Bearing Arms

'' [F]or once, the Sharp's rifles and revolvers

were employed in a righteous cause. The tools were in the hands of one who could use them.' --Thoreau,

'A Plea for Captain John Brown'

Throughout history, men of conviction have been compelled to resort to the course said to be the last refuge of the incompetent. This 'wisdom' was propounded, however, by an author who seemed to feel in his books that the merging of humanity into a galactic 'super-collective,' in which no one has any individuality from the moment of conception, was a good thing. In his books, also, he promulgated the idea that no individual human life is important, and that the good of the collective must come before all else. Since I cannot agree with his fundamental dicta, I must disagree with his views of what constitutes incompetence, as well.

To me, incompetence is manifest in the dogma of the socialist, that 'enlightened' one whose solution to all ills is a new law, and a lost right. Truthfully, rights are never 'lost,' merely usurped. No better example of this can exist than the current push to disarm the elements of society most in need of the protection of arms. Men who employ arms responsibly in the defense of themselves and their homes embody competence. Those who fear them fall short.

The right of individuals, not enforcement agencies, to own and carry firearms has always existed, for as long as there have been firearms. Before that, the right to carry swords, daggers, poleaxes, or any other implement the individual could afford, existed. Until the United States , however, and the Second Amendment, the State could always, at any time, and for any reason, deprive the citizenry of the means to exercise this right, either by confiscation or regulation.

Today, the battle is couched in the tender phraseology of the putative uber-government, which uses words like 'transparency,' and 'confidence-building,' when referring to the police and military. They speak of building a 'culture of peace,' by which they mean a culture of victims, which only the State may protect. The ultimate goal of this indoctrination is to turn the world's population into either sheep, easily herded, or Tony Martins, easily jailed.[i] Martin's case, in particular, shows the pattern of the denial of the option of lethal force to the populace, and the censure of individualism that accompanies it.[ii] Soon, those who advocate any sort of personal responsibility, or who believe in individual rights over 'human rights,' will similarly be seen as dangerous, subversive, and wrong-thinking.

Recently, I read an account of a resident of Ohio carrying a loaded pistol openly while walking his dog.[iii] Naturally, the police were called by some mewling coward'that is, concerned citizen, even though the man had made no aggressive action or otherwise disturbed the peace. The responding officers (the three it was felt were needed to handle such an obviously volatile situation) initially confiscated the perambulator's weapon, but then, strangely, completely ignored him, going so far as to direct their attention wholly away from him, while they discussed the matter. What required discussion I cannot tell, since under both state and federal law, the man was completely in the right. The piece was returned, though it should never have been taken in the first place, but one of the officers told the citizen to 'practice [his] civil rights another way.' Any other way, I suppose, but this, the most important.

I, myself, have been arrested twice for concealed carry violations. Though, in my ignorance, I plea-bargained in both cases (had I been fully cognizant of the concept of jury nullification, I would certainly have fought), I do not regret my acts, as on the first occasion I carried as a result of a direct threat against my life, and in the second, I worked alone at night in a convenience store close to a less-than-high-class neighborhood. In neither instance was I aggressing against my fellows, nor had I any notion of it. Both times I was informed on, thereby leading to my only real remorse for my acts: that I was so utterly stupid as to tell anyone I went about armed.

What has truly struck me as fascinating is the difference in the behavior of the police in these incidents. During both of my arrests, the officers told me, after finding my weapon, that if I moved further without an order from them, I would be shot. The Ohio case, however, saw the total dismissal of an open carrier as a threat as soon as he was disarmed, and even after he had regained his weapon and reloaded it, he was not regarded as hostile. This reinforces my view that open carry is far better than concealed, both from the practical standpoint (not fumbling under a coat, being able to wear a proper gun belt, etc.) and from the perceptual, i.e., that a man carrying openly wants you to know he is armed, and therefore likely harbors no idea of unprovoked violence. One could counter-argue that a man who has no gun needs no gun, but I believe crime statistics will refute this point readily. I do not seek here to give a statistical defense of personal armament, as it is unnecessary. The fact of unprovoked trespass is the only justification for disarming anyone, and any other view is the bleat of socialism.

'Reasonable' regulation of arms has long been a refrain of social planners, from the early days of the New Deal to date. This 'reasonable' string of increasingly suffocating laws has served only the decay of the self-reliant individual, along with the concurrent undermining of the notion that one must protect oneself from hazard (or not, as one chooses), rather than being obliged by the coercive State. Laws requiring seat belts in automobiles and helmets on motorcycles are excellent examples of the insidious, multi-front assault on personal freedom. The fact that they are justified by the cry of expense to the taxpayer in the form of medical expense to the State is a delicious piece of sophistry, since the solution is seen not in the sensible abandonment of socialized medicine, but in attempting to force individuals to not get themselves as badly injured as they otherwise might be. What isn't mentioned is the filling of the State's coffers with the fruits of these flatly unjust laws. When a socialist says the police must be more 'proactive,' the wise man hears 'oppressive.'

The fundamental principle behind civilian disarmament is not the protection of the populace from one another, and never has been. The idea that all firearms owners are accountable for the actions of the criminal few is on par with the idea that today's taxpayers are responsible for slavery. In both cases, individuals who had nothing to do with an act or acts are penalized for the doings of others. Just as a taxpayer is deprived of his income, which he could probably put to better use, to atone for the alleged crimes of long-dead men, so is the upright man of arms deprived of his means of self-defense and of the ultimate method of 'redress of grievance' against the State. The State fears the intelligent, independent, armed man, and when the State is afraid, people will die.

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Patrick B. Yancey's picture
Columns on STR: 14

Patrick B. Yancey  is not sure exactly what is going on most of the time, and is completely oblivious for the rest of it.