An essay written during the Clinton administration after the Columbine school massacre asked a series of questions about human nature and the right to life and liberty that I believe are especially valid now, in a post-Newtown anti-gun frenzy that dwarfs what I assessed back then as “dark times for defenders of the Second Amendment, probably as perilous as they have ever been.”
Titled “Calling all killers,” it has been sitting pretty much forgotten over at the KeepAndBearArms.com website, a resource all gun rights advocates ought to be aware of, both as a repository of valuable information, and also as one of the premier gun news aggregators on the internet via its “Newslinks” section. Readers who are aware of and frequent KABA should also know they are currently conducting their end-of-year fundraiser to keep the lights on, and support is needed.
Because I believe the essay is still relevant and valid, I’ve decided to dust it off and present it to the regular readers here at Gun Rights Examiner who may not be aware of that earlier work. As an aside, my archive at KABA can be accessed here.
Calling all Killers
I am a Nazi murderer.
I have blood on my hands. I am responsible for the deaths at Columbine High School, and for those at school campuses across the country.
Every time there is a gang-related shooting, I share in the blame. I am culpable for the thousands of “gun deaths” that occur nationwide each year. Children die because of me.
I am disgusting. I am a liar. Rosie O’Donnell thinks I should be arrested; literally, me personally. I am a racist hick. I deserve to be vilified. I am like Hitler. I am nothing but a coward. I am a paranoid throwback and a pathetic joke. On top of all this, I am sexually deficient.
And if you believe you have a right to own a gun, all of the above applies to you as well.
These are some of the messages directed toward gun owners in the wake of the atrocities committed by teen psychopaths Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in Littleton, Colorado.
These are the sentiments being fueled and exploited by our political leaders in a shameless attempt to expand their power, and our mainstream media in a self-serving attempt to boost their circulation and ratings, sell advertising and further their political agenda.
The message is as unmistakable as it is loud and clear. Guns are to blame. And the “gun culture” bears sole responsibility.
What we need, declare opportunistic politicians, are “reasonable” gun control laws.
With the barrage of media output echoing this sentiment, is it any wonder that our friends, neighbors and countrymen, who may not have plumbed the gun control argument to any depth, answer carefully crafted polls to affirm their agreement with this proposition?
In the face of such polls, how many politicians will place principle above approval points, and risk their seats by disregarding the numbers? And in the face of such volatile and accusatory hysteria, dare we explore and promote the truth?
These are dark times for defenders of the Second Amendment, probably as perilous as they have ever been. Not only are our channels for communicating our arguments restricted, but the majority of those “outside the choir” are now predisposed to be unreceptive if not outright hostile to our message. Still, if we are not to roll over and surrender our inalienable rights, we have no choice but to continue speaking out.
By now, if you follow the issue, you have no doubt heard the “gun lobby” response to the gun-banner arguments. They will tell you that Harris and Klebold violated dozens of existing gun laws involving illegal purchase, possession, transport and use. They will ask how any of the new laws proposed by the president could possibly prevent future random acts of evil. They will point out scholarly works which demonstrate that guns in private hands save far more lives than are lost. They will cite the Constitution and the words of its Framers, which guarantee the preexisting and unalienable right to keep and bear arms.
These are all valid arguments, and need to be heard and understood. But I’d like to get a little more basic. I have a question for those who think that gun ownership is evil.
Since when did self defense become morally wrong?
I’m serious, I want to know, and if I’m missing something here, I wish you’d educate me. After all, only a fanatic clings to beliefs which are demonstrably wrong, and I’ve always tried to open myself up to counter- arguments and challenges to my convictions.
If someone violently attacks me or my family, is it wrong for me to resist? Are you saying I do not have an unalienable right to life?
Forget about me. How about your elderly mother?
If someone, say with intent to rob, beat, rape and kill attacks her, would she be morally at fault for protecting herself?
How about it: does this elderly woman have the right to repel a monster?
Yes or no?
I suspect, if put in those stark terms, the outcome of most polls would shift dramatically in favor of the right to individual defense. This, in turn, opens the door to discuss which means of defense is most effective at deterring an assailant, especially one who can clearly overpower his intended victim.
The message for which those of us in the pro-Second Amendment camp are vilified is no more complicated than this: Each of us has a right not to be hurt by someone else, and if someone tries to hurt us, we have a right to protect ourselves.
The corollary to this fundamental truth is equally simple: We cannot effectively protect ourselves without the possessing the means of defense.
Let me ask another basic question. What is a right?
Is it something that is granted by a government authority? If so, how does that differ from a privilege? Can something that is granted be withheld? Can something which is licensed be revoked?
Are not rights inalienable? Do they not precede the establishment of government? Are they not, in fact, outside the authority of government? Does our Second Amendment say the right it articulates “may be infringed” or “shall not be infringed”?
Someone once defined pure democracy as two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner. Recognizing the dangers of mob rule, our Bill of Rights defined some of the areas where the individual would be immune to the will of the collective. What this means is, no matter how many of us disagree with you, we cannot lawfully use force to shut you up, to suppress your political views, or to make you worship in the way we see fit. We cannot break into your house and search your property without cause and a legal warrant. We can’t torture you into confessing to a crime. Barring behaviors on your part to disqualify yourself, we cannot strip you of your right to keep and bear arms.
Still, there are those among us who would decry this right as being the product of a different era, as being outdated, no longer relevant, and an actual detriment to life, liberty and happiness in our modern era of enlightenment.
To these people I would ask: what about human nature has changed?
In a century that has seen two world wars, continual violent political upheaval, genocide and systemic, brutal tyranny and repression, has humanity truly demonstrated a benevolence and maturity that distinguishes our era from those that preceded us? In a culture that breeds gang warfare, rampant violence, city-crippling riots and a national murder rate measured in the tens of thousands, how can anyone credibly claim that the need for individual defense is a relic of the past?
And ultimately, what is this “outdated” Second Amendment really about, if not the preservation of a free people when all other options to defend life and liberty have been exhausted? Against all enemies, individual and aggregated, foreign and domestic. Here is where we must face the core meaning of the awesome power and responsibility that this “obsolete” right places squarely in the hands of the people. Because, ultimately, what this right guarantees you is not a gun, but a choice. A choice, in the final analysis, to submit to evil or to fight it, literally.
You can’t pass this off on your neighbor who has time for these kinds of things. You can’t hire someone to come out and do this for you. You can’t elect someone to represent you on the green. You must make a choice, and then you must act upon it. Would you shrink from this decision? And can you wrest this choice from someone who refuses to relinquish it?
Does this sound “whacko” to you? Does this sound like some “militia extremist’s” sick, hate-filled fantasy for violently overthrowing government? Is such talk to be confined to the realm of paranoids in need of treatment?
The sad thing is, until very recently in our history, this “insurrectionary theory” was the common understanding of the meaning and power behind the right to keep and bear arms. While modern gun control advocates may scoff at this, and ridicule those who tender such a doctrine, this was not a source of political controversy a mere generation ago, when even liberal politicians, such as John F. Kennedy and Hubert H. Humphrey acknowledged the last resort intent in the Second Amendment’s assurance of an armed populace.
And to those who feel this is too dangerous, that it is uncalled for, that it is unneeded because we have the vote, or the right to speak, that we have evolved beyond such crude reminders of our barbaric past, I must ask where in history is any civilization guaranteed stasis? Has not despotism and mass destruction plagued every civilization that preceded ours? Is it not, in fact, still commonplace throughout the globe? By what suspension of reality, by what denial of the observable and the probable, by what art, device or magic are we sheltered few immune from catastrophe? Are we certain, from our brief and privileged vantage point, that such things will ever remain headline curiosities? Is it not just plain stupid to proclaim that our familiar way of life will forever be the norm, when everything that has gone before us shows we are, instead, the extremely lucky beneficiaries of a rare and fortunate convergence of circumstances; and one, by the way, that has only been preserved under force of arms?
The problem of social violence is not with “America’s gun culture”, which is blamed for why our violent homicide rate doesn’t track with disarmed countries, such as England or Japan.
Just look at the defiant core of this group, the heavily armed gun activist members of the National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, etc. We form a society several million strong, and you will not find a lower violent crime rate anywhere on the planet than in this population. Do you doubt that you have a better chance of being hit by a meteorite or of winning the Powerball Lottery jackpot than of being murdered by an NRA member?
The problem is not that young people now have “easy access to guns”.
Not so long ago, before we enacted thousands of meaningless gun control laws and there truly was this “easy access,” teenagers would bring their .22’s to school, maybe to participate on the rifle team after classes, or to plink some cans on the way home, or bag a rabbit for supper. Did we suffer from homicidal schoolyard rampages in this era of “kids and guns”? While it’s true that ten school children have gone on psychotic shooting binges in the past few years, remember that twenty-five million have not.
I admit, stipulate and cede the point that America suffers from thousands of criminal homicides each year, and that criminal misuse of guns wreaks a terrible toll on our culture. But the evidence is conclusive that this destruction is not the work of peaceable gun owners, the only people who would be punished and disabled by civilian disarmament laws. And it is equally observable and demonstrable that successful defensive gun deployments range anywhere from the hundreds of thousands up to the millions each year, and that, had these potential victims been disarmed, the respective assault, rape and death tolls would have risen exponentially.
The problem is not with gun owners. We are not killers. We are not Nazis. Get this straight: It’s not our fault.
The problem is with the breakdown of our culture, you know, the one that the lying statist gun grabbers will tell you has outgrown the Second Amendment. The problem is the pervasive erosion of morality and personal responsibility as exemplified by our anti-gun president and his national socialist policies.
But enough. The point is made. It is time to take sides.
To those who demand that the government strip us of our rights, I pledge my total opposition.
To those who agree with the proposition that your life is your own, that no one may take it from you, and that you have a God-given right to preserve life and liberty, I have a question: What did you do today to protect and preserve that right? More importantly, more urgently, what will you do tomorrow?
As these words are written, those who would eradicate your right to keep and bear arms, are exploiting the events of Columbine to whip an apathetic and uninformed electorate into a gun control frenzy. They’re proposing mandatory trigger locks, one-gun-a-month limits, waiting periods, appearance-based gun bans, affordable gun bans, restrictions on private sales, and a host of other stupid, evil laws that would not have made one bit of difference to the Littleton murderers, but will have the cumulative effect of banning, registering and confiscating your guns. As these words are written, treasonous Constitutional saboteurs are disingenuously demonizing scoped long guns as “sniper rifles”, and target and hunting rounds as “armor piercing ammunition.”
As these words are written, a president who cannot (or will not) control himself will be tightening his controls over you. While nuclear arms technology flows to his “strategic partners,” the genocidal regime in Beijing, he will focus his coercive powers on disarming American patriots. As he mugs for the camera, and bites his lip, and wags his finger, as he speaks of using “words, not weapons,” keep in mind that the man is a proven and habitual liar.
And I am sick of lies.
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