Back in the 1770s, the tax revolt against Parliament and King George did not instantly flare up in even half-a-dozen colonies, but rather started in a few places and spread from there. That was not entirely due to poor communications and transportation, but as much convincing people that there was a serious problem that had to be addressed. And that the action needed was far from “normal” or “acceptable” to most people. And especially not to the Crown.
Here in the Fifty States, are we at last seeing such a process? A recent story in American Military News reports that the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement is now starting to spread in Kentucky, after flaring to vibrant life in Virginia. Before that, it was smoldering in Colorado, New Mexico, and elsewhere. Unlike at least Colorado and Virginia, the push in Kentucky is apparently NOT just a reaction to the General Assembly’s actual passage of evil Red Flag laws in the State of Colorado, or to the filing of anti-2nd Amendment bills in the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Kentucky actions appear to be preemptive and supportive in nature. There is talk of Red Flag laws, but no bills have yet been filed.
We are told that this is a fad with little or no practical or legal effect, for local governments to dare defy state or federal laws. Indeed, many of those so stating this are Republicans. (Which should come as no surprise.) No doubt Tories and Liberals both issued the same warnings about defying Parliament back in the 1770s.
It proved to little effect then. Can we hope the same this time?
In Colorado, with the Red Flag law taking effect, the first action under the law has already happened, as reported by the Denver Post. It happened in Denver County, which is NOT one of the jurisdictions that passed 2AM sanctuary resolutions last year. And the case will not be heard until the 16th – more than 2 weeks after the incident which triggered it. The situation may be perfect for those who want this power to steal – the guy was drunk and threatening suicide and/or killing his wife with whom he’d just had a fight. At the same time, it doesn’t take two weeks to sober up, does it?
But it also points out the basic fallacy of such nanny-state laws. You can’t outlaw stupid. You can’t prevent all tragedies. You can’t stop people from fighting – or indeed, killing themselves. Human nature has not suddenly changed.
For over one and a half centuries, the biggest government challenges to gun ownership and legitimate (self-defense) use were two-fold:
- Denying black people and (as much as possible) Amerind people from owning guns
- The banning of automatic weapons from private ownership in 1934
The denial of black people was a facet both of slavery and of the post-Reconstruction South, tied directly to the aftermath. The business with Amerind was a part of the centuries-long series of wars for the control of North America, and of course, the attempts to destroy the warrior and raiding traditions of many (even most) tribes. (Aaron Zelman exposed this in a column and a Gran’pa Jack comic years ago.)
Of course, the modern push for gun control really took off in 1968, with the passage of the Gun Control Act of that year. It was spurred on by the killings of Bobby Kennedy and Martin L. King Jr, that year. There were more attempts in the 1970s, courtesy of the Nixon administration. Nixon tried to ban all hand guns and require all long arms to be registered. Since then, there has been a nearly steady attack on gun ownership. THis has been the case both federally and in the States. The spread of concealed-carry permits and the establishment of “constitutional carry” States has somewhat balanced that.
But it is clear that it is primarily career politicians that fear guns, and rightly so.
In Virginia, although it is often stated that the State has become “deep blue,” in reality the General Assembly has just a one-person Democrat majority in the Senate and just five in the House of Delegates. Therefore, the hoplophobes and hoploclasts want to ram through as much as possible while they can. (The Kentucky General Assembly is strongly GOP-controlled, although the new governor is a Democrat.) However, it is important to remember that Republicans CAN be and sometimes ARE anti-gunners.
But even more important than our rights of self-defense being recognized and protected by local governments is the idea that this movement may push more strongly: that local governments are part of the system that preserves our freedoms. Just as they have been since the time of the Magna Carta (and before). In particular, Americans in most states have local, elected, Sheriffs who are viewed by many as a key part of that system, able to stand up to both state and federal dictates.
Across history and around the world, local officials – especially those elected directly by the people – have a history of leading or supporting rebellions and revolutions against tyranny. Both the foreign and domestic versions. This seems to have been the case in many if not all of the revolutions that ended Communist rule in much of Europe and Asia. Even if it is often the case of “I’m supposed to be leading these people – if I can only catch up with them!”
The other critical thing is that more and more people seem to be standing up for their own liberties and those of their families, friends, and communities. Yes, even when they are pursuing fads.
May these revolutions succeed!