Originally published at Suburban Trends newspaper

Dear Editor:

Libertarians are evidently getting under the skin of some folks, a sign that the philosophy of individual liberty and small limited government is growing!

On the one hand we have our bully of a governor, Mr. Christie saying libertarianism is dangerous in his attacks on Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. We then have a local letter writer giving a completely distorted view of what he thinks Libertarians believe in.

As a long time pro-liberty activist allow me to try and set the record straight. The writer attacking Libertarians recently in the Suburban Trends repeats the same line with regard to the Second Amendment, which is that since the words "well regulated" are in the opening sentence of the Second Amendment this means the founders of our republic really didn’t endorse private firearm ownership. What he and others don’t understand (or maybe they do, but won’t admit) is that the word "regulate" in the 18th century and applied to military issues simply means that it was to be organized with a chain of command. The word "regulars" still appears in reference to military matters.

For example, during the Vietnam War, American troops fought both the Vietcong and North Vietnamese Regulars, which was another reference to the North Vietnamese standing, organized, and official army. So the term "well regulated" meant organized military force not restrictions on gun ownership by private individuals.

Moving on to the Civil War, it really wasn’t one nor was it a rebellion of southern states. Civil War and rebellion imply a struggle to control the powers of government in any given country; the southern states wanted independence not control over the rest of the county. Secession would be the proper and correct terminology, not insurrection or rebellion.

Would it have been wrong for the original colonies to have seceded from England in 1776? According to the anti-libertarian letter writer, apparently so!

States rights were a check against federal tyranny. It didn’t mean states should or could do anything they wanted to restrict individual liberty. If you have an unjust and repressive law at the local level (and believe me there have been plenty), it should be changed and repealed at the local level. A case in point would be back in 1970 when New York repealed its abortion laws three years before the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade case. So you see, it can be done. One of the most successful Libertarian groups that fight oppressive local laws and regulations is the Institute for Justice (www.ij.org). Perhaps our letter writer will check out its website.

As to the Civil War being about slavery and therefore being a good and noble war, consider this: Delaware and West Virginia both Union states, had slavery as did the nation’s capital – Washington, D.C. If it was a moral crusade against evil, white southerners (most of whom weren’t slave owners), why wasn’t it abolished in Union states that had it first?

The Libertarian movement is now and always has been open to all who believe in personal as well as economic freedom. Libertarians view people as individuals not group members, so the race and religion smear just doesn’t wash. Since we’re getting attacked from Gov. Christie right down to writers in local papers, it shows we must be doing something right!

Mark Richards,

West Milford