Trust the Government?
by Joseph Farah
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
Some people in America today say rights such as those enumerated in
the Second Amendment are no longer necessary in our modern society
because the government will protect us from criminals and our
advanced state of freedom, equal protection under the law and
representative government will safeguard us from abusive and
Now I could argue the point. But, instead, let me tell you about an
incident that took place last year in Alturas, Calif.
On Jan. 16, a fireman for the city fired 16 rounds from a .223 rifle
into an occupied bowling center owned by Norm Lakey. Two of the
rounds entered the building in a spot where the owner had been
standing just moments before.
Lakey did what most civilized Americans would do in such a situation.
He called the cops.
The Alturas police investigated the incident and found that the shots
had been fired by fireman Wayne Chester Bethel. But the cops did not
arrest Bethel. Nor was he given a sobriety test, though they were
aware he was intoxicated. Instead, the officers gave their good
friend a ride home and reported to Lakey that a couple of teen-agers
had shot up his bowling center.
Those are the facts as laid out in the Alturas Police Department
Again, Lakey did what any red-blooded, law-abiding, taxpaying citizen
would do at that point. He went to the district attorney. He says he
was told the DA would have to take the case to the state attorney
general's office because the fireman, a city official, was close
friends with the cops involved and the local judicial officials. That
Instead, Bethel was charged with a misdemeanor, served no jail time
and even got his gun back. This, by the way, after he demonstrated no
remorse for his shooting spree, which he admitted was one of a series
in which he had participated. He admitted to having a grudge against
the owners of the bowling center and even threatened more serious
violence if he didn't get his gun back.
Now, I guess you can say this is just an isolated incident in a small
town and is not relevant to the gun-control debate or evidence of
widespread government corruption.
I say it is relevant. I hear about stories like this every day from
my readers. We can't begin to pass them all along. They only begin to
make sense when you see them in context.
What is the context? The context is that government is no longer a
servant of the people -- not at the local level, the state level and
certainly not the federal. It has instead become the master of the
people. Whom you know means everything. Equal justice under the law
has become a joke.
If you think I'm exaggerating, just try shooting 16 rounds into a
government building -- perhaps the local police station or maybe an
occupied federal building somewhere. Not only do I feel certain this
is not a crime for which you would get a ride home from the law
enforcement authorities, I doubt very much if you would survive such
You would very likely be portrayed on the national evening news as
some kind of anti-government, militia nutcase and charged with hate
crimes and terrorism if you were fortunate enough to live through the
And that's why it is more important than ever for Americans to wake
up to the threat they face from government at all levels today. They
are coming for your guns -- your last line of defense. Once you put
your fate in the hands of government, all freedom is lost. Your
self-determination is a distant memory. You are now a ward of the
state, a subject, a serf.
Now I don't think it would have made any difference to Mr. Lakey that
night whether he was armed. He probably wouldn't shoot back under the
circumstances anyway. But the fact that government officials --
whether they are drunken firemen or members of the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms -- know they can get away with this kind of
behavior because of their connections illustrates where America is
headed in 1999.
Joseph Farah is editor and founder of the Internet newspaper