Friday, January 18, 2013

Disarming Peasants

Every time there is a shooting at a school, shopping center, city council meeting or other location where innocent people are shot or killed by a private citizen and not a government employee, the Left immediately calls for civilian disarmament, maybe not all at once, but certainly by degrees.

What is odd about this is that not a day goes by that MoveOn.Org doesn't send out some kind of alert about banksters or corporate bogeymen who are up to no good. They probably are, but these people never see any danger from omnipotent government, only private cabals that operate for gain, but have no arrest or taxing power and no history of setting up gulags and murdering people en masse.

It's as though they have upended Jefferson's admonition, " in questions of power then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution."  Instead of mistrust of government officials they have mistrust of the citizen and instead of binding down the government they want to free the government and bind the citizen. They don't trust John Q. Public, but they do trust Obama, Bloomberg, Stalin, Hitler, Castro or Robespierre. Even if we had virtuous men currently in office, which we don't, it would be pure folly to expect that always to be the case. Carroll Quigley, who has the distinction of being mentioned approvingly by Bill Clinton, says in his magnum opus Tragedy & Hope that when the citizen can have the same weapons or nearly the same as the government, it favors popular government, but when the government has superior weaponry it favors authoritarian government.

All the arguments I have seen on both sides of the question are utilitarian arguments. I have not seen anybody take up an intransigent position of principle and contend that even if it could be shown that private ownership of weapons causes higher rates of violence it would not be justification for controlling weapons for the simple reason that owning weapons is an inalienable right and isn't susceptible to statistical arguments.

We don't have free speech because it can be shown that it's a good thing, but because it is a right, not a privilege. It doesn't make any difference that many people tell lies or make inflammatory comments; when a right is abused it does not negate it for others. For years the NRA has prattled on about "firearms freedoms" as though a freedom is the same thing as a right - it isn't. Your neighbor may have the freedom to come into your house at will, but not the right to. The latest bit of claptrap is that we're having a "conversation" about gun violence or protecting children or some other focus group-think. Formerly the correct term was "dialogue," but that has fallen into desuetude.

It seems that most of the "conversation" is directed at people's feelings, not thoughts. This is very much on display with the Charlatan-in-Chief surrounding himself with children and acting as though he cares what they think. As long as he has their attention, maybe he should ask their opinion of drone strikes against innocent people or saddling future generations with oppressive debt. They're probably too young to form an opinion about such things.

Under our system of government - theoretically - the citizen is the sovereign and the government is the agent or instrument. How can the agent have rights that the sovereign doesn't have? No one can give what he does not have. If the sovereign has no right to possess arms, certainly his agent cannot have such a right.

It isn't violence that the government objects to so much as it is private ownership of guns. When Julio Gonzalez burned 87 people to death at the Happy Land disco in New York, nobody called for stopping the sale of gasoline in cans. That would have been absurd and would not have furthered the cause of civilian disarmament.

Back in the '70s, the angle of attack on gun ownership was the "Saturday Night Special," a term that no gun enthusiast used, but was thought to be useful by the forces of control. For the past 15 years or so, it's been "assault weapons," another made up term with no definition. It sounds really menacing so it's likely to be around for quite a while. It seems to be derived from the term "assault rifle" which was supposedly coined by Hitler (it probably wasn't) to describe a selective fire (i.e. capable of both semi-automatic and automatic or "fully automatic" fire) rifle that fired a low-powered rifle cartridge.
These rifles had more power than the submachine guns, which fired pistol cartridges, but less than a regular infantry arm of the day, such as an M1, Lee Enfield, Mauser, Springfield, etc.

Some advocates of disarmament have resurrected the claim that the Second Amendment refers to ownership of muskets. The founders were aware that technology is not static and had they thought nobody should ever have anything more advanced than a musket they could have said so, but had they done so the Constitution would probably not have been ratified. A musket was comparable to anything the army of the day had, so by that reasoning the citizen should now have sophisticated military equipment.

The founders wanted to guard against "combinations of ambitious men," but the disarmament lobby puts unlimited faith in such men and views the common man warily. It's as though the Bolsheviks can be trusted, but the peasants can't be.