Archive for the 'Featured' Category



Welcome To Amerika!

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 4 months ago

The Obama administration is planning never before seen intrusions into the private affairs of U.S. citizens.

The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters.

This will split our fiber backbone signals and dump every 1 and 0 that transverses it into government computers.  Every detail of life of all citizens is now subject to inspection and assessment by government overlords who can and will make decisions as to so-called “terrorist activity,” which could be al Qaeda or perhaps unorganized militia who prepare for any threat against the U.S., foreign or domestic.

This knowledge should be coupled with another stunning intrusion into our God-given rights we learned about today.  Bob Owens has a report for us.

Chuck Schumer’s S. 374, the Orwellian “Protecting Responsible Gun Sellers Act of 2013,” has been an empty shell… until he slipped in Amendment ALB13180 (PDF) today, which shows the “teeth” of the bill.  It is an extremely aggressive attempt to destroy the Second Amendment by isolating and criminalizing extremely common behaviors among gun owners.

Doubt me?

Take a looking at a sampling of what it Sebastian notes it would outlaw:

  • If you leave home for more than 7 days and leave anyone at home, that becomes a felony illegal transfer. 5 years in prison for each of you.
  • if you take a friend shooting and allow him to fire your gun, that is a felony illegal transfer. 5 years in prison for each of you.
  • If you have a gun lost or stolen and don’t report it within 24 hours, you’ve committed a felony. 5 years in prison.
  • If you lend a gun to someone for to try out at the range, provide a loaner for a student in training, let your son shoot a rifle you purchased while hunting, or provide a gun to a woman for self-defense, you’ve committed a felony. 5 years in prison for each of you.

Bob ends his assessment with the following almost desperate interdiction.

It’s inching closer.

May God have mercy on us all.

See also reaction at WRSA.  It’s possible, of course, to forestall such an eventuality, even if unlikely.  For example, the states who are currently considering or have passed laws against enforcement of federal gun laws could actually take their state laws seriously.

If such a federal law were to pass, a state could decide to confiscate and immediately destroy all form 4473s in all FFLs in their state, and warn FFLs to contact state police if any ATF agents enter their premises.  State police could arrest any federal agents who attempted to enforce federal gun laws and place them into the general prisoner population in state penitentiaries.  Threats to arrest state police or stop these actions could be met with National Guard troops to further effectuate the arrest of federal agents and enforce a cease and desist action to all federal employees, including federal judges who moved against such actions.

But this would have to happen all across the nation for it to be effective, and I find it unlikely that a governor would take these actions, regardless of the posturing that we currently see by the states.  The concept of States’ rights has fallen too hard and too far, and federalism has lost its appeal in the U.S.

Short of something like this, I am becoming increasingly pessimistic about a possible recovery of our national character.  When the people demand cradle to grave security and overwatch, the state responds with cradle to grave demand for omniscience for itself and cradle to grave compliance by the people.  It’s a deal with the devil for our soul, and America has made it a long time ago.

If this sounds judgmental, then I plead guilty.  Based on religious doctrine, which the epistemologists might call strongly held truth value, or incorrigible beliefs, I hold that gun control is evil.

The Bible does contain a few direct references to weapons control. There were many times throughout Israel’s history that it rebelled against God (in fact, it happened all the time). To mock His people back into submission to His Law, the Lord would often use wicked neighbors to punish Israel’s rebellion. Most notable were the Philistines and the Babylonians. 1 Samuel 13:19-22 relates the story: “Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!” So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plowshares, mattocks, axes, and sickles sharpened…So on the day of battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in this hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.” Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon also removed all of the craftsmen from Israel during the Babylonian captivity (2 Kings 24:14). Both of these administrations were considered exceedingly wicked including their acts of weapons control.

Gun control is like control over everything else.  The key word here is control.  It is at one and the same time a function of wicked rulers and a benchmark, or barometer or gauge, to measure their wickedness.  God doesn’t cede or relinquish rule over His creation for mankind, and totalitarian governance usurps the authority He demands over the actions of mankind.  God will not be mocked – He does the mocking.

God sits in the heavens and laughs and scoffs at the designs of man (Psalm 2:4).  Here is a warning to totalitarian rulers.  “Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way.”  Judgment will come, here or in the hereafter, and perhaps sooner and more unexpectedly than you think.

The only explanation for Senator Schumer’s totalitarian dictates is that he believes that Americans will go along with it.  To be sure, there are many who will … who will take measure of the situation and decide that they value peace and security over measurements of right and wrong.

But there are many who will not go along with such laws.  They will not allow themselves or their children or their friends or loved ones to be imprisoned for failing to take their weapons to a public armory when they go on trips, or loaning a rifle to their son to learn to shoot at the range.

We have covered this ground before.  Bob reacted the way he did because he understands in a way that the totalitarians and wicked rulers in Washington do not.  These measures will not stand.  They will fall, one way or the other.

Will our wicked rulers turn back before it’s too late?  Only God knows, but only time will tell us.  Here is a final warning: do not cross lines from which there is no return.

In the mean time, this isn’t your father’s country.  Welcome to Amerika!

UPDATE: Thanks to David Codrea for the attention.

Surviving The Apocalypse: Thinking Strategically Rather Than Tactically

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 4 months ago

In this article I have three objectives.  First I want to discuss what would happen to a lone wolf fighter if he tried to be effective without aid and assistance.  Next, I want to distinguish between thinking tactically and strategically concerning survival.  Finally, I want to describe things that might catalyze the need to invoke such plans, from rogue, illegitimate groups to patriots who will not relinquish their second amendment rights, regardless of the consequences.

In Tactical Considerations For The Lone Wolf we saw how good tacticians can provide broad outlines for tactics, equipment and knowledge of procedures for small unit maneuver, and can enable a lone wolf fighter to be effective for a short period of time.  But I said, and still hold true, that this is a bad paradigm for operations, and represents tactical rather than strategic thinking.

The lone wolf fighter faces a daunting set of problems.  From a small child, between riding and training horses, working, camping, hiking, shooting and hunting, I have spent thousands of days and nights in the wilderness.  I have experienced some or a lot of what I am going to describe, and seen others experience the balance of it (or in extreme cases, I simply know of people to whom this has happened or know that it can happen).

Within a couple of days of being in the wilderness, your personal stench is merely disgusting.  By the end of the first week, the putrid, toxic paste that develops around the groins of men becomes a risk to health and safety and can cause serious diseases.  Within another week your feet develop a cocktail of fungal infections, and within another week the skin begins to fall off of them.

Around this time sores develop across your entire body, and the clothing you wear and carry, from underwear to socks, to pants and shirts, to boots and sleeping bags, is fit for nothing but putting into a pit and burning.  Listen carefully.  You cannot carry enough baby wipes to prevent this process from occurring.  You can only slow it down.

In the winter, the cold will sap the energy and even the life out of your body.  It is even difficult to maintain proper hygiene in harsh weather like this.  I have been backpacking in such cold weather than my toothbrush froze into a solid block of ice between the time I pulled it out of the river and the time it reached my mouth.  Without proper dental hygiene, various dental diseases can develop, and these can be debilitating to anyone, much less someone in the wilderness.

In the heat the problems only multiply.  Dehydration is a constant concern, and the time it takes to boil water is precious, if you are able to get a fire going or carry an isobutane canister.  Rarely, there is a Godsend like fresh, naturally-filtered water.

Our Nalgene bottles are sitting under moss at the bottom of a steep rock face collecting potable water.  My 80 pound Doberman Heidi is drinking.  I almost lost her that weekend at Jones Gap.  She almost went down a waterfall, and my son Josh managed to catch her collar with his trekking pole.

I have also been backpacking in such a downpour that nothing would burn, and it would have taken a gallon of gasoline to achieve a fire that lasted for longer than ten minutes.  Assuming that you can find a potable water supply at all times, food presents yet another problem.  You simply cannot carry enough freeze dried food to meet your needs.  There are no Gunny Sergeants ordering up coffee in the morning and rations all day as long as you are in the field doing training.  There is no training.  This will be for real.  The lack of food energy is debilitating, and eventually deadly.

In the summer heat, there are snakes.  I have been bitten by a Copperhead before, as has my dog.  A Rattlesnake bite almost always involves loss of limbs, and in the field without medical attention, would be deadly.

My XDm .45, Ka-Bar folder, sleeping bag and one man tent.  The tent is barely big enough for Heidi and me.  I probably need a good, small two-man tent.

Ticks bring tick-borne diseases, and they can be deadly.  After every summer backpacking trip, I and my sons strip and search each other for ticks (or I have my wife do it, but it must be done soon from the field).  Lack of a partner to perform this inspection can be deadly.  Eventually without showers, washing, and proper hygiene, the body can get lice or scabies.  Without Ivermectin this is untreatable in the wilderness.  Marines will routinely shave their entire bodies of hair before deployment in order to avoid lice, but without this possibility in the wilderness in the absence of water and other sanitation, lice will be hard to avoid.

There are the very rare cases of those who become beached on a deserted island and live long enough to tell their story, or survive on the open ocean by drinking turtle blood.  But in the main, you simply cannot last for long as a lone wolf fighter, and if you think so, you’re delusional and like to nurture fantasies.  You can stay out for several days, but eventually you and your family must ensconce somewhere.  It might be in your neighborhood, it might be in the mountains or wilderness somewhere else, or it might be with multiple families.  But you cannot stay lone wolf for long.

In Tactical Considerations For The Lone Wolf we discussed standing down a SWAT team on your front porch, ready to breech.  This is a highly controversial issue, and there are those who will perish defending their second amendment rights, or more correctly, God-given rights.  They will choose to perish in their own home during an armed standoff with governmental forces.

But it must be remembered that those who advocate such measures are thinking tactically.  The SWAT team is also thinking tactically.  But the SWAT team reports to supervisors, and those supervisors report to managers, and they are all thinking strategically.  A thousands deaths at the hands of SWAT teams means only one thing.  Losses.  That is a losing strategy.

I’m not advocating against this sort of approach, so much as I’m observing reality.  I’m not saying that it should not happen this way, so much as I’m saying that it won’t happen this way.  The first bloody corpse dragged from a home invasion by government forces hunting for firearms will be the occasion for some deep soul searching by millions of firearms owners across the country.  This may happen sooner, when confiscatory plans are announced.

Americans are generally very adaptable.  Turning for a moment to a warning I had about foreign terrorists in the country, I observed that there are deep vulnerabilities in our infrastructure.

The most vulnerable structure, system or component for large scale coal plants is the main step up transformer – that component that handles electricity at 230 or 500 kV.  They are one of a kind components, and no two are exactly alike.  They are so huge and so heavy that they must be transported to the site via special designed rail cars intended only for them, and only about three of these exist in the U.S.

They are no longer fabricated in the U.S., much the same as other large scale steel fabrication.  It’s manufacture has primarily gone overseas.  These step up transformers must be ordered years in advance of their installation.  Some utilities are part of a consortium to keep one of these transformers available for multiple coal units, hoping that more will not be needed at any one time.  In industrial engineering terms, the warehouse min-max for these components is a fine line.

On any given day with the right timing, several well trained, dedicated, well armed fighters would be able to force their way on to utility property, fire missiles or lay explosives at the transformer, destroy it, and perhaps even go to the next given the security for coal plants.  Next in line along the transmission system are other important transformers, not as important as the main step up transformers, but still important, that would also be vulnerable to attack.  With the transmission system in chaos and completely isolated due to protective relaying, and with the coal units that supply the majority of the electricity to the nation incapable of providing that power for years due to the wait for step up transformers, whole cites, heavy industry, and homes and businesses would be left in the dark for a protracted period of time, all over the nation.

Bob Owens takes this down the grid to the next components.

They don’t understand asymmetrical warfare in the slightest, much less how it would be waged here. Let me give you just one small example of how a lone wolves or small teams can strike well beyond their size against a near defenseless leviathan.

After the Dot Com bubble burst in the early 2000s, I took a job in upstate New York for a subcontractor of Central Hudson Gas and Electric. I was part of a crew sent out to map electrical transmission line power poles and towers via GPS, check the tower footings for integrity, check the best routes for access, etc.

It meant I rode quads (ATVs) through mountains, swamps, forests, neighborhoods and farms all over southern New York, in winter’s icy chill and blowing snow, and in summer’s melting heat. It was exhausting work, often in beautiful scenery.

We probably averaged 20 miles of line a day, and that over the course of the contract I easily rode a thousand miles. I can tell you stories of flipping quads, sinking quads, going down a mountain without brakes, almost hitting deer at top speed, and parking on the remains of an electrocuted bear, but that isn’t really what I remember most about the job.

No, what I remember most about the job were the days we spent up near the Rondout Reservoir. What I remember in specific was discovering how powerless the government was to protect key utilities.

[ ... ]

Substations like the one above could be accessed not just from surface roads, but from access trails under the power lines by people with UTVs, ATVs, and motorcycles.

Just like the residential transformers in your neighborhood, the transformers in substations are cooled with a form of mineral oil. If someone decides to blast a transformer at its base as prepper Bryan Smith did, and the oil drains out, then the transformer either burns out catastrophically, or if the utility is lucky, a software routine notices the problem and shuts the substation (or at least the affected portion) down. The power must then be rerouted through the remaining grid until that transformer can be replaced and any other resulting damage can be repaired.

Were an angry group of disenfranchised citizens to target in a strategic manner the substations leading to a city or geographic area—say, Albany, for example—they could put the area in the dark for as long as it took to bring the substations back online. Were they committed enough, and spread their attacks out over a wide enough area, perhaps mixing in a few tens of dozens of the residential transformers found every few hundred yards along city streets, they could overwhelm the utility companies ability to repair the damage being caused or law enforcement’s ability to stop them. The government could perhaps assign a soldier or cop for every transformer, substation and switch, but they’d run out of men long before they ran out of things they need guarded.

It’s even more vulnerable than Bob hints.  The utilities in America don’t belong to the government (except for TVA), and the government isn’t duty bound to protect them.  They are private assets.  Even if the government could protect those assets (and they can’t), they wouldn’t.

If the DHS had a trillion rounds of .40 pistol ammunition it wouldn’t matter.  With America in the dark for two years, confiscation of weapons would be the last thing on the minds of law enforcement (that is, the LEOs who left their families alone and without protection in order to come to work).

And there you go.  Smart New Yorkers who don’t want to watch their friends perish on their doorsteps might choose to act strategically rather than tactically.  And that brings in a whole host of issues that need our attention.

When such a scenario occurs, are you prepared?  Do you have a place to ensconce your family?  Do you have the weapons and ammunition that you need?  Do you have means to make potable water?  Do you have freeze dried and canned food?  Do you have means to generate power when you need to, to plant seeds for crops, or provide covering and clothing to stay warm?  Are you allied with like-minded families who will assist each other in dealing with a scenario like this?

The questions run deeper than you think.  I sat across from the dinner table with a very dear friend of many years a few days ago, and heard him lament the fact that they hadn’t been able to afford to purchase firearms for family protection.  This family operates on a thin budget.

My thinking began: “Do I give him my .45, no, that’s my premier personal defense weapon … do I give him my .40, no, I have that one because it’s the same caliber as Josh’s gun … do I give him my .357 wheel gun, no, that’s the best CQB weapon ever invented my mankind … I cannot give him my rifles … ” and so on, and so forth.

Should I go buy a relatively inexpensive polymer frame semi-auto handgun and some ammunition in order to be able to assist friends and loved ones in their time of need?  We need to think through these issues.  Are you a diabetic?  Do you have the insulin you need for a protracted period of time?  Are there other medications you need?

And it might not take firearm confiscation to pull off catalyzing a scenario such as this.  Mr. Obama has created an America that is as bifurcated as it has been in more than 100 years.  More than 40 million people are on food stamps.  This roll is growing at more than 11,000 per day.  We owe so many trillions in unfunded liabilities that we will never be able to meet our commitments.

Ben Bernanke, the most notorious Keynesian economist in history, has clearly said that his printing money like he was drunk will not recover employment.  Translation: Keynesian economics is failing, and I am admitting it to the Senate today.  Yet I will keep doing what I’m doing.

Even states that think they are rejecting Obamacare because of opting out of the plan aren’t really opting out.  I know these things because my daughter is a Nurse and lives in this world.  She knows that the smaller hospitals will cease to exist.  They will be driven out of business.

The larger ones will stay in business, but they will bear the brunt of the penalties.  The penalties that America doesn’t yet know about involve penalties for treating and releasing homeless people, only to have to re-admit them later, or any of a large group of things that cause the hospital to have to pay the federal government money.  Obamacare will get its way, and we will all pay the price for it even if we opt out of participation.  States have no say-so, regardless of what the talking heads are telling you.

If you think that the austerity measures in Greece caused a backlash, wait until we implement them in America.  And we will, after hyperinflation hits, price controls are put into place, the supply of goods dries up and your money is worthless.  Gangs will roam the streets looking for anything they can take, the elderly may as well have targets on their backs, and the apocalypse will be upon us.  The government won’t be able to do anything about it.  The government will have caused it.

Are you ready?  Have you thought through the salient questions?  I haven’t thought through all of them either, and we all have some soul-searching to do.

As always, everything I have said in this article has been for educational purposes only.

UPDATE: Thanks to David Codrea for the attention.

UPDATE #2: Thanks to Western Rifle Shooters Association for the attention.  Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention.

Firearms Manufacturers Boycott Anti-Gun States

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 5 months ago

In Gun Companies Holding The States Accountable we discussed a two pronged approach to addressing the anti-gun legislation that is brewing in certain states, New York, Illinois and Colorado being three key locations. The first of the two prongs involves a refusal to sell to law enforcement when the weapons being sought are prohibited to non-law enforcement.  At the time, LaRue Tactical, Olympic Arms, Templar Custom and Extreme Firepower had enacted policies against selling to law enforcement in New York. The second prong involved the courtship of firearms manufacturers to move to more gun friendly states.  I have mentioned that Remington Arms, Rock River Arms, Springfield Armory and Kimber were prime candidates for this courtship, and I had made a special plea for Remington to relocate to South Carolina along with other firearms industries to move to the South in general. Since publication of these articles there have been other firearms manufacturers who have joined the boycott of New York law enforcement.  Joining the expanding group are the following companies.

Barrett Arms has also joined the group, issuing the following statement.

Barrett’s Position Regarding the Assault on Liberty February 20, 2013 Barrett opposes those who are illegally disarming the American public from their efficient arms and creating superior armed elitist government agencies. Elected state officials of New York, having been sworn to protect our Constitution, have instead committed an offense against it and their citizens by stripping inalienable rights duly protected and guaranteed under the Second Amendment. By their deliberate and sinister actions, these officials now cause their state and local policing agencies to enforce these unconstitutional and illegal so called “laws”. By current law, Barrett cannot be an accomplice with any lawbreaker, therefore, cannot and will not service or sell to New York government agencies. Barrett also applies this stance to the individual elected official who, as a matter of public record, has voted for or created regulation that violates the constitutional rights of their citizens. This is an expansion of our 2002 ban against the California government due to their second amendment infringements, and shall apply to any future violators.

Additionally, the states are lining up to court firearms manufacturers.  South Carolina wants Remington and is telling them so.  Magpul has threatened to leave Colorado if the law is passed prohibiting the very magazines (PMAGs) made in their factories.  Alabama is recruiting Magpul, along with Texas, and Oklahoma is in competition with South Carolina in its quest for Remington. New York Governor Cuomo has stated that “There is no shortage of responsible venders who would want to assist New York’s law enforcement agencies keep New Yorkers safe.”  Perhaps there are still those who will supply firearms and firearms parts and accessories to New York law enforcement.  Colt is still smarting from losing the M4 contract with the Army. But the list of non-participants is dwindling rapidly, and it is best for reputable firearms manufacturers to make their decision sooner rather than later.

I had previously mentioned that I had sent notes to Smith and Wesson, Rock River Arms, Remington, Glock, Sig Sauer, Springfield Armory and Kimber asking for their official position on selling to law enforcement in states that have anti-gun policies.  I have received no response from these companies. Making decisions of this kind are major events in the life of a company.  Relinquishing revenue is serious stuff, and decisions like that are usually made at the board of directors level.  On the other hand, gun companies who lead the pack are also usually rewarded in the American civilian market, and this market is far more valuable than law enforcement or even military. Pressure on these companies is appropriate, and they need to hear from you concerning the totalitarian measures being taken in anti-gun states.  Who will be the first really large firearms company to refuse to sell to these states?  Once this first domino falls, the rest will follow.

UPDATE #1: Michelle Malkin has an article up focusing mainly on manufacturing aspects of this issue, although also briefly discussing the boycott of anti-gun states.  She has good information that complements my own.

UPDATE #2: reddit/guns has the most comprehensive list of companies to date that are participating in the boycott.

LaRue Tactical 2-8-13 Head Down Products 2-20-13
Extreme Firepower Inc, LLC (Per EFI, policy is several years old) Bravo Company USA 2-20-13
Tier One Arms 1-15-13 Exile Machine 2-20-13
Olympic Arms 2-12-13 Barrett 2-20-13
One Source Tactical 2-13-13 Crusader Weaponry 2-21-13
Templar Custom 2-13-13 Top Gun Supply 2-21-13
York Arms 2-13-13 Kiss Tactical 2-21-13
Cheaper Than Dirt 2-15-13 Nemo Arms 2-21-13
Bullwater Enterprises 2-16-13 Clark Fork Tactical 2-22-13
West Fork Armory 2-16-13 Old Grouch’s Military Surplus 1-16-13
OFA Tactical 2-17-13 Big Horn Armory 2-22-13
Smith Enterprise 2-17-13 MidwayUSA 2-22-13
Alex Arms 2-17-13 CMMG 2-22-13
Trident Armory 2-17-13 Rocky Top Tactical 2-22-13
Spike’s Tactical 2-18-13 Ace Ltd. 2-20-13
Quality Arms Idaho 2-19-13 Norton Firearms 2-22-13
Liberty Suppressors 2-19-13
Doublestar Corp 2-19-13
American Spirit Arms 2-19-13
J&G Sales 2-20-13

Courtesy of NC Gun Blog and refusetosell.org.  It is still necessary for the large companies to participate.  Reddit/guns has a list of e-mail addresses to whom you can write.

UPDATE #3: David Codrea has some salient thoughts.  “I’m reminded of “Braveheart,” where the titled and propertied lairds cut their own deals with Longshanks and withdrew from the field, leaving the freedom fighters to take all the risks and suffer all the losses. It’s past time the entire industry was put on notice and then held accountable for any cowardice in this time of threat on all fronts.”

UPDATE #4: Thanks to Ron for the link at reddit/guns.

Mental Health Checks Are Not The Answer To Gun Violence

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 5 months ago

The current focus by the politicians in their quest for social and human factors solutions to gun violence appears to be two-fold.  First, there is a call for universal background checks.  Even the NRA has indicated potential approval of this approach (while there is still vacillation and equivocation within the ranks of the NRA on this issue).  While this is tempting, it won’t solve any problems, and instead it will lead to a national gun registry.

But if there is vacillation on the issue of universal background checks, there appears to be growing consistency in the call for more intrusive and comprehensive mental health checks for firearms ownership.  Progressive and conservative alike, from politician to random interviewee on the street, casting aspersions on mentally troubled people and pointing to mental health screenings as the problem and solution, respectively, is the one area of agreement.

Walter Russell Mead weighs in in the affirmative on this problem – solution coupling:

Love it or loathe it, legislative gun control is unlikely to have much impact on violence American style. But there is another door to progress: taking care of America’s mentally ill. The good people at Mother Jones recently compiled a study, revealing that of the 62 mass shootings since 1982, 38 were carried out by a person suffering from mental illness (mostly men). Most had displayed signs of paranoia, depression, and other issues with mental health well before reaching for a weapon.

While most of the gun violence in America is committed by the clinically sane, the most horrific massacres are often the work of deranged people whose problems had come to the attention of family, neighbors or work associates.

I have shared before that I have a concealed handgun permit in my county, and in order to get permitted like this, one of the requirements is to sign over authority to examine your medical records to the county Sheriff.  Any admissions to one of five or six regional hospitals for mental health or substance abuse issues would have been reason to have denied my permit.  But I have often wondered, what if I had a recorded admission for some matter in one of the above two categories?  What would that have proven?  Little to nothing, as we will see.

What about the logical contraposition?  I am in a fitness for duty program because I have unescorted access to nuclear power plants.  Does that make me mentally stable?  How about law enforcement officers, since they are in a similar kind of program?  Anecdotal cases demonstrate problems.

Reports of Metro Police Lt. Hans Walters underscore the mental health component of the current gun control debate. Walters shot and killed his wife, a former police officer, and his son and then set fire to their Boulder City home before taking his own life.

Most would agree police departments conduct exhaustive background checks, screening tests, training and safety procedures before authorizing officers to carry and deploy a number of firearms. Yet a former colleague comments to the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Walters “didn’t seem out of the ordinary at all,” adding that “Cops are pretty intuitive. They can tell when something’s wrong with someone. He seemed totally fine.”

Beyond the anecdotal level, there are problems with diagnosis and with the very nature of psychology.  One clinician weighs in this way.

Clinicians treating patients hear their fears, anger, sadness, fantasies and hopes, in a protected space of privacy and confidentiality, which is guaranteed by federal and state laws. Mental health professionals are legally obligated to break this confidentiality when a patient “threatens violence to self or others.” But clinicians rarely report unless the threat is immediate, clear and overt.

Mental health professionals understand that, despite our intimate knowledge of the thoughts of our patients, we are not very good at predicting what people will do. Our knowledge is always incomplete and conditional, and we do not have the methods to objectively predict future behavior. Tendencies, yes; specific actions, no. To think that we can read a person’s brain the way a scanner in airport security is used to detect weapons is a gross misunderstanding of psychological science, and very far from the nuanced but uncertain grasp clinicians have on patients’ state of mind.

What about diagnoses?

If mental health professionals were required to report severe mental illness (such as paranoid schizophrenia) to state authorities, it would have an immediate chilling effect on the willingness of people to disclose sensitive information, and would discourage many people from seeking treatment. What about depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse or post-traumatic stress disorder, along with other types of mental illness that have some link to self-harm and impulsive action? The scope of disclosure that the government could legally compel might end up very wide, without any real gain in predictive accuracy.

Diagnosis is an inexact and constantly evolving effort, and it is contentious within the profession. To use a diagnosis as the basis of reporting the possibility of violence to the authorities would make the effort of accurate evaluation much more fraught. And what of the families and friends of the mentally ill? Should their weapons purchases be restricted as well? A little reflection shows how unworkable in practice any screening by diagnosis would be.

And more clinicians weigh in similarly:

“We’re not likely to catch very many potentially violent people” with laws like the one in New York, says Barry Rosenfeld, a professor of psychology at Fordham University in The Bronx….

study of experienced psychiatrists at a major urban psychiatric facility found that they were wrong about which patients would become violent about 30 percent of the time.

That’s a much higher error rate than with most medical tests, says Alan Teo, a psychiatrist at the University of Michigan and an author of the study.

One reason even experienced psychiatrists are often wrong is that there are only a few clear signs that a person with a mental illness is likely to act violently, says Steven Hoge, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University. These include a history of violence and a current threat to commit violence….

The next problem is that even if the science was capable of sustaining the load that we want to place it under, it still wouldn’t have the desired effect:

Perhaps most important, although people with serious mental illness have committed a large percentage of high-profile crimes, the mentally ill represent a very small percentage of the perpetrators of violent crime overall. Researchers estimate that if mental illness could be eliminated as a factor in violent crime, the overall rate would be reduced by only 4 percent. That means 96 percent of violent crimes—defined by the FBI as murders, robberies, rapes, and aggravated assaults—are committed by people without any mental-health problems at all. Solutions that focus on reducing crimes by the mentally ill will make only a small dent in the nation’s rate of gun-related murders, ranging from mass killings to shootings that claim a single victim.  It’s not just that the mentally ill represent a minority of the country’s population; it’s also that the overlap between mental illness and violent behavior is poor.

Finally, it isn’t just anecdotal evidence that calls into question the whole notion that mental health professionals can bear the weight of societal violence, or even the warnings of mental health professionals themselves.  Evidence doesn’t substantiate the current emphasis on mental health as the answer.

President Obama has called for stricter federal gun laws to combat recent shooting rampages, but a review of recent state laws by The Washington Times shows no discernible correlation between stricter rules and lower gun-crime rates in the states.

States that ranked high in terms of making records available to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System also tended to have tighter gun laws — but their gun-crime rates ranged widely. The same was true for states that ranked poorly on disclosure and were deemed to have much less stringent gun-possession laws.

For example, New York, even before it approved the strictest gun-control measures in the country last week, was ranked fourth among the states in strength of gun laws by the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, but was also in the top 10 in firearm homicide rates in 2011, according to the FBI.

Meanwhile, North Dakota was near the bottom in its firearm homicide, firearm robbery and firearm assault rates, but also had some of the loosest gun laws and worst compliance with turning over mental health records to the background check system.

[ ... ]

The Times analysis looked at the Brady Campaign’s rankings for strength of each state’s gun laws and at Mayors Against Illegal Guns’ rankings for how states perform in disclosing mental health data to the background check system. That information was then matched against the FBI’s 2011 gun-crime rankings for homicides, robberies and assaults.

The results showed no correlation among the strength of laws and disclosure and the crime rates.

For example, Maryland and New Jersey — both of them populous states with large metropolitan areas — have tight gun laws but poor mental health disclosure. But New Jersey’s gun-crime rate was in the middle of the pack, while Maryland ranked sixth-highest in homicides involving guns and second-highest in robberies with guns.

Delaware and Virginia, which both ranked high in mental health disclosure and ranked 18th and 19th in the Brady tally of tough gun laws, also had divergent crime rates.

Delaware ranked among the top 10 in number of gun robberies and gun assaults, while Virginia was in the middle of the pack on its measures.

My own view is somewhat more pedestrian and pragmatic.  New programs to empower the government rarely avoid abuse, and man’s evil propensities always tend towards totalitarianism and excessive control.  The innocent who get swept up in the mental health screenings and refused means of self defense will be considered the price to pay for government control.  With the right administration, simply wanting means of self defense will be justifiable cause for denying such.

With so little good that can come from this emphasis, coupled with such a large chance for abuse, mental health isn’t the answer that the politicians tout it to be.  As I have previously noted, the common element in the high profile gun violence cases (theater, schools, churches and malls) is that they’re all gun free zones.  Glenn Reynolds points out that this causes a false sense of security.  “Policies making areas “gun free” provide a sense of safety to those who engage in magical thinking, but in practice, of course, killers aren’t stopped by gun-free zones. As always, it’s the honest people — the very ones you want to be armed — who tend to obey the law.”

This is, as it were, the low hanging fruit.  Tackle the easy things and leave the questionable ones behind.

Prior Featured:

What To Expect On Gun Control In The Coming Months

The War To Disarm America

Christians, The Second Amendment And The Duty Of Self Defense

Do We Have A Constitutional Right To Own An AR?

U.N. Arms Treaty: Dreams Of International Gun Control

What To Expect On Gun Control In The Coming Months

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 6 months ago

We’ve discussed it many times, this proposed extended and expanded assault weapons ban proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein.  The new legislation may fail, but the White House has it’s own front in this war on firearms.  But their own propaganda betrays a serious weakness in their approach.

The White House is also developing strategies to navigate the rocky and emotionally fraught terrain of gun politics once final policy decisions are made. The administration is quietly talking with a diverse array of interest groups, including religious leaders, mental-health professionals and hunters, to build as broad a coalition as possible, those involved in the discussions said.

The president is expected to face fierce opposition from the NRA and its allies in Congress, including most Republicans and some Democrats.

But Biden signaled to those involved in the policy discussions that the White House is not afraid of taking on the NRA, the nation’s largest gun rights group. At the Dec. 20 meeting, according to Stanek, when one law enforcement leader suggested focusing on only the most popular proposals, Biden responded: “Look, what I’m asking you for is your candid opinion and ideas about extreme gun violence. Leave the politics to the president. That’s our job with Congress.”

They want to turn hunters against the NRA and modern sporting rifles.  Fat chance.  That didn’t work out so well for David Petzal or Jerry Tsai.  Their plans to divide and conquer the NRA will meet with disastrous results.  Every minute spent on such a tactic is wasted, and thus we have to hope that they expend a lot of energy on it.

But the later part of the strategy, i.e., politics, is far more fearsome and they have proven very adept at that approach.  Gun Owners of American (h/t Mike Vanderboegh) gives us an inside baseball look at the current tactics.  In summary, John McCain is working against gun owners by pressing (along with the Democrats) for a rule change that would essentially be a work-around of the filibuster rule.  Lindsey Graham has vowed to vote against new gun control measures, but since he is McCain’s lap dog, he may be looking for cover as he works silently behind the scenes to assist in Feinstein’s plans.  Joe Manchin has backed off of his public calls for new gun control measures, but he may be playing the same game as McCain and Graham.

Currently in the Senate, Rand Paul is the only immovable champion of second amendment rights.  If new laws pass the Senate, they must also pass the House before going to the President’s desk.  It isn’t clear what the House will do.  If history is any indication, they are in a weakened state, and lack any backbone anyway.

However, the Republicans stand warned.  If – controlling the House of Representatives – they allow new gun control measures to pass to the President’s desk, the GOP will cease to exists as a viable political party.  Voters are having difficulty finding differences between them and the Democrats anyway.  Caving on gun control would seal the fate of the GOP as a historical relic rather than a future possibility.

If new gun control measures don’t pass the Senate and House, the game is far from over.  The Obama administration is investigating the possibility of executive orders reclassifying semi-automatic firearms as title 2 weapons, thus doing by fiat what the legislative branch rejected.  The fight will continue, just in a different locale than the Senate and House.

Finally, if new gun control measures pass to the President’s desk (in which case he will surely sign the measures into law), it means more than just new background checks.  All semi-automatic firearms will be taxed, required to be submitted to the ATF for approval, controlled from crossing state lines, and prohibited from being bequeathed to your children or grandchildren in your wills.  Violation of any of these rules will turn you into an instant felon.  Of course, this would mean a resistance for which America isn’t prepared.

Karl Denninger writes:

It is time for We The People to take a stand, as did John Hancock, Richard Stockton, Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Penn, Arthur Middleton and others.

Your right to life is not bestowed by government. Your right to liberty is not bestowed by government. Government never possessed those rights and you cannot bestow what you do not first lawfully possess.

You right to life and liberty were bestowed by your creator. Those rights inure to each and every one of us by virtue of being human. And here’s the point which many of you wish not to discuss:

A right without the ability and willingness to defend it is no right at all.”

Bob Owens writes:

“The Second Amendment of the United States was never written to protect hunting or target shooting. It was written by men who had just fought a successful armed revolution against the most advanced military of their day, and who wanted to ensure that future generations would be armed with weapons of contemporary military utility in order to stand against the day that once more, tyrants would attempt to consolidate power and lord over the people as their betters.

“Any attempt to take the contemporary arms of military utility our Founders wanted us to have, which includes the standard magazines and clips used in these firearms, is an act of tyranny that the Founders would recognize as an event justifying the use of force to retain our freedoms.”

“Tread carefully.”

Brandon Smith writes:

“There is no ambiguous or muddled separation between the citizenry and the government anymore. The separation is absolute. It is undeniable. It is vast. It is only a matter of time and momentum, and eventually there will be unbridled oppression, dissent, and conflict. All that is required is a trigger, and I believe that trigger has arrived…”

Mike Hendrix writes:

“This is a society preparing for war,” writes Bob Owens.

“Reluctantly, almost unwillingly, it should be noted. But the sad truth is, war is already being made upon it, and has been for a long time now. Said society has been more than patient, more than tolerant. But eventually, enough is enough. Everyone has their limit; freedom-loving Americans’ has very nearly been reached. A few more steps over the line, and the kettle is going to boil over.”

“Any liberal-fascists who think we’re all going to go gently into that good night really, really need to reconsider. We all have to hope they do. But we all have to be prepared for the possibility, the likelihood, that they mightn’t. “This far, no further” is more than just an empty slogan.”

“Gird your loins.”

Alan Halbert writes:

“We are in far more danger from these actions of our own government than from another Sandy Hook atrocity by a crazed killer.”

“The Second Amendment’s purpose is to provide for the citizens’ defense from all who would deny their natural God- given right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” against a criminal, a foreign or domestic enemy, or our own government. We will witness the end of the Republic if this proposed legislation is passed, since all of our rights flow from the citizen’s ability to defend them.”

“As for this citizen, I will never disarm or surrender my Second Amendment rights, much less willingly comply with such a traitorous act of Congress if enacted… it is actions like these that light revolutionary fervor in a nation and its citizens. It did so in 1776 and it will do so again.”

John Jay writes:

“…when it is done, and the regime defeated, no one will talk about what he did in the war. It shall have been terrible, and brutal. Executions, murders, assassinations and the inevitable collateral damage shall be the issue of the day. This is the price that those who attempt to impose a totalitarian regime in the America’s shall face. Many of us will die, and some shall become iconic photos hanging from lamp posts, stripped naked and hoisted by their ankles, as final witness and testimony to their arrogance.”

“Those who seek to take our weapons trifle with history, heritage and firmly held belief. It should be remembered, those of us who believe this way are god fearing, and shall invoke and beseech our God for support. We have a religious underpinning and faith that shall carry us through this, as opposed to those who seek to suppress us. They have nothing but naked ambition to sustain them.”

“Do Obama, Pelosi, and Feinstein have the stomach for this sort of conflict? Are they willing to initiate, in order to try and gain the rule they aspire to? We shall find out.”

Western Rifle Shooter’s Association writes:

“Understand that once the ball opens, there will be no stopping the righteous fury of viciously-indignant Americans, especially once the 2013 versions of Waco and Ruby Ridge are re-enacted by Regime loyalists across the nation.”

“No one associated with the Federal government or its mutant-twin ruling parties will be safe.”

“Especially once the guys with the scoped hunting rifles come in.”

Mike Vanderboegh writes that there would be a revolution if the government confiscates weapons, and Herschel Smith warns that there will be resistance and writes that the resistance won’t be “the peaceful kind.”  If it goes to the point of forcible implementation of the proposed legislation, it will be awful, bloody, violent and extreme.  Right now we don’t know for certain what will happen in Washington.  But depending upon that outcome, what will happen all across America has been written.  1.6 billion rounds of handgun ammunition won’t be nearly enough for the government.

You’ve been warned.

UPDATE: “Class II” has been changed to “Title II.”  I appreciate Glenn’s attention to this article.  Also, David Codrea gives a link.

UPDATE #2: Thanks to John Richardson for the attention.

UPDATE #3: Thanks to Mike Vanderboegh for the attention.

The War To Disarm America

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 7 months ago

There is a crescendo in incivility, with gun owners being called everything from stone age vigilantes to tinfoil hat Bircher NRA peckerwood with a long gun.  This is the social media equivalent of the posturing over guns that is occurring on the political scene, but it matters because it emboldens the politicians.

Democratic Senators are threatening a new “assault weapons” ban, something openly pursued by Senator Feinstein immediately after the election.  But in addition to the known anti-firearms politicians, the movement has gained supporters from the ranks of those whom we all knew were anti-firearm, but who persuaded the electorate otherwise.

A growing number of lawmakers – including a leading pro-gun senator – called on Monday for a look at curbing assault weapons like the one used in a massacre at a Connecticut grade school, a sign that attitudes toward gun control could be shifting.

Senator Joe Manchin, a conservative West Virginia Democrat who has earned top marks from the gun industry, said Congress and weapons makers should come together on a “sensible, reasonable approach” to curbing rifles like the one used in the killings Friday of 20 young children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

A hunter and member of the National Rifle Association, Manchin said the availability of such high-powered weapons does not make sense and called on the gun lobby group to cooperate with a reform of the nation’s gun laws.

A 10-year U.S. ban on assault weapons expired in 2004.

“We’ve got to sit down. I ask all my friends at NRA – and I’m a proud NRA member and always have been – we need to sit down and move this dialogue to a sensible, reasonable approach to fixing it,” he told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

“Never before have we seen our babies slaughtered. This never happened in America, that I can recall, ever seeing this kind of carnage,” said Manchin, an avid hunter who once ran a campaign ad showing him firing a rifle at an environmental bill. “This has changed where we go from here.”

Historical scholarship may not be his strong suit.  In 1927, Andrew Kehoe used explosives to attack a local school in Bath, Michigan, apparently being disgruntled over paying higher taxes to fund that school.  Thirty eight children were killed, with one family losing three.  Nearly every family in the town of 300 lost a child.

The only gun Kehoe carried was used to light one of the explosive charges.  The only weapon used by Timothy McVeigh was explosives.  But the point is not to show that it can be worse.  Those poor souls who search for answers in guns, mental illness, and societal problems will search in vain.  The problem is evil, and it is one of the oldest philosophical issues known to man.

The proximate answer for those who would perpetrate violence on you or your loved ones is to respond by stopping them.  Shopping malls, schools, public buildings, parades and other activities and places are often “gun free zones.”  This means that only the criminals have guns, and thus they are unimpeded in their nefarious aims.

The Connecticut shooter, as I pointed out, could have perpetrated his evil acts with single action revolvers and bolt action rifles if he had desired.  No one could stop him, and that’s the problem.  No one could have stopped the criminals who attacked Mr. Bayezes and his wife without the use of a rifle that will be illegal under the Ms. Feinstein’s proposed ban, along with a 30-round magazine.  He emptied one magazine and retreated to find another.

Mr. Bayezes did what what we all should have done, for we all have a moral duty to defend self and family.  Sacrificing the best home defense weapon because someone may use it to perpetrate acts of evil is like being forced to return to horse and buggies because there are 40,000 vehicle accidents every year.

But along with the factual silliness of being worked up over fully automatic weapons (which were not used) and other misdirects, there are nonetheless very clear plans being deployed for sweeping bans.  The Democratic Senators want it, Obama has said that he wants it, and communist China agrees.  The voters in West Virginia who thought they were voting for a conservative or defender of the second amendment got hoodwinked.  Manchin has declared that he is no defender of the second amendment, and the Democrats are getting their support lined up.

The proposed ban may not end with guns.  Token conservative David Brooks has floated the idea of an ammunition ban.  No doubt the Democrats have included this in their plans, but it must make them feel confident to see a “conservative” agree with them.

Don’t be deceived into thinking that you can buy them now while they’re legal and keep them.  Feinstein has made it clear there will be no grandfather clause in her version of gun control.  Besides, grandfather clauses are problematic anyway.  The federal government may not need to enact confiscatory policies immediately.

For example, they may make all or some of our weapons illegal, along with their high capacity magazines, and then empower gun ranges, local law enforcement officers, and gunsmiths to confiscate any illegal component they find, while they also call the ATF.  You may end up in a federal penitentiary if you take your firearms to the range or use them in self defense.

Make no mistake about it.  There is a war on guns and ammunition.  It wasn’t stated by advocates of the second amendment, but it has landed squarely in our laps.  Obama will never have more power than he does now, right after the election, still controlling the Senate, and right after a horrible event such as in Connecticut.

Gird your loins and prepare for the battle if you care about the second amendment and your rights under the constitution and God.  Now is not the time to be weak, weary or squeamish.  In many ways the progressives and statists have been waging this war for years, while many second amendment advocates have sat on the sideline.  It’s time for everyone to play in the game.

UPDATE: Thanks to David Codrea for the attention.

Prior:

The Wrong Way To Argue About Assault Weapons

Christians, The Second Amendment And The Duty Of Self Defense

No One Needs ARs For Self Defense Or Hunting?

Do We Have A Constitutional Right To Own An AR?

Dreams Of International Gun Control

Christians, The Second Amendment And The Duty Of Self Defense

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 10 months ago

Christians are redeemed, but they can be hypocritical and self serving.  They aren’t perfect.  Furthermore, while Christians can be (though they are not always) sweet and loving, they have always impressed me as perhaps the most pitiful, naive, stolid simpletons on the planet.  Sheep is a perfect description.

I can say those things because I am a Christian, and not in the sense of ”God is love let’s all hold hands and sing kumbaya while we sway and dance ourselves into ethereal bliss,” but in the orthodox sense (e.g., belief in the trinity, the vicarious atonement, the deity of Christ, etc.).  God is love alright, but as professor John Frame discusses, to say that that’s all He is amounts to an exclusive reduction.  It’s wrong.  It’s acceptable to emphasize one attribute for pedagogical purposes, but not to define God.  God is a lot of things besides love, like justice, righteousness, jealously, and so on.  Also, I do not accept the hemeneutical and other pronouncements of the 19th and 20th century form, source and redaction critics any more than I accept the kumbaya movement.  They are equally vapid and vacuous, and not deserving of my time.

One sheep-like attribute of Christians is the tendency to be pacifist both nationally and individually.  Don’t be fooled about the magnitude of the problem.  It’s sweeping, comprehensive and ubiquitous throughout the Christian community.  Thus, the second amendment to many Christians who haven’t thought about it a great deal seems to be some sort of “last resort, sin if you must, it’s better to perish like Christ” acquiescence than it is a right, privilege or duty.

To heighten the problem further, these people vote.  They’re well intentioned, just ignorant.  You cannot go more than a few days without yet another strained attempt to deal with the issue of violence in America from a “Christian” perspective on the pages of publications both Christian and secular.  A number of examples are provided below.

Christian Panelists On “Assault Weapons”

Military personnel and members of police and guard units have needs that do not apply to individual citizens. The basic issue for our culture regarding gun-ownership is why do we want to own them? Does any individual citizen need an ‘assault weapon’ for hunting, recreational target practice or even for self-defense?”

[ ... ]

The commandment not to kill seems to be nearly universal. But the right to defend oneself from violence is equally attested. We see this mirrored in the ‘just war’ theory that began in late pagan Christendom and was codified by Thomas Aquinas during the 13th century. Among the conditions defining a ‘just war’ (according to current Roman Catholic teaching): ‘the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.’

All this is a means to say that unless a person has reasonable evidence that the evil being answered is equally armed, assault weapons have no moral excuse. To justify owning an operative assault weapon (leaving aside inoperative ones collected as one collects cancelled stamps) a person must be able to prove to a third party that someone or something else really is a threat to him and that deterring such threat requires force of that size. While there may be exceptional cases that could qualify, they are so few as to prove the rule that ‘assault weapons’ are not ethically defensible in civil society.”

[ ... ]

The opinions we express should not be taken to mean that we believe a ban on so-called “assault weapons” is Constitutional, but only that we believe “assault weapons” should not be as widely available as hunting rifles or regular handguns.

Are we as a society more safe or less safe with legal access to “assault weapons?” Do we have an ethical responsibility to advocate for changes in law necessary to ban the widespread sale of “assault weapons?”

A Pastor On Guns In Places Of Worship

This week’s column is offered as a public service to readers who intend to pack your pistol to next week’s worship service at the mosque, synagogue or church. Leave your firearms at home, in the gun rack of the pickup truck or check them at the door with the ushers. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on July 20, 2012, upheld a 2010 Georgia law forbidding firearms in the Lord’s house. I don’t know whether the law allows one to carry a rifle to a church sponsored hayride or bring a shotgun into a one of those wedding ceremonies that take place because of certain unplanned conditions, but at least houses of worship must legally remain free of firearms.

#This decision will not be universally welcomed, of course. In fact, the lawsuit challenging the legality of the law was filed by The Reverend Jonathon Wilkins, pastor of Baptist Tabernacle in Thomaston, in cooperation with GeorgiaCarry.org. These groups unsuccessfully argued that citizens have the right to carry registered firearms into places of worship. The Baptist Tabernacle had sued to allow its ushers and greeters to be armed, just in case something horrible happens in Upson County, GA, hardly a locale with a history of violent crime.

#Having been in a few tense board meetings over the decades I, for one, am grateful that the court ruled against these souls who — by a huge leap of illogic — cited Jesus’ obscure advice (Luke 22:36) about purchasing a sword as commanding the followers of Jesus to purchase guns and carry them to church. That’s a bizarre line of reasoning, to be sure; one might suggest that were we to take Jesus literally we would each purchase not a gun, but a sword, which, as far as I know, may still be legal to carry to church.

A Christian Who Will Never Own A Gun

I first begin with my place in the greater community. I choose not to own a gun and provide an opportunity for the violence that so often accompanies guns because this is how I would hope others would be in the world. Yes, many will label me a fool and accuse me of creating an atmosphere of inviting gun violence into my life, but when it comes to faith, my actions, while defying logic to many in the world, is an expression of my deep commitment to God.

[ ... ]

Secondly, nowhere in Scripture does Jesus give us permission to solve our problems, respond to aggression or even defend ourselves with violence. In word and in deed, we are often called to fight injustice and violence with words and actions that are distinctly NOT violent, even in self-defense. Turning the other cheek, defending with a sword, stoning of the prostitute, etc, Jesus reminds us of other powerful ways to respond to those who would chose to goad us into violent conflict. Yes, we do those things out of self-survival and self-defense, and justified by society or not, viewed through a lens of the Christian faith violence of any kind cannot be justified.

And finally, another Christian who argues in a similar vein.

Whether anyone else does or not, Christians should forsake that myth for the biblical story of the way of the suffering lamb. For me, one aspect of seeking to live that story rather than the myth of redemptive violence is choosing not to exercise my constitutional right to own a gun, while recognizing that many other Christians—among them some of my closest friends—have well-considered reasons for making other choices.

It could be argued that by choosing not to arm myself, I am leaving my family vulnerable to harm. I’m actually more worried about how our young son might be harmed by a weapon in our home, no matter how carefully stored, and about how he might be harmed in the homes of friends whose parents have decided to have guns, even when they have taken every precaution.

Even if our son were not physically harmed by a weapon kept in our home, my own conviction is that simply owning a weapon and keeping it in our home would do spiritual harm to him by reinforcing the myth of redemptive violence. The world is going to try its hardest to teach him the latter story; I’m going to try my best to teach him another one.

Analysis & Commentary

There are some factual errors mixed in with the emotional prose.  For one thing, the pastor has wrongly portrayed the recent 11th Circuit decision on guns in Georgia churches.  The case had to do with guns being potentially prohibited in churches that were adjoined by schools (carry in schools is prohibited), and “given that the facial challenge to the law would succeed only if it’s valid in all its applications, the Eleventh Circuit responds by pointing to a valid application – when the management prohibits carrying.  What effect the law may constitutionally have when the management allows carrying isn’t resolved by the Eleventh Circuit opinion” (I am indebted to Professor Eugene Volokh for this assessment).  I still believe that ”in addressing (under the rubric of the second amendment) the issue of whether weapons may be carried on private property where there is a policy against it, the court has erected and knocked down a straw man.”  In any case, the solution to this problem should involve clearer law-making by the Georgia legislature.

As for the emotional opinions on “assault weapons,” these are based on non-factual and arbitrary definitions of things that should scare all good people, or so they see it.  As we’ve discussed on the pages of TCJ, these objections just don’t bear up under scrutiny.  The better the weapon, the better the chance of proper defense of self and loved ones.  As for gun safety and the culture of violence that we are supposed to be nurturing, these are also irrelevant misdirects.  Gun safety is a choice, and ownership of a weapon doesn’t change the heart of man.  Last, as for the use of just war theory to argue against assault weapons for personal use (i.e., proportionate force), I confess that I have never seen such a silly, trivial, strained analysis before.  My judgment is that we’re justified in ignoring it entirely as an inconsequential contribution to the conversation.  While it might be an interesting thought experiment to use the moral judgments of just war theory to inform our understanding of other things, technically speaking, it conflates categories to invoke this doctrine into the issues of personal defense.  Furthermore, as we move from the issues of personal defense to national defense below, I am more an advocate of good war doctrine (see Darrell Cole at First Things) than of just war doctrine, which I think is dated and badly in need of repair work.

But aside from the factual misdirects, emotion and misunderstanding, common elements in these arguments are this way is morally superior, this way is better because I’m following the example of the suffering servant, Christ forsook all violence and we are to be like Him, all violence is frowned upon by God, think of the damage that we are doing to our children sort of appeal to broad, pacifist love and “kumbaya” acceptance, as well as the naive belief that this attitude is an effective way to address societal evil even if it isn’t effective for instances of individual threat.

I want to address these arguments in three headings.

Historical And Constitutional Perspective

In the “The Right To Keep And Bear Arms Report,” Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 97th Congress, the subcommittee observed that:

In the colonies, availability of hunting and need for defense led to armament statues comparable to those of the early Saxon times. In 1623, Virginia forbade its colonists to travel unless they were “well armed”; in 1631 it required colonists to engage in target practice on Sunday and to “bring their peeces to church.” In 1658 it required every householder to have a functioning firearm within his house and in 1673 its laws provided that a citizen who claimed he was too poor to purchase a firearm would have one purchased for him by the government, which would then require him to pay a reasonable price when able to do so. In Massachusetts, the first session of the legislature ordered that not only freemen, but also indentured servants own firearms and in 1644 it imposed a stern 6 shilling fine upon any citizen who was not armed.

When the British government began to increase its military presence in the colonies in the mid-eighteenth century, Massachusetts responded by calling upon its citizens to arm themselves in defense. One colonial newspaper argued that it was impossible to complain that this act was illegal since they were “British subjects, to whom the privilege of possessing arms is expressly recognized by the Bill of Rights” while another argued that this “is a natural right which the people have reserved to themselves, confirmed by the Bill of Rights, to keep arms for their own defense”. The newspaper cited Blackstone’s commentaries on the laws of England, which had listed the “having and using arms for self preservation and defense” among the “absolute rights of individuals.” The colonists felt they had an absolute right at common law to own firearms.

Not only were families required to expend hard earned wealth to procure weapons, the men were required to bring them to worship and use Sunday for range time to practice their marksmanship.  Ownership of weapons was seen not just as a practical matter, but a moral matter because of the implications on defense of the family and country.  The colonists, who were certainly more orthodox than present day Christians, saw no call for pacifism within Biblical law or the examples of Christ.  On the contrary, in order properly to follow Him, ownership of weapons was a necessity.  Moreover, as David Kopel observes, from the earliest times in the founding of our country, even the Puritans enjoyed firearms.

Their laws about children and guns were strict: every family was required to own a gun, to carry it in public places (especially when going to church) and to train children in firearms proficiency. On the first Thanksgiving Day, in 1621, the colonists and the Indians joined together for target practice; the colonist Edward Winslow wrote back to England that “amongst other recreations we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us.”

There are always caveats, stipulations and complications when it comes to interpreting and applying the constitution.  But a plain reading of the text requires that if our understanding contradicts the fundamental exigencies and vicissitudes of life as it existed in the colonial times that hatched the constitution, then our understanding is in need of modification.  Weapons were ubiquitous in the colonies for sporting and recreation, protection against animals, protection against people and protection against governmental tyranny (“The British never lost sight of the fact that without their gun control program, they could never control America”).  Each was in its own way a threat to the safety and health of strong families.

Examination of the Biblical Data

The Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger Catechism Question / Answer 136, states the following: “The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defence; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life …”

For Scripture proof concerning the instance of self defense, it cites Exodus 22:2-3.  While seemingly straight forward, there are demurrals.

A little thought reveals that this passage is not saying that self-defense is good, but that it is bad. If a thief breaks into your house and you kill him in “self-defense,” you are to be put to death! Your blood must be shed to cleanse the land of the murder of the thief (Numbers 35:33). Now, granted, if it is night, and your injuries to the thief cause him to die, you will not be executed. “I’m letting you off this time,” the Lord seems to be saying; but only if it is at night (cp. Romans 13:12).

Pitiful interpretation, this is.  God is thus placed in the role of saying, “Oh, alright, I don’t like it, but I’ll let it slide this time if only you’re really sorry about it.”  This is a completely anthropomorphized God, with essentially nothing left of His character.  Only trite men see the Scriptures that way.

There is a better way.

Several times now, I have read the words of Christians who interpret Exodus 22:2-3 to mean that defending oneself using lethal force when one’s home was invaded was forbidden under Old Testament Law, at least during the daytime. If only one had done it, my inclination would be to blow it off. But since this interpretation is apparently widespread, I feel I need to answer it.

This interpretation relies on a twisting of Scripture in order to promote a preconceived pacifism, and I here attempt to rebut it.

What does Scripture say? In Young’s Literal Translation, the passage reads:

2`If in the breaking through, the thief is found, and he hath been smitten, and hath died, there is no blood for him;

3 if the sun hath risen upon him, blood [is] for him, he doth certainly repay; if he have nothing, then he hath been sold for his theft;

This is rather hard to understand. What is ‘the breaking through?’ Perhaps the New King James Version will be somewhat clearer.

2 If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. 3 If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.

Aha! Now this is comprehensible. I like Young and rely heavily on him myself, but even I had trouble making sense of what he said there. Now, what does this mean? Well, first let us note that there are two contrasting scenarios. In the first, the thief ‘is found breaking in’. In the second, ‘the sun has risen on him’.

Those who take the view I here attempt to debunk interpret ‘the sun has risen on him’ to mean that the break-in took place during the daytime. Thus ‘found breaking in’ must mean the break-in happened at night. This obviously makes no sense. Why should the fact that he was found breaking in lead us to think it was happening at night? Why would the passage be written in such a confusing way? ‘If he breaks in, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed, but if he breaks in during the day, there shall’. This is nonsense.

The more reasonable interpretation would be as follows:

The assumption, first of all, is that the thief probably broke in at night. Thus, if he is caught while breaking in and the owner of the house defends himself, killing the thief, he is not guilty of murder. If, however, the thief escapes, and is found later, presumably after the sun has risen again, and he then is killed, this is murder.

In other words, the Law is saying that lethal self-defense is allowed, but we are not to hunt down thieves and kill them; larceny is not a capital crime. The sun having risen cannot be taken in a rigidly literal sense; it indicates the thief being found at some later time, rather than while he was breaking in as in the first scenario.

This is a much better exegesis and it doesn’t do damage to the consistency of Scripture.

Of course, Christ himself commanded His disciples to go sell their robes (if necessary) and buy swords for their self defense (Luke 22:26).  I reject interpretations of this passage as metaphorical, pointing to their upcoming persecution and difficulty.  That is contrary to the plain reading of the Scriptures.

But in any case, Jesus didn’t have to repeat the Old Testament commandments in order for them to be valid.  I also do not follow the dispensationalist theological model, and thus there is no hermeneutic principle that requires such reiteration.  As stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith, the O.T. moral law is valid, along with the “general equity” of the case law (19.4, even if not the specifics or the sacrificial law).

And in this line of thought, the best case for the necessity of self defense comes straight from the Decalogue.  John Calvin, commenting on commandment and prohibition, observes:

We do not need to prove that when a good thing is commanded, the evil thing that conflicts with it is forbidden.  There is no one who doesn’t concede this.  That the opposite duties are enjoined when evil things are forbidden will also be willingly admitted in common judgment.  Indeed, it is commonplace that when virtues are commended, their opposing vices are condemned.  But we demand something more than what these phrases commonly signify.  For by the virtue of contrary to the vice, men usually mean abstinence from that vice.  We say that the virtue goes beyond this to contrary duties and deeds.  Therefore in this commandment, “You shall not kill,” men’s common sense will see only that we must abstain from wronging anyone or desiring to do so.  Besides this, it contains, I say, the requirement that we give our neighbor’s life all the help we can … the purpose of the commandment always discloses to us whatever it there enjoins or forbids us to do” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 1, Book 2, Chapter viii, Part 9).

Matthew Henry observes the same concerning Proverbs 24:11-12 (“If we see the lives or livelihoods of any in danger of being taken away unjustly, we ought to bestir ourselves all we can do to save them …”).  Far from a weak or forced case for self defense, this is one of the strongest in the Scriptures.  Thou shalt not kill means that thou shalt not allow yourself or those around you to be killed, thus says the Lord.  It isn’t an option – it is His commandment.

The Right and Duty to Bear Arms

In yet another anti-gun editorial, an ad hoc group of “clergy” weighs in against firearms under the rubric of respect for the sanctity of life.  One commenter remarks:

Because I am a person of good conscience and believe in the sanctity of human life, I carry a gun with me every day. You have stood in line next to me at the grocery store while my pistol was secured out of sight in my holster. I have sat in your pews locked and loaded. the world did not come to an end. I don’t shoot for sport and I’ve never hunted. I carry a gun to defend myself, my family, and others incapable of defending themselves, again, because I value human life. Pastors, of all people, should recognize that forces of good and evil exist in this world and should support the efforts of those who resist evil.

I too have carried at worship.  But concerning these “forces of good and evil,” it’s more than that.  Jeremiah (17:9) says that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”  From the heart flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23), and Christ adds that man does and speaks what is in his heart (Luke 6:45, see also Matthew 15:18).  Denial of original sin might be theologically comfortable, but comfort gives way to reality when it pertains to defense of the family.  There aren’t just “forces.”  There are men with evil hearts who would perpetrate evil against you and your family.  Individual actions can be used by God to change men, but whether God may choose to work doesn’t change in the slightest His expectations concerning provision of security for loved ones.  Certainly, the warnings and stipulations of 1 Timothy 5:8 don’t stop with beans and bread.

One of the reformers, Theodore Beza, remarked concerning both highway robbers and tyrants, that ”Hence it comes about that the man who meets with highway robbers, by whom no one is murdered without the consent of the will of God, has the power in accordance with the authority of the laws to resist them in just self-defense which incurs no blame because no one forsooth has (received) a special command from God that he meekly allow himself to be slain by robbers. Our conviction is entirely the same about that regular defense against tyrants.”

To the contrary, God has laid the expectations at the feet of heads of families that they protect, provide for and defend their families and protect and defend their countries.  Little ones cannot do so, and rely solely on those who bore them.  God no more loves the willing neglect of their safety than He loves child abuse.  He no more appreciates the willingness to ignore the sanctity of our own lives than He approves of the abuse of our own bodies and souls.  God hasn’t called us to save the society by sacrificing our children or ourselves to robbers, home invaders, rapists or murderers.

Self defense – and defense of the little ones – goes well beyond a right.  It is a duty based on the idea that man is made in God’s image.  It is His expectation that we do the utmost to preserve and defend ourselves when in danger, for it is He who is sovereign and who gives life, and He doesn’t expect us to be dismissive or cavalier about its loss.  Finally, self-defense may actually result in one of the greatest examples of human love. Christ Himself said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:14).

UPDATE #1: David Codrea wisely remarks:

It’s not an easy subject to tackle.

I’ve always been kind of partial to this 1747 Philadelphia sermon, cited in the above:

He that suffers his life to be taken from him by one who has no authority for that purpose, when he might preserve it by defense, incurs the Guilt of self murder since God has enjoined him to seek the continuance of his life, and Nature itself teaches every creature to defend [it]self.

Thanks David.

UPDATE #2: Thanks to Gun Watch for the attention!

UPDATE #3: Thanks to Maggie’s Farm and Free Republic for the attention!

UPDATE #4: Calguns discussion thread.

Prior:

Save The Planet – Buy An AR!

Happy Assault Weapons Ban Sunset Provision Day!

No One Needs ARs for Self Defense Or Hunting?

Do We Have A Constitutional Right To Own An AR?

Do We Have A Constitutional Right To Own An AR?

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 11 months ago

The AR is in the news lately, much maligned, and much misunderstood.  We have already discussed the notion of the AR (most Americans purchase) being an assault rifle, explaining that it is no such thing since for a weapon to be an assault rifle it must have selective fire capability.  “Assault weapon” is a political phrase that is meant to convey the idea of weapons being scary.

But the hatred of the things that characteristize the politically-defined assault weapon (high capacity magazines, forend grips, etc.) pours from the editorial pages in newspapers all across the country today.  For a few examples consider Robert in New York:

In Colonial times, weapons for individuals were limited to flintlock rifles and pistols. These had utility for food-gathering and home defense. These weapons were powder-and-ball, single-shot, and slow to reload laboriously by hand, and of limited range and accuracy.

Nowadays we have graduated to semiautomatic assault weapons, intended for military use and the killing or maiming of as many enemies as possible in battle. They can fire hundreds of rounds per minute. There was a ban on them for private sale and use in recent years, but it has since been struck down.

Does anyone think they are critical for home defense, bringing down a rabbit, a deer, or for target practice?

Next, consider Joan in Vero Beach:

I am struck that the killer once again had an assault weapon and was able to legally purchase it and the magazines in local stores and off the Internet because of the bullying tactics of Wayne LaPierre and his gutless minions in Congress.

I have spent many a happy time with my dogs at hunt tests safely using a gun. I am not against responsible gun ownership but assault weapons have no place in the possession of anyone but law enforcement or the military and certainly not legally accessible on the Internet.

LaPierre and his minions will wait for the storm of their refusal to agree to the need of rational gun laws to settle down and then they will raise their usual baseless arguments against any laws that prohibit people from freely purchasing assault weapons even as the families of victims in Aurora, Tucson and Columbine daily grieve the loss of their loved ones, who were only doing the things that we all do every day.

Finally, consider Roland Martin, CNN contributor:

To all of you gun lovers, feel free to go buy your Glock, shotgun, hunting rifle, .22 pistol, .357 Magnum or any of the other guns at your disposal.

But you do not need an AK-47.

For some, it’s too soon to discuss gun reform, a little more than one week after the mass killings in Aurora, Colorado. I disagree. Too many Americans are being killed by guns every day; this most recent heinous tragedy should not keep us from having a rational debate.

[ ... ]

Seriously, please offer me a reasonable and rational explanation as to why someone who isn’t a law enforcement officer needs to fire off that many bullets?

Well, since Mr. Martin demanded, let’s engage that debate with him.  As I have pointed out, it simply isn’t true that America is refusing to engage in debate over guns.  That’s all we’ve been doing for more than a week now.  It’s just that anti-firearms folks are losing the argument, so it gets louder with each day and for each new commentary.

Regarding defense of my person and my home and family, what happens if Robert, or Joan or Roland restrict me to a muzzle loading weapon and I miss my assailant?  After all, shooting your weapon is a perishable skill and I only get to the range once a week or every two weeks.  What happens if I neglect to practice my “fail to stop” drills or my first or second or third shot miss my assailant?  What happens if I am using my AR and neglect to compensate my aim for sight “height over bore” and miss my assailant badly enough to wound him but not kill him, and he keeps coming after me?

What happens if the threat is from a multiple-assailant home invasion and I must produce a large volume of fire very rapidly in order to effect proper self defense?  Consider this five-man home invasion in Tulsa.

A second suspect in the attack on a Tulsa minister was arrested Tuesday night, Tulsa police said.

Markedrik Delmar Wilson, 26, was arrested about 8:40 p.m. after a witness identified him as one of five men who forced their way into the Rev. Kenneth Brooks’ home in the 2700 block of North Denver Avenue shortly before 2 a.m. Tuesday, according to police and reports.

One of the men shot Brooks point-blank in the chest and then the group fled, police said.

Or perhaps consider this home invasion in Wareham, Massachusetts.

Five men accused of a home invasion in Wareham where two women say they were raped are now facing Superior Court charges.

All five are charged with four counts of masked armed robbery and one count of armed home invasion. Santiago and Gomes are charged with aggravated rape and Williams is being charged with unlawful possession of a firearm without an FID card.

Is this enough to demonstrate the point?  Perhaps not.  Then consider yet another five-man home invasion in Glenolden, Pennsylvania.

A group of men – at least one armed with a gun – invaded a borough home early Wednesday and terrorized several people inside, including one who was pistol-whipped, according to NBC-10.

The violence incident unfolded about 1:45 a.m., when a group of four or five men broke into a at near the intersection of Elmwood and Ashland avenues, police said. At least one of the intruders was armed with a handgun.

Four people were inside the home at the time and one of the residents was pistol-whipped, police said.

Have you considered this four-man home invasion in Philadelphia?  Or how about this three-man home invasion in Charlotte, North Carolina?  Or this three-man home invasion in Franklin Country, Alabama?  Or this three-man home invasion in Pawtucket?

Shaun Connell defends the right to own an AR under the constitution, and I think rightly so under the rubric of self defense.  I may in fact have to produce a large volume of fire very quickly and effectively.  But there is more.  Ownership of weapons is the surest defense against tyranny.  This doctrine is so well rehearsed in American history that it should have been given its due consideration in Supreme Court rulings (Heller and McDonald).  It surely is well rehearsed in lower courts.  Ken Klukowski, a research fellow at Liberty University School of Law, observes:

This right has two purposes. One is so Americans can defend themselves from criminals. Another — talked up by the Tea Party but ridiculed by the liberal elite — is that the Second Amendment protects citizens against our own government.

The Supreme Court declared in its landmark 2008 D.C. v. Heller decision — a decision praised by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. — that the Second Amendment was enshrined in the Constitution because when vast numbers of citizens have guns and know how to use them, “they are better able to resist tyranny.”

When serving on the California Supreme Court, now-D.C. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown observed, “political writings of the [Founding Fathers] repeatedly expressed a dual concern: facilitating the natural right of self-defense and assuring an armed citizenry capable of repelling foreign invaders and quelling tyrannical leaders.”

Ninth Circuit Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain explained the Second Amendment “right contains both a political component — it is a means to protect the public from tyranny — and a personal component — it is a means to protect the individual from threats to life or limb.”

The most sobering words come from Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit, who wrote, “the simple truth — born of experience — is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people.”

The son of Holocaust survivors, Kozinski continued, “The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed — where the government refuses to stand for re-election and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.”

Scalia has made his views known on weapons that are “affrighting.”  He hasn’t given any public acknowledgement of the point I made concerning tyranny, but this view isn’t that odd.  David Codrea makes similar points to Klukowski.

For someone represented by the establishment as an “originalist,” Scalia’s views are anything but. In “A View of the Constitution,” which colleague Brian Puckett writes “was the standard constitutional law text at Harvard until 1845 and at Dartmouth until 1860,” William Rawle, “a contemporary of the Founders and the man to whom George Washington offered an appointment as the first U.S. Attorney General,” offered a vastly different opinion.

“No clause in the Constitution could by any rule of construction be conceived to give to congress a power to disarm the people,” Rawle wrote in Chapter X, “OF THE RESTRICTIONS ON THE POWERS OF CONGRESS — AND ON THE EXECUTIVE AND JUDICIAL AUTHORITIES — RESTRICTIONS ON THE POWERS OF STATES AND SECURITY TO THE RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS.”

“Such a flagitious attempt could only be made under some general pretence by a state legislature,” Rawle continued. “But if in any blind pursuit of inordinate power, either should attempt it, this amendment may be appealed to as a restraint on both.”

The only thing that even approaches forcing me to rethink my position on so-called assault weapons is a tradeoff where I never, ever have to look again at a picture of Dianne Feinstein holding an AR.

But I said approaches – I’m not there.  Like David Condrea, I wasn’t surprised at Scalia’s comments and have always held that Heller was a weak ruling.  A better picture to show the silliness of the assault weapons ban (that Feinstein wants to reintroduce) is of me getting back from walking my dog, a 74 pound Doberman named Heidi.

Just like I always do when walking my dog, I’m carrying a weapon, in this case my S&W M&P .40, Flat Dark Earth finish, Viking Tactics sights.  Because the magazine holds 15 rounds it is considered an “assault weapon” under the expired rule.  Yes, the assault weapons ban is just that stupid because Feinstein and others consider this to be an affrighting weapon.

Considering the issue of self defense, it is clear that a so-called assault weapon suits the need of the moment in many circumstances.  Evan Nappen gives us 101 more reasons to own an assault weapon.  But I want to return to the issue of tyranny for a moment.

Gone are the days when only the lawyers are able to get access to court proceedings and opinions.  They are publicly available and we all read them.  If Scalia is right and there is much more to come on weapons in the courts, we’ll be watching and listening.  We’ll pour over each and every word of the opinion(s).  We’ll examine them for coherence and consistency, and the degree to which they honestly address the historical issues.

If the court wants to avoid the issue of suppression of tyranny – so-called “second amendment remedy” – in its rulings, then so be it.  Judges and Justices are advised, however, to be completely transparent about it.  Say that you no longer believe in such a thing, and explain why.  Explain why it was acceptable to use arms against British tyranny but that they serve no such purpose today, or better, explain why they cannot possibly serve any such purpose anywhere or at any time in the future.

If you ignore the issue we’ll consider you to be cowards.  When the recent ruling on health care was issued, the workplace discussion focused on ridicule and mockery over the duplicity and mental contortions necessary to come up with a ruling like that one.  It badly affected the reputation and legitimacy of the court.

Does the Supreme Court really want to add to the problem of legitimacy by avoiding a frank and open discussion of the role of arms in the prevention of state tyranny?  Does the court really want to appear cowardly?  We’re watching.  I concur with our liberal friends: it’s time for an open discussion.

UPDATE: #1: Linked to reddit/r/guns

Commenter Montysaurus says:

“As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.”

-Tenche Coxe, friend and correspondant of James Madison (father of the constitution)

” . . . but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights . . . .”

-Alexander Hamilton, Federalist papers #29

UPDATE #2: Thanks to David Codrea for the attention!

U.N. Arms Treaty: Dreams Of International Gun Control

BY Herschel Smith
2 years ago

Capital Hill is under pressure to adopt the approaching U.N. arms treaty, from the New York Times, to Reuters, to confused and goofy Christians who forgot all about their theology and think that a new regulation, law or treaty will bring peace on earth and good will toward men.

We have been informed that this administration will not allow the U.N. to impose any restrictions on American’s gun rights.  But then again, this is the same administration that: [1] Sent Donald Verrilli and Lanny Breuer to argue against Sean Masciandaro concerning the possession of firearms on National Park land, [2] Nominated Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court (who testified that Heller was settled law, and then dissented in McDonald versus Chicago, agreeing with Breyer who argued for overturning Heller), and [3] Named Rose Gottemoeller to head the U.S. delegation to the U.N. arms control negotiations, the very same Rose Gottemoeller who informed Moscow that the U.S. was open to significant compromise on U.S. missile defense.

In fact, a short tour through the U.N. schemes shows that international tracing, combined with nationalized regulations and controls on the manufacture, transfer and sell of small arms, is the central feature of the plan.  The U.N. program for implementation includes such requirements as no “military style” weapons should be possessed by civilians, a registered and traceable lifetime for every weapon, and so on.  Courtesy of reddit/guns, here is a marked-up listing of the kinds of regulations envisioned by the U.N.

As we have discussed before, the distinction between civilian and military weapons is meaningless today, and wasn’t ever very useful.  Bolt action rifles, semi-automatic rifles, tactical shotguns and a whole host of other kinds of weapons are being used in both civilian and military applications, and have been for a very long time.  A U.N. distinction between civilian and military weapons would yield regulations more onerous than the assault weapons ban (sunset provision on September 13, 2004) ever could.  A U.N. distinction between civilian and military owners achieves nothing beyond what the U.N. already wants, i.e., an international gun registry and lack of weapons transferability, and thus is this distinction a disingenuous subterfuge.  Promises to exempt “civilians” – whatever that means – doesn’t make this treaty any less dangerous to firearms ownership in America.

Missives on why treaties do not obviate or supersede the constitution, while well intentioned and informative, miss the point entirely.  Even in the wake of the Heller and McDonald rulings, there are still four justices on the Supreme Court who fundamentally do not believe in the second amendment, and then at least one who sees reversal of Heller on the horizon with a “future, wiser court.”  Furthermore, the decisions in Heller and McDonald do not address issues such as a gun registry, further controls on transfer of weapons across state lines or even within states, or other meaningless and intrusive ATF regulations.  There is a pregnant field of un-litigated second amendment issues in America, and the existence of an international treaty only complicates gun ownership.  It isn’t obvious that any court, much less the Supreme Court, would find stipulations similar to the ones in the U.N. treaty to be unconstitutional.

Finally, take note that international luminaries such as Iran – known to supply weapons to insurgents in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria – have been appointed to a post negotiating the treaty.  The very real possibility exists that legitimate weapons sales from the U.S. to allies (such as Israel) would become problematic under the treaty.  Taiwan, for instance, is concerned that the treaty could undercut weapons imports.

The silliness of the treaty and its effect on other nations is outlined fairly well by David Bosco at Foreign Policy (even if Bosco is willing to overlook its silliness).

There was a lot of talk at the session about the absurdity that sales of bananas are more regulated internationally than sales of assault rifles and about the need for more states to enact domestic legislation regulating arms transfers. The assembled activists did leaven their optimism with a dose of reality. They acknowledged that the treaty almost certainly would not contain any binding language or enforcement mechanisms. Instead, every country will determine for itself whether an arms sale or transfer is likely to contribute to human rights violations. (Under the ATT likely to emerge, Russia could report that it has duly considered whether arming Syrian forces would lead to violations and decided that it would not. Nobody would be able to gainsay the Kremlin, at least not through the treaty mechanism.)  What’s more, the treaty negotiations will be conducted on a consensus basis (Washington insisted on that), which means that any state can block adoption of a text it doesn’t like.

So civilians in America would be subject to onerous new regulations since America is a law abiding nation, while rogue nations would be free to export weapons as they see fit.  Or in other words, the criminals have the guns while the law abiding citizens are disarmed, sort of like gun control in America.  As I have previously observed, the U.N. arms treaty is a solution in search of a problem.

Not only does this treaty intrude on the second amendment rights of American citizens, and not only is it hypocritical in its intent, it would target the very country who abides by its laws and allow the perpetrators justification for their own actions.  The treaty is just one more progressive, micromanaging, over-controlling, statist solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.  We’ve seen ten thousand like it, and as long as the U.N. gets funding and a home from the U.S. government, we will see many more instances of this kind of busy-body meddling into the affairs of American citizens.

Regardless of what kind of language is included in the treaty concerning military and civilian weapons, it does nothing to address the real problem of weapons traffickers such as Iran, and there is no reason to ratify it.

UPDATE: Thanks to David Codrea for the attention to this.

UPDATE #2: Glenn Reynolds says bring it!

Prior:

The U.N. Small Arms Treaty

Lessons To Draw From Afghanistan (Or, How Obama Really Lost The Campaign)

BY Herschel Smith
2 years ago

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, writing for The Washington Post, excerpts his book, beginning his article with the following indictment.

The day after he arrived in Kabul in June 2009, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, then the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, gathered his senior officers to discuss the state of the war. They barraged him with PowerPoint slides — the frequency of Taliban attacks and their impact; the number of local security forces; and an evaluation of the Afghan government’s effectiveness in each province. The metrics were grim, the conclusion obvious: The Americans and their NATO allies were losing.

The part of the country that concerned McChrystal most was the city of Kandahar and the eponymous province that encompasses it. Founded by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C., Kandahar city has long been the symbolic homeland of ethnic Pashtuns. In the 1990s, just as every other band of conquerors had done for the past thousand years, the Taliban used it as a springboard from which they captured Kabul and much of the rest of the nation. If the Americans were going to retake Afghanistan, they needed to start with Kandahar.

But the Pentagon had not sent most of the new U.S. forces that had arrived in Afghanistan to Kandahar. The first wave — a Marine brigade comprising more than half of the 17,000 additional troops President Obama authorized in February 2009 — had been dispatched to neighboring Helmand province, which McChrystal and his top advisers considered of far lower strategic significance.

“Can someone tell me why the Marines were sent to Helmand?” the incredulous McChrystal asked his officers.

The answer — not fully known at the time to McChrystal and his officers — would reveal the dysfunction of the U.S. war effort: a reliance on understaffed NATO partners for crucial intelligence, a misjudgment of Helmand’s importance to Afghanistan’s security, and tribal politics within the Pentagon that led the Marines to insist on confining themselves to a far less important patch of desert.

The consequences were profound: By devoting so many troops to Helmand instead of Kandahar, the U.S. military squandered more than a year of the war. Had the initial contingent of Marines been sent to Kandahar, it could have obviated the need for a full 30,000-troop surge later that year, or it could have granted commanders the flexibility to combat insurgent havens in eastern Afghanistan much sooner, allowing them to meet Obama’s eventual withdrawal deadlines without objection.

Instead, U.S. forces will begin heading home this summer with much of the east in disarray and security improvements in Kandahar still tenuous. Helmand is faring considerably better, but the gains there are having only a modest impact on Afghanistan’s overall stability.

Without the diversion into Helmand, U.S. troops could have pushed into more critical areas of the country before a clear majority of Americans concluded that the war was no longer worth fighting.

Analysis & Commentary

This is horse shit.  Obama and McChrystal have culpability, and we’ll get to that in a moment.  But the tale being spun here makes it sound like a few more sprinkles of magic counterinsurgency pixie dust and the whole thing would have gone much easier.  Perhaps unknown to many who didn’t follow the warp and woof of the campaign, this issue about why the U.S. Marines went to the Helmand Province is not a new debate.  Neither is the story that McChrystal was presented with the decision to send most of the Marines to Helmand as a fait accompli.  Logistical and institutional inertia made it impossible to change things.  Or at least, that’s the story.

Rajiv is telling a tall tale, and the issue was much more complicated than he hints.  I discussed this almost three years ago, and the same thing is true today that was true when I penned the defense of Marines in the Helmand Province.  McChrystal and the Pentagon were under the influence, even control, of the advocates of population-centric counterinsurgency.

Bring stability operations to the population centers, and good governance, goods, services, participation in government on the local level, redress of grievances, and so on, and it will render the outlier Provinces and lower population centers irrelevant, with insurgents unable to topple the central government from those far flung places.

But recall, this is the same Stanley McChrystal that allowed David Rodriguez to micromanage the Marines on their way through Marjah.  “Less than six hours before Marines commenced a major helicopter-borne assault in the town of Marja, Rodriguez’s headquarters issued an order requiring that his operations center clear any airstrike that was on a housing compound in the area but not sought in self-defense.”

Killing the enemy wasn’t a priority.  Rajiv even says so later in the article, exclaiming “the military’s counterinsurgency strategy was supposed to place troops near civilian population centers to protect residents from insurgents, not chase bad guys in the desert or remote valleys.”  But arguing for doing just that, I observed that the insurgents who destabilized Kandahar and other areas of Afghanistan came from Helmand, Kunar, Nuristan and other far flung places where we needed to chase and kill them.

In fact, the larger scale Marine Corps operations in Helmand were predated by intensive fights by the 24th MEU in Garmsir where they killed some 400+ Taliban fighters.  The hue and cry of the people at that time had nothing to do with wells, schooling, governance or anything of the sort.  “We are grateful for the security.  We don’t need your help, just security.”  Similar words were spoken at a meeting in Ghazni with the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan: ““We don’t want food, we don’t want schools, we want security!” said one woman council member.”

Corporal William Ash, a squad leader from 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), along with a stray dog lead a patrol through a city in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. When the platoon moved into the area, they found two stray dogs, and each time the Marines head out on patrol the dogs are right at the Marines’ side.

In fact, I remarked at one point how ironic it was that McChrystal, who was so concerned about inadvertent casualties that his ROE wouldn’t even allow illumination rounds for night time combat, and who wanted separation of the insurgents from the population in order to engage, was so unpersuaded by the Taliban invitation to join them in a fair fight in Now Zad, where they had completely run off the population and were using the place as an R&R haven.

So did the Marines have enough men to engage Kandahar and Helmand at the same time in order to prevent having to play whack-a-mole counterinsurgency?  Recall that while I was the only blogger at the time covering and commenting on Now Zad that while the men there were losing legs, arms and their lives, living in hobbit holes two or three Marines to a hole, I could not recall any time in the last four years driving across Camp Lejeune when there were so many barracks being built, so many Marines in the states, and so many units living in multiple different locations on the base because there wasn’t enough housing for them in the same barracks.

Recall that I also said that there were Marines who had finished entire periods of enlistment who, while spending time on wasteful MEUs floating across the seas and stopping in every port to become drunk, had neither been to either Iraq nor Afghanistan in the entire four years.

Yes, there were enough Marines to have pulled this off.  A Regimental Combat Team or two could have locked down Kandahar like they did in Fallujah in 2007, conducted census operations, and found and killed the Taliban fighters.  Kandahar could have been essentially cleared with enough focus and effort.

But McChrystal’s strategy not only abandoned far flung Provinces to focus on population centers … leaving the roads to the insurgents just like the Russians did … it abandoned the Pech River Valley in Kunar and Nuristan, along with the entire Hindu Kush mountains.  Every military strategist now acknowledges that this was an error, and we are back into Nuristan.

But only for a while.  After all, we have given a date for withdrawal.  With obfuscation like Rajiv’s article, it’s easy to forget that the administration which began its tenure with a commitment to “the good war” saw that commitment evaporate in the face of hard questions.  What was an effective campaign slogan soon became a byline, and rather than meet the military needs for a full scale surge, we saw a half-ass surge that gave them only some of what had been requested.

At the same time, an end date was set, with the enemy now knowing just how long it would take to run out the clock.  Puerile national security advisers turned Afghanistan into the WTF? war, and men who gave so much in this awful region of the world now see no reason for the loss, and are simply happy to have brought their men home.

There were many mistakes in the campaign: a half-ass surge, a childish national security adviser, McChrystal having surrounded himself with juveniles, overbearing rules of engagement, under-resourcing, strategy that could have been created with a random number generator any given day, poor communication to the American people as to the reasons for the campaign, failure to hold Pakistan accountable for harboring the enemy, loving up on corrupt politicians like Hamid Karzai and his brother Wali Karzai, sending billions of dollars to enlarge and ensure the corruption, and on and on the list goes.

But pointing a finger at the hard work of the U.S. Marines in Now Zad, Musa Qala, Sangin, Garmsir and other places in Helmand isn’t just unfair.  It’s scurrilous and dishonest.   The administration bears the responsibility for the failure.  Campaign slogans aren’t just word games, they are promises to be kept by men in authority and power.  The Soldiers and Marines who have perished demand better of our leaders.


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