’ve been expanded because we’re talking about original intent of Second Amendment. And as I go through the Bill of Rights, and we’ll talk to groups and say, hey, Founding Fathers wanted to protect certain inalienable rights, these are God-given rights, it belongs to you as individual, the First Amendment protects five inalienable rights, the Second Amendment protects two inalienable rights.
And it’s like wait a minute, the right to keep and bear arms, that’s not two, that’s one right. Yeah. But what it does is the Second Amendment guarantees your right to individual self-defense and corporate self-defense. It talks about the individual…
And specifically, collective self-defense, just to make sure, because it’s not corporate just like well, you have to be in the military. No, it’s collective. It’s a group of individuals coming together because that was what a militia was. It was the able bodied men of the town who had firearms. And if something happened, the able bodied men in the town would come together with their firearms, and they were a militia.
So, dad, to your point it was you can do self-defense on an individual level, or you can do self-defense on a team. And teams are certainly better than the self-defense idea. But to your point, that’s where they protected the right of self-defense on two levels: on an individual level and as a team for the community.
And this is where the particularly progressives they say, no, no, no, they were talking about the trained national guard, the trained US military, that’s what the militia is. And no, it is not. The laws of that day said every able-bodied man between 18 and 45 is part of the militia. So everybody in the community, everybody in the neighborhood, that’s why you had state militias, local militias, but here’s where it really changed…
Well, and let me interject real quick. So Rick, and dad, I wanted to say sorry for you guys; you all are no longer in the state militia. So you don’t have that right anymore. You have aged out.
I’m going to be a Samuel Whitmore. I get to be Samuel Whitmore.
The good news for me is I can still be in the state militia. You guys just you’re going to trust, you know, Rick, you have several sons, you’re going to trust them. Dad, I’ll take care of our family. We are able-bodied males. Apparently, you two guys are no longer able-bodied men, so I apologize.
David and I are looking for an amendment because they didn’t have portable oxygen tanks and mass back then. So we think we could still be in the militia as long as we have an oxygen tank close by.
I’ve got scuba tanks everywhere, man, I can use scuba tanks to make it. But that is the thing where progressives say no, that’s the National Guard military. One of the interesting things I recently found was in looking back at the militia, because you got to remember the Founding Fathers did not trust a standing military, which is why Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution does not allow the US military to last longer than two years. Every two years, the military goes away completely unless Congress reauthorized it. That’s now called the National Defense Authorization Act, NDAA.
So the Constitution wanted no standing army, no permanent military, it all goes away every two years, and then if Congress brings it back, that’s okay. But you know, welfare is going to be around forever, and Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, not the military, it can only last two years at a time.
And by the way, standing military, this is what kings used to make war, whenever a king felt like he wanted to go to war, it’s time for me to make a war somebody, he had a standing military, or if the people got to frisky and wanted too many rights, he had a standing military that he would just send them in to crush the people.
So, as the founder said, they’ve always found historically, the standing armies were unfriendly to individual freedoms. And so they did not like standing armies. So that’s where they came up with militias, because the militia was the state armies that allowed the states to be able to fight for their rights against a national standing army, like a king would have, Louis the 16th or like King George III, anybody else.
If you had a state militia, then it doesn’t matter about a standing army because you’ve got to way to defend yourself. So they gave in the Second Amendment a way to have collective or group kind of defense and rights.
What was really interesting is I even think of like the Texas National Guard today as being more of the US military kind of stuff, because the Constitution does require that the militias have to be trained according to the Federal standards for military. But I don’t think of the Texas National Guard has been Texans, I think of it as being the Texas branch to the US military. I didn’t realize that that was a 1916 law passed by Woodrow Wilson.
Prior to that, the state militias were indeed the state militias, and under progressive liberal president who wants to make everything global and the league of nations of we’re all going to be one, he is the one who took over the state militias and made them all part of the federal government. So even going back to original intent, I’ve got to admit that’s new information to me.
I found that this week when I was looking at Woodrow Wilson, what he did with militias, I mean, he federalized the militias. Founding Fathers never wanted that, never intended that. And so as part of this question of literally, the signing the Bill of Rights, what was their intent?
Could you have cannons, etc? All that is possible. And Rick, after the break, I’ve got something else I want to bring up on Second Amendment stuff.
Well, well, let’s take a quick break. We’re going to stick with this question on the Second Amendment. We’ve got more of your questions to get to as well. You’re listening to foundations of freedom Thursday on WallBuilders Live.
Heroes of History
Hi, friends, this is Tim Barton of WallBuilders. This is a time when most Americans don’t know much about American history or even heroes of the faith. And I know oftentimes we, parents, we’re trying to find good content for our kids to read. And if you remember back to the Bible, to the book of Hebrews, it has the faith Hall of Fame where they outline the leaders of faith that had gone before them. Well, this is something that as Americans, we really want to go back and outline some of these heroes, not just of American history, but heroes of Christianity in our faith as well.
I want to let you know about some biographical sketches we have available on our website. One is called The Courageous Leaders collection. And this collection includes people like Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Francis Scott Key, George Washington Carver, Susanna Wesley, even the Wright brothers.
And there’s a second collection called Heroes of History. In this collection, you’ll read about people like Benjamin Franklin or Christopher Columbus, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Harriet Tubman; friends, the list goes on and on. This is a great collection for your young person to have and read and it’s a providential view of American and Christian history. This is available at www.wallbuilders.com. That’s www.wallbuilders.com.
We’re back here on WallBuilders. It’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday. Thanks for staying with us. Our first question of the day, we’re still on it, but it has to do with the Second Amendment. And of course, we’re still spending maybe a 10th of the time that would total all of the Joe Biden lies about cannons, the Second Amendment, the Founding Fathers, so we’re not even getting close to how much time he spent you telling lies about it. And we need to tell a lot of truth to be able to set the record straight. Anyway, David, you had another comment on the Second Amendment before we change our subject.
The Second Amendment
Yeah, I’ve always had an objection to the way that we’ve historically interpreted the Second Amendment in the states and in the federal government. And so just last night, I was talking with some state legislators and now that the Supreme Court has given us the Bruin decision that says you not only have the right to keep arms, you have the right to bear arms, you can take them with you where you go, they can accompany you.
Now that we have that right, how do the states respond to this new expanded Second Amendment, which it’s much broader in interpretation than it’s been in decades? Now, it’s much closer to where it had been when it was written. But it’s now getting back from the courts and the courts have given us the right to do things with the Second Amendment that we couldn’t do before.
So what is the state legislative response to this? And here’s part of my problem that I have. I’m in a state where we have really split laws on guns. When you’re 18, you can buy a rifle shotgun. When you’re 21, you can buy a pistol. Now, part of the question I’ve got is what other rights in the Bill of Rights do you only get to practice when you’re 18 or 21?
Well, and I think, dad, to your point, there are certainly lots of levels of contradiction in some of the way the law is applied and interpreted and even passed. Because if you get your driver’s license at 16, you can vote at 18, you can buy a long gun at 18. But you can’t drink or have a pistol till you’re 21. Well, those seem very inconsistent even in how are we recognizing who an adult is.
Do Our Rights Correspond to a Certain Age?
And certainly, we know, like, even scientifically the male brain develops a little slower than the female brain. So genuinely, you can make this argument that yeah, guys brains don’t really develop till they’re more in like their mid-20s and that’s when their brain really developed. Okay, totally granted. But also, what do you do if you have someone who enlist in the military at 17, which can happen with parental oversight.
So you can enlist in the military at 17, and then if you go, were part of your enlistment as you want to be part of a special forces team or units and so then at 18, let’s say, you’ve spent 6, 8, 9, 10 months whatever in the military, you are able to get into some kind of special forces unit, whether we’re talking Greenbrae or force, recon, Marines, or SEALs, whatever it is Air Force, whatever we’re talking about, if you’re able to be there at 18.
And then you are being trained on an incredibly high level to be proficient with all kinds of firearms, and now we’re talking about what we would know in the civilian world as classy licenses where there’s fully automatic weapons that you’re being trained with, and then you could arguably even deploy at 18 or 19 years old, where you are working for this nation to defend this nation to go stop bad guys, to protect her rescue Americans as the case might be, and you’re using all kinds of firearms that then when you get home, if you wanted to buy a gun on the weekend, like the guns that use the military, you would not be allowed to because you’re not old enough and we can’t trust you.
Now wait a second, if our government can trust this 18 or 19 year old to use firearms that are even beyond civilian level, where you have to have a class C license to get them, again, this is where it does seem a lot of our laws are very arbitrary in the way that they’re applied and understood.
And dad, to your point, where that we can look at the Bill of Rights and think that some things apply more to one than the other, and I understand in some of these scenarios we’re talking about, but this is a very dangerous tool, people call guns weapons, really, it’s a tool, and it’s based on how you use it. It’s not a lot different than saying a 16 year old is driving two tons of steel down the highway or something…
And there’s more deaths on vehicles than there are on guns. And so, at 16, you can have a vehicle and you got to be 21 for a pistol. And if death is your concern, then let’s go down the list and start addressing the things that cause the most death. Why do you have inalienable rights limited by age and there’s the question when you become an adult?
And if it is, the question that legislators were asking last night is what do we have and found in history as to when kids were allowed to have guns? You know, and we know so many examples where kids are allowed to have guns, and it really goes back to something different.
So I was suggesting this to legislators even last night is why don’t we say that if you’ve been through a thorough gun training course, and you can show proficiency and you also had moral training and things like the 10 Commandments, that we lower the age to whatever, I mean, 16 or 15 or whatever, because if you’re proficient and you can show that and if you had a thorough gun training course, gun safety course and you have training and morals.
And see this is where I think we have an opportunity because the court gave us a lot of decisions back this year on religion, and they’re saying, hey, we need to get out of this, it need to go back to states more. This is a good time to say, hey, the 10 Commandments, you know, you guys let it go back up in the Texas capitol in 2005, you took it out of schools in 1980, why not let it come back in?
Especially the difference between these shooters we’re seeing and shooters we’re not seeing is largely whether they’re secular; as Daniel Webster said, a good Christian makes a good citizen, they’re not the ones who are taking the AR-15 and shooting a bunch of people. It’s the ones without the moral training, have no morals. And so that was the discussion we had with these legislators last night and it’s really intriguing for them.
On an Individual Basis
Well, and certainly, if you look, in the Founding Era, it was on an individual basis and individual level, just like education was where in early America, there were eight levels of education. And so it wasn’t ever a year you went to the next grade, or next level. Now levels are like a video game, you pass level one to go to level two.
And some kids can pass level one or two or three faster than others. And so not everybody is going to be at the same pace or same speed. But it was about comprehension, it was about the individual students and what they could accomplish and what they could do.
And certainly, if we are looking at this, guys, and part of the gun world, there’s these two gun and three gun competitions, and you’ll see some 9, 10, 11, 12 year old girls out there doing these competitions. I mean, they would totally smoke us in a competition, right? Like those kids are so impressive.
But the idea that then you could look at someone who’s 18 or 21 years old who’s never had any kind of formal gun training, who has had the oversight, who has had the instruction, has the input, as these children have, I would much rather and trust these children with guns than I would some 18 or 21 year olds. In Iowa, I think, man, now it was several years ago…
And that was one of the states we brought up as let’s do what I was doing.
So Iowa, just so everybody knows, listening, Iowa several years ago decided they would pass a law that was going to require all of their middle school students to take a hunter safety course. So whether you shoot guns or not, whether you hunter and not, one of the things we know with gun accidents, especially with kids, there’s a level of curiosity.
And if you don’t know how a firearm works, if you don’t know the danger of it, if you don’t know how to treat every gun like it’s loaded, and don’t point the barrel at something you’re not willing or intending to destroy, etc, if you don’t know basic gun safety, and then on top of it, if you don’t know how to clear a weapon, whatever the case might be, you’re much more likely to have a gun accident.
And there’s been many, many accounts of gun accidents because someone thought the gun was unloaded, they thought the gun was on safe, or whatever the case is. So they required all the middle school students to take a course in hunter safety. And that’s still in place today. And I support that in all 50 states. I think everybody should know basic gun safety, whether or not you ever own a gun, whether or not you ever get around guns in your life, you should know basic gun safety.
And certainly, that’s where we have shifted things in our modern culture from where we were in previous and earlier generations. In the Founding Era, there actually were state laws, and actually more specifically city laws that required people that live within the within the city limits to own a gun. And if you did not own a musket, then the city would purchase one or loan you money.
So you could purchase one, they would loan you money, and you would have to pay the loan back at no interest. They’re not making money on this. They just want to make sure everyone in the town has the ability to have a firearm so they can defend themselves and the town in case of a situation.
When you’re growing up in an era where everybody has a gun, where everybody has a musket, then certainly you are learning a lot of gun safety things along the way, you’re hearing conversations, you’re seeing other people hey, don’t point that; hey, keep your gun down here; hey, don’t. You’re just naturally having these conversations happen around you on top of the fact that probably was greater levels of intentionality from parents wanting to make sure that their kids did know and use this.
And Rick, this is something we’ve talked about often where you guys have started doing some hand gun training. And initially, you guys were out at Front Sight, we talked about that for a while. And now you’ve gone to, I guess it’s at the Whittington center, where you were in Mexico, that was the one, the Whittington center, and not announcing is too soon. But there could be another facility opening up before too long.
But Rick, it’s one of the things that I love that you guys have tried to be very intentional to do is create an opportunity for people to be able to come and learn that basic gun safety gun as a family that that families can come and they can train together on some level so that the family knows in these God forbid terrible situations, that there’s a level of competence and assurance to know how to defend themselves and to be able to utilize the Second Amendment properly.
Second Amendment was about self-preservation, the preservation of home, of family, of property, and you got to know how farms work to do that. And that’s where states like Iowa that wanted to make sure that gun safety was a part of what they did, big deal. Again, we encourage that for all 50 states.
And for everybody listening, if you know state legislators, talk to them. If you are listening and you’re state legislator, I encourage it, even congressman, if you’re listening, we encourage this, something that we can do to try to get gun safety back into people so that we are at least, dad, as you said, there’s a lot of things have to be restored, you have to have the underlying morals, but then you have to have the cognizance, the intentionality of teaching the operation of firearms, the safety of firearms. There’s definitely thinks, this is a prime time to try to get those things back in America.
And just to go with that, Tim, I mean, this is why we’ve been pointed to 16 year olds driving, you don’t get to drive unless you can show a proficiency in driving. You have to be able to pass the driving test, do all things required. And you need to be able to show that same proficiency with anything lethal like this. So what we’re saying is proficiency and morals and training, if you can do those three. That’s a whole different class of citizens than those that know nothing about those.
Cannon Ownership, The 2nd Amendment, And More – On Foundations Of Freedom
And let me add on, I understand right now people are listening, going, wait a second, the Founding Fathers didn’t require gun safety courses before people had the Second Amendment right. I totally get it. But the Founding Fathers, they were really working on this idea of self-preservation. And one of the things we know is that people who are not competent with firearms, that if you are not going to hit that target you are aiming at, that bullets going to go somewhere.
And so then, you are now endangering people around you by not having some level of training. And I get it, I can appreciate the fact that should be on the individual. There can be a longer conversation for this. Nonetheless, certainly, it’s a great time to start having some of those conversations as we go forward.
And I think that’s why you also see that that says a well-regulated militia because it was one that had been thoroughly trained everybody in town from 18 to 45, well-regulated, they really knew how to handle those things.
Well, we’d love doing the training, we invite everybody to join us, patriotacademy.com, if you’d like to join us on one of our fall events for constitutional defense. And Randy, you get the award, man, one question, one person got to ask a question today and we did the whole program on, actually, he had two questions, that’s fair, but it was still just one person. That rarely happens. That means you had a really, really good set of questions. So thanks for writing in, Randy. Everybody else, [email protected], we’ll get to your questions next week.
Thanks for listening to WallBuilders Live.
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