L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 63, January 15, 2000
World Doesn't End!
To Unravel Bill of Rights, Start With a Single Thread ...
by Vin Suprynowicz
Special to TLE
Suppose with me that hypothetical riots and insurrection have broken
out in our fair city. At your local newspaper office, pressmen drop
what they're doing, drive home to grab their hunting rifles, and
return to join the small, uniformed security staff in guarding the
premises from rampaging hooligans.
Sure enough, within minutes, a parade of surly, drunken rioters
appears around the corner, bearing torches and striding directly
toward the newspaper offices. "The newspaper you're defending is an
organ of the corporate state!" shouts the mob's leader, climbing atop
a car hood. "Its pages are bought and paid for by the advertising of
greedy capitalist exploiters that keep the working man down! Let us
"What do you aim to do?" asks the pressman in charge of the
"We've got sledgehammers to break up the presses, and then we're
going to use these torches to burn the place down," explains the head
of the mob. "Join us! Or are you part of the system that only makes
the rich richer, and never gives a break to the little guy?"
"Well, OK," agrees the pressman. "Let them through, guys. After all,
in this age of ever-widening economic gaps between the 'haves' and
the 'have-nots', it's pretty difficult to defend our part in such
Is there something wrong with this picture? Armed citizens who would
stand aside and watch a newspaper's presses shattered and burned
would be kissing their own freedoms goodbye, wouldn't they?
Of course. The Ninth Amendment assures us Americans have far more
rights than are enumerated in the first 10 articles of Amendment. But
the rights sanctified in the Bill of Rights itself are there because
they're the paramount liberties necessary to preserve freedom. More
importantly they are interlocked, often as firmly as a cat's cradle.
What good is the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of a "speedy and public
trial" without the Fifth's guarantee of "due process," as well as its
protection against enforced self-incrimination?
A speedy public "trial" at which the defendant appears bound and
gagged, and the only "testimony" is a reading of his confession,
signed under torture? Thanks for nothing.
How could any of our other rights be long preserved without the First
Amendment's freedom of the press, allowing publishers to raise a loud
alarm against any government attempt to erode our other liberties?
And isn't the very purpose of the Second Amendment to make sure we
have an armed citizenry -- "necessary to the security of a free
state" -- to guard that freedom of the press (among the others) from
any mob or tyrant that aims to take it away?
What then, shall we make of the AP news report out of Tucson, Arizona
last week, that "The city's two daily newspapers will no longer allow
individuals to sell guns through classified advertisements"?
"The Arizona Daily Star announced its policy change Sunday, and The
Tucson Citizen's editor and publisher confirmed a similar policy
Monday," the AP story continues.
"In a front page notice to readers, Jane Amari, the Star's editor and
publisher, said there was concern that people buying through
classifieds circumvent background checks now required by law."
Background checks (back-door registration) which a free press might
be expected to oppose with all its might, of course, given that the
Second Amendment assures us "The right of the people to keep and bear
arms shall not be infringed."
But that would only be the case for a newspaper publisher who sees
those rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights as mutually supporting
-- all of one fabric -- I guess.
Instead, Ms. Amari explained to her readers: "In an age of increasing
gun violence, it is difficult to defend our part in the transaction."
Really? First, if the Associated Press reports accurately, then Ms.
Amari has lied outright to her readers: Private transfers among
law-abiding gun owners remain legal under both federal and Arizona
law, without any "background check."
But beyond that, Yale law professor John Lott -- along with Gary
Kleck at Florida State -- have now demonstrated beyond refute that
the carrying of concealed handguns by law-abiding citizens
substantially reduces violent crime. The only thing "hard to defend
... in this age of increasing gun violence" are actions that tend to
perpetuate victim disarmament, by making it hard for free citizens to
acquire arms equal to those of their assailants without getting
caught up in the net of government "registration."
We will be assured this is a matter of no concern, of course, since
it's "only a private decision," and Tucson readers can always
patronize competing papers.
But Tucson's morning Star and evening Citizen were the
competing papers. They received a special exemption from federal
anti-trust laws to combine their advertising and business departments
into a monopoly, "in the public interest."
Both newspapers will continue to accept ads placed by federally
registered gun dealers, we are assured -- the kind in which the new
owner's name and address are registered with state and federal
authorities -- the very kind of registration scheme which made it
easy for authorities to confiscate firearms in Turkey in 1915, in
Russia and Germany in the 1920s and '30s, and in the past decade
alone in England, Australia, Staten Island, and California.
No, Ms. Amari is under no obligation to defend the Second Amendment.
But when they finally come to seize her presses, and she looks about
and finds no free citizen coming to her aid, perhaps she'll find
cause to paraphrase Pastor Martin Niemoeller, musing as the Nazis
hauled him away: "When they came for the gun owners I didn't speak
up, because I wasn't a gun owner ..."
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas
Review-Journal. His new book,
Send in the Waco Killers: Essays on the Freedom Movement, 1993-1998,
is available at $24.95 postpaid
from Mountain Media, P.O. Box 271122, Las Vegas, Nev. 89127; by
dialing 1-800-244-2224; or via web site
WADA CROCK'A S**T
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - White House drug chief Barry
McCaffrey Thursday announced the formation of a United States
government task force to look into the use of drugs in sport.
Attending the first meeting of the IOC-led World Anti-Doping Agency
(WADA) as an observer, McCaffrey challenged the new international
body to bring credibility to the war on performance-enhancing drugs
and then pledged to do the same in the United States.
"Next week we begin the process of setting up our own national task
force to deal with the problem of doping in the United States at
every level, from the YMCA to the national level," McCaffrey,
director of the White House national drug control policy, said.
"My role, by law, is drug abuse in the United States and that's where
my focus will be -- where we have a substantial problem.
"We're going to bring together the involved people and begin the
process of cleaning up our own act."
[The YMCA? Yeah, I've seen many a very 'suspicious' 100 meter dash
time at the "Y". -- ed.]
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