From the August 1999 Idaho Observer:

State officials affirm constitutional provision for a “well regulated militia”

The response, or more accurately, the lack of a response to a very simple question turns out to be the best possible argument 2nd Amendment proponents can use in favor of the absolute necessity that citizens protect their inalienable right to keep and bear arms.

Sent: Monday, July 12, 1999 9:07 AM

To: John Norris

Over the weekend and probably motivated by our conversation as well as an item on a netwrok TV news program, I found myself wondering about a tiny “point.”

If someone were to poll the members of the Idaho National Guard as to, in their personal opinion, does the Guard exist to protect/defend (serve) the government of Idaho (or the United States) or the people of Idaho, which do you think they would say? Do you think many of them would have an answer at all?

Marvin Gardner


Mr. Gardner

I'm sure the majority would have an answer and it would clearly be that they are in state service and only state service until fereralized (sic). The Guard prides itself in being the only branch of service that is able to be not under the Active Component's thumb.

John Norris

Gardner's response to Norris' (lack of) response

Date: Monday, July 12, 1999 22:25:44

From: marvingardner

To: Norris, John

Now I see why you are the E.O. for the Guard. You are the Compleat Politician. (Apologies to Isaac Walton.) I asked you a simple, mutliple choice question with the two choices being very clear and specific (the government or the people), and you chose to ignore the two choices and use an ambiguous word that does NOT clearly answer the question as posed.

You could have taught Bill Clinton. Did you?

The problem is, the word you substituted has in fact two disparate definitions, and the historically (technically) correct definition of “state” IS the people, the commonwealth, of a nation. In the late 20th century it HAS been used more and more often to (incorrectly) apply to the machinery of government. And since you deliberately chose to be duplicitous, I have inferred that you intended it to mean the machinery of Idaho government.

Am I correct? (You HAVE to choose one, you know. It is an old, old truism that man - any man, every man - is inherently incapable of serving two masters at the same time.) Which master are you, personally, serving - the people of Idaho or the machinery of government?

Because of your duplicity, I feel obliged to inform you that I will in all likelihood make you answer public.

Marvin Gardner

Gardner then wrote to Idaho National Guard General Kane.

Date: Thursday, July 15, 1999 00:07:15

From: marvingardner

To: General Kane

General Kane:

Since Mr. Norris has decided to NOT clear up his deliberately obfuscatory answer to my question, I will now pose it to you. The question was prompted by an item on a TV network news show of 1.5 to 2 weeks ago about a town (I never caught it at the time) in which a group of veterans has gotten together to teach the youth of their town American (political - especially Founding) history and showing them military discipline, and alleging a tremendous change in attitude (and appreciation) among the youths once they knew the history of this nation.

So here, for you, is the question I posed Mr. Norris:

If every member of the Idaho National Guard was individually polled on his opinion as to whether the Idaho National Guard exists to protect/defend (serve) the people of the State of Idaho or the government of the State of Idaho, which choice do you believe they would select?

Do you think many of them would even make a choice?


Marvin Gardner

General Kane decided not to honor Gardner with a response to what is potentially on of the most important questions to have gone unanswered.

What master does the National Guard serve? The people or the government?

So, Gardner emailed Governor Kempthorne and asked him the very simple question

Date: Friday, July 16, 1999 08:56:18

From: marvingardner

To: Dirk Kempthorne

Since neither John Kane nor John Norris can or will answer my question, would you possibly answer it? With one addition.

In YOUR opinion, is the mission of the Idaho National Guard to protect/defend (serve) the people of the state of Idaho or the government of the state of Idaho?

If every member of the Idaho National Guard was individually asked the same question, what do you think their answer would be?

Do you think every one of them would even HAVE an answer?

Thank you.

Marvin Gardner

Governor Kempthorne did not honor Gardner a response, either. Whenever a citizen fails to answer a query from a government agency, the silence is taken either as tacit consent to whatever the communication indicated or an admission of guilt. You decide what not answering Gardner's question means to the people of this state.

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