EDWARD CLINE: COME UP WITH YOUR HANDS UP!
The massacre of twenty-six individuals at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14th by mentally unstable (and reportedly autistic) Adam Lanza has again pushed the buttons of anti-gun and gun control advocates. Senator Diane Feinstein has promised to introduce more stringent gun sale regulation in Congress the first day of its new session in 2013, while President Barack Obama, exploiting the photo and sound-byte opportunities, went to Newtown to shed his crocodile tears and alluded to “meaningful action” to ban all guns.
The calls for stricter controls on automatic and semi-automatic weapons sound more like the baying of a wolf pack as it closes in on hapless gun-owners and the Second Amendment right to own and bear arms than it does outrage over the crime.
But, what are gun laws, those that permit, and those that prohibit? Such laws are intended to “prevent” individuals from going on shooting sprees.
“Preventive” or “preemptive” law is the legal offspring of Positive Law, which, simply put, is legislation passed to correct perceived social wrongs or inequities. Positive law nullifies natural law, which, in today’s and yesteryear’s context, is based on the requirements for an individual to live as an independent, rational being. The Constitution is based on natural law. The United States has absorbed many tons of positive law in the way of welfare state legislation that has made the Constitution nearly superfluous. Natural law has been under assault for over a century.
Positive law presumes that men cannot be trusted to handle a butter knife – never mind a gun- without harming themselves or others. But if a man murdered or maimed another with a butter knife, then, in today’s disintegrating culture, in which mob rule and demagoguery trump individual rights, there would an outcry against the legal sale and possession of metal butter knives.
Metal butter knives would be replaced by legal mandate with plastic knives – until someone successfully murdered with a plastic knife. Plastic knives would be substituted with paper clips, or credit cards.
Sound ludicrous? Or familiar? Take a look at the warnings one can find on toy packaging, or on Styrofoam coffee cups, or even automobile advertising. These are legal devices adopted to forestall the enactment of positive laws against producers – not that they will protect them against the draconian imposition of, say, EPA regulations.
The only consequence of a butter knife law would be that, because he was not able to easily procure a butter knife with which to attack others, the killer would settle for a tire iron, or an ice pick, or a machete. Virtually any hand-held thing can be used as a weapon. Even a book, or a pair of scissors, or nail clippers. Guns are merely a more efficient means to kill.
Positive law is the law of the welfare state, of assuaging the feelings, envy, and fears of the perceived dispossessed, of providing for assumed entitlements, of subsidizing bitter failures and losers. Positive law is focused on victims and the “needy,” not on individual rights. According to positive law, natural rights are an illusion or are offensive; instead, entitlements and government-granted dispensations are “rights.”
The Second Amendment has been interpreted by liberal judges and leftist writers as an antiquated proviso no longer applicable in our “modern,” “progressive,” and “complex” society. But the Second Amendment was intended to be a safeguard against an intrusive, force-initiating government. That was its chief role. In the Founders’ day – and for over a century after it – using a firearm against marauding Indians or bands of criminals was taken for granted as the unquestionable natural right of citizens. Let us examine the wording of the Amendment that was ratified by the states and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
What is a “well regulated militia”? It can mean two things: A force of armed citizens directed by a state that wishes to remain free; or private militias consisting of armed citizens who wish their state to remain free.
What means “being necessary”? It means that citizens must retain the power of retaliatory force, or otherwise remain helpless against initiated force.
What means “the security of a free state”? A secure free state is one that has won its independence from an invader or from an overbearing, over-reaching central government. (In America today, there are no such “free states,” they have all become de facto departments of the federal government.) But, suppose the free state has been taken over by statists? Then retaliatory force is necessary to return the state to the status of a free one.
What is the “right of the people”? It is the natural right of individuals or organizations of them to defend and preserve their natural rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness in a free state. See the Declaration of Independence.
What means “to keep and bear arms”? It means the right of private citizens to own arms and to use them, when necessary, to defend one’s other liberties against the initiated force of criminals, of gangs of outlaws, or of governments.
What means “shall not be infringed”? This clause does not pertain to criminals. Criminals, unless they are creatures of the state brought into being by fiat laws and prohibitions (such as drug cartels), do not systematically “infringe” on one’s rights. It means that only governments can systematically infringe on one’s liberties, including the right to keep and bear arms, by arbitrary, fiat law.
That is the plain, simple, and literal interpretation of the Second Amendment from the perspective of recognizing and defending the sanctity of individual rights.
Individual rights, however, are now viewed, if not with suspicion, then with outright hostility. This is the inevitable consequence of a welfare state. One man’s right intrudes on another’s “welfare,” and in a welfare state committed to preserving and expanding the number of things it allows or dispenses in terms of welfare, genuine natural rights are gradually and incrementally violated, nullified and obliterated.
AWR Hawkins, in his Breitbart Big Government article on the Second Amendment of December 15th, “The 2nd Amendment is Hard to Change, as Our Founders Intended,” stressed the fact that under the Constitution, a movement to repeal any amendment must originate with the people, not with the government.
The move to propose or repeal can begin with the American people, with a majority of the populations in two thirds of the 50 states voting for the amendment or its repeal. However, even if the people do this, the push to propose or repeal still has to garner two/thirds House, two/thirds Senate, and two/thirds of all 50 state legislatures.
Opposing this safeguard against mob rule and government force is the argument presented by the current champion of mob rule and government force, a man who likes to govern by executive edict and decree: Barack Obama. Speaking at his “let no massacre go to waste” moment in Newtown, Obama growled, in between quivering vowels and syllables,
“We can’t tolerate this anymore….These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change….In the coming weeks I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens … in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this,” he said.
Obama offered no specifics as to what type action he might take or legislation he might seek to address these incidences of violence.
Tragedies? Not mass murder? Tragedies are accidents, or errors of knowledge or action committed by good people. Mass murder is conscious and deliberate. Lanza didn’t go to the Sandy Hook school to commit a “tragedy.” However, Obama’s use of the term “tragedy” serves a useful, collectivist purpose: it connotes a dysfunctional society responsible for the actions of individuals. You, a faceless cipher in society, are responsible for the “tragedy,” and so must endorse stricter gun controls laws, if not a total ban on the private possession of all firearms, whatever their make or caliber. You must help prevent and end these “tragedies.” If you continue to shout about your Second Amendment rights, you must be as unstable and disturbed as Adam Lanza and can’t be trusted with owning a gun, and will be responsible in ex parte for the next “tragedy.” Get it?
“This is our first task, caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged,” Obama asked. “And by that measure, can we truly say that, as a nation, we’re meeting our obligations?”
The president added: “I’ve been reflecting on this the past few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer’s no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.”
In short, you must change. You must submit to the wishes of the White House and Congress and Senator Feinstein and Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, and all the rest of the wolves, and surrender the right to defend yourself against….? Well, that culprit goes unnamed. They’re not suggesting against the likes of the Adam Lanza’s of the world. You must deliver yourself to the mercies of every random nut case who finds a gun and count on the authorities to arrive in time to “prevent” your death. But, then, someone name me a time when the authorities did arrive in time to prevent a single killing in a school, office, or factory.
… [T]he Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it’s been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf, and that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.”
In short, the courts are too slow and cumbersome and tied to procedural niceties to effect any populist legislation. Obama and Congress and his passel of czars are ready and willing to effect “meaningful” change on their own and bypass the courts, in terms of “political and community organizing and activities on the ground” that can create voting blocs that will bring about “redistributive change.”
But the Second Amendment can’t be “redistributed.” It can only be excoriated, scuttled, and scrapped. Then we will live in a “just” society in which mass school killings will have been “prevented” -until the next one. Individuals with criminal intent will by nature flout any and every law to get what they want. That is what being criminal is all about.
It’s too terrible to dwell on the concrete details, which have become far too commonplace. I only note that it was inevitable, and more is on the way.
It’s a terrible fact that when the philosophy of a culture becomes utterly irrational, it infects everything. People become utterly irrational when they come to embrace utterly irrational ideas. I’ve remarked multiple times that the Left has become borderline psychotic, and I mean it….
The effect of irrational ideas infects everyone who subscribes to them. What makes the Left’s ideas so pernicious, especially those of the so-called “post-modern” Left, who are something of the apotheosis of worship in the Cult of Unreason, is the insidious nature of the un-integrated, unreal ideas they advocate — ideas developed ultimately with no regard for reality, but not merely no regard — open, defiant contempt for reality. The ideas they uphold are utterly unintegrated from any rational context by intention, with a brooding leitmotif of loathing for any kind of order to existence, and for any kind of human existence….
The effect of irrational ideas has to ripple down through a culture. Putting aside the vocational aspects, our schools today are dedicated to one proposition: destroying the minds of children. The most successful products of our schools now grow up warped and disfigured mentally, in possession of some knowledge here and there — table scraps for emaciated minds — but largely shriveled mentally, their cortical folds flattened and disfigured by rabid commitments to random eclectic notions bearing no connection at all to reality.
Adam Lanza was a product of modern education. And anyone who has tried to engage a young person in critical thinking is usually astounded by how brainwashed, lobotomized and conformist such people are. They have been turned into the ventriloquist dummies of the Left. It is fruitless to have intelligent conversations, or even “national debates” with them. Their only worlds are in their iPads, TV screens, and video games. Reality doesn’t interest them. Reality is what they want it to be. Teacher said so. They are lost.
Only one politician spoke intelligently on the issue of citizens carrying arms: Texas Representative Louie Gohmert. He was interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox News on December 16th:
The segment with Gohmert began with footage of Eric Holder saying we need to discuss who we are as a nation, talk about the freedom and rights we have, and how they can be used in a responsible way. In other words, he wants to talk about gun control. Rep. Gohmert’s response, which brought up Fast and Furious, was priceless:
“Well I think coming from him that’s really important to note coming from a man who’s in a department that forced the sale of guns to people that would bring about the death of people like Brian Terry and there should be national outrage about Mexicans, our neighbors, 200 or more that have been killed by the guns his department have forced to be sold, so he’s right. And Sen. Durbin is right but the conversation we’ve got to have has got to have everybody open-minded. I mean, we all react emotionally that’s why we’ve all shed tears…”
That was a slap in the faces of Attorney General Holder and Obama. If Obama were truly concerned about “tragedies,” he would have fired Holder long ago and recommended to Congress that he be criminally charged with aiding and abetting murder and massacres. But, that won’t happen.
Wallace then brought up the Aurora movie theater massacre and Gohmert making the argument in its aftermath for more people to carry weapons to prevent a similar situation from happening. Wallace asks: “Do we really want folks in movie theaters, and shopping malls, and schools, armed?
Gohmert responds: “Once we have this actually open dialogue about the situation you find out…every mass killing of more than three people in recent history has been in a place where guns were prohibited, except for one. They choose this place. They know no one will be armed. You know, having been a judge, having reviewed photographs of these horrific scenes and knowing that children have these defensive wounds, gun shots through their arms and hands as they try to protect themselves and hearing the heroic stories of the principal lunging trying to protect…Chris, I wish to God she had had an M4 in her office locked up so when she heard gun fire she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands, but she takes him out, takes his head off before he could kill those precious kids.”
Doubtless Gohmert will be getting a lot of hate mail and hate calls for suggesting that the principal, who died charging Lanza with her bare hands, should’ve been armed with a gun that would have ended Lanza’s real-life Dungeons and Dragons elimination game before more children were murdered.
Then the obligatory question by the media: Why do people need semi-automatic weapons? Wallace says these are weapons created for law enforcement, for the military, but why does the average person need these “weapons of mass destruction”?
Gohmert: “Well, for the reason that George Washington said: A free people should be an armed people. It ensures against the tyranny of the government if they know that the biggest army is the American people, then you don’t have the tyranny that came from King George….”
The White House has set up a “petition” that has received tens of thousands of signatures from people who want him or Congress to “engage” them in “preventing” further “tragedies” by making the Second Amendment a dead letter. They all believe in “preventative” or “preemptive” law. Or Positive Law.
Or the law of an executive and government with unlimited powers to disarm the public for the “public good.” If they get their way, they will have taken one more step closer to authoritarian government, which is but a rung below totalitarian government.
The republic? Neither Obama, nor Congress, nor a big swath of the people, want to keep it.
Edward Cline is the author of the Sparrowhawk novels set in England and Virginia in the pre-Revolutionary period, of several detective and suspense novels, and three collections of his commentaries and columns, all available on Amazon Books. His essays, book reviews, and other articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Journal of Information Ethics and other publications. He is a frequent contributor to Rule of Reason, Family Security Matters, Capitalism Magazine and other Web publications.
Read more: Family Security Matters http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/detail/come-out-with-your-hands-up#ixzz2FaiTKerF
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