L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 61, December 15, 1999
Happy Bill of Rights Day!
The Right to Bear Arms
by Joseph Farah
Special to TLE
[Originally published December 6, 1999 in WorldNetDaily at
There's a reason the Founding Fathers considered the right to bear
arms fundamental in a free society. A couple of recent unrelated
incidents should bring this home to all of us.
In Seattle last week, the local government, faced with widespread
civil disobedience over the city's hosting of the World Trade
Organization conference declared a state of emergency, a curfew and
even went so far as to ban the use of gas masks by anyone except
Now, in case you hadn't considered this before, gas masks are not
weapons. They can only be used to defend oneself, usually from tear
gas fired by government police. Now imagine you lived in Seattle and
had some urgent business. Perhaps you have an asthmatic son or
daughter with a doctor's appointment. You live outside the immediate
area of protests, but as a precaution against what could be a
life-threatening attack to your child, you feel compelled to break
out the gas mask collecting dust in the basement.
In Seattle, you would be treated as a criminal.
It's arbitrary. It's capricious. And I say it's unconstitutional. And
the Constitution doesn't even explicitly guarantee the right to bear
strictly defensive tools such as a gas mask. I think many, if not
most, people -- left and right -- would agree with me.
Nevertheless, there is still, somehow broad debate in this country
about whether the Constitution really means what it says about
firearms. I don't get it.
Some of the anti-gun, anti-Constitution, anti-freedom crowd looks at
it this way: "Yeah, it's in the Constitution. But the Constitution is
outdated and in need of change -- especially the Second Amendment.
Our first priority needs to be to protect people from violence. If we
take the guns away from ordinary people, they will be safer and more
secure. They can rest easy knowing the government will protect them."
Of course, the facts, the statistics, the evidence just doesn't bear
out any such theory. On the contrary, the only cold, calculating,
objective, scientific research conducted in this area, by Dr. John
Lott, shows just the opposite to be the case -- more guns mean less
But put that aside for a moment and consider a recent development in
a police shooting case in Claremont, Calif. Last January, Irvin
Landrum Jr., 18, was stopped for a traffic violation. The cops say
Landrum pulled a gun on them, so they shot him and killed him. The
family never bought the story and filed a lawsuit suggesting the
police shot the kid and planted a gun on him.
It turns out ballistics tests showed the gun was not fired that
night. It had no fingerprints on it. And the last traceable owner was
the late police chief of a neighboring town.
I don't know about you, but I believe the kid was shot three times by
the cops and the .45 was dropped on him.
It happens. You see, some cops are crooked. Some cops are dishonest.
Some cops are even unbalanced, untrustworthy and unqualified to carry
a gun. And even more of them are unsuited to that role if and when
the police hold a monopoly on firepower.
When some nut climbs a tower somewhere and shoots innocent people,
too many Americans begin clamoring to take away guns from perfectly
law-abiding citizens who need them to protect themselves as well as
to protect our own liberty from the creeping police state. When a
nutty cop goes berserk and kills innocent people -- and it happens --
I never hear anyone suggesting we disarm all police.
True self-government requires an armed citizenry. If the government
holds a monopoly on force, tyranny is only a shot away.
We can never allow that to happen in America.
Nor can we ever tolerate American city governments, state governments
or federal government suspending the constitutional rights of free
people. The WTO be damned. Let the organization meet in China. Let it
hire its own private security force to protect Fidel Castro and Bill
Clinton. We shouldn't suspend the Constitution to protect people who
would like to shred it permanently.
Remember, gas masks don't kill people. Overbearing, unchecked,
heavily armed governments kill people.
Joseph Farah is editor of WorldNetDaily
A daily radio broadcast adaptation of Joseph Farah's commentaries can
be heard at http://www.ktkz.com
"What killed the [Seattle WTO] meeting was not the protesters so much
as the man who finally let the regulatory cat out of the
global-government bag: Bill Clinton. In a slip of the tongue, he told
the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that the WTO should use sanctions to
enforce U.S.-style labor regulations around the world."
-- Lew Rockwell, in WorldNetDaily
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