It’s a quiet evening. A homeowner, his wife, and their two kids sit on the couch and watch T.V. Outside and down the street, a squadron of government agents are about to execute their plan. For it turns out that this homeowner is also a gunowner, and it seems that he has refused to relinquish his firearms.
“We’re ready,” says the commanding officer. The door is kicked open. “Everybody down on the ground!” The wife and one of the kids obey, thus spared. The husband is in the kitchen, getting more popcorn. He’s hysterical, not able to see his wife and children, knowing that one of the kids is in the upstairs bathroom. “Down-down-down!” the agents scream. He wants to see his family alive, stays standing, and is then shot dead for noncompliance. The agents go upstairs; a weeping child is scared to open the bathroom door. It is subsequently kicked in and the child riddled with more bullets.
The agents search the house and are rewarded for their violent act: a closet holds several “assault weapons” recently put on the list of those prohibited. Elsewhere, people with proudly displayed credentials congratulate themselves for putting down this terroristic black American family, one of many that have stockpiled since the 2016 Election.
The next day, a raid occurs at one of the nation’s many gun-expos, where weapons are sold free of background checks. The coroner’s office is suddenly given a large workload. The goal, after all, is to prevent more death.
The commentariat gleam. They have finally witnessed the measure that will make a real difference, that of preventing schoolyards from turning into shooting ranges. But they enjoy reveling in their lies: a month prior, Rachel Maddow was still assuring us that “Nobody wants to take your guns!”
Although it might appear that I have erected a man of straw, I have not. Irrevocably, guns will not be taken away without force, and even if that force yields results, a black-market will quickly spring into action. The Grabbers must grapple with this.
For these are the days in which people scream “I am the resistance!” while simultaneously trying to disarm the population. But then again, reason is merely a tool of the oppressor, or so I’m told. Even so, for those who still attempt to reason — however shoddily — they should be kind enough to do away with the pretense: We all know that the real goal of those who go on and on about “sensible” gun control is disarmament. “Why do you need one?” they endlessly whine, inferring real intentions. With that single agenda perfervidly in mind, these Grabbers can ignore the bigger killers — handguns and knives — and then obsess on those sinister “assault” thingamajiggers. Neither do they talk about obesity or the sickening increase in the rates of suicide — the biggest killers of young people. It’s “death-by-scary-gun” — and that’s the end of it. This is strange, seeing as school shootings have actually dropped since the 1990’s. Still, every time there is a school shooting, it becomes painfully more clear to me that we should ban public schools.
Somehow, the massacre at Parkland High School presented an opportunity to state the real objective more candidly than in times’ past. Retired Justice Stevens penned an Op-Ed arguing a full-on repeal of the Second Amendment. On Facebook, faux rebel Michael Moore laid out an entire rewording of said Amendment, the dictatorial items too numerous to list. (No more sales of semi-autos, can’t own a clip that holds more than 6 rounds, all owners must be fingerprinted and licensed, etc., etc.) Delany Tarr, Parkland shooting survivor-turned celebrity victim, was the most forthright: “When they give us that inch, that bump-stock ban, we will take a mile. We are not here for breadcrumbs, we are here for real change.” In February, the Democratic Party’s reliably demented bulldog, Tim Wise, tweeted this:
Everyone has fantasies. Some of mine involve ripping guns from the hands of pathetic bubbas who think firepower=manhood. I want to rip their guns from them in front of their children while they scream and wail about their “freedoms” and the evil “gubmint.” Sorry not sorry.
Wise, a critic of government power when it suits his “anti-racist” activism, and conversely so when it does not, quickly deleted that tweet. Apparently, he has no problem redirecting state force away from persons of color and towardswhite gun owners. Similar flirtations with violence can be seen in a viral video of hopeful Sheriff of Buncombe County, Daryl Fisher, who said that he would be happy to oblige the late Charlton Heston’s famous warning. “You’ve heard people say… to pry my gun from my cold dead hands.” Fisher shrugs: “Okay.”
On social media, the memes practically create themselves. Dwayne Johnson, as a driver, turns around and asks the young female passenger: “Are we still protesting police this week?” She answers: “No, now we’re saying that only police should be allowed to have guns.” Gasp. Another has someone holding a gun to a man’s face. “You idiot…you can’t threaten me with that…this is a gun free zone.” Reductionist, perhaps, but the practicality is still with those who favor individual gun ownership. Although I’m no longer much of a fan, Canadian commentator Stefan Molyneux sums it up perfectly with this oft-quoted aphorism:
If you are for gun control, then you are not against guns, because the guns will be needed to disarm the people. So it’s not that you are anti-gun. You’ll need the police’s guns to take away other people’s guns. So you are very pro-gun. You just believe that the government — which is of course so reliable, honest, moral, and virtuous — should be allowed to have guns. There is no such thing as gun control. There is only centralizing gun ownership in the hands of a small, political elite and their minions.
The scores of dishonest people who promise not to take guns away while advocating policies that forbid the purchase and sale of scary machines are drawing an increasingly visible picture, one that shows us all who the more violent group is. These Grabbers are optimistic: they are hopeful that the “March for Our Lives” kids will hold their breathes until the age of eighteen, whereby they can run to the voting booths and elect the most despotic politician available. The evidence of this is in the use of such brazen Orwellian doublespeak (“no, we don’t want to take your guns away…but yes, we do want to take some guns away.”) Children trapped inside of public schools are already made to regurgitate lies, and it’s not hard to imagine “extra credit” being offered to those who show up with a boring sign that reads: “How Many More?” Which sounds entirely sane at first, until one considers the measures and sacrifices needed to achieve it. It seems then that only Ms. Tarr was given the correct speech to read from.
Some will say “this is only for the future,” thus letting slide those who already possess scary weaponry. The numbers are inexact; we don’t know how many Americans own what exactly. Jacob Sullum over at Reason reports that about 15 million AR-15-style rifles are held privately, with semiautomatics estimated at 310 million. A. Barton Hinkle writes that 73 million Americans own a firearm, with 5 million possessing AK-style machines. Justin Peters at Slate.com tells us that a 2012 congressional report found: “114 million handguns, 110 million rifles, and 86 million shotguns.” Adding that data with research done by the NRA (reporting that 1,626,525 “AR-style rifles” were produced domestically and not exported between 1986 to 2007), as well as other reports, and Peters’ best estimation is that there are probably some 3,750,000 “AR-style” rifles floating around in the US of A.
The Grabbers like to gleefully assert that, even with all the numbers above, only about 3 percent of Americans own assault weapons. Those people are said to have some sort of “fetish” for these arms. Indeed, a 1992 book titled Arming America argued that, prior to the Civil War, gun ownership was relatively low amongst the average citizenry. “The Civil War thus transformed America from a country with a few thousand guns into one with millions of them,” notes The Economist in its review. (Interestingly, the bibliographical section of that article notes contrary evidence, with some historians finding that half of the households in 1774 owned guns.)
So then: maybe or maybe not. But what cannot be denied is the debates and jeremiads that were produced after the Revolutionary War that centered on the concept of Power. These were the grave concerns about “standing armies” and how the State has historically held on firm to monopolies of both “purse and sword.” A corollary of this was, obviously, firepower. It wasn’t some abstract question that happened to come up during the course of an unfortunate war, or engendered with the help of a crafty gun salesman named Samuel Colt (who once convinced a court to let him demonstrate the effectiveness of his newly made weapon…after convicting his brother for murdering someone with an axe!) — even if that event and that person had blasted the issue to the forefront.
If one has the patience to read old-style English (I won’t claim it’s easy), they can learn this easily enough by picking up copies of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist. “Who meant what back then?” is largely irrelevant to the main fact that the principle was being discussed right from the very beginning.
I offer commentary on the following quotations given by those who helped form the government of the United States. Alexander Hamilton, the most vocal Federalist in favor of the drafted Constitution, made his arguments in “Number 29” of the Papers:
The project of disciplining all the militia of the United States is as futile as it would be injurious, if it were capable of being carried into execution. A tolerable expertness in military movements is a business that requires time and practice. It is not a day, or even a week, that will suffice for the attainment of it. To oblige the great body of the yeomanry, and of the other classes of the citizens, to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well-regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss. It would form an annual deduction from the productive labor of the country, to an amount which, calculating upon the present numbers of the people, would not fall far short of the whole expense of the civil establishments of all the States. To attempt a thing which would abridge the mass of labor and industry to so considerable an extent, would be unwise: and the experiment, if made, could not succeed, because it would not long be endured. Little more can reasonably be aimed at, with respect to the people at large, than to have them properly armed and equipped; and in order to see that this be not neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in the course of a year.
But though the scheme of disciplining the whole nation must be abandoned as mischievous or impracticable; yet it is a matter of the utmost importance that a well-digested plan should, as soon as possible, be adopted for the proper establishment of the militia. The attention of the government ought particularly to be directed to the formation of a select corps of moderate extent, upon such principles as will really fit them for service in case of need. By thus circumscribing the plan, it will be possible to have an excellent body of well-trained militia, ready to take the field whenever the defense of the State shall require it. This will not only lessen the call for military establishments, but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist.
At first, Hamilton acknowledges the futility of trying to train the citizenry to the point that they would become experts in military matters. Nonetheless, Hamilton’s argument in favor of local mobilization is clear, as it would serve as a bulwark against the frightening prospect of a “standing army” erected by those in Washington. This, a group of trained citizens, could be summoned for the “defense of the State” — that is, the individual state. And if the central government ever found the right circumstances in which to raise such an army, that army ought never be so great that it would supersede the power of the state militia.
The Federalists had faced fierce opposition from large segments of the population, resulting in the Anti-Federalist Papers. Even a cursory look at Herbert Storing’s edited volume shows an almost totalized fear of government overreach. Some of them disagreed with each other. For example, “The Impartial Examiner” argues in favor of a militia that needed superlative discipline. The people of Pennsylvania, the first to raise complaints against the drafted Constitution, felt otherwise. Addressing the “Reasons of Dissent,” the “minority of the Convention of Pennsylvania” outlined their own propositions. Number 7 on the list reads:
That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and their state, or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game; and no law shall be passed for disarming the people or any of them, unless for crimes committed, or real danger of public injury from individuals; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not be kept up: and that the military shall be kept under strict subordination to and be governed by civil powers.
Who won the debate? Both groups did, actually. The ratification of the Constitution was a win for the Federalists, while the Bill of Rights, argued as a necessary addendum by the Anti-Federalists, was codified a year or so later.
“Well regulated!” the Grabbers yell. But the judicial interpretation? St. George Tucker offered the first “extended analysis” of the Constitution in 1803. A veteran of the Revolutionary War and friend of James Madison, Tucker witnessed the constitutional debates as they unfolded. His View of the Constitution of the United States made clear that the right to bear arms was intended for “nonmilitary” persons. His commentary was cited in the famous 2009 Supreme Court ruling District of Columbia V. Heller, which reaffirmed individual gun ownership. “This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty,” Tucker wrote of the Second Amendment.
These historical facts will appear shocking to those who think that Wayne Pierre and the NRA board of directors had traveled back in time to help draft the Constitution. As it is, the NRA is only a nominal defender of the Second Amendment. In the 1930’s, the NRA helped President Roosevelt draft the first federal restrictions, placing heavy taxes and regulations on machine guns, shotguns, and silencers. In the aftermath of the JFK Assassination, the organization supported the 1968 Gun Control Act, which extended gun bans on felons and the mentally ill. (Thanks a lot, assholes.)
Regarding that last point, it’s hard to know exactly when and where Grabbers will move along the spectrum. Some days it’s “ban the assault weapons!” and on other days it’s the somewhat more reasonable proposal to keep all weapons out of the hands of the mentally deranged. I say “somewhat” because, as the late psychologist David Rosenhan discovered, it’s not always easy to know who is and who isn’t a crazy person. A grim prospect follows. What if the Grabbers get legislation passed that forbids firearm sales to someone who has a history of taking psychotropic medication? If such a bill comes to pass, it would immediately exclude millions of Americans, and by no fault of their own. “The number of atypical antipsychotic prescriptions to children under age 18 in the United States doubled from about 2.2 million in 2003 to 4.4 in 2006,” writes Robert Whitaker. A 2014 government studyfound that 1 in 13 underage children were on psychiatric medication.
I’ll go out on a limb and say that the Grabbers don’t care about the mass-drugging of children. How could it be otherwise? Pills and chemicals are healthy. For these are the days in which it is entirely reasonable to argue that “race is a social construct” while also castigating a white person who lived and worked as a black person, but then quickly accept a middle-aged man’s insistence that he’s just as much a female as your grade-schooler who recently endured menarche. Experimental puberty blockers are just part of the agenda, and you’re a bigot for daring to question that. These are the sort of lunatics who believe that health screening is necessary for firearm acquisition, and it could just as well be a projection of their own illness.
The Grabbers read all this and still they act with puerility: “So we should do nothing?!” But, as is the main thrust of this report, how do they achieve their aims without empowering the State even more so? The Aussie illustration is soon invoked. “Australia made it happen!” Port Arthur, Tasmania, April of 1996: a shooter kills 35 people and wounds 24 more. His weapon of choice was an AR-10 semi-automatic. The Australian government then set out to extract these weapons from the public. Their plan is a mandatory “buy-back” program, whereby they would pay money to those who relinquished peacefully. According to most reports, nearly 650,000 guns were handed over to the authorities. The anonymous administer of a site called GunsAndCrime.org writes:
Although most jurisdictions released no details, Victoria did; their proportions should be close to typical. Although “military style” centerfire semiauto rifles were the firearms that were supposedly of primary concern to the gun control advocates, those types having been used in the massacres, only 3.2% of the firearms Victoria bought were centerfire (probably semiautos), other than shotguns. 47.5% were .22 rimfire rifles (“pea shooters”) and 47.8% were pump or semiauto shotguns.
The study also informs that this was only about 1/3 of the 1.5 million prohibited guns that were expected — hoped — to be handed over, and this out of 3.5 million from the total number of firearms in the country. I won’t pretend that I’ve done the research into Australia’s gun culture. However, it’s well know that, every time a mass shooting happens in America, gun sales skyrocket. I take this to mean, very obviously, and despite polls showing that 2/3 of Americans want stricter laws, that many will refuse to hand them over peacefully. Keep in mind, too, that we live in the age of Instant Information. Even if only 3 percent of Americans are in possession of the heavy stuff, nearly everyone is in possession of cameras. If the scenario I described at the beginning ever does happen, it will likely be recorded and then broadcast to the entirety of the country. That’s sure to set fire under many a patriot’s arse. Furthermore, if the numbers are to be accepted, one will notice that America as far more guns than Australia ever did. In other words: it’s too late. We have many guns, and so any attempt at confiscation will surely end up in mass bloodshed.
Rather than Australia, a better country to look at is America’s southern neighbor. A recent international study found that Mexico was the second most violent country in the world in 2016, only after Syria. Surely not by guns — because Mexico also has but one single gun store, and its run by the government! “Mexico has some of the toughest gun control laws in the world,” reports William Booth. Edwin Mora adds that the murder rate in Mexico is more than twice of that in America, where the population is 3 times as big. Tweak and play with the numbers all you want (I myself am basically illiterate in mathematics), but the real question remains: Why would these numbers be comparable at all? The Grabbers have assured us that gun regulation must necessarily mean fewer gun deaths.
And how can that be? It will then be said that this is only because Mexico gets most of its guns from the U.S. and its many manufacturers — which might be true, but only underscores two simple facts, one dismal and the other happily repeated. Again: the time has long since passed whereby a benevolent State could melt all the guns into little hearts and roses with our Social Security numbers inscribed on them. And two: that people are responsible for killing; not machines, and not lobbying groups. It’s the culture, stupid, that intangible item that no state can correct for. Random mass shootings did not occur more often during the first half of the 20th century — unlike racial violence, which was corrected for not by any state policy, but general shifts in morality (with perhaps the pendulum now having swung to the other side). Now we only get the smug face of celebrity victim David Hogg, lecturing on and on about what we’re allowed to own while he and all the others ignore the underlying reasons of what causes violence in the first place. As Larry Correria said:
People get hung up on the tool because they want something easy to blame. They want an easy solution. And there is no one, easy solution. And plus, banning guns in America is fundamentally, logistically impossible at this point. And the way technology is going with 3D printing and home machining, it’s even more impossible.
Unlike some, I’m willing to be a Utopist. I want to understand why violence happens, the culture that reinforces it, and how we can change that. None of us can know everything — and I will sound like an idiot if I try to make it seem like I do — but I won’t accept that human nature is always and forever immutable. That humankind can never come to a consensus on what is right and what is wrong. That’s the whole point of libertarian advocacy! As Butler Shaffer wrote:
If conflict and violence are indeed a part of our genetic chemistry — which I doubt — then we had best learn not to control or suppress our nature, but to rise above it. For along with whatever other attributes we have been provided, we humans also possess minds capable of transcending the present limitations of our conscious thought process. Evolution, after all, is a continuing process in which we are active participants, not simply end products.
We are a learning and developing species. It’s our superpower. Even if it takes several more decades to achieve, I think that one day most of us will come to accept the premise that murdering people is wrong. For such an elementary thing still needs to be insisted to people that do not murder but like to make excuses for those who do.
Why do these massacres happen? What causes the murderous psychosis? Research continues from the 20th century, when studies of the brain became routine and commonplace. Instead of advocating a civil war with the average American gun owner, I’d be willing to examine any combination of factors that led to the development of a mass murderer’s brain. One such factor has already been mentioned here: We come to wonder why so many of these shooters seem to have been on a cocktail of psychotropic medications. As it is, many countries have issued warnings about these drugs. There are more considerations. Ronald Goldman has speculated on what long-term effects male genital mutilation (euphemistically called “circumcision) might have on the larger society, while Peter Gray has argued that the decline of childhood play has led to more cases of psychopathy. Alas, Grabbers prefer the easier route of condemning inanimate objects rather than scrutinize the brains that turn them deadly. That’s easier to do, after all.
A single combinatorial factor will, of course, remain tentative. But at least they attempt to dig at the root of the problem, rather than just blaming “toxic masculinity” or the “loss of their white privilege” or whatever other stupid thing it is. In the meantime, we should argue for more armed guards in schools and shopping malls. Another viable option is something called a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO). Rather than collectivize punishment, GVRO’s would abdicate gun rights only to individuals who are shown to exhibit violent behavior. Alas, solutions won’t put smiles on the faces of the Grabbers. They prefer their CNN invites.
(Originally published: June 2018)