It seems that every time some nut goes on a shooting spree, politicians crank up the tried-and-true gun control argument. The recent Colorado killings gave liberals yet more ammunition (pardon the pun) to threaten our sacred gun rights.
What many politicians seem to have forgotten, if they ever knew to start with, is that our rights come from Almighty God; the government never bestowed them upon us. Therefore, the government can never take them away. Those that do are nothing more than tyrants, pure and simple.
The concept of natural rights was so important that the Anti-Federalists insisted, upon ratifying the new Constitution, that a Bill of Rights be included. The Second Amendment is quite clear: “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.”
Let’s look at two key words in that amendment: “keep” and “bear.” They are both very simple and very direct. “Keep” means to own or possess and “bear” means to carry on your person or, in good ole Mississippi speak, to tote. We not only have a right to own guns but to freely carry them wherever we go, without the permission of the government. The Second Amendment is our gun permit!
Had one citizen been armed in the Aurora, Colorado theater on that fateful night, it is a good bet the death toll would have been lower and the lunatic gunman would have been standing before his father, Satan, rather than sitting in a local jail cell.
But to advocate such a position is to invite harsh liberal condemnation.
Recently, in an interview for the CBS Sunday show, “Face the Nation,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City countered such talk with all-too-familiar liberal talking points. “You know, to arm everybody and have the Wild West all the time is one of the more nonsensical things you can say,” he said. “The bottom line is if we had fewer guns, we would have a lot fewer murders.” I guess in the mind of Bloomberg evil persons would never use knives or baseball bats.
He continued: “Do you really think that you’d be safe if anyone in the audience could pull out a gun and start shooting? I don’t think so.”
But as a historian, I can tell you that Mayor Bloomberg has no clue what he is talking about in regards to the so-called “Wild West.” In those days, law-abiding citizens freely carried guns, with very little actual violence. That’s because much of our perception of history comes from television and the movies. The words “Old West” or “Wild West” would probably conjure up an image from a film, most likely a shootout scene with guns blazing, like the OK Corral. Unfortunately movies have portrayed the era much differently than reality.
Scholars who have studied the period have concluded that violence was much less common than previously thought, with very few documented murders and other vicious crimes. Dodge City, Kansas, of Wyatt Earp fame, had its deadliest year in 1878, with just five murders, and of the five major cattle towns in the Old West, there were just 45 murders from 1870 until 1885, an average of just three a year in all five towns combined!
With so many nasty guns around, why was violence so low? The answer is obvious. It was never a good idea to violently confront someone with a six-shooter strapped to each hip. Would you want to take the risk of robbing and horse-jacking someone traveling through town armed to the teeth? Certainly not!
One historical study came to another startling conclusion: Crime and violence rose as government intervention increased. More laws equaled more crime.
Yet despite cold, hard historical facts, many politicians today believe the answer to the growing crime problem is to pass more laws to strip law-abiding citizens of the right to arm and protect themselves, as if criminals will obey gun control laws. Talk about nonsensical!
But when Mayor Bloomberg travels outside the doors of his blush mansion he has armed guards, as do many politicians, including the President. It’s one of the most blatant forms of political hypocrisy in existence.
One of the best ideas to ensure that politicians look out after the personal well-being of the nation’s citizens, and not just themselves, comes from the late Harry Browne, two-time Libertarian Party presidential nominee, who once said that if he were elected President he would immediately order the disarming of Capitol police officers, who would remain unarmed until Congress repealed all federal laws that restrict a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. If citizens cannot protect themselves, he said, then politicians had no right to such protection.
So we must ask our elected officials: Exactly what part of “shall not be infringed” do you not understand? No government officer, or office seeker, who threatens the gun rights of the American people, deserves to hold any position of power in our constitutional republic.
This column was published in the Laurel Leader Call (Laurel, MS) on Tuesday, August 7, 2012.