The Only "Dangerous Weapon" Is the Human Mind
By Tom Creasing
Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise
It's a rallying cry among libertarians, and a prime example of
Leviathan, driving its tank treads over 83 people guilty of nothing
more than possession of a few ounces of oddly shaped steel -- maybe
-- and of living a different lifestyle not in keeping with the
dictates and mores of the moral exemplars in Washington
Odd, isn't it, how those much-vaunted "multicultural" values
always seem to be White Liberal Christian ones?
But I digress.
Waco strikes fear into the hearts of many, who think, "There, but
for the grace of monogamy and lack of notice by the ATF, go I." And
well it should. Waco may indeed go down in history as the opening
shots in the Second American Revolution, and the victims (few among
many) of our current State may be able to rest a little more easily
in their graves.
Waco also offers a different lesson, one that I haven't seen
addressed by the media -- mainstream or alternative -- one that
should be considered by the various groups and individuals who are
thoughtful and attentive to this issue. Please understand that by
what I am about to say I have no intention of taking away anything
from the martyrs there. Having said all that, let me now state my
somewhat professional opinion that the victims at Waco screwed up
momentously, strategically and tactically, and that at least a part
of their martyrdom is their own fault.
In between, and concurrent with, bouts of practicing law, I teach
firearms-related topics (and occasionally sell guns). I teach tactics
and handling informally, and firearms law (Oregon) formally. As part
of this, I spend a great deal of time attending classes and gathering
material myself. I am by no means a professional instructor, but
neither am I a neophyte.
One of the most common questions heard from someone new to
firearms is, "What kind of gun should I get?"
My answer is a question itself, "Why do you want a gun?"
Sometimes their reply will have to do with hunting or sport
shooting, but generally their answers relate to individual criminal
activity. I should note that people sophisticated enough to be
worried about government criminal activity are also usually
sophisticated enough to be debating the virtues of, say, a Belgian
FN-D versus an H&K 91.
My next question, then, is, "How do you expect a gun to solve
Again, answers are of the self-defense, protect-my-family, or
discourage-the-criminal sort. Then comes what I feel to be the most
important question for a would-be gun buyer interested in self
defense, "Could you knowingly and intentionally shoot another human
That question has lost me several sales, although it also leads
to other discussions of alternative (and less adequate) means of
defense. But it is essential. A gun is not a magic wand that you can
wave and make things happen, no matter how much it seems that way.
Individuals and groups who acquire firearms without the will to use
them are just kidding themselves.
Which brings us back to Waco. Their non-traditional lifestyle was
bad enough for government and the media (again, odd from groups that
"support" gay marriages, for instance). But they added into that a
stockpile of firearms, a stockpile that noticeably included a number
of "ugly" guns. In addition, they (or their leaders, at least) let it
be bandied about that they had such a stockpile. Finally, for
whatever reason, when one of the events that one might imagine would
involve using that stockpile occurred, they elected to hunker down
and wait for the worst.
Strategic mistake number one. Odd lifestyle plus guns equals
inevitable government attention. Randy Weaver demonstrates this
mistake as well. Leviathan is still small enough (it is, honest) that
it needs to go after fringe targets rather than the mainstream. The
media is also notoriously less protective of groups that don't "fit
in." Even if the government does not take direct action on some
pretext or other there is still the potential of anti-liberty
propaganda. Has anyone else noticed how quick it was pointed out
that the Heaven's Gate suicide crew had "stocks of assault rifles and
ammunition?" Leviathan got its money's worth from that mob, by the
way, if only in the anti-internet rumbling they seemed to justify.
"For the children", of course. But again, I digress.
Strategic mistake number two. Letting all and sundry know you
have guns in the first place. I like guns. I've sold guns and teach
about guns. I write about guns. Will I admit that I have or carry
them? Not on your life. If you want to find out, become a close
enough associate that you are welcome in my home and you can decide
for yourself then. Writing about and discussing them is dangerous
enough, in these times. Bragging about possession of the items at
best attracts the attention of thieves and at worst puts tanks at
Strategic mistake number three. Not considering fully the
consequences of their position and actions. Like some of the
customers I've questioned, the people at Waco did not seem to give
full thought to what they were doing, something we're all guilty of
at some time or other. But firearms are dangerous tools, and not
knowing what you're doing with them, whether tactically or
politically, is invitation to disaster. What good did having an
immense stock do for them? All they managed was to invite the
interest of the ATF, offering them what they believed to be the
chance to score a political plum. Moreover, it certainly appears that
they had no serious tactical plans, or at least none that they seemed
to implement, besides "hide and hope they'll go away." Perhaps they
were hoping for public outrage, something foredoomed by the media
slant on their lifestyle.
Tactically, one can argue all day about the virtues of a fixed
position when defending against overwhelming odds versus the
advantages of running away before the heavy artillery gets there.
That particular question was mooted, however, by their failure to
decide in advance whether they were going to go through with what it
looked like they were going to do.
The victims of Leviathan will not rest easy until their murderers
are brought to justice. That goes without saying. However, our
feelings about this issue should not blind us to the mistakes that
were made, either. Learning from other peoples' mistakes is a whole
lot less painful than learning from your own. Advocates of liberty
need to take a look at those strategic mistakes and decide whether
they may be making them themselves. Some folks may realize that they
actually can't make that final step, that they can't take those
irrevocable actions in their own defense. I have no quarrel with
that, as long as they don't presume to decide that because they won't
defend themselves I shouldn't be allowed to either. I'm not saying
things will get messy -- but if they do, well, there's an applicable
Arabic saying, "One armed man can control a marketplace of a thousand
people." Especially if he's thought through the strategies of his
Thomas J. Creasing is an attorney for the Young Wha Consulting
Corporation Korea Press Center, 8th Fl. 25, 1-Ka, Taepyung-Ro
Chung-Ku, Seoul, Korea 100-745. Short Address: KPO Box 106, Seoul
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