THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 850, December 6, 2015
Grandmothers with guns
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
Tom Tancredo is a five-term former U.S. congressman from Colorado. In some ways, he's the right wing's answer to former Democratic governor Dick Lamm, offering swift, unconventional, unexpected, solutions to socio-economic, and political problems. Following 9/11, he proposed threatening the Muslem world—should there ever be another such attack—to reduce Mecca to a sheet of glass.
Like all conservatives, his notions are often what libertarians would consider unethical, but they are often thought-provoking, as well. Tancredo's latest idea seems reasonable, at first, but it has some serious problems that he either doesn't foresee or doesn't care about.
His suggestion, reported in the December 4th edition of Breitbart online, is to organize "citizen militias" across the country, trained and armed against events like those that just happened in Paris and San Bernardino. What could possibly be wrong with that? Isn't it what the Constitution's Bill of Rights' Second Amendment was written to encourage?
Well, yes it is, if the British Army (or any other army) were coming at us over the hill. The fact is, Islamic terrorism (or any other terrorism) is not an army coming at us over the hill kind of problem. On the contrary, it is a W.A.S.P. kind of problem, and you can find out exactly what that means by reading Eric Frank Russell's prophetic novel about asymmetrical warfare of the same name. If you haven't read it, until you do, allow me to explain that terrorism is a diffuse threat, a tactical will-o-the-wisp, that flits off when you bat at it with a big, heavy, rolled-up army. The government is unable to deal with it, because it's like exterminating mosquitos with hand grenades.
The way to counter a diffuse threat is with a diffuse defense. We all know (at least we do if you're reading this) that central planning is an utter failure in the marketplace; mistakes get magnified, bad guesses punish millions, People end up homeless, naked, and starving. That, despite what Republicans and Democrats claim to the contrary, is why the Soviets collapsed and why Vlad Putin won't be able to restore them.
And yet, if each of us just pays attention to his own little part of the market, free of any interference from others, especially government, the vast, destructive waves of central planning settle into millions of tiny, survivable ripples. Society becomes peaceful, prosperous, and productive. That's the great, "mysterious" secret of American wealth and success, of "American exceptionalism", and to the extent it becomes compromised, people and civilization will suffer accordingly.
The Great Depression was caused by the 1913 Federal Reserve Act, which stupidly and inappropriately centralized America's interest rates. In a free society, it must be understood, centralization is the enemy.
Still with me?
You've probably heard the widespread claim that the infamous 2001 hijackings could never have been carried out if just one or two passengers hadn't been forbidden—unconstitutionally forbidden—to carry weapons. A couple of small .22 revolvers would have done it. Criminals and bullies—which is all these "terrorists" really are -- don't care at all for evened odds, and will avoid them whenever they can.
The fact is, in almost every one of the violent criminal incidents of the past several years, one or two ordinary individuals, free to carry weapons, could have greatly minimized the suffering and deaths of innocent people. After decades, this has finally come to the attention of mainstream culture, so that Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz proclaimed loudly, following the San Bernardino shootings, that "now, more than ever" the American people should arm themselves.
What Cruz likely didn't know is that exactly the same solution to runaway violent crime was proposed in a series of speculative novels written thirty-odd years ago by yours truly. Influenced all my life by novelist Robert A. Heinlein and in 1972 by seminarist Robert LeFevre, I began thinking about an adventure book to promote libertarianism, began writing it in 1977, and saw it published as The Probability Broach in 1979. Among my most significant (and at the time, most radical) prescriptions was arming everybody to interdict and deter crime.
Readers, editors, and critics at the time thought I was crazy, and were not at all reluctant to say so, but clearly, I've been vindicated by current events. Now I have something almost as important to tell all of those who have finally come around to my point of view. They, more than anybody else, should understand the power of decentralism, that the great strength of the Tea Parties, for example, is that they are a wholly unorganized movement without leaders and without a center.
There's no head to be cut off by enemies.
To Tom Tancredo, I would say, Tom, America doesn't need another army, which, if you truly understand history and human nature, you realize would inevitably start bullying innocent people, making up excuses to beat up and kill anybody they might happen to think was Muslim or Arabic. In terms of really dealing with real terrorism, a militia would be fully as ineffective—and as dangerous—as the government.
What America needs more, instead, is grandmothers with guns. We need grandfathers, too. Mothers and dads, girls and boys. Ordinary people going about their everyday business, real people, not uniformed blunderers, who are actually on the scene, at the mall, at the laundromat, at the delicatessen, when trouble starts. Every man, woman, and responsible child has an unalienable individual, civil, Constitutional, and human right to obtain, own, and carry, openly or concealed, any weapon—rifle, shotgun, handgun, machinegun, anything—any time, any place, without asking anyone's permission. Obviously the first step is to constitutionally set aside, repeal, or otherwise dispose of any law that prevents individuals from being armed.
Tancredo suggests something like food stamps to make self-defense more affordable for the poor. Archie Bunker suggested "gun stamps", decades ago. I suggest, instead, that government subsidize firearms and ammunition companies to drastically lower their prices, using funds siphoned from the failed Defense Department and hapless police forces across the land. Start by releasing and raffling off the million "Get off my lawn" M1 Garands and M1 Carbines currently warehoused in South Korea, to whom they were loaned in the 1950s, that the Horse's-Ass-In-Chief wanted to leave in place to rot and rust. All those billions of rounds of .40 S&W that the TSA has been hoarding should be tossed to the public off the back of a truck like surplus cheese.
America created itself, without (or despite) government "help", solving one problem, as it arose, after another. Now, a new problem, jihadist terrorism, has presented itself. Solved problems are a threat to professional politicians—offering them nothing that can be used to advance themselves politically—so they're unlikely to do or say anything that will actually help us. Happily, Americans can solve it easily, casually, all by themselves, if they are just left alone to do it.
Remember who you heard it from first.
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