by Adam J. Wehrley and Deborah Steele Hazen
“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” - Thomas Jefferson
Nothing in this column is meant to diminish in any way the horror and tragedy of the shootings at the school in Newtown, Conn. nor at the Clackamas Town Center, the theatre in Aurora, Colo., nor any other case of innocents being killed by madmen and evil-doers armed with guns.
That said, we believe it would be a terrible mistake to weaken, in any way, the Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Some of those now pushing for gun control try to argue that times have changed, that a “militia” is no longer necessary. We would refer to the quote at the top of this column. Jefferson was not the only founding father to make it clear that the “strongest reason” for the Second Amendment is as a safeguard against tyrany. Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, among other examples, made the same point in the Federalist Papers, numbers 29 and 46, respectively.
Without being alarmists, without pointing fingers at anyone in the political arena of today, without identifying any country, group or individual (foreign or domestic) as an enemy of the United States, history plainly teaches that unarmed people easily fall victim to armed forces.
It takes arms to stop armed violence.
Much of the history of the 20th century was made by totalitarian regimes established on empty and deceptive utopian promises, systematically slaughtering their own unarmed and innocent civilians, while western democracies failed to act until their economic interests were threatened or they came under attack themselves.
“Power Grows Out of the Barrel of a Gun”
Beginning with the death of 1.5 million disarmed Armenian civilians ordered by the government of Turkey in 1915, continuing with the disarmament and massacre by various means in the Lenin and Stalin-controlled communist Soviet Union, Hitler’s Nazi Holocaust which began with the disarming of the Germany people and advanced across Europe in what was to become World War II; the slaughter of millions in China, Cambodia, Tibet and Iraq; in the African nations of Uganda, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Sudan and more – it is estimated that 170 million unarmed civilians around the world were gassed, shot, clubbed, tortured and starved to death by forces under the control of their governments during the 20th century.
These 170 million were not armed insurgents. They were not opposing forces in a civil war. They were unarmed civilians within the borders of their homelands killed by state-sponsored violence and oppression, almost always in the name of creating a better society for the majority.
We would recommend that everyone interested in the current debate about the Second Amendment watch the documentary “Innocents Betrayed,” which is available on the Internet at http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/innocents-betrayed/.
Sadly the slaughter has continued into the 21st century with the on-going arrests, harassment and execution of ethnic, political and religious minorities in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Idi Amin and other dictators knew that to control a people, they must first control the guns.
“One man with a gun can control 100 without one.” - Joseph Stalin
“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” - Chairman Mao Zedong
The history of oppressive governments infringing on their citizens’ rights to self-defense dates back to early Biblical times when Israel was denied access to blacksmiths who could produce weapons.
The founders of our nation were rebels who, as armed citizens, won their independence from the most powerful military empire of the time. They valued the right of each individual to defend themselves and their duty to defend their nation.
Although we respect the hunting tradition on which many families we know depend for protein, the Second Amendment has never been about sporting rifles. It is not even primarily about individual self-defense. It is, and always has been, about the right of the people to defend themselves against tyranny, and to help repel an attack by foreign forces.
It is incidental that weapons used to fight men are efficient tools for hunting animals. Nearly every gun on the civilian market today was once a military grade design – from the musket to the revolver to the repeating rifle to the bolt action rifles of World War I and II, to the M-16 and AK-47s of Vietnam and the Cold War, the fully automatic forerunners of the civilian AR-15s and SKSes.
The fact that they are as efficient for hunting animals as they are at fighting combatants has never driven the technology. Firearms are arms – they are designed for armies. The right to bear arms is about the right of citizens to resist armed oppression.
These technologies cannot be uninvented. Now that they exist, evil forces will strive to place them in the hands of their servants. Those seeking to protect the innocent must be as well or better armed than those seeking to harm them.
So then, is a well-equipped and well-trained military and police force enough? No!
War in North America is not likely in this decade. It may not come in our time. But since we cannot promise our children and grandchildren an end to all violence and oppression in their lifetimes, we will continue to encourage responsible Americans to own and maintain proficiency with firearms.
It is not about a distrust of current political leaders. It is about an examination of history which clearly shows that unarmed people are easily victimized, while an armed citizenry is capable of establishing or renewing the greatest, freest, most prosperous nation the world has ever seen.
It Has Happened Here
Sadly, the history of the United States of America is far from perfect on the topic of abusing, and in some cases, killing groups of people whom we have disarmed.
African-Americans were held in slavery, completely at the mercy of their “owners,” until the guns of the North freed them during the Civil War. Even after that, some Southern states passed laws prohibiting African-Americans from owning weapons until the civil rights movement of the 1960s, which we celebrated this week with Martin Luther King Day.
The U.S. forcibly disarmed, deported, relocated and murdered Native Americans through much of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, culminating in the Battle of Wounded Knee in December 1890, when a group of Lakota Sioux “Ghost Dancers,” turned in all but two or three of the few weapons they had and then were massacred – men, women and children – by a company of U.S. Army calvary
Under an executive order by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942, over 110,000 Japanese-Americans from the West Coast were first disarmed, then interred in government camps following the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Imperialist Japanese war machine.
Many of those young Japanese-American men, including at least two former Clatskanie area residents, served with distinction in the European Theatre of World War II, and many gave their lives for this country, including Sgt. Tom Takemato of Clatskanie.
In the wake of the horrific recent mass shootings, we have heard some say that they believe Americans’ Second Amendment rights are obsolete.
They are mistaken.
Unfortunately, people do occasionally have a need for self-defense, and from time-to-time a group of people must unite to defend their rights against tyranny.
It has happened in nearly every corner of the world. Acts of oppression, injustice and aggression by the government against innocent civilians has happened in the United States. It could happen again.
We must and should address the safety of our children and the populace in general, (we will write more about that in the future). But, we must not give away our freedoms.
And, we must fulfill our duty to defend ourselves, our famlies, our communities and our country.
Sheriff Supports Second Amendment
We congratulate Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson, who joined other law enforcment officials from around the state and nation during the past week in expressing his support for the Second Amendment.
In a letter dated Jan. 16 and addressed to Columbia County citizens, Sheriff Dickerson wrote:
“Recent events in our nation have created tremendous focus on the Second Amendment in our Constitution. I have been asked by citizens to comment on the tone of the discussion at the federal level and the potential threat to the freedoms of gun owners in our county.
“I have been a longtime supporter of Second Amendment freedoms and have taken public stands in support of the individual’s right to keep and bear arms. I am also an advocate for responsible gun ownership and am working to expand the opportunities for citizens to learn practical gun safety and training techniques.
“I also will be expressing my thoughts to our state and federal legislative representatives, encouraging them to respect the gun rights of the individual but also to find ways to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other individuals who lack the capacity to make sound moral decisions in regard to their possession of firearms. Some of those ways include:
“• Broadened prosecution of felonious gun criminals.
“• Severe penalties for gun violence.
“• Closing the gap in the law in regard to prohibiting the possession of firearms by mentally unstable individuals.
“In many instances, laws are already in place, but lack the necessary enforcement or resources to investigate, convict and incarcerate violent offenders.
“Sadly, I believe the tone of the discussion in our Nation’s Capitol is too focused on limiting our basic rights as delineated and protected by our Constitution, instead of addressing the issues that gave rise to the incidents in Newtown, Connecticut and in Clackamas. I do not believe that most of the ‘fixes’ being discussed by politicians in Washington, DC would have prevented what happened in those incidents.
“As Sheriff, I have taken an oath to support the Constitution of the United States of America. I have upheld and will continue to uphold this oath, including supporting the Second Amendment rights of our citizens. When tragedy or controversy strikes our nation, I believe it is incumbent upon us all to avoid hasty reactions to situations that impact the rights of all people.”