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You know it seems the more we talk about it,
It only makes it worse to live without it.
But lets talk about it --
Oh, wouldn't it be nice?
-- The Beach Boys
Music by Brian Wilson
Lyrics by Tony Asher
Timothy Daniel "Big Tim" Sullivan, sometimes called "King of the Tenderloin" was a man who was allowed to live longer than he should have.
It could never have happened in a Bill of Rights Culture.
Part of the infamously corrupt Tammany Hall, a Democratic Party machine that ruled New York from 1790 to 1960, like many political criminals, Sullivan was anxious to assure his own safety -- and racketeering profits -- by taking guns out of the hands of ordinary individuals so that only his stooges, thugs, and toadies would be armed.
In 1911, "Big Tim" rammed his so-called Sullivan Act through the state legislature to achieve exactly that. To this day, New York is a bizarre twilight dimension where the act of self-defense -- basic to every living thing -- has been outlawed, where politicos, bureaucrats, and the most corrupt police on the face of the earth have shown for nearly a century that they would rather see a woman raped in an alley and strangled with her own pantyhose, than see her with a gun in her hand.
The only people who may "legally" own and carry guns in New York are the cops themselves (some of whom, unlike most of us, seem to make a perverse hobby of murdering innocent individuals firing-squad style -- I refer you to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amadou_Diallo and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean_Bell for two egregious examples), the rich and powerful, and the friends of the rich and powerful. Not surprisingly, the city suffers a nightmarishly violent crime rate, and whenever there's even the tiniest microscopic statistical fluctuation downward in those terrible numbers, the politicians see in it a cause to get together, slap each other on the back, and bask in mutual self-congratulation.
All of this because, once word got out concerning what Sullivan was up to in the state legislature, he wasn't dragged out by a mob, outraged by this vicious attack on their fundamental rights, and hanged from the nearest lamppost -- or at least put on trial for his crimes against the Constitution. (At http://www.amazon.com you can look up and purchase Lone Star Planet, a splendid little novel by H. Beam Piper and John J. McGuire, based on an article by H.L. Mencken, about a future world where the right choices have been made in this regard. And don't accept anybody's word that it was written tongue in cheek.)
For the sake of contrast, just consider the state of Vermont -- an otherwise extremely liberal state that presently boasts of an openly socialist congressman -- where there are little or no laws with regard to owning or carrying weapons, there is no mechanism -- and no need -- for a licensing system, and where the most difficult choice a person faces every morning is how he or she is going to fit that autopistol or revolver into this particular pants pocket. Vermont -- notoriously -- has the lowest violent crime rate in the country, and is often identified by not especially gun-friendly entities like the National Hall of Immature Businesscreatures as the safest state in which to live.
It should be abundantly clear, then, that Robert A. Heinlein was correct when he said, "An armed society is a polite society," that John Lott is correct when he says, "More guns, less crime", and more importantly, that the wages of sin -- the grievous sin of disregarding or suppressing the Bill of Rights (think about New York again, where everybody expects to get mugged from time to time in what's supposed to be the center of the greatest civilization in all the world) -- are death.
The historic tragedy is that it isn't politicians, bureaucrats, or cops who have been forced to pay that terrible price, but the very individuals whose rights they have conspired to eradicate. Things would be different in a Bill of Rights culture, where the cops would be required to respect and enforce the individual's Second Amendment rights, and most of the politicians and bureaucrats would be out of a job.
Please note -- and never forget -- that we're most likely to lose our rights when we allow ourselves to be persuaded to deprive others of theirs. Aided by their accomplices in the round-heeled mass media, greedy, ambitious, power-hungry politicians typically find some group of individuals and begin to portray them as an unspeakable menace to the American Way of Life. If the group already happens to be poorly understood or widely disliked, so much the better. Early on, it was Catholics and Freemasons who got to be the scapegoats. Later on, it was the Irish, the Italians and the Chinese. Until the second half of the 20th century, black people were always good targets, and so were Jews.
And so are gun-owners.
None of that could have happened in a Bill of Rights culture.
The Sullivan Act, for instance, was a not-so subtle attempt to keep guns out of the hands of Irish and Italian workers, especially because, according to the media, they might all be communists or anarchists -- and thus didn't deserve to be protected by the Bill of Rights.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 was hurried through by congressmen (abetted by leaders of the National Rifle Association) terrified by black militancy and the terrifying prospect of American cities going up in flames -- neither of which would have been a problem if those same congressman had ever shown the least respect for the Bill of Rights.
The late, unlamented Ugly Gun and Adequate Magazine Ban began as an attempt in California at disarming Mexican and Asian street gangs -- which only exist because of prohibitions that violate the Bill of Rights. If drug laws and the minimum wage were abolished, gangs would evaporate.
The Brady Law finally became disgusting reality when politicians -- led by a President notorious for his abusive sexism, enabled by the Senator from Viagra -- noticed that a majority of the pistols and revolvers in this country were being purchased by women who had begin to exercise their freedom to be "armed and female" under the Bill of Rights.
Each of the groups in question had finally gotten tired of being pushed around and began to push back until today they no longer make good targets, and the politicians have to go further afield to find scapegoats.
Today it's "terrorists", especially followers of Mohammed, who have become the reason that you and I must lose our rights "for the duration". In the process, we are losing a glorious future that the idiots, criminals, and lunatics who rule over us are incapable of imagining.
Yes, there certainly are criminally violent fundamentalist Muslims in the world -- although the exact degree of their responsibility for what happened in New York on September 11, 2001 has yet to be properly established.
Without a doubt, there are also criminally violent fundamentalist Christians, criminally violent fundamentalist Jews, criminally violent fundamentalist Hindus, and maybe, conceivably, even criminally violent fundamentalist Buddhists, each of whom wish that they had the power to destroy America and everthing and everybody else they happen to be out of sorts with. There certainly were criminally violent anarchists in the past, criminally violent Bolsheviks, criminally violent Leninists, criminally violent Stalinists, and criminally violent followers of Hitler.
Carrie Nation with her axe was criminally violent.
But here in the United States, there have never been a millionth of the number -- nor have they been capable of a billionth of the murder and destruction -- that politicians and bureaucrats, always eager to enhance their power over our lives at the expense of our freedom -- have claimed there were. In the end, the brilliant idea that was America has always suffered vastly more damage at the hands of those who profess loudly to be its saviors, than from any threat, internal or external, that those saviors have claimed to be saving us from.
While it may be true that the monstrosity of September 11, 2001 was carried out by a handful of political and religious criminals, it is Big Tim Sullivan and his philosphical heirs who are ultimately responsible. Their pernicious dogma, that the average individual is inept and unstrustworthy, and that the means of self-defense should only be in the hands of government-authorized experts, is what got 3000 people murdered that day, no matter who was brandishing the box-cutters.
It could never have happened in a Bill of Rights Culture.
A Bill of Rights culture is a culture in which the first ten amendments to the Constitution -- commonly known as the Bill of Rights -- are the political equivalent of the Ten Commandments, and in which every politician, bureaucrat, and policeman on pain of imprisonment, fine, or in some instances, death, is required to respect them as such.
A Bill of Rights culture is a culture in which it's universally recognized that all human progress and prosperity -- every aspect of the human ability to solve problems, including those encountered during emergencies and disasters -- is a direct result of freedom, which, if only for the sake of our survival, must never be reduced or curtailed.
A Bill of Rights culture is a culture in which no excuse is sufficient to justify violating the rights of any individual for any reason -- unless that individual has violated somebody else's rights first.
A Bill of Rights culture is a culture in which each and every one us us knows where he or she stands, because our rights are written in stone and may not be trimmed, altered, or weasel-worded out of by politicians.
It is a time for choices.
Given sufficient freedom, we can accomplish great things, things never before seen in human history, benefitting not only ourselves today, but countless billions to come in future generations. We can build spaceships and space elevators, go back to the Moon and on to Mars, to the asteroids, to the Jovian moons, and, eventually to other stars. We can ferret out the innermost secrets of the subtlest nuclear subparticle and learn to build warp drives, forcefields, antigravity devices. We can discover how to regrow severed limbs, overcome every paralysis, reverse aging, and reasonably expect to live for a thousand years.
Or we can simply watch, from the inside, as Western Civilization -- the most admirable culture in human history -- tears itself to shreds over yet another perverse obsession with a largely imaginary menace.
Those who have cynically profited -- politically and monetarily -- by hysterically screaming at us that there are terrorist bogeymen under our beds can always watch the collapse from the safety of their luxurious penthouses in Switzerland, Monaco, Sao Paulo, or Rio de Janiero.
Or, if we make the right choices, they can watch us build a future of peace, freedom, progress, and prosperity from the misery of their cells.
Start by going to http://jpfo.org/filegen-a-m/bor.htm and looking over the amazing array of languages -- fifteen so far -- that our esteemed hosts, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership have had the Bill of Rights translated into. Another way to start is to celebrate Bill of Rights Day with us on December 15, to commemorate the day in 1791 when those first ten amendments became the highest law of the land.
Finally, I never thought I'd say it, but there oughta be a law: "For the duration of the emergency, all edicts, decrees, ordinances, laws, and statutes affecting the trade, purchase, ownership, or carrying of personal weapons shall be null and void; any attempt to violate or evade this measure on the part of an elected or appointed official or a government employee of any kind shall be punished by no less than 25 years at hard labor, without possibility of parole, in that prison which currently has the worst record for deadly criminal violence."
Wouldn't it be nice?
A fifty-year veteran of the libertarian movement, L. Neil Smith is the Author of 33 books including The Probability Broach, Ceres, Sweeter Than Wine, And Down With Power: libertarian Policy In A Time Of Crisis. He is also the Publisher of The Libertarian Enterprise, now in its 17th year online.
Visit the Neil Smith archive on JPFO.
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