Monday, December 17, 2012
Guns, Violence, Freedom and Demagoguery
Joel's Note: The following is polemic. It is not intended as a footnoted, researched position paper with documentation etc. This is written from the heart from a lifetime of watching the way "public discourse" happens. You may not agree with me and may challenge my conclusions, opinions, etc. And that's fine. But this is how I feel on a very painful issue. And there are much larger issues at stake rather than the immediate crisis. Nothing in this is intended as insensitivity to the many who have lost children and loved ones in Connecticut, or in any other mad, murderous rampage. But as bad as these things are, the loss of freedom is much, much worse. We can't see it as Americans. We've never known it. But other people from around the world where tyranny reigns know it all too well. We need to listen to their voices while we consider our own fate as a nation.
This fall and early winter have been days that I'd rather forget for many reasons. Personal health has been an adventure, with three kidney lithotripsy procedures since April. Then a touch of pneumonia. And we have to begin the Christmas holiday season with a senseless, evil mass shooting and murder of little schoolchildren in Connecticut.
I hoped (vainly) that people might hold off on the politics of gun control vs. firearm freedom and the Second Amendment to give people a chance to mourn the dead, but to the radical left activists with whom gun control is a sacrament right up there with abortion, no such deal. The demagoguery began before the children's bodies had even been moved out of the school.
I chose the famous painting of abolitionist John Brown for a purpose. It vividly depicts the kind of possessed, self-righteous zeal so many one-issue activists have when dealing with a controversial issue. Do not read into that statement (and some devious, malevolent-minded might try to tar me with such a suggestion) that I disagree with ending of slavery. I do not. Slavery needed to end, and African-Americans deserved (and deserve) to have the full measure of civil and human rights. Because they are human beings and of "one blood" (Acts 17:26) with me—Caucasian though I am. A tragedy indeed that it took a Civil War and 500,000 plus deaths to bring that result to pass, and even then, it took until the 1960s to get rid of Jim Crow laws etc. that gave blacks the rights that were rightfully theirs. But we got there. Our Constitutional system eventually worked as it should as hearts and minds were changed.
But the John Brown types scare us. And they should, because they have no compunction on bringing down the whole house if they think it will advance their cause. The more dead? So be it. To the zealous, possessed activist who knows no other cause, nothing is too extreme to reach their goal. No other viewpoint than their own is acceptable. And anyone who doesn't exactly see it eye-to-eye is an automatic enemy, even if they have similar goals. The demagogues always manage to get the attention, and the more reasonable, level-headed get ignored because they're not as entertaining and motivating. The media love them. Can you imagine a John Brown in today's electronic media climate and 24 hour news cycle? Oh, mercy!
Sometimes we need folks like this to galvanize public attention, and sometimes, they can do good. But more often than not, they end up damaging the cause they hope to accomplish because the general public is turned off by their overheated rhetoric and violent tenor. Some abortion activists are another good example. I am pro-life and have been for years, and believe that abortion is only acceptable to save the life of the mother. But I believe hearts and minds must be changed, and the tactics of some of my fellow pro-life comrades are so offensive they accomplish the opposite result. Showing up with pictures of bloody babies with young children present who could be traumatized by such photos. Yelling and screaming "baby killer" at women or young teenagers. They really are not helping the cause, and the media has a field day taking this small minority of pro-life people and making them representative of the rest of us. It hurts the cause.
Now we have another school shooting. And I have posted to the left a picture of the wording of the Second Amendment. I believe some of the anti-gun zealots out there salivate over horrendous tragedies like Connecticut because it gives them fodder to be John Browns and argue an important issue fueled by emotion instead of fact and truth. Unfortunately for them, at least John Brown was ultimately right on the evil of slavery. Those who want to shred the Second Amendment and ban private ownership of firearms do not have that high moral ground on which to stand, no matter how much they try to demagogue and use the tragedy of mass shootings to propagandize people and try to get their way.
Whether these folks like it or not, the fact that crazies get hold of guns and commit mass murder does not justify tearing out a piece of our Constitution and taking away the right of self-defense (keeping and bearing arms) from a law-abiding public. Contrary to some of what these anti-gun zealots tell you, the Second Amendment was not put into the Constitution to protect the right to hunt. It was not intended by our Founders to only apply to the military or state National Guards. The founders viewed the "militia" as every able-bodied man, and the primary intent of protecting the right of people to keep and bear arms was for one primary purpose—for the people to protect themselves from an overreaching, potentially tyrannical government. The late Ted Kennedy had near apoplexy when someone pointed out that truth, but that's Ted's problem. It's the truth, and it still applies. Ideas and principles are not invalid simply because they are old. Some principles and ideas are timeless, and so it is with the Second Amendment. Our right to keep and bear arms is inviolable and unalienable, and necessary. ANY human government can cross the line into tyranny. Even in American history, the government has overreached from time to time, and had to be slapped back by the courts or other means to remind them that they are to serve the public, and the public are the masters, not the government.
The rabid anti-gun activists—folks like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senator Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, billionaire immigrant far-left activist George Soros, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (and formerly, Mayor Daley)—find the Constitution a great hindrance to their goals. They were incensed when the Supreme Court recognized the Second Amendment to confer an individual right to keep and bear arms. But that won't stop them from trying to get their way through any means possible. President Obama has already indicated as much, Constitution be damned. And they wave the bloody shirts as an emotional bludgeon, hoping to guilt-trip and intimidate a grieving public into giving in and surrendering their rights. Their ultimate goal is not "reasonable restrictions" (Define "reasonable," by the way). Their true, ultimate goal is the total ban of weapons in private hands, no matter how much they lie and say that's not the case. Short of an outright ban, they hope to make exercise of the right to keep and bear arms as expensive and difficult as possible. They'll try ammo bans, bans on certain makes of weapons, taxes, and a host of other tricks. They will not give up until the majority of Americans who believe in their rights slap them down through the ballot box, and with their firm voices.
It is hard to make manifestos such as this at a time such as this. As Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto and others have ably pointed out, decorum would normally hold off on politics until the dead are buried, and people have a chance to mourn. We'd rather not have to argue this (AGAIN) now. But the rabid anti-Second Amendment activist politicians and groups know and recognize no such decorum. "Never waste a good crisis" is their motto, and they see this as their time to strike. Nature abhors a vacuum. As much as we grieve the deaths of the children in Connecticut, the other side of this issue is taking every advantage to bang their drum and scream as loudly as possible. That necessitates that we speak up and defend our views just as forcefully.
Understand this if you don't understand anything else. Our Founding Fathers were wise beyond measure. You like the Bill of Rights? You like freedom of speech? Freedom of worship and religion? Freedom of assembly? Guess what? The Second Amendment is the GUARANTOR of those rights that were so hard won in the American Revolution. Ben Franklin told a woman once that the Founders had given us a Representative Republic, "if you can keep it." If we surrender on this issue, we are well on the way to not keeping the Republic intended for us.
There have always been slayings and murders in American history. Sometimes large numbers of people. America is not alone. They've happened in other countries where gun laws are very strict—Norway being a recent example. Evil people can find other ways to kill besides firearms. Timothy McVeigh used a truckload of fertilizer to make a bomb. Where there's a will, there's a way. The human heart is wicked without the intervention of God, and daily life proves the truth of that biblical statement.
And that's another accomplishment of the far left. They've managed to excise God out of many things in our public discourse, and they'd love removal of God entirely from everything. They'd love it if Christians would shut up and keep their faith behind church walls, and keep it out of public life. Our Founders would be infuriated at such a thing, but so it is today. And they have the gall to call it patriotic and in keeping with our Founding values. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If the Chinese people had the right to keep and bear arms, the Tiananmen Square massacre could have been stopped. If the Russian people had the right to keep and bear arms, Joseph Stalin's midnight purges could have been stopped. If the German people's right to keep and bear arms had not been ended by Adolf Hitler, the great evil of the Nazi regime might have been stopped before 6 million Jewish people died in the gas chambers.
Dr. John Lott's book, "More Guns, Less Crime," discuss some of these matters. There are many other resources available on this issue. Read up on it, and stand firm.
Our opponents will do all they can to bully us into submission. They'll yell. They'll scream. They'll abuse. They'll call names. They'll litigate and litigate. They'll introduce legislation over and over again, not taking the Supreme Court's no for an answer. These same folks who say they believe in the legal principle of "stare decisis" will suddenly say "not in this case." They'll try to replace Justices who will vote their way and reverse the 5-4 decision recognizing our Second Amendment rights. They might even try a United Nations treaty circumvention if they think they can get away with it. They'll call us ignorant. They'll call us hillrods and hicks. They'll try to say we're responsible for the death of every child. They're shameless.
And we need to steel ourselves against the full court press of the guilt trip. We need to reject the false guilt entirely and with vigor. We need to get right back in their faces and make it clear that they will be allowed to take NO ONE's rights away. In fact, we need to understand there is a difference between a right and a privilege. A privilege can be lawfully taken away. In the view of our Founders (and I agree), rights are GOD-GIVEN, unalienable, and CANNOT lawfully be taken away. There was even a huge debate at adoption of the Constitution over whether there should be a Bill of Rights. Those opposed viewed these rights as natural, and they were worried that codifying them in an actual Bill of Rights would lead to the government thinking down the road that they could abolish the rights if they saw fit. Their caution in these days is shown to be justified, because that's exactly what some of the zealots think. They think if they repeal the Second Amendment, that takes away our rights. It will not. We need to stand on that.
In conclusion, I'll be the first to agree that there ARE things that need to be done to reduce gun violence. We need to enforce the adequate gun laws ALREADY on the books. We need to prosecute gun criminals to the fullest extent of the law and execute murderers if they don't kill themselves first. A good first step would be for our idiot government not to pull stunts like Fast and Furious, which put assault weapons in the hands of drug gangs. It is believed that this plot ultimately was intended to be used as a fulcrum to leverage for tightening gun laws in violation of the Second Amendment. It backfired, and that's why the liberal media tries to sweep this scandal under the rug.
We need to get back to foundational morality in the country, and reject the leftist notion that God, faith, moral lessons etc. need to be removed because "such things have no business in the schools or in the public square." We need to recognize the impact of violent films and entertainment. We need to be much better at spotting potential problem children, teens and adults. We need to re-visit the ACLU-driven drive to de-institutionalize the mentally ill in the name of "human rights." Some folks have no business on the street, but they've made it next to impossible to institutionalize someone.
Well, I've ranted enough for one night. Since I have only made a handful of posts this month, this long one will give you plenty to read for a while. I'll try to have something more uplifting and edifying for Christmas.