The gun control debate threatens to get out of hand. Gun control advocates abandon civility, while the people arm themselves and prepare for battle. If that last sounds over-the-top, the facts bear it out.
Gun control campaign turns nasty
The Journal News (Lower Hudson Valley, New York State) signaled the end of civility in the gun control debate. They published and mapped the names and addresses of all gun permit holders in Westchester and Rockland Counties. Their readers reacted in outrage. (The outrage was so great that the paper hired its own armed guards. Whether the editors can appreciate the irony, they haven’t made clear.)
Unrepentant, the editors said they would do the same for Putnam County. And yesterday they hit a brick wall. Putnam County Clerk Dennis Sant refused their Freedom of Information Law request for the names and addresses of gun permit holders in his county. Today Sant said why:
This certainly puts my public in danger.
Sant gave two reasons for danger to the public:
- Criminals looking to steal guns, know who has them.
- Criminals looking to steal anything else, know who does not have guns to protect that something else.
(Of course, people like Emily Bazelon at Slate will never get it. They want gun control. To them the obvious way to escape the shame of having everyone know they have a permit to own a gun is: turn it in.)
Then Sant said something else, to Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly on her program, America Live: if The Journal News wants those permit holders’ names, they’ll have to sue him to get them. Judge Andrew Napolitano said the obvious: the lawsuit would drag on for two years. During that time, New York’s legislature might pass a law to tell The Journal News to go pound sand.
But that’s not the only, or even the most, disgraceful thing a mainstream journalist has written or done. That booby prize goes to Donald Kaul. If you want to read his article in the Des Moines Register, you probably will have to pay to subscribe. But Drew Zahn at WND and Tim Graham at Fox News Channel both reviewed it. He opens thus:
During my 50-year career, every time some demented soul would take a semiautomatic gun and clean out a post office, a school or a picnic, I’d get up on my soap box and let loose with a withering diatribe about guns, the National Rifle Association and weak-kneed politicians. Did it about 75 times, give or take.
And whenever he did so, many people would buy guns so they would have them after total gun control came down. As they are doing today. (More on that below.)
“Obscene!” he screams. Then he gives his plan:
- Repeal the Second Amendment. “Owning a gun should be a privilege, not a right,” says he. (Regular visitors to the CNAV comment space who have said exactly the same thing should pay heed.)
- Declare that the National Rifle Association is a terrorist group. Of course he forgets that the Constitution forbids the United States, and every State, to pass bills of attainder. Worse yet, he says that if anyone will not turn in his guns, kill them!
- Drag House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnel behind a pickup truck.
If some people refused to give up their guns, that “prying the guns from their cold dead hands” thing works for me.
If you don’t believe he said that, follow the paying link, pay your money, and check it out. If either Graham or Zahn were lying, Kaul could easily call them out, or even sue them for libel and defamation of character. But Donald Kaul has a problem: he has no character to defame.
A gun control advocate can easily dismiss Kaul as a crank. But they cannot dismiss Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA). In 1995, she lamented that she could only pass the kind of “assault weapons ban” that she did pass.
If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States, for an outright ban, picking up every one of them… Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ‘em all in…I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes were not here.
That’s the real goal of gun control: that no person, except a law-enforcement officer or an active-duty military service member, shall so much as touch a gun. Maybe she thinks she has the votes now. (She’d need sixty.) But at least one ex-United States Marine warned her: Don’t.
And as dangerous as the Feinstein gun control bill is, several Democratic State Senators in Illinois will shortly bring to their Senate floor the very sort of measures that Feinstein wished she could have passed, but couldn’t.
I’ve never seen a piece of legislation that tramples on so many court decisions.
The people arm themselves
In answer, the people are arming themselves. Gun rights advocates have often called Barack Obama “America’s best gun salesman.” Diane Feinstein might give Obama a run for his money. But the larger point is that people are rushing out to buy guns before full gun control takes hold. Victor Davis Hansen calls it a “stampede.” And the FBI has evidence: they are making more background checks than ever. (See also here.)
Here lies the basic failure of gun control. As American Revolutionary Patriots told the British as they would show off a cannon:
Come and take it!
That’s how the American Revolution got started, by the way: when the British Army tried to take over the armories.
What the Constitution says
The Constitution says,
A well-regulated militia being necessary to the existence of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
The first part of that sentence is an absolute phrase. It gives a condition that the writer knows already exists. The second part gives the command. And that command is absolute. Keeping and bearing arms is a liberty, and only a judge can deprive anyone of that, and only after following due process of law. (See the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.)
This essay cites, among others, Justice James Wilson of the earliest US Supreme Court. He said the Constitution does not grant new rights but merely recognize old ones. These rights come from God, and no man can take them away. Wilson even went so far as to say that any government that did not recognize that, was itself illegitimate.
A practical example
In fact, the Second Amendment is the reset button on the Constitution. Anyone who doubts that, should consider an episode that happened 66 years ago.
Athens, McMinn County, Tennessee. In or about 1930, the local barons, whose name was Cantrell, took the county over. They built a political machine that controlled the sheriff’s office and several other offices. They would charge fees for every arrest, fine, or prison term. And of course they would arrest people without cause, often for trifling offenses.
In 1946, several soldiers, after de-mobilizing from the Second World War, returned home to McMinn County. They saw what was going on. They had fought bloody battles for four years against just this kind of corruption. So they would fight again, on American soil. So they ran their own slate of candidates for sheriff and several mayor’s offices.
Naturally the machine resorted to their usual brutalities. Then on August 1, 1946 (Election Day), the sheriff and his deputies took the ballot boxes to the jail to “count” them. They obviously had learned well the example of Uncle Joe Stalin. Only the veterans wouldn’t stand for that. They raided the National Guard armory, took several weapons and some dynamite, and laid siege to the jail. They delivered an ultimatum: surrender the ballot boxes, or suffer siege and attack. The deputies refused. The veterans attacked. In the end, they used dynamite to blow the jailhouse door. The deputies surrendered, and the machine’s officeholders conceded the elections.
Voter fraud is already a pressing concern today. And had gun control been in force as it is today (and especially as Diane Feinstein and Barack Obama want to make it), the Battle of Athens would have ended differently. Furthermore, Barack Obama is a classic machine politician, and always has been.
So when Representative Jerrold Nadler says that anyone who expects civilians to resist the army is insane, he should read the story of the Battle of Athens. If he wants to have a Battle of Washington, he might just get one.
Thus the gun control battle is joined. Everyone needs to know the full stakes in this battle. The side that wants gun control have made their positions, and their attitudes, painfully clear. They have total disdain for the American people. When a journalist actually writes of killing people, and his newspaper prints his words, he is no friend of liberty or the people. Neither is a newspaper that publishes and maps people’s names and addresses as if they were ex-convicts. (In answer, a New York State Senator and Assemblyman urged Lower Hudson Valley residents to cancel their subscriptions.)
The gun control battle is nothing short of a battle for basic liberty. The Second Amendment guarantees the first, and every other element in the Bill of Rights. And all the rest of the rights a person has under the Constitution.
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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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