As part of our new ebook project, The Future of Freedom Foundation has just published a new ebook entitled Freedom and Security: The Second Amendment and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms by longtime FFF author Scott McPherson. It is one of the best books — if not the best book — I have ever read on gun rights and gun control. In fact, if there was ever a definitive book making a principled case in favor of gun rights and against gun control, this is that book.
Scott, who has long been a policy advisor at FFF (as well as a good personal friend of mine), is one of the best writers in the libertarian movement. In fact, he has become a great writer, period. Not only does he write regularly for FFF and other libertarian publications, he is also a regular and popular blogger at Portsmouth Patch. Most recently, his fictional works and poetry have been published in reputable journals.
In his new ebook, Scott shows the fallacy behind gun-control thinking. The gun-control crowd thinks that by passing gun-control laws, violent criminals will obey the law and stop using guns to kill people. That, of course, is a ridiculous notion. If a murderer doesn’t give a hoot about violating laws against murder, why should he give a hoot about violating a gun-control law?
But peaceful and law-abiding people do care about violating a gun-control law, especially if it means that they can be convicted of a felony and sentenced to serve a lengthy term in jail. So, they, not the murderers, comply with the gun-control laws.
That means, needless to say, that gun control ends up disarming peaceful, law-abiding citizens, not murderers. It prevents them from using guns to defend themselves against murderers with guns.
Even worse, it makes peaceful people sitting ducks for armed murderers. It’s not a coincidence that mass murderers never target people at gun shows. They target people in public schools, churches, and other areas that the state mandates to be gun-free zones.
But self-defense from criminals is just one justification for opposing gun control. The big justification — the one that conservatives are oftentimes scared of stating for fear of adverse reaction among people — is the one that drove our American ancestors to enact the Second Amendment, as Scott documents so clearly in Chapter 2 “The Constitution and the Second Amendment.” That justification is the one that revolves around resistance to tyranny. If you’re familiar with Scott’s articles here at FFF, you will not be surprised that he doesn’t mince words when it comes to this justification. In fact, much of his book revolves around gun rights as the means to resist tyranny.
In my opinion, Chapter 4, “Gun Rights and Civil Rights, which includes a section on blacks and gun rights alone is worth the price of the book (which is $2.99 on Amazon). Scott shows in detail how gun control in the South was a racist program enacted after the Civil War that was designed to prevent blacks from resisting the acts of violence that bigots were initiating against them. As Scott details in this section, blacks understood the critical importance of having guns to shoot back at the bigots who were shooting at them, burning their houses, or lynching them.
In Chapter 1, Scott begins the book by providing the historical roots of gun rights and how the right to keep and bear arms was part and parcel of resistance to tyranny. Not surprisingly, Chapter 1 culminates with an account of the British militia in America and the attempts by their own government — the British government — to confiscate the colonists’ guns.
The British government in 1776 understood what all governments understand — that a disarmed citizenry is inevitably an obedient and submissive citizenry. The British colonists understood that as well, which is why they violently resisted the confiscation of their guns by their own troops.
Today, proponents in the gun-control crowd think that that justification — resistance to tyranny — is old-fashioned and irrelevant. Notwithstanding the fact that the U.S. government has oftentimes installed brutal, dictatorial regimes in places like Iran, Chile, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Guatemala, and elsewhere, gun-control advocates say that the U.S. government could never become so tyrannical here at home that citizens would have to oppose it with force.
But as Judge Alex Kozinski pointed out in the case of Silvereira vs. Lockyer, that’s a mistake that a free people can make only once. The reason is obvious. Once people agree to disarm, if a tyrannical regime takes the reins of power, people will be unable to correct their mistake. Those who try to correct the mistake by trying to rearm themselves will immediately be rounded up, taken into custody, placed into concentration camps, tortured, raped, and executed. That will serve to dissuade others from doing the same. Consider the succinct words of Judge Kozinski:
The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed — where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.
Widespread gun ownership among the American people is an insurance policy, one that others around the world do not have. When a tyrannical regime takes control over a foreign country, where there is gun control, people have two options: submit or be executed. Americans, on the other hand, have another option: resist with force. That option serves to dissuade would-be tyrants from taking actions that they might otherwise take when they know that people are disarmed and thus unable to violently resist the tyranny being imposed upon them.
The gun-control crowd says that private gun owners could never successfully resist the armed might of a tyrannical U.S. government. But they miss some important points. For one thing, sometimes a person would rather go down fighting than to see his family tortured, raped, and summarily executed. Moreover, there is always the possibility that military units of a tyrannical regime will switch sides and join the rebels, bringing their weaponry and equipment with them. Finally, a people fighting to be free can oftentimes defeat a much more powerful force that is fighting for nothing more than tyranny.
Consider these words from Judge Kozinki’s opinion and then read what Scott says about this point in his chapter on blacks, civil rights, and gun rights:
But the simple truth — born of experience — is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people. Our own sorry history bears this out: Disarmament was the tool of choice for subjugating both slaves and free blacks in the South. In Florida, patrols searched blacks’ homes for weapons, confiscated those found and punished their owners without judicial process…. In the North, by contrast, blacks exercised their right to bear arms to defend against racial mob violence…. As Chief Justice Taney well appreciated, the institution of slavery required a class of people who lacked the means to resist…. A revolt by Nat Turner and a few dozen other armed blacks could be put down without much difficulty; one by four million armed blacks would have meant big trouble.
Scott’s book is a call to arms, warning Americans not to fall prey to the siren songs of the gun-control crowd. He writes:
It may seem counter-intuitive, but now is the worst time for Americans who cherish freedom to let down their guard. While the momentum does seem to be in our favor — a welcome change — those who would disarm us will not let up; they remain hard at work pushing gun-control at the state and local level, and rest assured that future presidents and congresses will need to be reminded that the spirit of freedom remains strong in the American people.
Many groups, such as Gun Owners of America, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, and the National Rifle Association, along with their state-level affiliates, are working hard to keep pressure on law-makers to oppose gun-control laws. Other organizations, such as The Future of Freedom Foundation, relentlessly uphold the value of an armed citizenry and celebrate the individual right to keep and bear arms. If the right to be armed, to defend oneself against tyrants and criminals, is to survive for another two centuries, they will need our continued support.
The support we have received for our new ebook project has enabled us to publish Freedom and Security: The Second Amendment and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. If you haven’t yet donated for this project, please go to our support page and make a donation or simply send us a check or call us with credit card information and the amount you wish to donate.
In the meantime, buy and read this book and recommend it to your friends, family members, and mailing lists because a free society necessarily depends on the pro-gun rights message contained in this book.