Newtown is just a pretext. An event so shocking that it can be used to push back on Heller and McDonald. These two cases, decided 5-4, ensured that there were some limits to firearms regulation, though the scope of those limits was not decided. For example, in Moore/Shepard v. Madigan outright bans on concealed carry were rejected by the 7th Circuit. We are very close to having the Supreme Court set sufficient precedent to gun ownership that future attempts to regulate or restrict guns will become far more difficult. And this is alarming to many of the powers that be.
The argument currently centers on protecting “the children” and “saving just one life” as against the right to personal self defense. Whenever the left invokes children, watch out, since so many people are swayed by this emotional but intellectually bankrupt appeal. The whole notion of “for the children” is intellectually bankrupt because it assumes, a priori, that protecting a child from harm outweighs any and all rights—the rights to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, property, due process, free speech, free association, free exercise of religion and any other right you are able to name. All of these must take an immediate, unquestioned backseat to ‘protecting the children”. It fails to recognize that the world is not, and can never be, 100% safe, and that an adult’s rights may not be infringed simply because the exercise of those rights might lead to some kind of harm to a child. At nearly every turn, I find restrictions and regulations on what I may do because someone, somewhere has decided they have to “protect the children” from whatever activity it is I want to do. I’m not advocating driving licenses for 10-year olds or allowing 13-year olds to drink (though I believe the 14th Amendment requires that the drinking age be no higher than 18). Nor am I in any way advocating that adults be exempt from prosecution for knowingly and purposefully harming a child. Nor am I advocating removing child labor laws (though applying them to family farms is simply beyond the pale). What I am insisting is that my rights may not be infringed simply because someone declares that it is in the interest of children to do so,
To ensure balance, it’s important to note that the clear counterpart to “for the children” is “to prevent terrorism”, an argument which is equally intellectually bankrupt. The claim of “preventing terrorism” assumes, a priori, that the aforementioned rights, as well as those requiring warrants for searches, indictments for incarceration, trial by jury, due process and (worst of all) habeus corpus, must take a backseat to the “War on Terror”. It fails to recognize that eliminating liberty is the exact goal of the terrorist—they want to force non-democratic change on society, to remake it in their ideal with no liberty of dissent. I do realize they have other goals, but terrorism as a means to those ends is about loss of liberty. In every case. Another failure is the overly broad use of the description “terrorism”. In my view, terrorism is the targeting of civilians and/or private property to force political or societal change. It differs greatly from military action (i.e. that directed against military forces), insurrection (i.e. that directed against governing authorities only, e.g. police, politicians, militias, etc) and revolution. An example is that when the IRA (Irish Republican Army, not your retirement account) was targeting the Royal Army, Members of Parliament and the police (e.g. Royal Ulster Constabulary) they were fighting a legitimate revolution/insurrection against an occupying power. The minute the first civilian was targeted, they became terrorists (and yes, before someone asks, the atomic bombs dropped on Japan were terror weapons, the fire-bombing of Desden was an act of terror and Sherman’s “March to the Sea” was terror.). Note, the 9/11 hijackers had legitimate targets in the Pentagon and White House, but not the World Trade Center. Their use of civilian aircraft with passengers aboard was a terrorist act.
Why are they coming for your guns? Because they are afraid you will fight back against the loss of your rights. Sure, the majority may well go along with the arguments of protecting children or preventing terrorism, but revolutions don’t start with the majority—they start with an oppressed minority that feels it has no other way out. The problem for the US Government is the same as it was for the British in 1776—the American populace is armed. To the teeth. There are more guns in circulation in the US than there are adults over 18. If someone wants to take away your rights, they are going to have to overcome this major problem. And it is a major problem. The British knew it. That’s why they went to Concord and Lexington. Yes, that’s right, the American Revolution started when the national/central government attempted to disarm the people. Our current leaders would do well the recognize this.
If you don’t think this is the case, look at the claims by the Obama administration about its powers, as well as those of other federal departments, the states and local communities:
- Obama claims the right to assassinate any American Citizen outside the United States with no oversight from the courts or from the Congress.
- Obama claims the right to indefinitely detain any American Citizen with broad protections against interference from the courts or necessity of honoring the traditional common law notions of habeus corpus. When even Michael Moore protests an action by Obama, you know something has gone terribly wrong.
- The Department of Homeland Security claims the right to search all electronic devices within 100 miles of the US Border. Inside the border. Without a warrant. Without probable cause.
- The Department of Homeland Security is deploying VIPR teams in any place where the public travels, claiming broad rights of warrantless searches, detentions, interrogations and seizures. Sadly, that great line from The Hunt for Red October is no longer true: “(Capt. Vasili Borodin) No papers? (Capt. Marco Ramius) No papers. State to State.” You can’t even travel INSIDE a state without papers.
- The government makes use of Secret Courts (see FISA) that operate outside any real oversight and have broad powers against American Citizens. Makes me think of the Colonial complaints about the Court of High Commission and “Star Chamber” proceedings.
- Governments at all levels make extensive use of Administrative Forfeiture and Eminent Domain to steal the property of individuals with impunity. Under Administrative Forfeiture laws, property may be seized on suspicion of criminal origin, and it is up to the citizen to prove that it was not of illegal origin. In Kelo, the Supreme Court said that it was perfectly OK for the government to seize your private property and turn it over to another private citizen for any reason whatsoever.
- It is increasingly hard for people convicted of any felony to live a normal life. My own hometown makes the mere accusation of a felony sufficient grounds for denial of a lease and for eviction. Other communities have similar laws. Felony convictions are pretty easy to come by (around 8% of the population has one or has a child with one), and the number of felony offenses grows by the day. Worse, don’t even think of trying to rent or live most places once you are a registered sex offender. Note well that you can be a sex offender by simply urinating in public, sending a text message, or having consensual sex with your 15-year old girlfriend when you are 17.
I could go on and on, but these items should suffice to show why the government, especially the left, is fearful of an armed populace. An armed populace is capable of resisting. And that interferes with the ever more tyrannical state. The United States is fast becoming a police state, with all the trappings—illegal, secret detention, kangaroo courts, death squads and suppression of dissent.
There will come a breaking point. There will be a “Shot Heard Round the World” (i.e. Lexington and Concord). I think it’s coming soon. I can only hope that it is resolved peacefully and with our rights protected. I won’t put money on that at this point, though.