by Adam J. Wehrley
Molon Labe “Come and take them!” was Spartan King Leonidas’ response to King Xerxes’ demand that Leonidas and the 300 Spartans he led give up their weapons to Xerxes’ invading army of 100,000 men in August of 480 B.C.
Though he and his men died, they and their allies killed 20,000 Persians. Their sacrifice saved Greece. By holding a mountain pass, 300 men held back one of the most powerful empires in history.
On April 19, 1775, 700 British soldiers were sent to seize arms and supplies from the American colonists in Concord, Mass. The alarm was sounded, Paul Revere and William Dawes made their famous ride. By the next morning the British forces had been routed and 15,000 militiamen surrounded Boston. Eight years later the American Revolution was over. A quarter of a million rebels participated. Again, the most powerful empire on earth at the time was defeated by patriots defending their homeland.
These events, along with memories of the wars our nation has fought since, and atrocities committed by totalitarian regimes during the 20th century in the name of the greater good, are what motivates Second Amendment proponents in the current debate.
As detailed in this column last week, 170 million unarmed civilians were murdered by their own governments over the past 100 years. Many gun owners are simply determined that they and their children will never be part of a similar statistic.
What are we afraid of? Nothing so long as we keep our firearms.
“Not with ten thousand men could you do this. It is folly.” Boromir, The Fellowship of the Ring
Although estimates vary, there are about 300 million firearms in America, almost one for every citizen.
I do not believe there is a military force on earth with both the will and capability to disarm the American people. I do not believe rural Americans who see themselves as patriots will ever voluntarily give up their arms. Many have served this country in the military and in their communities, and have raised their families to pledge their allegiance to our flag and republic, which they believe to be synonymous with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The more politicians in Washington, D.C. are perceived as being disrespectful of our military, trying to infringe on rural Americans’ liberties or trying to centralize and globalize our nation, the more gun owners will be galvanized against them.
The more government leaders are seen as abandoning the Founding Fathers, the more Americans who read Madison rather than Marx will tend to believe it is treasonous not to oppose their dictates.
The point of last week’s Trident was that tyranny can easily reign over an unarmed citizenry.
This week we warn those who oppose the right to bear arms, that a narrow election victory will not convince Americans to lay down their guns. Executive orders, federal mandates, additional state gun control measures, or even repealing the Second Amendment will never be recognized as legitimate.
These beliefs predate the current administration. They are not motivated by distrust of any single political figure.
It is inconceivable to anyone familiar with small town and rural Americans that our citizens could or will be denied their right to bear arms.
Such an attempt can only end in bloodshed.
Every call for gun control, every hint at further infringement results in massive increases in sales of guns and ammunition. This is true here in Clatskanie. I have no doubt it is true in thousands of other communities across the country.
Forcibly disarming northern Columbia County alone would be a nearly impossible task. It cannot be done. Even with a military force willing to use sophisticated weaponry, it is virtually impossible to subjugate an armed guerilla force. Primitive Afghani tribesmen holding out for over a century against the military might of Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States, is one example.
We maintain that the spirit of rugged individualism, which still predominates throughout rural and small town America, has always been our greatest defense. We are and continue to be a nation of patriots who will lay down our lives to protect the freedom of our neighbors and our children.
A Safer America
Reading Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) violent crime statistics this week actually proved to be a fairly encouraging and uplifting experience.
Despite the depth of the current political divide, despite the tension and unease of the current economic situation, despite the sharp increase in gun sales over recent weeks, the statistics show that we really are much safer then we were 20 years ago. Tragedies persist, but on the whole, we are safer.
According to FBI statistics, from 1991 to 2010 the violent crime rate dropped 47 percent nationwide. In 1991 the U.S. population was 252 million people and we had 24,703 murders. In 2010 the population had grown to 308 million, but there were nearly 10,000 less murders -14,748. The murder rate plummeted from 9.8 per 100,000 people to 4.8, a 51 percent decrease.
These statistics cover 10 years of Democratic presidential administration and 10 years of Republican presidential administration. Across the board, the violent crime decreased in every category, almost every year.
Unable to tie the results to the political rhetoric, I would like to gratefully give the credit for this much ignored turn around in our society to our law enforcement personnel; to credit their dedication and willingness to stand in harm’s way, and improvements in their training, equipment and tactics.
The same statistics also illustrate the confusion over threats posed by citizens owning what non-gun-owners call assault rifles. Of the 12,996 murders committed in the U.S. in 2010, 8,775 involved firearms. Only 358 of those, 2.7 percent were specified as being committed with rifles, not just “assault rifles,” any rifle. This is opposed to 6,009 committed with handguns, while over 2,000 were unspecified in the statistics.
Knives are more common as murder weapons than rifles. So are blunt objects such as clubs, hammers and bats. Even bare hands and feet are used more often than rifles.
To clear the air on the assault rifle debate, weapons sold on the consumer market are not military grade. Automatic weapons have been banned for civilians, with very few exceptions, since the National Firearms Act of 1934.
That is a key distinction -automatic versus semi-automatic. All firearm technology was originally designed for military use. The bolt and lever action weapons used by previous generations of hunters were military advances in the 19th century.
Automatic weapons existed prior to World War I, but semi-automatic weapons dominated on the battlefield until the late 1940s. Civilian rifles are nearly a century behind military models on this technology, yet confusion persists.
Supporters of the citizens’ right to bear arms frequently cite resistance to military-backed oppression as their justification for owning weapons. Anti-gun advocates often argue their points based on their non-hunter assessment of what is suitable for deer hunting. That only betrays a gross misunderstanding of the debate.
We would love to see the murder rate continue to drop even more. One murder, one assault, one case of abuse is one too many.
But we must weigh those statistics against the 170 million murdered by oppressive regimes in the 20th century.Because we cannot guarantee our children a world free of violence, tyranny and oppression, we must maintain their right to defend themselves.
All that is required for tyranny to reign is the opportunity provided by unarmed victims. Power will always attract the corrupt, no matter how the road to oppression was paved with good intentions.
Those bent on murder will find the means, those seeking a weapon will find one adequate for their intentions.
Before we disembowel the Bill of Rights, we must look closely at the mental health issues that are so often the root cause of these mass shootings, the compelling evidence of a link to prescription anti-depressants, and the violence in movies, video games, music and other forms of mass media that capture and too often tragically compel sick people to act on their homicidal fantasies.
We will continue to use the freedom of the press to promote the citizens’ right to keep and bear arms as their last-resort protection against tyranny.