Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller (1892 – 1984) was a German anti-Nazis theologian and Lutheran pastor. His statement regarding Hitler and the Nazis should be a warning as much today as it was back in the 1930s:
“First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”
There’s a corollary between Niemoller’s cautionary tale and today’s debate about gun bans and the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment is the one which protects all the rest of our Constitution’s amendments and our God-given and unalienable rights from the tyranny of an overreaching government. Think about it, there is probably a reason why the First Amendment, protecting our right to free speech, even against our government, is first and the Second Amendment, protecting the First and all the other amendments, is second. They are, as a minimum, the first two among equals of the Constitution’s amendments.
Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (1689 -1755), generally referred to simply as Montesquieu, was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Age of Enlightenment. He is famous for his articulation of the theory of separation of powers, which is taken for granted in modern discussions of government and implemented in many constitutions throughout the world, as well as being a concept President Obama and other liberals should study up on. Montesquieu also said, “Useless laws weaken necessary laws.”
Gun bans are useless laws which weaken our constitutional and necessary law of the right to bear arms, which “…shall not be infringed.” I do not understand what part of “…shall not be infringed” liberals do not understand. The Supreme Court has recently “clarified” what any plain, common sense reading of the Constitution’s Second Amendment already made clear.
The Court clarified that the right to bear arms is an individual right, not just that of someone who’s part of a “well regulated militia,” and that the right is for self-defense — not, as many gun-ban-snake-oil-selling liberals propose, to “allow” you to keep your shotgun just for duck hunting. That’s a ploy to get you to accept that they have any right at all to restrict your gun rights. They don’t. If you accept the premise that they can “allow” you to keep your shotgun for duck hunting, you’ve already compromised your argument that they have no right to restrict your gun rights at all — which is what the Constitution’s Second Amendment is really all about.
Liberals want to make the gun debate about something it is not. Political prestidigitational misdirection, as it were. FBI statistics and the former ineffectual gun ban from 1994 – 2004 have shown that more homicides result from hammers than guns, much less from the Left’s much hated and scary-looking, ominously black, military-STYLE but SEMI-automatic, and therefore NOT ASSAULT rifle, the popular AR-15, and that mere gun bans will not solve the problem of mass murders, which at its core is the mental health care issue of identifying and stopping the madmen who misuse guns to commit these horrific events in the first place.
But, fixing the mental health care system to better ID and treat and/or institutionalize such people is politically harder and more complex, you see, than using a tragedy like the killing of the Sandy Hook Elementary School children to sensationalize and push the long-standing liberal agenda of taking guns away from law abiding citizens. For many liberal politicians, the cartoons depicting them grandstanding on the graves of those children for political gain, while morbid, are not too far off target, if I may be allowed that metaphor. After all, it was Obama’s former chief of staff, and a hardcore liberal in is own right, Rambo Rahm Emanuel who infamously and callously said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
Thus, liberals have seized on the Sandy Hook tragedy as reason, and political cover, for their latest gun grab guise and even trot out the still-recovering Gaby Giffords, God bless her, to cement the sympathetic, tug-at-the-heart-strings appeal in testimony before Congress. Of course, Mrs. Giffords, a liberal herself, may firmly believe in what she’s saying, so it’s not as if she’s being used so much as she and the other liberals are using us and our emotions over an issue which should be decided rationally.
Of course, Vice President Joe Biden, and President Obama’s lead guy on gun violence and hence on liberal gun bans, thinks your shotgun is for firing warning shots off of your balcony (if you have a balcony, or, I guess, out your front or back door if you don’t). Of course, discharging a firearm of any kind in almost any residential area will probably get you some police response without even having to call 911, but it may get you charged with at least a misdemeanor as well. Of course, Hypocritical Joe doesn’t have to worry about any of this, like you and I do, because he has Secret Service agents protecting him and his wife personally and also patrolling around his house day and night, for which Cheap Joe charges the Secret Service rent on the on-property cottage they use. But, Good Old Joe also evidently follows South African Olympian “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius’ example of using your (“allowed and permitted”) shotgun, or other weapon, to shoot through a door, which didn’t turn out so well for Pistorius’ model girlfriend and might also get you in trouble, too, if you shoot somebody on the other side off your door and before they’ve actually invaded your home. Even if your state has some form of Castle Doctrine, we could be talking about you being charged with at least manslaughter, if not homicide. But, I digress, just because Uncle Joe is so good for a chuckle now and then.
The government and mere politicians, to include good ole Uncle Joe, do not “give” you your “unalienable rights.” If you are born and/or otherwise a citizen of this country, those rights are automatically yours. Unalienable rights are not legal but natural, God-given and inherent. That’s why our Declaration of Independence says, “…these truths are self-evident, that all men…are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…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” [emphasis added] and, “…whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government.”
Thus, the people (and the states) give the federal government its power; the government does not give the people their power. The people’s power is inherent. Hence, the government and mere politicians cannot take away what they never gave you in the first place — unless you allow the government’s tyranny of creeping incrementalism to do so.
The Second Amendment’s language doesn’t merely use the declarative “…will not be infringed,” it uses the emphatic “…shall not be infringed.” The amendment is not just about hunting, or even just personal self-defense. It’s about the right of the people to be armed against “…all enemies, foreign and domestic.” It’s the reason Japanese Admiral Yamamoto in WWII allegedly said, “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.” And those aforementioned domestic enemies also include an overreaching and tyrannical government, whether liberals like to admit that or not.
Constitutional attorney Stewart Rhodes explains the Second Amendment this way:
“The whole point of the Second Amendment is to preserve the military capacity of the American people — to preserve the ability of the people, who are the militia, to provide for their own security as individuals, as neighborhoods, towns, counties, and states, during any emergency, man-made or natural; to preserve the military capacity of the American people to resist tyranny and violations of their rights by oath breakers within government; and to preserve the military capacity of the people to defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic, including those oath breaking domestic enemies within government. It is not about hunting, and at its core, the Second Amendment is not really even about self-defense against private criminals. It is about self-defense against public criminals — against tyrants, usurpers and foreign invaders. Thus, any attempt to ban the possession, sale, purchase, or transfer of any small arms or their parts, including their ammo, is an attempt by tyrants to disarm the American people.”
Benjamin Franklin put it more succinctly: “Never trust a government that doesn’t trust its own citizens with guns.”
Mia Love, an American politician and currently the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, was the 2012 Republican nominee for the US House of Representatives from Utah and although she didn’t win, this well-spoken, conservative black woman gained a place on the national stage. Speaking at a recent Second Amendment rally, she quoted Dr. Martin Luther King: “Our lives begin to end when we are silent about the things that matter.”
Love went on to add, “Preserving the right to bear arms matters. The preservation of our freedom and our Constitution matter. They mattered for our ancestors, they matter for us, but most of all freedom matters for our children.”
Mrs. Love is, of course, not only right, as in conservative, she is also right, as in correct. Someone told me one time that there are four boxes which keep us free: the soap box, the ballot box, the jury box and the ammo box.
Some, in various ways, have expressed the core idea I’m getting at here as, “Better for the government to fear its people than for the people to fear their government.”
And when you come right down to it, the government doesn’t have a right to tell you what to eat or not, how much to eat or not, where to eat or not, what to wear or when to wear it, whether to drink or smoke or not, what to buy, how much to buy, or what kind of gun you can buy or how much or what kind of ammo you can buy for it.
Society is defined as the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community, or a group of people willingly joined together to gain benefits collectively which they could not achieve individually. Therefore, the government, under the broad societal umbrella of doing what’s for the common good, can recommend what you do about all those things, and more, but is not vested with the right to tell you a damn thing to do about any of them. The government, at all levels, gets its power from the people, not the other way around.
Be mindful, please, that it is the nature of government, once established, to grow itself, ostensibly to provide ever more and better services for its constituents but actually also because all government is also bureaucracy and bureaucracy never voluntarily contracts or shrinks itself. And who is to determine what those more and better services should be and how they should be provided? Under our form of government, that is accomplished by our elected representatives, or politicians, in expressing the will of the people. And just as it is the nature of government to grow itself and for bureaucracies not to willingly shrink themselves, it is the nature of politicians, with few exceptions, to be most concerned about being elected and then reelected.
When those representatives stop expressing the will of the people, it is up to the people to vote them out of office and replace them with those who will. But politicians are in the business of government. Government is what they do for a living. Whereas you or I might sell cars and therefore go to work at the car dealership every day, and our business is to sell cars, politicians make laws and go to work in government offices, and their business is the business of government. And, remember this: each and every time a politician enacts a law at the federal or state level, or even an ordinance or board ruling at the local or town level, they are doing their business of government — but they are also usually enacting something which requires you to do or not do something and are therefore, ostensibly for the greater common good, restricting your natural freedoms. So, the real issue is, are you willing to have your individual rights restricted for the broader, common good by that particular law, ruling or ordinance?
And it is the same with our Second Amendment and our right to bear arms, which liberal politicians want to incrementally, little by little, while smiling and creeping up on our blind side, restrict and restrict again until they are gone, when they have no right to restrict them at all.
But, if you find my argument here not that persuasive, I leave you with multiple quotes (so you can choose your favorite[s] among them) from people much more wise and famous than I — quotes which are as true today as when they were first uttered:
Patrick Henry — “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty — “Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life and enslaving the soul itself.”
Albert Camus — “The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.”
John Adams, 1800 — “The nature of the encroachment upon American constitution is such, as to grow every day more and more encroaching. Like a cancer, it eats faster and faster every hour. The revenue creates pensioners, and the pensioners urge for more revenue. The people grow less steady, spirited and virtuous, the seekers more numerous and more corrupt, and every day increases the circles of their dependents and expectants, until virtue, integrity, public spirit, simplicity and frugality become the objects of ridicule and scorn, and vanity, luxury, foppery, selfishness, meanness, and downright venality swallow up the whole of society.”
Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist No. 28, December 26, 1787 — “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government… The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms…”
Thomas Jefferson — “The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
George Washington — “Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence. From the hour the Pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to insure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable…the very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference, they deserve a place of honor with all that is good.”
Samuel Adams — “The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”
Ronald Reagan — “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
And, from across the pond, Winston Churchill — “If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”
Now, reading Churchill’s warning, remember how I began this, with the quote by Niemöller about Hitler and the Nazis? Don’t let governmental tyranny creep up on you in incremental, small and sneaky steps. Sic semper tyrannis.