Liberty is a precious gift, and of course it doesn’t come from government – ever!
The reason that the American colonists formed a government (under the Articles of Confederation) was because their EXISTING governments had taken away many of their liberties “as Englishmen” and as the old song goes, “United we stand, divided we fall” – or to quote Mr. Franklin (a canny old monster) “We must all hang together or we shall surely hang separately.” But by the mere formation of even as loose a government as the Confederation, they lost some liberty. Joining in the Constitution, not just the states but the people themselves, they lost even more.
After that, it was a steady downward progression: the Whiskey Rebellion, the Sedition Act, and on and on, leading to the Indian Wars, the persecution of the Latter-day Saints and other religious groups, the discrimination against the Irish (and others). As little as thirty years later, Americans were seeking new homes and more freedom in exotic places like Texas, and in less than three decades, places like California and Deseret. It was liberty, and the seeking of MORE liberty (or restoration of that which was lost) which led to such things as the Colt revolving pistol, steam-powered machinery, and Conestoga wagons. But of them all, weapons trace that liberty, and the attitude towards weapons shows the attitude towards liberty.
In all of Europe, only four places seem to have developed an understanding and culture in which weapons were seen not as the sole right of the nobility, the equites of Ancient Rome, but as the right of every free man – and indeed evidence of that very freedom. Sadly, in two of those places, that lamp of liberty was extinguished. Those places were the Iberian Peninsula, where a conquered population sought religious and personal liberty from their Moorish conquerers; the Alps – the mountainous birthplace of the Swiss who developed a national identity fighting against a serious of “noble” and “imperial” families and a feudal system; Scandinavia, where liberty at home was ultimately extinguished by ever more powerful warlords and the mass of free people sailing for better and brighter horizons; and finally, the British Isles.
It was there, through multiple “accidents” of history amid a clash of cultures and peoples that lasted nearly two millennia, that a logical understanding and theory of liberty developed for the first time since the days of Ancient Israel and Ancient Greece. “Native” Britons and Romans and Celts and Saxons and Angles and Danes and all the rest stealing land and trying to gain dominance and trying to live peaceful lives and live free and all the rest created a harsh and insanely demanding environment in which the lessons of liberty could be learned and tested and relearned. Especially the lessons of arms.
And to a very large degree, it was the lessons of arms – and the development of small arms – that found its greatest expression in the England and Scotland and Ireland and Wales of the 1200-1600s: just prior to the settlement of most of North America by the descendants of these people. The number one lesson: free people are ARMED. Slaves don’t have arms (except under the control and with the permission of their owners and masters). Free people arm themselves and carry and USE those arms to defend themselves, their families, their homes and property, their livelihood, community, county and – if the rulers deserved it – to defend those that they accepted as their rulers and leaders.
It was also in the British Isles that other lessons of liberty were learned. In most of Europe, the decadence of the Roman Catholic Church led to the Protestant Reformation, but it was a conflict determined by, and settled by, the ruling class. If the ruler in one principality was a Lutheran (Evangelische), then EVERYone in the principality was a Lutheran. When he died and his heir (or the conquerors) were Reformers (Calvinists), then everyone was supposed to become Reformers. If the heir was Catholic, then everyone went back to being Catholic. Top-down religion. It did not work out that way in Great Britain, or even in Ireland. People wouldn’t change unless THEY saw a reason to change (other than the king or queen doing it). The king or queen was not all-powerful: it wasn’t just the nobles who could resist and refuse: the common people could as well. And did. And weapons were used in the midst of it.
Lesson number two: liberty must be defended in order to survive, just as with all the other things. And lesson number three: Liberty comes from God. It is not something that someone human “gives” to anyone, and it is not something that any human has any authority (or right) to deny to other humans. To do so, like murdering someone (taking their life) or stealing someone’s property, is a violation of God’s law – or if you are not a believer, natural law.
Even the fight for freedom of religion quickly became an actual fight involving arms. If the availability of firearms to the general population – especially in England and Wales and Scotland – had not existed, it is unlikely that religious liberty would ultimately have survived in the past 400 years.
But is it the case today? Are we too civilized to need firearms to defend our liberties? The evidence says that we are not. Government has been busy for decades stealing away our freedoms, and the pace has picked up in the last two decades.
The Thursday headline on USA Today touts that “Americans” favor the “messiah” over his GOP opponents in regards to gun control and the budget, claiming a Pew poll shows declining support for “gun rights” and increased worry about the impacts of what is now proclaimed as a drastic and arbitrary 2.4% cut in Federal spending.
Of course, there is no doubt that this poll (if we are to even trust its numbers, for I have my suspicions about whether the questions were fairly worded, much less that the sample was accurate) was heavily influenced by the tsunami of stories on the pages of USA Today and most mainstream media outlets. Headline stories talking about the cataclysm to hit next week on March 1st: hundreds of thousands of DoD civilians to be laid off, the FBI to let criminals go as agents and clerks are furloughed, tens of thousands of children denied the benefits of Head Start and other federal programs, and -gasp- delays in gun background checks keeping us from buying weapons before the new gun bans are passed and go into effect in state after state. What an example of opportunism.
But FINALLY, more and more people are waking up to the fact that Congress cannot take away what it did not grant. The right to keep and bear arms was NOT invented in a drafty old building in Philadelphia in 1787 or in the Bill of Rights drafted in Congress and ratified by the states a few years later. It has existed since we were created, since Cain killed Abel, since Noah and his sons no doubt had to defend their work on the Ark against angry neighbors and code enforcement agents, since innocent and peaceful people had to defend their liberty against Nimrod, since Abram rescued the captives (including his nephew) from Amorite raiders, since Moses struck down an Egyptian overseer abusing Hebrew slaves, and on and on.
Let Congress and the various legislatures pass what gun control “laws” that they will, let the “messiah” and evil (even if elected) governors sign those: they are patently immoral, and constitutionally wrong. WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO DEFEND OURSELVES, OUR FAMILIES, OUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS, OUR COMMUNITIES, OUR FREEDOM, and OUR PROPERTY as WE see fit, provided we do not aggress against others in doing so, and GOVERNMENT IS NOT GOD TO TAKE OUR LIBERTY AWAY. (Not that God would do so.)
The problem is, all the so-called “defenders” of our rights: these puffed-up GOP politicos, the NRA, too many columnists and the rest, seem to be perfectly willing to negotiate and compromise as if the right to defend ourselves WAS a privilege granted by the government. As discussed above, history shows otherwise.
When will we resist the constant compromise? The rights of the people to have the means to defend themselves against threats to life, liberty, and property have been bargained away again and again, a slice here and a slice there: the bare bones have been gnawed at and finally, we come to little or nothing left. This isn’t just about arms, but about protections against government tyranny in every aspect of life: self-incrimination, search and seizure, detention, double-jeopardy, and virtually EVERY identified and general right.
Isn’t it time to “reset” and restore ALL our liberties? And how is that to be done if the people – you and me and our families and friends and neighbors – do not use weapons of war to defend ourselves against those who would be our owners, our masters, and… indeed, our gods?