"Men must have the right of choice, even to choose wrong, if he shall ever learn to choose right." ~ Josiah Wedgwood
An Open Letter to Philip Baruth
Column by Alex R. Knight III.
Exclusive to STR
Dear Vermont Senate Majority Leader Baruth:
As I was from the very outset a staunch opponent of your proposed ban on “assault-weapon” style firearms and accompanying ammunition magazines with capacities of over 10 rounds, I am glad to see that you have chosen a wiser path and, before such a misguided knee-jerk “we have to do something” course of action was even to go to a conference committee, have chosen to withdraw “S.32” from consideration. This displays not only a return to common sense, but a sense of political self-preservation as well, since you were only in this last election cycle installed into the position you now hold by a small minority of Vermont residents, who currently enjoy the liberty of greater firearms freedoms than any other Americans, and whom you – in all likelihood, quite correctly – thought might take a rather dim view of your actions both now, and two years hence.
That said, it is not so much this last as it is the final paragraph of your accompanying public statement which gives me the most cause for concern. And here I quote:
“To the many responsible gun-owners with whom I’ve communicated over the last several weeks: I’ve heard you. Please hear me when I say that government is not your enemy — we are all alike threatened by the kind of violence we saw in Newtown, violence that is clearly spreading. And all of us are responsible for stopping it. It’s my hope that with this ban set aside, you’ll join more willingly in that effort.”
What is much more foundationally disquieting about this than your (now withdrawn) gun ban, is how you evidently fail to make any connection between violence and government – as if the two were mutually exclusive concepts; indeed, as if one were simply a polar-opposite cure for the other. While the tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut, was clearly unjustified and unprovoked aggression against entirely innocent (and, thanks to Connecticut’s viciously restrictive gun laws, entirely defenseless) human beings, I would like to ask how you make the distinction between this, and the day to day actions of those, such as yourself, who call themselves government?
I think that if you will set aside your ingrained preconceptions for a moment, you will have to arrive at the wholesale conclusion that every action of government – every law, every regulation, every tax, every fine, every ban, etc., ad infinitum, is nothing more than a thinly-veiled threat of violence. Pay and/or obey, or be physically kidnapped and placed in a cage. Resist physically in any way, and if the armed agents cannot manage to otherwise subdue you – assuming they’re even in a mood or frame of mind to do so – you will be killed.
All actions of government – every solitary one of them – boils down to this simple, foundational, and undeniable equation. If that kind of barbaric and entirely unnecessary arrangement does not constitute an “enemy,” then I am left to wonder precisely who or what does.
If you are truly genuine in your desire to stop violence from spreading – indeed, if you consider yourself “responsible for stopping it” -- you will renounce and abandon your governmental position at once, and then publicly explain precisely why you have done so; what chain of unanswerable logic led you to that entirely rational conclusion and undertaking. Absent this, I cannot with any measure of clear conscience consent to “join more willingly” in any effort to curb violence (leastways, not in the manner which you propose), since the vehicle which you have heretofore chosen in that enterprise is not only wholly inadequate to the task of such, but indeed, outright antithetical to that goal.
Now, you may, if you are of such a mind, well ask: What is the alternative? To that end, here is a course of study I highly recommend, and which I will gladly assist you in completing, to the best of my personal ability, and at no cost to yourself other than personal expenditure of time.
I sincerely hope, though by no means do I anticipate with bated breath, that you will take my recommendations and counsel to heart. In closing, I would like to repair to a quote from the late Robert LeFevre: “Government is a disease, masquerading as its own cure.”
Until such time may arrive, I remain peacefully,
Alex R. Knight IIII