Friday, May 23, 2008

A Good Retort

by L. Neil Smith

Dear Sir:

"I am in receipt of your May 17 letter to Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, in response to my column about the National Rifle Association and its collusion with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. (See "With Friends Like The NRA ..." ). I thank you for taking the time and going to the effort of expressing your concerns, but I'm afraid you have some misconceptions about the nature of individual rights in general and the individual right to own and carry weapons in particular.

You begin by complaining that the article in question is "too radical even for me". "Radical" comes from the Greek, from their word for "root" ("radish" is a related word). In English, it means getting to the root of whatever you're talking about, to the fundamentals, the basics, which is, indeed, what I try to do with all my writing.

I'm sure you meant that what I said is too extreme, a word that depends on context: extreme compared to what? In this case it seems that it's extreme compared, not to what the Second Amendment actually provides, but what you'd rather believe it does. A firm believer in the strict interpretation of the Second Amendment would not go on to say the other things you do about the rights it was written to preserve. But perhaps I can help.

"I don't feel the need," you inform us, "for law-abiding and honest citizens to own and carry fully automatic weapons, especially those capable of concealment, along with sawed-off shotguns." Pardon me if I point out that it couldn't possibly be less important what you do or don't "feel the need" for. I don't care what you "feel", nor would James Madison who wrote the Bill of Rights, nor would Thomas Jefferson whom it was written to satisfy.

Clearly, you fail to understand why the Second Amendment was written. While it's become popular to say it has nothing to do with duck hunting -- and that's true as far as it goes -- very few people understand that it has nothing to do with defending yourself from muggers, burglars, or rapists, either, although that's a surely welcome side-benefit.

The Second Amendment was written specifically to ensure that the people would always possess the physical means to intimidate the government, to keep it in line, or, failing that, to overthrow it at need and, as Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, "provide new guards for their future security".

In its time, the Pennsylvania (or Kentucky) rifle represented the leading edge of technology, and those who possessed it could shoot three times as far, with much greater accuracy, than those stuck with, say, the British Army's "Brown Bess" smoothbore musket. Jefferson, an inventor and a technophile himself, would recognize the need today for the average citizen to be equipped with weapons that are the equal of, or superior to, whatever the government supplies its troops with.

Now if that doesn't include "automatic weapons, especially those capable of concealment, along with sawed-off shotguns," I don't know what it does include. You can't make the government behave itself with bolt action rifles, pump shotguns, and revolvers. You also say, "We don't need to have explosives and other weapons of war readily available to anyone that wants them or the U.S. would be like the countries in the middle east we are attempting to defend."

Yet "weapons of war" (a term often used as propaganda by the likes of Sarah Brady and Dianne Feinstein) are precisely why the Second Amendment was written, and, once again, what you feel "we" do or don't need is completely unimportant. You have no legitimate say in the matter. The police are the standing army that the Founding Fathers worried about, and, as such, they're the very people the Second Amendment was ratified to protect us from.

If 200 years of American history have anything to teach us, it's that so-called "public servants" are neither. Their loyalty is not to the public, but to the politically powerful. All too soon they come to see themselves as the public's masters, not servants. Maybe that's part of their strange transformation over the years from keepers of the peace into "law enforcement officers". We've gotten to a point where they'll enforce any damn law -- no matter how evil or idiotic it is -- without regard to whether it serves the public and the peace or damages them.

To quote you further, "I guess what I am trying to say is the United States is a country of laws to safeguard the population from the criminal element of our society." Wrong again: how can this be a country of laws if the Bill of Rights -- especially the Second Amendment -- can be ignored or reinterpreted into meaninglessness by the government?"

"Men cannot be governed and remain men. Domesticate the wolf and he changes both physically and mentally. His muzzle shrinks, his teeth diminish, he loses size, speed, and strength, He grows spots. His ears flop. His brain withers. He becomes a dog. Men are on the verge of becoming dogs -- the changes are underway already -- unless we do something to stop it."

Since public schools have never been all that forthcoming in presenting the history of the United States and its Constitution in anything even close to resembling an accurate light, it isn't any wonder that many members of law enforcement are absolutely clueless when it comes to protecting and defending both. The bottom line is simple. They want the power. And they want to go through life unscathed. The only real way to do that is to disarm us all.

The lust for power, coupled with pure, unadulterated fear, is for all intent and purpose impossible to overcome, particularly when we're talking about men who've been told their entire life that only cops and the army should have powerful weapons.

Please click the headline link for the full monte.

And thanks to The War on Guns.

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