An Open (and Polite) Letter to the Gun Control Faction


By Mike Cronin

Here’s my take on the bitter firearms dispute vitiating our country. I offer my commentary without vitriol. No contempt. No condescension. No name-calling, baiting, or inflammatory rhetoric; just exposition.

Obviously, we have a fundamental philosophical difference.  I don’t know, but I suspect that your apprehension over firearms is energized by a belief that it is the government’s responsibility to protect the citizenry from harm, and that you see firearms in private hands as a huge threat, especially given horrific mass shootings.  Ergo, the government should further regulate firearms or ban them outright. If I am articulating it wrong, please correct me.

I can’t speak for every pro-gun rights person, but I suspect most of us subscribe to a quite different interpretation of the government’s duty to protect us than you do.  I see it like this:  All of us have the inherent right to defend ourselves from immediate violence.  It would be nice if there were always a police officer around to intercede on our behalf, but that’s just not feasible, so we compromise.  We retain the ultimate individual right to self-defense, but we delegate the right to retaliate after the fact (via impartial criminal prosecution and punishment) to government.

So far, you may not see a large gulf between our positions.  Yet there is a significant one:  It is my position that the right to self-defense is absolute.  By that I mean that I have the right to defend myself from ANY initiation of violence (or the imminent threat of same) from ANY initiator – up to and including government agents, should they act in the absence of due process or turn overtly tyrannical.  A shotgun or revolver is hardly proportional to such a threat. Since our own government, should it turn tyrannical, and the forces of other governments, should they unwisely choose to invade this country, possess weapon systems of devastating destructive power, it is more than reasonable for a free individual to possess mere firearms to stand in opposition, even if such opposition must take the form of a covert insurgency. It is reasonable that a free person possess firearms identically lethal to those his oppressors routinely bear.

Does that mean I think private individuals should be able to go down to “Booms-R-Us” and buy guided missiles and tanks and chemical weapons?  In the absence of a better argument, I’ll accede to this principle: the more indiscriminate a weapon is, the harder it should be for anyone to obtain.  That principle is already largely in effect. Regardless of anybody’s desire, there is no “Booms-R-Us” to go to in this country. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t legally buy a grenade, landmine, or bomb as a private citizen without an enormous amount of oversight, if at all. Conversely, hand-held firearms currently legal for possession are discriminate enough that law-abiding individuals should not be further barred or banned from buying and possessing them, regardless of militarized appearance, magazine capacity, fire rate, trigger function, or other minutiae, or whether some sociopath or jihadist has used one to commit mass murder.

There has been, and will continue to be, all manner of legal wrangling over the exact meaning of the oddly-phrased Second Amendment within the bounds of “the letter of the law.” However, the Founders made the spirit and intent clear in their other writings.  The Second Amendment does not primarily protect the right to hunt or compete at the skeet range, that protection is a byproduct.  It protects the individual right to self-defense. (Don’t take my word for it; the Supreme Court has said as much in D.C. vs. Heller.) A populace that can assassinate tyrannical leaders and their henchmen and fight a well-equipped guerrilla war against its oppressors is a populace that will not be easy to subjugate. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to guarantee that America has such a populace.

If we look at our positions from a purely logical standpoint, I posit that we are arguing from different premises: The pro-gun rights argument rests on the premise that individuals have an inherent and inviolate right to self-defense, and that our government is obligated by the Second Amendment to protect that right through non-infringement on keeping and bearing arms. If I have not misread the argument for the gun control faction, your premise is that government’s obligation to protect our rights gives it (or should give it) the purview to limit the potential for anyone to cause harm.

I contend that the more power you give to the government to prevent anyone from causing harm, the more pathological personalities you will attract who seek to wield that power…to cause harm!  Eventually, you will get a card-carrying totalitarian who will turn the United States into a Venezuela or an Iraq, or worse. The alternative is to accept some risk with your freedom: occasionally, a nut with a rifle will kill a bunch of innocent people.  The proper mitigation to both threats: A populace that can shoot back!

Four Branches of Dysfunction in US Government, Part II


By Mike Cronin

“What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright in 1993, to then Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell, in reference to Bosnia

In Part I, I opined that slavery was the first of four major branches of dysfunction that plague our government, and that slavery led us to the worst instance of the second: the Civil War. George Washington once compared government to fire: “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” Government attracts the power hungry, and war is the most attractive method for the power hungry to exercise their power. War negates reason, and provides a fertile field for yet more power to accrue to the government.  It changes the balance of power in the relationship between people and government – war gives unjust power to the government, powers NOT derived from the consent of the governed.

It is to America’s credit, and to the genius of the founders, that for the most part our government’s powers have retracted somewhat after our wars, but it is to our detriment that that power has never ebbed to the level it was at before each war.  In other words, our government assumes new and greater powers with each war, and then sheds some measure of the accrued power after the war, but never all of it. Hence, with each succeeding war, our government grows and become more intrusive.

Certainly, some wars are more just than others, and our nation must be prepared to them. I felt strongly enough about that to serve in the military, but not blindly. Which wars are just?  Smashing Al-Qaeda was (and remains) a national defense imperative. Going after Saddam Hussein was just, but appears to have also been unwise. Was the Spanish-American war just and wise? It put America on map as a great power, but was it necessary to the defense of the nation?  We weren’t attacked or threatened by Spain.  Historians have alleged that President Roosevelt pressured and goaded the Japanese in to attacking us in order to get us into WW II. We probably would have been drug into the war at some point, regardless, but, if true, was it just and wise to encourage and hasten it? If the Spanish-American War put us on the map as a great power, WW II left us (briefly) as the only superpower, and the Cold War left us alone on the superpower stage. It may be good to be the king, but is it wise to be the largest target in a hostile world?

Slavery and war have exposed us to several virulent strains of hypocrisy: Our founders held that all men were created equal…unless one didn’t count as a man. We abolished the chattel slavery of Africans and their descendants in the south, but periodically enslaved men of all colors and creeds through conscription until the 1970s.  We want to bring peace and freedom and prosperity to the world, but we have allowed (or engineered) ourselves to engage in the biggest wars in history, and suffered internal paroxysms as a result.  If there can be such a thing as a national psyche, these dichotomies are not conducive to its health.