Big Brah Is Watching

A longtime friend of this blog writes in re h this story, about Hawaii jumping ahead of San Francisco and Chicago in terms of leaning on the law-abiding gun owner; they plan to enter all the state’s legal gun owners into a federal database: 

Scary enough that they are targeting gun owners.  MORE scary that the database they are talking about already exists

I would be very interested in finding out who currently meets the criteria to be included in the “Rap Back” database and is already entered into that database without their knowledge or acquiescence.

The database – no doubt product of an earlier generation of hysteria – tracks “people in positions of trust” – school teachers, bus drivers and the like, allowing authorities to find out quickly if one of them is arrested for anything.

Sounds acceptable, right?

On its surface, maybe.  But to provision the list you need…what?

To know every gun owner in the state.  Meaning the State of Hawaii has the data they need to beat down any law-abiding citizen’s door when they change their mind about the Second Amendment.

Open Letter To Minnesota Public Radio News

To: Minnesota Public Radio News
From:  Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  Food For Thought

MPR,

Isn’t it annoying – to say the least – to have to subject your constitutional freedoms to theatrical, unproductive and degrading scrutiny by bureaucrats, to no useful end?

A few minutes after 8 o’clock Monday morning, [MPR Reporter] Mukhtar Ibrahim started filing through the security line at the federal courthouse in Minneapolis.
It was a big day for Ibrahim, and figured to be a long one: Day one of a high-profile trial for three local men accused of plotting to join ISIS fighters in Syria.

Ibrahim and a reporter for the Star Tribune approached the security screening and offered their bags for clearance by a security officer. The other reporter, who is white, passed right through and headed for the elevator. Ibrahim was stopped, and told he couldn’t go in yet. He would have to wait for the time when the court opened to the public.

If it saves even one life…!

Ibrahim protested, pulling out a press badge showing he works for Minnesota Public Radio. Not good enough, the officer said. Go wait with the rest of the public.

Ibrahim didn’t argue and instead just collected his wallet, keys, and bag, and went to wait with public spectators. The way Ibrahim figures, he shouldn’t have even needed to flash the badge. He’s been covering cases there for a year and a half: These guys should recognize him by now.

People with a long, proven record of not abusing free speech are almost never a danger!

On Monday, once Ibrahim and the rest of the non-journalists observers there for the trial were let in, he simply walked across the courtroom to the area sectioned-off for members of the media and sat down. But the episode continued to eat at him.

“It messed up my mood the whole day,” Ibrahim said. “I was just really frustrated. I didn’t expect this.”

It is frustrating, isn’t it?  Trying to go about your business, doing something you have a Constitutional right to do, and getting badgered by petty bureaucrats?

“I like to stick to the facts,” Ibrahim said, “so I’ll let people make their own conclusions of this.”

The obvious answer; force all reporters to take a background check.

That’ll fix it.

That is all.

Freedom For We But Not For Thee

The press isn’t so crazy about background checks – when it’s their freedom this being walked all over:

For the first time this year, the Secret Service has a hand in credentialing the media; during previous conventions only the Congressional press galleries were in charge of credentialing the media…[Buzzfeed “editor” John Stanton] Stanton cited concerns about the background checks, the lack of a clear appeals process, and the involvement of a third-party subcontractor, urging his fellow journalists to express their concern over the process.“It seems like an unnecessary step and it gives them in my mind a new and troubling precedence to try and exert authority over the press corps,” Stanton said in an interview. “It creates a logistical burden, a troubling precedent for their ability to have almost a de facto say in who is qualified to be a reporter at these events. What if they use this as precedent to extend to other campaign events or any government events?”

Right – but if it saves just one life…

Big Brother Is Watching

Remember way back, when the left wanted the government out of people’s bedrooms?

Either does the Left.    A liberal legal conclave is debating moving “affirmative consent” laws off of campus and to the general population:

The American Law Institute will vote in May on whether to adopt a model penal code that would make “affirmative consent” the official position of the organization. Affirmative consent — or “yes means yes” — policies have already been adopted by many colleges and universities, and have been passed as law in California and New York.

In my dreams, Hillary Clinton appoints Melissa Click as Attorney General…

The ACLU Vs. The First Amendment, Freedom, and “Choice”

So if you take the idea of “choice” on moral issues  – like, say, abortion – seriously, then people are supposed to be able to make “choices” about participating in the practice.

Because the First Amendment protects freedom of conscience!

And the ACLU protects the First Amendment.  Right?

Well

A federal judge just tossed the ACLU’s suit against a chain of Catholic hospitals, because he found that the plaintiff’s claim that women were “harmed” by having to look for, y’know, a non-Catholic hospital to get an abortion was specious:

On Monday, weeks before oral arguments were scheduled to take place, Judge Gershwin E. Drain of the U.S. district court for Eastern Michigan dismissed the suit, calling the ACLU’s claims “dubious.” It’s tempting to follow suit and dismiss from our minds the agenda underlying the ACLU’s legal action. But we can’t afford to do that.

Emphasis added:

Think about it: The ACLU argued that a hospital should require its doctors and nurses to perform abortions even if the hospital recognizes that a new human life begins at conception and holds that the moral weight of abortion is no less than that of taking the life of a born person. The playing field is shifting under our feet. This lawsuit wasn’t about “choice” at all; it was about ensuring that medical professionals can’t act on their beliefs if they clash with assumptions that are politically in vogue. Rather than invoke the old mantra that abortion is between a woman and her doctor, the ACLU did the opposite, arguing that the government should be involved in decisions for abortion by stipulating that others participate in them.

The goal, of course, is to make abortion safe, legal, and enforceable under thoughtcrime statutes.

It’s Probably A Good Thing It’s Raining Out

Mike Freeman is set to announce whether there will be charges in the Jamar Clark shooting at 10:30 this morning.

Fox9 reports that Freeman will also show a number of videos – likely the ones that “Black Lives Matter” has been clamoring for.

My guess – and it’s only a guess?  The videos will support the officers’ side of the story, and Freeman will announce no charges.  Since Freeman isn’t running for office again, he can be the target for the community’s ire, taking some of the heat off of Mayor Hodges and Chief Harteau.   Again – it’s my speculation.

UPDATE:  No charges will be filed against the officers.

UPDATE 2:  Freeman is showing the videos.

UPDATE 3:  Nekima Pounds-Levy apparently wants to have quotas for charging and convicting officers.

UPDATE 4:  Did someone just threaten to burn the city down?

UPDATE 5:  Question from social media; “who let BLM (Pounds-Levy) into the press conference?”   Answer:  The same people who let them out onto 35W without repercussion.  The cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul have coddled BLM more than they would any other protest group.

The Terrorists Are Pretty Much Winning

This observation is a whack upside the head (emphasis added):

Some U.S. counter-terrorism officials say much of the gap between Washington and Belgium — and some other European countries — is cultural. Europeans’ deeper commitment to personal privacy sometimes prevents or delays sharing of information such as travel data — that is taken for granted in the United States.

The idea that Europe – the contintent of sheep-like government-addled socialized drones who gave us Naziism, Socialism, Communism and Soccer – have more commitment to personal privacy than the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave is a jab in the gut.

The Difference Between Obama And Reagan, Part MMMXM

If Barack Obama had been president in the 1980s, he’d have extended the Russians a line of credit to help them forestall bankruptcy (for a while, anyway) and keep a fresh coat of paint on the Berlin Wall . He’s have opened the nation up to trade and “public-private partnerships” (by companies that agreed to play ball with the Soviets, of course).  And he’d ahve not only thrown Solidarity and the legions of the Soviets’ political prisoners under the bus, but stomped on them a few times to keep them there and out of the way, incapable of sidetracking the narrative.

Thankfully, Obama was not president.  Reagan was.

[After Reagan called the USSR an “evil empire” – how un-Obama-like can you get?], Anatoly Shcharansky was in the Gulag. (After, he would become Natan Sharansky.) He and his fellow zeks heard what Reagan had done. Had the American president really called the Soviet Union an “evil empire”? Yes. Years later, Sharansky reflected:

“It was the brightest, most glorious day. Finally a spade had been called a spade. Finally, Orwell’s Newspeak was dead. President Reagan had from that moment made it impossible for anyone in the West to continue closing their eyes to the real nature of the Soviet Union.”

Barack Obama has thrown the Castros a lifeline – which, with the demise of the USSR and the disintegration of Venezuela, their major benefactors this past fifty years, they need to avoid being put, eventually, to the pike.  He was “opened” the country (to those who will play ball with the Castros, the Castros way).

And he’s just re-upped the sentence for every human rights and liberties dissident on the island.

I’m ashamed of this president.  That’s nothing new, of course.  But it never gets easier.

The Slogan-Based Life

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is at a hardware store, shopping for a chainsaw sharpener, when around the corner steps Bud GUNKEL, chairman of the CD2 chapter of “Former Republicans for Ron Paul”.  

GUNKEL:  Hey, Merg.  The only way to fix the system is…

BERG:  …yeah, I heard it.  To “withhold your consent from it“.   Feel free to tell the IRS, the BATFE and the Minnesota Department of Revenue you’ve “withheld your consent”; I’m sure everyone will get a good laugh but you.

GUNKEL:  He who would trade freedom for security…

BERG:  …deserves neither.  Good Lord, Bill, do you people ever communicate in anything but the form of clichés?   I mean, do you even know what that means?

GUNKEL:  It means he who would trade liberty for security deserves…

BERG:  …neither.  Yep, I got that.  Again.  I mean, have you thought through what it means?

GUNKEL:   What are you talking about?  What else could there be?

BERG:  Here’s another quote for you; without order, prosperity is impossible.  Without prosperity, liberty is pointless.

GUNKEL:  So you’d give up…

BERG:  …no, no, no, stop right there.   Here’s a quote back atcha; without order, prosperity is impossible.

GUNKEL:  So you want to be like a herd animal…

BERG:  No.  “Order” is a very broad term!   It just means that there’s a general understanding that everyone is playing by the same rules, and that if you bring you product to market, there’ll be consequences for people who try to steal it on the way to the market, or swindle you when they get there.

“Order” can mean “a voluntary agreement that whose end of, everyone holds up”, like the anarchists say; that’s perfectly legitimate.  And it can mean full-blown Danish bureaucracy regulating the transaction, or a medieval baron making sure everyone upholds their end of the bargain for the good of his fiefdom.   And the whole American experiement was built around the idea that order should be maintained with the minimum amount of government and force possible – while allowing for the inevitability, given human nature, that some was likely to be needed at some point.

GUNKEL:  So you mean government!  Government is theft!  Nothing but!

BERG:  Sure, if you let it get out of control.  And we in the US largely have, and that’s a very valid discussion to have.  But the fact is, human nature being what it is, it’s inevitable that if the means of keeping order disappear, while 99% of the people will be just fine, there’s that 1% who’ll decide that what they want is what you got.  It can be a mugger, it can be those accursed Methodists, it can be that whole group of people over the ridge that think your ancestors stole from their ancestors, whatever.

GUNKEL:  So you’re a warvangelical?

BERG:  No – I merely observe human nature.  As I observed in my book, while the vast majority of humans are perfectly content to live and work and produce and interact peacefully, there are some that prefer to take what others produce.  It’s just easier.

GUNKEL: So  you’d give up freedom for thirteen pieces of silver?

BERG:  Wow – way to mix milieus.  Here’s another quote for you:  without prosperity, freedom is irrelevant.  If you don’t have prosperity – if you’re a hunter-gatherer or a subsistence farmer – “freedom” is a very relative thing.  You’re free to speak and worship and assemble – but you’re busy seeing to your survival from dawn to dusk, year-round, like a medieval fyrd.  Which means not only are your more abstruse freedoms irrelevant, but you have neither the time nor the energy to see to things like prosperity and order – making you ripe pickings for anyone who wants to take what you’ve worked for.  And this time you’ll have no surplus to see to your very survival!   Which is, by the way, a condition that also makes you ripe pickings for whomever would call himself your king, either against your will or, as tired and close to starvation as you are by this point, with your full consent.

GUNKEL:  So you will trade freedom for security!  Hah!

BERG:  You make it sound like a binary, black or white thing.

GUNKEL:  It is!    If you don’t have all the freedom, you have none of it!

BERG:   That’s just madness.  You say because the American people have given up some freedom, we’re no different than North Korea?

And no.  I won’t trade my freedom, all or nothing, for security – not while I have anything to say about it.   I will, as a constituent of a limited government that has a few carefully-enumerated jobs, engage some agents to keep the order we all need.  And no more.

GUNKEL:  That’s not how government works today!

BERG:  You’re telling me!  Y’see, that’s the problem with “libertarians”; they take poli-sci class absolutes and try to apply them to the real world.   So I’ll do it back atcha:  without prosperity, freedom is academic; without order, prosperity is impossible.  Therefore, without order, paradoxically, freedom is impossible.

GUNKEL:  So you say freedom is impossible?

BERG:   Nope.  I am saying that while absolute tyranny is very possible, absolute freedom cannot exist in a world where others have the “will to power” to become tyrants.

There is a trade-off; it’s the job of a free people to simultaneously see to the order that enables the prosperity that makes freedom possible, and make sure the “order” they create doesn’t become oppressive.

GUNKEL:  All involuntary order is oppressive!

BERG:  So you throw off a “government” that governs by consent of the governed…

GUNKEL:  Yes!

BERG:   And live in a world with only “gentlemens agreements” for order…

GUNKEL:  Yes!

BERG:   So that you can be conquered or killed by someone who took advantage of the fact that you have no means to see to public order?

GUNKEL:  Er…yes!  Better dead than…er…

BERG:  Naturally.

And SCENE

In Praise Of Anti-Democratic Elites

As Kevin Williamson points out in the NR, much of what made this nation great and exceptional in the first place was the fact that we tempered democracy with many un-democratic, and even some anti-democratic, features – the filibuster, checks and balances, and of course, the most anti-democratic notion of all, “inalienable rights endowed to us by our creator”.

The idea was to moderate the depredations of the majority.

And the “political party” was one of the influences that moderated the passion of the mob. And with all their faults, they worked pretty well in American party politics.  Until “democracy” took over.

It is a little ironic that at the very moment when railing against the “establishment” of either party is so very fashionable, the parties are in fact shells of what they once were. To the extent that there is a Republican-party establishment, it plainly does not have the power to, e.g., call down anathema upon a potential Republican-party presidential nominee. The day before yesterday, Marco Rubio was the anti-establishment, tea-party insurgent; today he is the establishment, if the doggie-treat salesmen on the radio are to be believed. If that leads you to believe that the word “establishment” does not actually mean anything, you are correct.

Williamson echoes a point I’ve been making (emphasis added):

It was democracy that did the parties in, of course. One of the harebrained progressive reforms foisted upon our republic is the so-called open primary, which amounts to something close to the abolition of political parties as such. If anybody can vote in the Republican primary — Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, independent, etc. — then membership in the party does not mean very much, and, hence, the party itself does not mean very much. Instead of two main political parties, we have two available channels for the communication of populist spite; the parties themselves are mere conveniences for political entrepreneurs and demagogues. Trump might as easily have run as a Democrat — he is a longtime supporter of Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer, and he raves about the wonderful things the butchers at Planned Parenthood do — but the opening was more attractive on the R side.

Parties in their classic form did a decent job of moderating the mob.  Not perfect – perfection is anathema to freedom, anyway – but decent.

It’s time to drop caucuses and go to a closed primary.

Drafty

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

There has been recent discussion about requiring women to register for the draft.  Failure to register carries threat of prosecution, but nobody has been prosecuted in decades.  Despite lack of enforcement, compliance is 99% in Idaho but only 34% in Washington, DC.  We must address the factors causing voluntary non-compliance.  If threat of prosecution carries no weight, how can we give young people a meaningful incentive to obey the law?

Joe Doakes

It’s time to end selective service registration.  It will never be used, the military doesn’t want it (ever), and it’s major problem isn’t that we don’t draft women; the problem is that the draft puts the onus of defending the nation (especially in the enlisted ranks) entirely on those who don’t have the means to avoid the lottery.

“Selective” service is an abomination to a free society.

Lightning Fails To Strike

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is out running his snowblower down the block.  BILL GUNKEL, former Republican who is now chairmain of the Inver Grove Heights chapter of “Former Republicans for Ron Paul”, pulls up to the curb.  

GUNKEL:  Hey, Merg!

BERG:  Oh, hey, Bill.  What’s up?

GUNKEL:  Elections are a sham.  The best way to “participate” in elections is withdrawing your consent by refusing to vote.

BERG:  Huh.  Well, feel free to tell the Minnesota Department of Revenue “I have withdrawn my consent” when they come for your money and property after the DFL wins.

GUNKEL:  Hah.  So what?  Your participation makes absolutely no difference.  In fact, settled science has shown us that your chance of dying on your way to the polls is greater than your chance of affecting the outcome of an election.

BERG:  That’s absurd!

GUNKEL:   It’s science!  Why do you hate science?

BERG:  It’s not science.  It’s arithmetic.  The writer – apparently a barrista who contributes to “Forbes” – calculated your chance of being the single vote that decides an election versus your chance of dying in a car accident on the way to the polls.

GUNKEL:  So?

BERG:  So nothing.  Of course your chances of being the single vote that decides an election are small – although if you think they’re nonexistent, tell it to her.

GUNKEL:  Hah.  That’s just the religion you were taught in high school civics class.

BERG:  Right.  And all of you “libertarians” who sit resplendently above it all snarking at the commoners are so much better than that.  I get it. Look – it was a stupid article, and it reinforces an even dumber point.  It’s not about tipping elections yourself.  It’s about bringing a lot of people who believe the way you do to the polls to help you tip it.  Which, to be fair, is something your crowd has never been good at.

GUNKEL:  Pffft. That never happens.  If it did, you’d see election results change significantly.

BERG:  It most certainly does.  Thirty and forty years ago, support for gun control was extremely common at the state and federal levels.  Over the course of thirty years, Human Rights advocates in ones and twos voted, and convinced others to vote, for rather than against the Second Amendment.  Today, those regular schnooks voting by their ones and twos have flipped that issue 180 degrees.

And you “liberty” people could do it too, if you ever stopped purity-testing each other to a fine sheen and started trying to convince people, instead of bellowing about “principles” to rooms full of people just like you.

GUNKEL:  Oooh, look – a city snow plow!  (Forms a snowball, begins the stalk)

And SCENE

Why We Fight, Part IV: The Underdog

In Charles C.W. Cooke’s fantastic piece in National Review last week on the power of emotion in the gun debate, he made an excellent point; the gun debate is about more than just cold numbers.

Much more.

Influence:  I grew up in a family that was very uncomfortable around guns.  My mom didn’t let me have toy guns when I was a kid; and while I enthusiastically built my own, parts of the whole distaste rubbed off on me.

Until I was about 14 years old.  Then, on one of my sojourns through the history section at the Jamestown public library, I found a copy of The Black Book – a collaborative record of the history of Nazi atrocities against the Jews in Europe, and of Jewish resistance.

The Synogogue in Baden-Baden, ablaze after Kristallnacht.

Maybe I was way too young to read it. Maybe it caught me in my formative years.  Maybe it warped me.

All I know is, nobody ever had to teach me “Never Again”.

And it occurred to me; barring the Jews that managed to get out before the war started, or the lucky few who were hidden and smuggled away by the resistance, the Jews that survived were the ones who found guns, and fought their way through the war.

The Bielski Brothers gang; a group of Jews, mostly escapees from the various ghettos, who fought for years in the swamps of Belarus. Hundreds of Bielski’s people survived the war – the largest single Jewish partisan group.

And even from the depths of Concentration and Extermination camps, access to even a few guns bought some lucky, tenacious Jews a shot at survival.

Some of the 50-odd survivors of the uprising at Sobibor, soon after the war. The guy on the right in the back row is Leon Feldhendler – a mild-mannered businessman from Krakow who led the revolt, who killed SS troopers with a homemade shiv, led 300 to freedom and 50 to survival, and who lived to the end of the war – to be killed by antisemitic goons in 1946. Evil never sleeps.  Its why we fight today.

And even if they didn’t survive – was it not better to die on ones feet, facing the enemy, maybe taking a few with, than to be slaughtered like sheep?  To be an instrument of God’s vengeance, in some  way small or large?

(There is a sliver of the academic grievance-mongering community that believes memorializing those who were able to fight back is prejudiced against those who died without fighting.  Nonsense.  Anyone who says they would or would not be among those who, under mortal but imponderable threat, absolutely would leave the world of the normal to go out and fight against an enemy that seems, at that moment and in that place, omnipotent and unbeatable, has been watching too many movies.  Although having the mindset is a good start.  At any rate, that particular bit of grievance-mongering is simply daft; do you think those who died in the gas chambers begrudged those who fought in the forests the shot they’d taken at freedom?  Do you not think those who fought in the forests fought, as best they could, on behalf of the victims who could not?  This sort of academic navel-gazing repulses me at a level too deep to discuss).

It’s not “the” Holocaust; it’s Rwanda. The things that are supposed to “never” happen “again” keep coming back to haunt us.

And so, even when I still called myself a “liberal”, maybe even a “progressive”, I slowly, furtively began feeling my way toward being a Second Amendment supporter.

It’s been accepted as a truism among Real Americans for decades – there’s never been a totalitarian dictatorship in a country with civilian gun ownership.  It’s not entirely true – the Nazis allowed some tightly regulated civilian guns – but one of the first of the Nuremberg restrictions on Jewish life barred Jews from having guns.

“Never Again”, Israeli-style.

It was the first, necessary step on the road to the Holocaust – denying the Jews the actual ability to be more than a speed bump on the way to extinction.

And I, and every Real American who learned the right lessons from history, live “never again” every day we go to the range.

Enforcing Non-Violence:  But one needn’t go to Europe, or even back seventy-five years, to find oppressed citizens winning their freedom through force of arms – in this case, the threat of it.

Martin Luther King gets a lot of credit – justifiably so – for leading the fight for civil liberty for blacks in South at the end of the Jim Crow era.   And even when I was in school, not all that long after the fact, we were taught that King’s victory was a victory of non-violent resistance.

The March on Selma was dangerous enough outside the watchful eye of the media. Out in the backwoods of Alabama and Mississippi, what was a civil rights worker’s recourse?

And it was true – in places like Montgomery and Birmingham, where and when the northern, urban media was there to keep a spotlight on things.

But much of the battle for justice and political equality was fought outside the glare of the media’s Klieg lights, in sharecroppers shantytowns and hollers and delta villages that hadn’t changed much since the Civil War.

The militia? You’re damned right it was.

And there – as documented in the book This Non-Violent Stuff’ll Get You Killedby Charles Cobb – it was black men and women, World War II veterans and lone activists and mutual-self-defense groups, with hunting shotguns and war-surplus rifles and relics handed down from God only knows when, black people seeking equality, their franchise and their justice stared down the Klan over open sights, deterring the worst of the violence, just as their great-grandparents, back from the Union Army, had nearly a century before.

Black man, German pistol. BTW, don’t EVER put your fingers on the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. How many accidents has this photo inspired? Good Lord, people…

Even King himself carried a handgun through most of his travels, and his home was reportedly an “arsenal”.

Nicholas Johnson goes back further than Cobb, in Negroes and the Gun: the Black Tradition of Arms.   The case is convincing; had blacks not been able to deter Klan and supremacist violence in the sixties, the battle for equality would have been at the very least an incredibly bloody one, and at worst been either impossible, or a fault-line leading to another civil war.

All Together Now:  So we are a nation that is built on not merely the idea of freedom, but the notion that it’s our job to stay that way.   We are a people who know that government is at best imperfect at protecting us from crime, much less insulating us from tyranny.  And we – the ones who pay attention – know that at times, heaven forefend, it’s The People’s job to seize that freedom back.

Iraqi Christians, arming themselves to resist ISIS. What, you thought genocide ended in Rwanda?

And while the gun-grabbers ascribe a lot of motives to Real Americans’ struggle, from “defending gun industry profits” to “compensating for something, yuk yuk”, those are the reasons that keep us fighting, year in, year out.  They are the reasons we, the Real Americans, are the most successful grass-roots political movement in recent years.

And they are the reasons we can not rest on our laurels.  Evil never sleeps.  Either can we.

There you go, Heather Martens and Kim Norton and Barack Obama.  That’s why we fight.

And why you will lose.

To Sum It Up In A Sentence:  Freedom is endowed to us by our creator – but not everyone got the memo; history shows that the need to deter or repel threats to freedom, and life, are lamentably common.

This Series:

Why We Fight, Part III: The Public Good

In Charles C.W. Cooke’s fantastic piece in National Review last week on the power of emotion in the gun debate, he made an excellent point; facts and statistics aren’t enough to really win this battle.  There’s a real, living, breathing emotional case to be made for the Second Amendment.  And while Real Americans have been winning the factual, statistical and legal case for decades, we need to win the emotional case – the case that speaks to America’s heart and gut and liver – before we can really relegate gun control to the shallow intellectual grave it belongs in.

History Repeats:  A longtime friend of this blog, long known as “Buddhapatriot”,  a charter MOB member, sent me a poem the other day.

“Community Organizers” in Mongol-run China

It’s from a post he wrote a couple years back:

Last year the edict forbidding us to ride horseback;
This year another edict saying we cannot carry a bow.
Yet we still hear about all those robbers who by the light of day
Ride their horses and shoot people on the empire’s highway.

Technology aside, it looks like it could have been written by anyone in Chicago, slaving away under a de facto gun ban as hoodlums shoot up his neighborhood.  It could even have been Otis McDonald himself.

But it was written in China, under Mongol occupation, in the 1300s.

Some things never change.

Numbers:  When America was founded, there was really no such thing as a municipal police force.  County sheriffs – with their strictly limited powers, and their volunteer posses – were often days away if trouble sprang up.

And yet crime in America, as a general rule, was exceptionally low.

Murder Rates Since 1900

That changed, somewhere along the way, of course.  About 100 years go, a variety of factors – urban crime, Prohibition and the concomitant explosion in organized crime and turf-protection murders – and then the War on Drugs and the 1968 Gun Control Act all correlated with massive surges in criminal homicide.

Do It Yourself:  Real Americans have always had an organic sense of law-enforcement; civic responsibility is part and parcel of participatory democracy.

And it’s by no means a given everywhere in the world.  Attitudes of civilians and citizens toward “law enforcement” vary widely, even wildly, around the world – and for good reason, since “enforcing the laws” (or engaging in a sham version of it) is often accompanied by brutal tactics, unaccountable power, and stunning, stunting corruption.  Worse than Chicago, even.

Even in “democracies”, the role of the citizen versus “law enforcement” is sometimes – for lack of a better term – brain-damaged.

As, indeed, it was in the United States.  At the nadir of the gun debate in the late seventies and early eighties, as major cities were enacting de facto or de jure gun bans, the individual right to self-defense was very much on the ropes.

I remember reading advice to people living in major cities in the seventies, urging people to carry a “mugging” wallet, with a little money – not too much to break you, not so little that the mugger would get angry – to give to muggers when you got stuck up. It was an abdication of our streets to our criminals – the smarter among us knew it.

Some New Yorkers are nostalgic for the Lindsay and Dinkins years. I suspect they may be the type of people who look forward to colonoscopies and tax audits.

And at the very nadir of that awful period came Bernard Goetz – who, sick and tired of the regular mugging, carried a gun.  It was against the law, of course – unless you had the political clout to get a carry permit, which many media and business figures did for the asking.

But not Goetz.  The humble electrical engineer, mugged one time too many, shot his way out of a jam in the New York subway in 1984.

The police arrested him, and New York’s pencil-necked, pasty, pusillanimous prosecutors, operating at the behest of an administration that figured armed criminals was better than safe people, prosecuted Goetz to the fullest extent of the law.

And a funny thing happened; America – even New York City’s cowed, pseudo-European subjects – feted Goetz as a folk hero.  Oh, the establishment media reviled Goetz, of course; What’ll happen if regular schnooks kill all the criminals, they gasped.

But Real America looked at Goetz, I think, and they saw…

…themselves.

In the early eighties, at the nadir of the American right to keep and bear arms, and the peak of the urban crime wave that only started to break 20 years ago, it was very easy to identify with Goetz; robbed over and over, first by street thugs, and then by thugs with law degrees or working for newspapers, Goetz’ situation reflected a lot of peoples’ fears – and his response sparked a lot of imaginations.

It may be uncaused correlation, a complete coincidence, that on the day Bernard Goetz shot his muggers, exactly eight states had “shall issue” laws, requiring states to prove one should not have a permit to carry a firearm;  by 1990, it was 15; by the 10th anniversary of his trial, 20; today, 42 of the fifty states have either “Shall Issue” or “Constitutional Carry”.

Was Bernard Goetz the cause celebre that led, slowly and circuitously, to the state we’re in today, with Real Americans in the ascendant?

I like to think they’re related.  Prove me wrong.

Beyond The Stats:  The statistics of civilian gun ownership in combating crime have been part of the diet on this blog since Day 1` – literally.

But beyond the numbers and the charts and the books?

Americans (of Korean descent) protecting their property and lives during the LA Riots. If this doesn’t make you proud to be an American, then you need both heart and brain transplants.

There might be people in this country who don’t crack a smile when a typical schnook with a gun saves dozens of lives; whose step doesn’t quicken when the little woman with the kids repels the big bad robber; whose hearts don’t well up with pride when regular American schnooks seize order from disorder, as Los Angeles’ Korean shopkeepers did during the 1992 riots; They might exist.

But they’re not my  countrymen.

We are a nation, historically, that treats “keeping order” as a community activity.  And the message is getting out to The People, a majority of whom now believe that civilian carry makes us all safer.

May it ever be so.

That’s why we’re here.

To Sum It Up In A Sentence:   Americans were never intended to be helpless in the face of evil.

This Series:

Why We Fight, Part II: Enemies Foreign And Domestic

In Charles C.W. Cooke’s fantastic piece in National Review last week on the power of emotion in the gun debate, he made an excellent point; facts and statistics aren’t enough.   This series is about making the case not in terms of statistics, but in terms of grabbing you in the freaking liver.

Den Velregulerede Hjemmeværnet:  In 1940, the Nazis conquered Denmark in less time than it takes to play an NFL football game.    One of the flattest, most featureless places in all of Europe, Denmark was a terrible place to try to form a resistance movement; it had no mountains like Norway, Yugoslavia or Greece or southern France; no wooded highlands like Poland; no forests like Russia or Ukraine; not even swamps like Belarus or urban warrens like Warsaw or Paris.  Like the Netherlands, the prospect of guerilla warfare in Denmark was about as appetizing as doing it in North Dakota, only with a tiny fraction of the space.

The foothills of the Stordenbjarl mountains, the most rugged geographic feature in central Denmark. Kidding. It’s a typical lane in rural Denmark. Quick, all you infantrymen out there; there’s an enemy column on the way. What do you do?

And yet the Danes resisted, passively and actively, occasionally to earth-shaking effect.   Fighting against many brutal handicaps, the Danes spawned a ferocious and cunning resistance.

British cavalrymen meeting with Danish resistance fighters near the end of the war.

And at the end of the war, when Denmark’s various constituencies gathered to reconstitute the Danish nation, the men and women who had fought in the Resistance had a seat at the table.

It was more than a token seat, and they weren’t there to make nice; the Resistance was intensely angry at King Christian X for surrendering the nation with only a token fight.  Christian had had his reasons, of course; Denmark was nearly demilitarized in 1940, and had few features other than the water between its islands to stop a modern military; Christian, seeing the foregone conclusion, wanted to spare the Danes the bloodbath that Europe had watched the Poles suffer seven months earlier.

Danish resistance fighters, in action against German holdouts in Copenhagen, 1945.

The former guerillas saw the results; trading freedom for security still left the Danes dispossessed in their own land.

And so when Denmark restructured itself in 1946, it rebuilt its military around four basic branches; the traditional Army, Navy, Air Force…

…and a fourth branch, the Hjemmeværnet, or Home Guard.  The branch specifically traced its roots to the resistance, alone among Europe’s militaries (although infantry regiments in the Netherlands and Belgium  trace their lineages to their various resistance movements).  And among the missions stated in the Home Guard’s charter, other than the obvious stuff about defending the nation from invasion and serving as the nucleus of a guerrilla movement against any future occupiers, was to prevent any future Danish government from betraying the nation and its people.

Mary – the Danish Crown Princess – in Home Guard marksmanship training.

To serve, in short, as a “well-regulated militia” for “the protection of the free state”.

No, they weren’t lifting the Second Amendment; the Hjemmeværnet’s charter existed for purely Danish reasons.   And since the end of the Cold War, that particular proviso in the Hjemmeværnet’s DNA has been shuffled further and further to the back of the political stove.  For the past two decades, that aspect of the Home Guard has gotten less and less emphasis.

But it existed for reasons that resonate with many other societies.

Israel, surrounded and outnumbered 100-1 by people that vowed to drive them into the sea (and most of them still do), has armed nearly every able-bodied member of their population.

Israeli reservists, present and future.

And those citizens are indeed part of a national military, rather than a decentralized “militia” – but a military constituted on the ideal that it’s the citizen’s responsibility to defend the freedom (and, in Israel’s case, sanctuary) they have.  Military service is an intrinsic part of Israeli civic duty.

The Israeli system (as well as that of Singapore and Finland) was borrowed from Switzerland, where most adult men (and since 1972, many women) have kept their service (and non-service) weapons at home, entirely to deter invastion from the nations that surround them.

Swiss beginning their National Service hitch.

They’re on friendly terms today – but 75 years ago, they were not.

Norway has a similar Home Guard – the vast bulk of the strength of Norway’s military.  And while they don’t have the same constitutional internal focus as Denmark’s (Norway’s monarchy escaped the Nazis and fought without cease until liberation), Norway’s post-war constitution not only specifically directed the military to disobey any orders from the monarchy, administration or parliament that would betray Norwegian sovereignty, but the posted the specific provision and directive in every Norwegian military office, barracks and installation until long after the Cold War ended.

Norwegian Home Guard on maneuvers

In other words, each of these nations, and peoples, discovered a few key points about their freedom, independence and sovereignty:

  • It truly is not free.  The Voltairean perfect world does not exist.  Left to their own devices, there are plenty of people and governments in this world who will seize your independence, your freedom, and your lives, to say nothing of your stuff.  None of those things defend themselves; coherent philosophies, brave words and noble intentions certainly don’t do it, or Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark would never have been invaded in 1940!
  • It takes people with guns, when worse comes to worst.  Which is why we have governments.
  • But you can’t always trust your government to defend your freedom; indeed, the historical record of standing militaries actually defending freedom is really bad.  And even when your government isn’t, well, evil, sometimes they make lousy decisions.

Rerun:  Of course, those were things our founding fathers knew 200-odd years ago; that any whiff of Voltairean “ideal state” we managed to wrench from this Hobbsian world would have to be done by non-ideal means; that not only was the permanent government and its military at best an imperfect instrument for ensuring freedom, any government was just a hair-trigger (as it were) from doing just the opposite.

And so in an ugly, awful world, the best guarantor of freedom was, in fact, a people who had the means to not only protect it from external enemies, but ensure their government doesn’t seize it, or just deal it away out of real or imagined expediency.

The Danes learned the hard way what our founding fathers predicted in 1793.

And protecting that legacy is an integral part of the intellectual DNA of every single Real American that fights for the Second Amendment today.

To sum it all up in a sentence: – it’s not about the guns.  It’s about defending our freedom.

This Series:

  • Part I:  “History
  • Part II:  Enemies Foreign and Domestic
  • Part III, Tomorrow:  The Public Good
  • Part IV, Thursday: The Underdog

Why We Fight, Part I: History

In Charles C.W. Cooke’s fantastic piece in National Review last week on the power of emotion in the gun debate, he made an excellent point; facts and statistics aren’t enough.

We Real Americans absolutely crush the gun-grabbers at every turn on the facts and the statistics.

And it shows; the American people are casting off the detritus of decades of leftist, statist propaganda; gun control is now a minority position (and while support for gun control even at the worst was a mile wide and an inch deep, America’s shooters are passionate and committed), and the NRA is more popular than President Obama.

But it goes way beyond facts.

So this week, I’m going to leave statistics aside for a moment, mostly, and focus on the the philosophical, historical, and yes, emotional reasons to support the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Continue reading

It’s The Rights, Stupid!

One of the mixed blessings of being involved with an issue – the human right to self-defense – as long as I have is that every couple of years, I’m treated to the spectacle of a whole new generation of gun-grabbers excitedly making arguments that they just know are going to send the Real Americans scurrying for mama…

…not realizing that they are probably the fourth or fifth generation of gun grabbers I’ve heard use the argument since I started.

“Put a 1000% tax on bullets?  You mean like Patrick Moynihan proposed in the seventies the National Coalition to Ban Handguns talked about in the eighties, and Chris Rock in the nineties?  No, ma’am, that one’s new to me.   Does that also mean that the First Amendment protects speech, but that the government can regulate newsprint, or that it protects freedom to worship, but the government can censor the Bible, the Torah and the Quran?  That the Fourth Amendment says we can be secure in our papers and possessions, but that we need to give the cops a master key to our front door because it’s not made of paper?”

That one’s been pretty beaten down again; it’ll be another generation – 3-5 years, in gun-grabber terms (Heather Martens notwithstanding, although she makes the same “arguments” every generation anyway) before we hear that one.

The other one that pops up every time a new wave of naive proto-statists takes the stage is “the founders never envisioned assault rifles”.  Which might be true – but while everyone from Leonardo DaVinci to James Puckle had designed firearms that were conceptually similar to “assault weapons” by 1789, the founders hadn’t the faintest inkling of lithography, radio, television, the Internet, chat rooms, Craig’s List, megachurches, the supercomputer, the NSA, electronic surveillance, photo-cops, photography itself, the electric chair, standing municipal police forces, cradle-to-grave social welfare, the Internal Revenue Service and do you still really want to go there, Ms. “Progressive?”

The point, of course, is one that I also sometimes get so far down in the weeds of the minutiae of the subject that I miss it; the Founders, in their much-greater-wisdom-than-today’s-brand-of-bobbleheads, wrote the Constitution not to guarantee things, but to guarantee broad, unalienable rights.

Charles C. W. Cooke had the reminder I needed:

Because, our contemporary rhetorical habits notwithstanding, the right to keep and bear arms is not so much a right in and of itself as an auxiliary mechanism that protects the real unalienable right underneath: that of self-defense. By placing a prohibition on strict gun control into the Constitution, the Founders did not accidentally insert a matter of quotidian rulemaking into a statement of foundational law; rather, they sought to secure a fundamental liberty whose explicit recognition was the price of the state’s construction. To understand this, I’d venture, is to understand immediately why the people of these United States remain so doggedly attached to their weapons. At bottom, the salient question during any gun-control debate is less “Do you think people should be allowed to have rifles?” and more “Do you think you should be permitted to take care of your own security?”

And to a large – and, at its logical conclusion, disgusting – part of our population, the answer is “isn’t the state’s security more important?”

Which is what we’re fighting, here.

Read Cooke’s entire article.  It’s a good primer for the battles we’ll face in the coming year.