Having said all that, there is another perspective I find at least as annoying. Before I say what it is, let me be clear, once again. I neither want, support or promote armed rebellion against the government of the United States. It is, as I’ve indicated before, a profoundly bad idea, with a less than foregone conclusion.
What is this other, equally offensive perspective? Simply this: There is a recurring theme among gun control proponents, regarding the likelihood and possibility of success of a military insurgency in the US. Though not stated plainly, it goes something like this:
- The US military is an overwhelmingly powerful force. Its limitations and the fact an insurgency would include those with an understanding of those limitations, along with the knowledge of how to exploit them, are irrelevant
- The presence of more privately owned weapons and ammunition in the US than that owned by any military machine in the world is irrelevant
- The fact many gun control proponents declare many of these weapons to be “military grade” is suddenly irrelevant
- The likelihood an armed insurgency would include a significant number of people from law enforcement with both tactical training and experience is irrelevant.
- The likelihood an armed insurgency would include a significant number of military active duty and veterans with both tactical training and experience is irrelevant
- The likelihood an armed insurgency would include former and active military personnel with years of training and real world experience (presumably along with with whatever clandestine contacts that entails) in asymmetrical warfare, 4th generation warfare and building and training insurgencies is irrelevant
- The possibility(or likelihood) many of these highly trained, skilled and experienced military and law enforcement personnel have somehow already come into possession of perhaps “not quite authorized” weapons and supplies is irrelevant
- The likelihood an armed insurgency would target those individuals in positions of leadership in what the insurgents would view as an oppressive regime, as opposed to targeting large military units, is irrelevant
- The unavoidable vulnerability of many of those targeted people is irrelevant
- The reluctance of most US military personnel to fire on their fellow citizens is irrelevant
- The fact so many people who swore to support and defend the Constitution (as opposed to any person or government) take that oath very seriously is irrelevant
- The fact that many of these highly trained, highly skilled and experienced people would be both reluctant to participate in such an insurgency and implacable foes once they chose to participate is irrelevant
- The fact many who might participate in an armed insurgency have committed themselves to occupying the moral high ground (including not shooting first and no targeting of innocents) will not increase public sympathy and is irrelevant
- That history teaches the outcome of an armed insurgency is a far from foregone conclusion is irrelevant
In short, what we have is a fine example of a narrative that must, in order to be maintained, ignore any fact that might contradict the narrative. It is essential that the very weapons many gun control proponents seek to restrict and /or ban would somehow pose no threat anyone associated with what insurgents would view as an oppressive regime. It is equally essential that anyone who might be associated with such a hypothetical insurgency have no training, experience, weapons or supplies that might contribute in any way to the possibility of success. They must always be portrayed as people with no skill, no training, no experience and no understanding of history or modern systems of politics and warfare. It is, I submit, pretty easy to understand why some people cling to this belief.
There are people who have abandoned the idea that self-defense is an inherent human right. This is reflected not only in our so frequent discussions of gun control, but also in the laws that restrict the size and type of blades one can carry on one’s person ( I find this interesting in light of the fact many gun control proponents will insist “you can defend yourself adequately with a knife”). Since none of us wants to be the victim of violence the alternative to taking any real responsibility for one’s own defense is to pay mercenaries to use weapons in one’s stead, creating and widening a gulf between society and those whose job it is to protect society as law enforcement becomes increasingly militarized as a result, in part, of a refusal on the part of many to take responsibility for their own defense and for that of their own neighborhoods, towns and cities.
This abdication of personal responsibility, the desire to have other people take care of us and the belief that such a thing can be done, and even more tellingly should be done, is difficult to overcome.
In my life coaching practice I quickly became aware of a few things. First of all, I learned the people most in need of the services of a life coach were the people least likely to avail themselves of such services, even if they were offered for free. Second, I learned the urge or tendency to abdicate personal responsibility is present in virtually everyone. Third, I learned people give in to this tendency in different ways. That is, the area of life for which people want others to be responsible and ensure a given outcome varies from person to person. Finally, I realized no one likes to face up to their abdication of personal responsibility and that the more one is committed to this abdication, the more one has riding on it, whether socially, psychologically, emotionally (usually it’s some combination of these), the less likely and the less able one is to face up to the reality of that abdication. And so, the narrative, whatever form it takes, must be protected. It must be protected because it is psychologically, emotionally and socially comforting. The alternative to this abdication is so profoundly uncomfortable, so psychologically, emotionally and socially threatening, that it cannot be tolerated. The alternative must be denied. It must be strongly opposed. Those who support the alternative to abdicating personal responsibility must be denigrated and disparaged.
While revolution is profoundly undesirable (and truly, it is), that doesn’t make it impossible.
As a general rule people love the benefits of freedom. They just don’t like its cost. The cost of freedom is personal responsibility. I do not think it is possible to overstate how important personal responsibility is to freedom. In fact, I believe personal responsibility is essential to freedom. One cannot be free if one does not accept responsibility for one’s own life. I know a man who has two ideas or thoughts that are pertinent to this topic. The first one he calls “Ken’s Constant:” because freedom requires personal responsibility people will do anything they can to avoid being free. He calls the second one “Ken’s Corollary:” if you can convince a man he is free when he is not, he will allow you to do anything you want to him.
*Note: As much as I’d like to think all the thoughts here are original with me, the truth is, reading the writings of others has helped clarify some things for me. Of particular note are the writings of Stewart Rhodes, available here, and those of the Bayou Renaissance Man. I share some views in common with both of them. I also disagree with both of them on some things. So what? People who love freedom aren’t required to agree on all things. We just need to be devoted to liberty. My thoughts about some things didn’t really change, but my ability to express them more clearly surely has. For that, I owe both of them a significant debt.
- If you have a firearm in your home, you are much more likely to get shot with it than a person who does not.
- Duh. A person with a backyard pool is more likely to drown in it than a person who doesn’t have one. A person who drinks alcohol is much more likely to get drunk than one who does not.
- You know that guns, especially semiautomatic handguns, sometimes just go off by themselves without anybody touching them, right?
- No. No, they do not. I own a number of them. Until and unless you touch the trigger, you can do pretty much anything you want to them and they simply will not fire.
- There’s not really any difference between automatic and semi-automatic weapons.
- Yes, there is. A fully automatic weapon will fire for as long as you hold the trigger or until it fires its multiround burst. A semiautomatic wepon fires 1 round every time you pull the trigger.
- Repeating weapons did not exist when the Constitution was written.
- Actually, they did. You should read more.
- The ammunition for the AR-15 is too powerful for deer hunting. That’s why it’s not legal to use it in most States.
- It’s illegal for deer hunting in most states because it is deemed too weak for deer hunting.
- The AR-15 is just like the M16. Both of them can fire thousands of rounds in a minute.
- No, it is not. The AR-15 is a semiautomatic rifle. The M-16 is capable of automatic fire. Please see #3, above.
- Even in “full auto” mode, the M16A4 has a cycluc rate of fire of about 950 rounds per minute. The AR-15 has an effective rate of 45-60 rounds per minute.
- It’s easy to convert an AR-15 to fully automatic fire.
- No, it is not. The necessary parts cannot be cannabalized from an M16 because they do not fit. To make it fully automatic requires the services of a skilled gunsmith with an adequate machine shop. I’ve yet to meet one who was willing to face the wrath of the ATF to do such a thing.
- Using a gun to defend yourself against someone who attacks you with his hands, or even a knife, gives you an unfair advantage.
- Well, I certainly hope so.
- “Bear arms” means to raise your feudal lord’s standard in combat.
- Yes. Of course it does. Because people who were inspired by the Enlightenment and who had just fought a war in part because of the actions of the English monarch, were all about living under feudalism.
- Gun Owners just want to kill somebody.
- No, though we would very much like to not be killed. That is why so many of us own firearms for self defense. Allow me to suggest you’re projecting, just a bit.
- You are obviously compensating for a small penis.
- This is not the 4th grade.
As I said, these are the same arguments, a word I’m using lightly, I’ve been encountering for years. Other pro Second Amendment people tell the same story. It’s almost as if gun control proponents either don’t listen or simply don’t care that their arguments are false and/or, well, stupid.
This is a truth many of us find uncomfortable. Oh, we’re often willing to speak of the price others have paid for our freedoms. We can speak of how much it cost those in the past for us to be free now. What we prefer to not dwell on is this: freedom not only has a price, it has a price that must be paid by every generation. When we fail to recognize the cost, when we say the price of being disturbed from our comfortable lives is to high, we are on the verge of losing the freedom we take for granted.
“Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric.” ~ Thomas Sowell
“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it.” ~ John Adams
“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” ~ Desmond Tutu
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” ~ Thomas Charlton
“Responsibility is the price of freedom.” ~ Elbert Hubbard
Each one of these quotes, some of which are debated as to authorship, has something important to say. The freedom we now enjoy, even with ongoing efforts to chip away ever more of it, has cost far too much for us to allow it to be taken away in response to mere rhetoric. We really do have an obligation to use well the liberty that has been handed down to us. Remaining vigilant and recognizing all the things, events and people who might take away or severely reduce our liberty is a price we must pay if we wish to remain free. Ultimately, we are, indeed, responsible for our freedom – and its loss, if we abdicate that responsibility.
Of all the things that might go on sale, of all the things we might purchase at true wholesale prices, freedom is not one of them. Freedom, I submit, must always be purchased at full retail and the price is outrageously high – especially to those for whom freedom is an inheritance. Our failure as a nation to recognize freedom carries a high price tag, coupled with what seems to be an ever increasing reluctance to pay full retail has placed that freedom at great risk. I believe we are most likely to experience that reluctance when my freedom is going to come with a cost we must pay. It is one thing to have others pay the cost. We can thank and even cheer them for their sacrifice(s) in the name of freedom. It is an altogether different thing when each of us, individually, must feel the burden of freedom’s sometimes overwhelming cost, or when it must be paid by those we hold dear or are sworn to protect.
I found the following quote on Quora. It is from Paul Harding, a law enforcement officer. Sadly, my techno ignorance is such that I can’t provide a link to the source. I share it with you because it shows the personal cost of freedom in all its stark relief.
“I, personally, and on more than one occasion, have sat across a table from men who, I felt fairly certain, had raped young children. On more than one occasion, I have looked that man right in the eye and said, “You’re free to go.”
When I said he was “free to go,” I meant it. I didn’t do a single thing to interfere with him in any way after that. One or more of those men might be raping a child right now, as you read this.
Why haven’t I done anything to prevent those men from getting near other children? We, at least, have this whole “registered sex offender” thing in this country, right? Should I have put them on “a list?”
The reason I didn’t do anything other than say “You’re free to go” is because the foundational laws of our country don’t allow me to do anything else. I won’t lecture, this time, on the specific functions of each amendment and how they apply, but at that point, the Constitution prohibited me from interfering with that man’s liberty in any way.
I can interfere with people’s liberty when certain standards of proof are met.
Reasonable Suspicion: I can detain a person for a few minutes and do a minimally-invasive pat down for weapons.
I couldn’t prove probable cause on that suspected child rapist, so I couldn’t interfere with his liberty in any way. The Constitution says so.
The FBI couldn’t prove probable cause on the Orlando shooter, so they couldn’t interfere with HIS liberty in any way. The Constitution says so.
That’s why he was able to go buy guns, and that’s why my suspected child molester may, right now, just be finishing up that child rape that he started when you were reading the beginning of this answer.
Individual Rights and liberty are extremely dangerous propositions. In this country, there are real-life victims of your rights to due process, your right to be free from the removals of your liberties every time someone likeme suspects you of being a child rapist.
Some people don’t like guns. That’s a political issue. I get it. Do you like kids though? Do you like NOT being published on the internet as a legally-registered child rapist when you’re innocent? The price of keeping you (and me) off of that list when we’re innocent is that cops can’t put people on that list until a court finds proof of guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt. At the least, a court must find probable cause before even bail conditions can be imposed.
You’ve probably heard “price of freedom” so often you’ve learned to tune it out. That child rapist who, right about now, is cleaning himself off while warning that kid to never tell anyone what happened? The suffering of that poor kid IS the price of freedom.
You and I are enjoying the freedom from unreasonable intrusion upon our liberties every time a cop suspects us, and that poor kid is paying the price for it. Want to give up that freedom?
If any of those men I released did hurt another kid, I have to live with the fact that I could have stopped them. I couldn’t have stopped them legally. I didn’t have the evidence. I could have stopped them though. I could have designed a frame up on another charge. I could have just murdered them – become a one-man lynch mob. I didn’t do those things though. I obeyed the Constitution. If that kid is suffering now, he’s paying the biggest price, but wondering whether that is happening right now, I have to admit, is exacting a little price on me as well.
100 or so people shot in Orlando, countless lives destroyed,- That IS the price of freedom – your freedom and my freedom to not have our liberties restricted for more than a few minutes by a cop with no more than reasonable suspicion.
The people in Orlando, and their families, really did pay that price. We all risk paying that price every day . We all pay that price, to a lesser extent, every time we agonize over whether it would have been better to violate the principles of the Constitution. . . Just this one time.
It IS scary. It is terrifying when you think hard about it. That is why, in America, just before we say “Play Ball” we sing a song which reminds us that if you want to live in the Land of the Free, then you had better be sure you’re the Home of the Brave.
Free Speech for people who right about now are thinking this whole freedom thing is just too scary and should be done away with. . .
Yeah, those guys are scary too when people listen to them, but that IS the price of freedom.
I’ve written before that I’m just not a believer in conspiracy. That really hasn’t changed. For purposes of clarification, let me explain a little about what I mean. I really do believe most of the things about which many want to scream “conspiracy” can really be more accurately and reasonable ascribed to confluence, convergence and synergy. Here’s what that means, at least to me.
People, including you and me, tend to seek out and associate with those with whom we have things in common. If I’m a Christian who actively seeks to live according to my faith, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be spending a lot of time with other Christians. If I fly expensive RC airplanes, I’ll probably spend time with other enthusiasts. Democrats, Progressives, Libertarians, Republicans and members of other parties tend to spend a lot of time with those with whom they share a particular political view. Business people tend to spend time with other business people. Gun people spend time with other gun people. The more passionate we are about something, the more likely we are to interact a lot with those who share our passion and beliefs. We see it all around us in the people with whom we come in contact every day. If this is true, and I believe the evidence overwhelmingly says it is true, that it is simply a basic fact of human nature, then it explains a great deal, does it not?
Let’s take this a step further. Since I’m a pretty strict Constitutionalist, is it really surprising that I spend a lot of time talking with others who believe the document is best understood in light of its original context? Is it surprising that when I talk with these other folks we spend a lot of time not just discussing the meaning of the document’s text in context, but also talking about how to get others to see it the way we see it and apply it in practical ways? I don’t think that is surprising at all. In fact, it would be surprising if we didn’t do that. I’m a pro 2nd Amendment guy. Are you surprised I spend a good bit of time discussing the 2A with people, including trying to get others to understand why I believe the amendment is so very important? I doubt you are surprised at all. If I knew the things that matter greatly to you, I would not be at all surprised to learn you spend a significant matter of time 1) with people who see things the way you do, and 2) trying to help others see things your way. So, if this normal human tendency is true of you and me…
George Soros may be evil. I don’t know. I’ve never met the man and I won’t share my opinion of him here. The same is true of, say, the Koch brothers, if we look at what is ostensibly the other end of the spectrum. Would it be surprising, given our tendency to seek out those with whom we have something in common, to learn that Soros, or the Koch brothers, spend time with others who share their views? Should we be shocked if we learn they spend time trying to get others to see things their way? Let’s go further and look at the 2A and gun rights.
For those of you interested in the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, I am an INTP. In practical terms that means that among other things, I am not much of a joiner. In fact, since I’ve become an adult, I’ve joined exactly 3 groups.* One of those is the NRA, which I joined less than 1 year ago (congratulations, Mr. President, you managed to do something that was beyond the ability of your predecessors). Now, what has that meant? Aside from the money I sent them, it has led me, the non-joiner, to become more active in seeking to help at least those who are ambivalent about gun rights perhaps come to see things a little more from the perspective of us pro gun rights folks. It has also meant I’ve spent time thinking and sharing how to bring about a significant shift in the way the majority of the American people view guns, with the end goal of having even more people view them in a positive light. I do the same thing regarding the Constitution. Sometimes, pretty frequently really, I spend time mapping out with others strategies for getting people to understand the Constitution the way we do, including how to get this view into schools, the media and other institutions and industries. In all of this, I doubt many of the folks with whom I do these things view themselves as participants in a conspiracy.
If I’m George Soros – and no, I am not – and I, along with those of my peers who see things my way, spend time and effort trying to get a majority of people to see things the way we do, is that a conspiracy? Does it become a conspiracy because we have access, as a result of our vast collective wealth, to greater resources to bring about what we see as desirable? No, it does not. What, then, might make something a conspiracy?
Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary defines conspiracy as:
- a secret plan made by two or more people to do something that is harmful or illegal
- the act of secretly planning to do something that is harmful or illegal
Here’s the important part. To truly be a conspiracy, the thing we plan or do must be both secret and have the goal of doing something harmful or illegal.
So, as say you and I plan out ways to get future generations to see the Constitution the way we do, we may or may not be really open to one and all about our intentions. One could argue, for instance, that if we are truly transparent about what we plan, we might face great difficulty getting people like us into positions to make such a thing happen. How would we go about getting people into education, the media and academia if we let it be known what our long-term goals are? Does that make what we do a conspiracy? I don’t think so (by the way, I’m not necessarily arguing either way regarding transparency, here). It’s not a conspiracy, I submit, because it doesn’t have the end goal of something harmful or illegal. There are some, though, who would undoubtedly see things differently. They really do believe those of us who view the Constitution as meaning what it says, and as severely limiting the power and role of government, seek to promote something harmful. I believe their reasoning is sadly deficient, but that’s a different topic.
When we look at globalists, of whom I’ve actually met a few, I suspect the same thing is true. Most of them, including George Soros, are pretty plain about what they favor, what they hope to see and even what they hope to bring about. Now, I tend to think what they want is frightfully harmful. I don’t see as ever coming about, the benefits so many globalists tout. But, to the extent it is not planned in secret, I don’t see it as a conspiracy.
See, in my view we don’t have to have conspiracies, vast or small, to explain most things. We just have to have people who see things the same way working to bring them about. Honestly, I don’t even believe a conspiracy is necessary for our freedoms to be in danger. Neither my freedom nor yours is at risk primarily because of what George Soros, the Federal Reserve or George Bush do or did. Now, I believe our freedoms are at great risk. I believe we are on the verge of seeing our nation transformed even further into something most of my generation will not recognize if it comes about. I just don’t lay the bulk of the blame at the feet of conspirators, existent or nonexistent. No, the blame lies somewhere else.
“…the real villain here is your neighbor. You see, had your neighbor not become complacent with their liberty and freedom we would not be having this discussion. Had your neighbor not accepted state control of the media, unfettered spying on their life’s activities, social safety nets that have been abused for decades and the willingness to disarm for paltry promises of greater safety, this discussion would not be required.”
The only thing I would add to the above excerpt is this: It is not just your neighbor’s fault or my neighbor’s fault. It is your fault and it is mine. We have all failed to treasure our liberty enough. We have all failed to become active enough early enough and we failed to teach enough others to have avoided being where we are now. We are where we are because we the people abdicated our responsibility. The watch and the vigilance it requires has always been ours to keep. In that we have failed. It is that vigilance we must regain. I may disagree with what seems to be his view of Soros and others, but it hardly matters if the results are the same – the loss of freedom.
In the context of this topic I truly do not care if you think there is a vast conspiracy to deprive us of our freedom. Further, I do not care what you think of this billionaire or that one. I do not care what you think about banks or central banking. I do not care what you think about this political party or that one. I do not care what you read or the kind of music you prefer. I do not care about your faith or the lack thereof. I do not care about your race or gender. I do not care who you sleep with or how many. I do not care if you own no guns or if your armory contains a load out sufficient for a US Marine Corps rifle company. I most certainly do not care what you think about me. Here is what I care about: do you treasure freedom enough to fight for it? Is liberty important enough for you to sacrifice everything in its defense?
Happy Independence Day. For your serious consideration I offer some words from that most seditious of American documents, the Declaration of Independence:
“…When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world…”
- No, gun owners and members of the NRA do not want terrorists to have access to guns. If you will grant me that one I will grant you that gun control advocates are not involved in a pernicious effort to turn the US into a police state.
- I don’t believe Republicans in Congress fear the NRA. What they do fear, I submit, is the four to five million NRA members and the far greater number of gun owning non-members, all of whom take their 2nd Amendment liberties very seriously and who also have very long memories.
- This thing that is now being identified by the newly coined term “terror gap,” also goes by a much older term. This much older term is found within the Constitution of the United States. It is called due process of law. You can put whatever face on it you wish but the truth is this: the proposals put forth by gun control advocates in the wake of Orlando would deny people their due process rights. If you are not familiar with the concept of due process I encourage you to read both the fifth and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution.
- I am astounded that many liberals, who were so very rightly critical of the Patriot Act, are ok with proposals that attack not just one civil liberty, but several.
- No, I do not believe in some vast conspiracy to deprive Americans of their civil liberties. I have made that point here and here. I do not need to believe in such a thing. History, I submit, teaches us that it is the nature of government to always seek to increase the control it exercises over citizens. People in power like being in power. Quite often, they feel and believe they are better qualified than most citizens to tell the citizens what they must do. This is independent of nation or type of government. It is simply the nature of the beast.
- People do not propose laws to keep them from doing things they should not do. Instead, they propose laws to keep other people from doing things they don’t believe those other people should do. The problem with laws that limit or take away liberties is this: because of the tendency of government to always increase the power it has over citizens, each loss of liberty makes the next easier to accomplish. Eventually, unless one is quite fortunate, the liberties you happen to favor or like find themselves on the chopping block and you become one of those “other people.”
- It gives the appearance of more than a little hypocrisy that so many of those who advocate for further, greater and stricter gun control frequently enjoy protection (often around-the-clock protection) by people armed with the very weapons and exercising the very liberties they wish to curtail for the rest of us.
- Finally, I would like to leave you with this. If you wish to understand the frustration of most gun owners regarding further gun control efforts, I would encourage you to consider the history of gun control legislation in this country. In every case of which I am aware, the “reasonable compromise” offered by those who favored the legislation was a thinly veiled version of this: “Let us pass this legislation or we’ll simply take away all your 2nd Amendment rights.” I can do no better than to refer you to the words of the so very articulate Lawdog.