Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Supporting Your Enemies

I have been a member of The National Rifle Association off and on since I was about twelve years old and a Life Member for about the past twenty years. The management of the organization takes the members for fools. There are better and more aggressive organizations such as Gun Owners Of America and Jews For The Preservation Of Firearms Ownership to name two, but as somebody said years ago, gun owners are like fleas on an elephant and must go where the elephant goes because the other organizations don't have the clout of the NRA.

Wayne LaPierre once famously referred to agents of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms as “jack-booted government thugs.” I don't know about their footwear, but they are thugs. The problem with the NRA and many other organizations is that they think certain agencies are bad, but the government overall is good. They're all thugs. Many issues of The American Rifleman will have some kind of laudatory article about some cop, military man, sheriff, FBI agent or some other government hack who is trained to follow orders. The BATF is the bogeyman because it is the agency charged with enforcing the firearms laws. If it were the FBI, the FCC or the EPA that enforced the laws they would be the ones wearing the jack-boots.

The February 2014 issue of The American Rifleman has an ad on page 73 seeking bequests to the NRA with the caption, “Where Do You Want Your Estate To Go?”: “To the government?” (with a very unflattering picture of Obama and Biden) “Or freedom's future?” (with a picture of a guy coaching a woman with a shotgun). This is all fine, but why is “the government” bad when it's Obama, but good when it's Sgt. Doright of the First Cavalry or the Podunk Sheriff's Department? Obama is not the one who is going to kick down your door for violating a gun control law; it's Sgt. Doright that will handle that. You are probably never going to be in any danger from Obama. It will be one of his agents who kills you, seizes your property, breaks into your house, hauls you off without charge, prohibits you from flying, spies on you, prevents your leaving the country, and on and on. Almost all of these outrages will be perpetrated by a person wearing a government uniform of some kind.

It's not just the NRA that propagates this sort of Zoroastrian/dualist view of the government; it's the gun manufacturers and advertisers too. One manufacturer has an ad for its product that shows an entry team of cops preparing to break in a door with the caption in boldface type, “BUILT FOR THOSE WHO REQUIRE NO INTRODUCTION.” Well, actually they should require an introduction, otherwise called a search warrant issued upon “oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Hardly any “dynamic entries” are ever justified. When the police are confronted with real danger, they usually cordon off the area as in school shooting cases or burn the place to the ground as in the case of Christopher Dorner, Gordon Kahl, MOVE in Philadelphia or the Branch Davidians in Texas.

There seems to be broad support for the military even though the Founding Fathers feared a standing army and would not even authorize funding for one for longer than two years at a time.

It is easy to see why a standing army is a danger to society when you consider how easy it is to get ordinary people to obey authority with very little coercion. This was demonstrated by Stanley Milgram in his experiments and chronicled in his book Obedience To Authority. If ordinary people are so easy to command, it is a fortiori the case that young boys who have been through obedience training known as boot camp or police academy will follow commands like trained dogs after their personal judgment and individuality have been reduced or destroyed.

There are plenty of products sold only to government agencies that John Q. Public is not allowed to have. Why manufacture a product – other than for money, or course – that is going to be turned against you? Why, in a nation founded upon the idea of unalienable rights and popular sovereignty is the government permitted to have weapons that are prohibited to the individual? This is exactly backwards; it is the government that should be prohibited certain weapons. The government is the agent, not the sovereign.

Remington used to market a folding stock for the 870 shotgun that had “For law enforcement only” stamped into the side of it. Why? There was nothing illegal about anybody having it. Why provide your government customers products that you deny to non-government buyers?

I used to joke about – although not entirely in jest – forming a company that sold weapons and equipment that stated in its ads, “Civilian sales only.” We would all be better off if the government feared the people instead of the other way around.


  1. So true. Here's the text of my final response to an NRA solicitation, some years back:

    = = = = = = = = =

    22 September 2006

    Dear NRA,

    I type this with absolutely no illusion that it will make any difference. I type it purely to make myself feel slightly better.

    The attached contents page from what I sincerely hope will be the last copy of the American Rifleman I ever see illustrates almost perfectly why I am happily letting my membership lapse. I always understood the NRA as an organization devoted to the defense of the Second Amendment, and limitations on the power of the central government. The spectacle of the NRA worshipping at the feet of (yet another) unconstitutional federal police force, and around federal militarism in general, fills me with wave after wave of gut-wrenching nausea. Oh, yes, those brave “men and women serving (serving!) in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” indeed. I just returned from a business trip that included air travel. These people are our jailers, the servants of tyrants – and the NRA is licking their jackboots clean.

    Go to Hell, NRA. And I wish you some very bad dreams on your way there, too.

    Darken my mailbox no more.

    Yours with utmost sincerity,

    James C. Wetzel

    = = = = = = = = =

    It is indeed discouraging to see how many "conservatives," who allegedly adore "limited" and small government, pour love all over the cops and the Holy Troops. Really, I don't believe there's any hope, outside of divine hope.

  2. Great comments, Chris. Indeed, it should be the other way around.