By David Tulis
Won over by an appeal to envy, a jury convicted laborer Arthur J. Hirsch in Lawrence County, Tenn., Dec. 22 on four criminal counts — three of them regarding the right to travel, one the right to bear arms.
Jurors were unanimously convinced by the arguments of state prosecutor Tammy Rettig that if they had to obtain licenses to operate a motor vehicle, register their cars with the state and be compelled to pay insurance, Mr. Hirsch could in no way be excused for not doing so.
On a charge of “carrying a weapon with the intent to go armed,” the jury rejected the constitution’s rule that the legislature “shall have power *** to regulate the wearing of arms,” holding that while Mr. Hirsch wasn’t wearing a gun, his having one in a cooler in the cab of his truck constituted “carrying,” a misdemeanor.
On the driving without a license charge it imposed a half penalty of F$250 with the maximum allowable being F$500. Its guilty ruling on the gun charge brought no fine, but maximum $50 fines were imposed on the registration and insurance charges.
The jury was comprised of six women and six men, including two male truck drivers.
Mr. Hirsch’s defense is that laws for driving, operating motor vehicles, registration and insurance are all in commerce and can be lawfully avoided by those acting within their constitutional rights, including the property right of travel. He argues that traveling by car on the people’s highway is a right that cannot be converted into a privilege by force and coercion, but only by written application with any state’s department of motor vehicles. His defense on the gun charge is that the statute is so vague and so removed from the legislature’s grant of power from the constitution no one could convict him of “carrying” a .22-caliber revolver for his personal safety.
Hirsch takes courage in defeat
A juror smirked at some of Mr. Hirsch’s analysis touching on God’s law, the obedience of the constitution to may of God’s precepts, and the necessity for the state’s actions not to criminalize and injure the innocent.
“I did my very best in testifying for the truth and for the name of our Lord Jesus,” Mr. Hirsch says in a letter to supporters. “The judge forbid me from basing my defense on the Word of God saying that there is a separation of church and state, and that I was ordered to stay with the statutes only. A number of the jurors were laughing when I would speak of the authority of God’s Word and make reference to scriptural points. I trust Lord Jesus was pleased as I stood for His name and Word. Despite the negative outcome I’m still trusting in Him that His divine will was and will be done throughout this ordeal.”
The weapon statute under which he was convicted was overturned since the December 2013 traffic stop, a point he made to the jurors before the judge’s reproof. “The state doesn’t care and only wants to penalize for profit. The trial was set up to ramrod the jury into strictly obeying the unjust jury instructions and disregard their conscience. Despite what the state constitution says about the jury’s having the right in deciding the facts AND the law, the judge and DA would not let the truth be known and forbid the jury to consider whether the law was just or not — only the facts, i.e. no jury nullification was allowed, though it is a constitutionally secured right.”
Mr. Hirsch, a 65-year-old bachelor who hires out as a parking lot laborer, made a remarkable defense both on paper and in person. A pretrial motion submitted the moment the court doors opened for the day Dec. 22 successfully suppressed the prosecutor’s desire to smear him as a “sovereign individual” or “anti-government protester.” But two years of struggle in the case and a second traffic prosecution in Lawrence County have sapped his funds and stolen time for making a living.
“The judge set bail at $10,000 which I have to secure by 12 noon today or be jailed,” he says. “I plan to appeal on a number of points, but that’s more time and money I can’t really afford.” Sentencing is in February.
‘Duty is ours …’
Offering a spiritual perspective for Mr. Hirsch is the Rev. John Weaver, author of many useful books about the law of God and its relevance today. “Brother, I prayed for you all during the night that God would give you rest as well as comfort and console you. You must remember as Lee and Jackson often said: ‘Duty is ours; the consequences belong to God.’
Mr. Weaver goes on to say: “Scripture states in 1 Cor. 4:2: Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. You were faithful and you were successful for faithfulness is success in the eyes of God. You may have lost a battle but you have not lost the war. Daniel trusted God before he was in the lions’ den and while he was in the lions’ den. Likewise the three Hebrew children trusted the Lord in the fiery furnace as well as before they were thrown in. Remain faithful and trusting. God is preparing you for a greater victory. You remain in our prayers.”