Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Roots of Gun Control

Public debate over an issue is always good, but sometimes ignorance steers the conversation off course into the realm of the absurd. This is nowhere more evident than in current discussions about the necessity of gun control. This argument has descended to the idiotic level of whether or not a person has the right to self-defense. The answer to that question is a resounding yes, but the greater question of gun control has much more far-reaching historical and philosophic importance than the petty bickering of our feeble-minded politicians who pander desperately for our votes, and speaks directly to the relationship between the individual and the state. Gun control has never served its proponents who seek to create a risk-free utopian society, as evidenced by every nation that has ever attempted it, including Britain, Australia, and Brazil. To blunt all of life’s edges is simply impossible. People have been victimizing each other since Cain slew Abel, long before the first gun was invented. The true purpose of gun control is, and always has been, the control of a population by a tyrannical authority.

Gun control efforts have been made in America since colonial times, but the original stated intent was not some vague notion of crime control. Gun control was originally enacted against all members of the black races, by white landowners, in order to more easily subject them to servitude. In 1680, a law was passed with the title “for preventing Negroes Insurrections”. This law was an outright ban on the ownership by blacks of personal weapons, including guns, swords, clubs, staffs, etc. The elitist class of the south understood full well the truth of Aristotle’s words:

Only an armed people can truly be free. Only an unarmed people can ever be enslaved.”

In addition to being one of the first tools of black suppression and enslavement in America, gun control was also one of the last. The 14th Amendment was adopted in 1868 to stop efforts by southern whites to deny constitutional rights, especially those of the 2nd Amendment, to former slaves and their descendants, efforts which had culminated in the terrible ruling of the United States Supreme Court in the now famous case of Dred Scott v. Sandford. The events which necessitated the passage of the 14th Amendment stand as a testimony that no individual, or group of individuals, including the United States Supreme Court, can be trusted with the power to abridge the rights and liberties of a free, inherently equal, and law abiding people. Ultimate authority must always rest with the people in order that its governance never descends into tyranny.

Thankfully, the march of human history has witnessed a steady shrugging away of tyranny, whether inflicted by chiefs, priests, monarchs, or now our own elected officials who fall sway to the same lust for power as did all previous incarnations of authority. It is the constant burden of the citizen to hold its government in check, and when necessary, “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”. Part of the purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to ensure that Americans will always have the tools necessary to prevent their government from becoming like the one their founders recently fought so hard to be free from. The Chinese government, for example, is well aware of this, and prohibits Chinese citizens from owning any firearms. As Chairman Mao wisely observed,
"All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party."

Can those of you who, like me, have never trusted Bush and his Homeland Security honestly tell me that we need never "keep and bear arms" to keep the government in check?

In the end, there is no gun control issue. A gun is simply a tool which can either be used positively or negatively. Examples of the former use include blacks who protected themselves from Klansmen, women who now protect themselves from rapists, and a people who would shrug off a tyrannical authority. Examples of the latter use may involve the commission of a crime. Any attempt to limit the tools of crime, however, will only result in the criminal taking up some other device, be it a knife, car, airliner, rock, piano wire, blackjack, illegally obtained gun, or the most common and versatile tool ever devised, the human hand. Ultimately, only our own submission to shackles can deprive us of our hands*, and only our own submission to tyranny can deprive us of our guns.

*Obviously I’m being metaphorical here. An accident involving a wood chipper could literally take our hands, but let’s not be puerile.

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