Like a true leftist ideological warrior, this past Wednesday, Obama prepared for a speech on new gun control measures by surrounding himself with children who’d written him about gun-related violent crime. Like a soldier behind a wall of sandbags, the children were used as an emotional prop to protect Obama from the projectiles of logic and reason bombarding his weak position on the Second Amendment. The children were there to deflect the blows of contrarian facts which undermine his argument. They gave him the ability to make the argument, as the left is so masterful at, that opposition to his agenda was proof that his opponents don’t care about protecting children.
Hypocritically, just an hour after Obama surrounded himself with children to announce nearly two dozen Executive Orders meant to infringe on the ability of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves, White House spokesman Jay Carney was whining to the press about an NRA ad which referenced the fact that Obama protects his own daughters by surrounding them by men carrying guns (as he should). Said Carney, “Children should not be used as pawns in a political fight.” If the irony was any thicker, you could pour it over pancakes.
In the press conference, Obama said that “…if there’s even one life we can save, we have an obligation to try it.” If he truly believes that, then he is starting in the wrong place, because there are other areas which would save even more lives. For example, in 2011, far more lives would be saved by banning hammers and bats (496), knives (1,694), and alcohol (10,000+ drunk driving deaths), than would have been saved by banning ALL rifles, not just the so-called “assault” rifles (323, with less than 0.5% of crimes committed with “assault” rifles). Of course, there would be huge protests, but we could have saved even more lives by banning hands and feet (726 deaths from punching and kicking). However, it should be noted that, over the last twenty years, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report the violent crime rate in America has seen an approximately 50% decline, even as gun ownership has skyrocketed to an estimated 250-280 million privately owned firearms (including more than six million “assault” weapons in the last two decades).
Coincidence? Only if you can suspend disbelief and accept as coincidence that the city of Chicago, which has arguably the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, had more than 500 gun-related homicides in 2012. Or if you accept as coincidence the fact that almost all mass shootings (Aurora movie theater, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, etc.) all occur in “gun-free” zones. If you can accept that as coincidence, then I guess you can also accept as coincidence the fact that the areas with the highest levels of gun ownership generally have the lowest violent crime rates. Of course, I suppose it is also coincidence that an extremely high number of these gun crimes are committed within dense urban areas populated by young men growing up without fathers, who look to street gangs for support and protection.
Yet, all of this misses the larger point. Yes, guns are a handy tool for self-defense against thugs and robbers, and yes, rifles are great for deer hunting and sport shooting. But our Founding Fathers did not enshrine the right to keep and bear arms into the Bill of Rights for those purposes. The primary purpose of the Second Amendment was to protect us from our own government which, the Founders knew from prior experience and long history, was likely to slide into tyranny over time unless checked by the knowledge that its citizens had the means to protect themselves from such tyranny. As James Madison (the “Father of the Constitution”) wrote in Federalist No. 46, “[T]he advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation…forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition.”
The Second Amendment states, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It is important to note that the Founders recognized the right to defend one’s self, family, and property as a God-given right which preceded government. In other words, it is not the government or the Constitution which grants that right, it is a pre-existing right that the government is not allowed to usurp. Some on the left argue that the Second Amendment, since it refers to the “militia,” means only that the government has the right to arm the military for purposes of national defense. Not so, said George Mason, considered by many to be the most brilliant legal mind of the Constitutional Convention, in his speech in 1788 at the Virginia Ratifying Convention. “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few public officials.”
It’s also been said by pro-gun control advocates that the need for a national gun registration database is not a pretext for later confiscating guns, but simply a tool to help law enforcement solve crimes. Yet, once again, history disproves that claim. Just since the 1990’s, we’ve seen California (after passing a gun ban) and New Orleans (after Hurricane Katrina) use their gun registry databases to locate and confiscate the guns of law-abiding citizens. “Trust us!” they say. History says we are fools if we do.
In the 20th Century, under Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia, and Mao’s China, nearly 100 million citizens of these countries were murdered by their own governments after the people were disarmed and defenseless. That is because Stalin (“We don’t let them have ideas. Why would we let them have guns?”) understood the logic of his predecessor, Vladimir Lenin (“One man with a gun can control 100 without one”), and later Chairman Mao (“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”). The tyranny of government always starts with disarmament of its people under the pretext of making them safer.
But, say today’s gun rights foes, “This is The United States of America! We are a free country, and our government would never embark on such oppression!” Oh, really? Tell that to the thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II who were rounded up and placed in internment camps. Tell that to all of those who President Woodrow Wilson had arrested for protesting against World War I, and for women’s suffrage. Tell that to the blacks who were victims of gun control laws passed specifically to make sure they remained victims of violent attacks by the Ku Klux Klan.
And tell that to the men of Athens, Tennessee, who in 1946 rose up against a corrupt and oppressive county government which had engaged in systemic voter fraud, ballot-box stuffing, and voter intimidation to keep their cronies in power. These people were threatened and physically assaulted by armed sheriff’s deputies for protesting corruption. When GI’s returning from service in World War II acted as poll watchers, they were beaten by sheriff’s deputies and two, warning others of the danger, were shot by deputies taking cover in the jail, where they had taken the ballots for counting in secret. These GI’s, having fought for freedom for foreign countries, were not about to see theirs taken, and returned with an armed citizen militia, which led to a firefight and a stand-off. The corrupt officials eventually surrendered and honest government was restored, no thanks to the state of federal government, which had for years ignored pleas to intervene.
So the next time some Second Amendment-hating gun grabber tells you we need to do away with privately held firearms, remind them that is only the Second Amendment rights that keep the First Amendment rights secure. And, to quote Thomas Jefferson, “…In questions of power, let us hear no more of trust in men, but rather bind them down from mischief with the chains of the Constitution.” And let’s have our guns ready as a back-up.