Saturday, March 27, 2010

ESSAY: The Rise and (inpending) Fall of the Gun Control Movement in the United States of America.

Recent events regarding the open carrying of firearms in public have erupted into a national news story regarding a chain of coffee houses which has decided to allow the carry of firearms when and where allowed in public by the laws of the jurisdiction in which a particular establishment is located. Those who would like to see handguns in particular and all firearms in general banned from private posession are accordingly infuriated.

I grew up in the American Midwest, being born in 1953, What follows are my observations only. While I am not going to cite a bunch of "studies" and include footnotes, I think one does not need to consult a thermometer to determine that one needs a jacket. And indeed much of the anti-firearms argument is based not on fact, but rather on emotion. What follows here is an attempt to show, first; how these emotions came to the forefront, and second; how it came to be that issues are decided as much or more by feelings rather than fact.

Blather and myth about taming the "Wild West" by banning handguns aside, the first major incursion on Second Amendment rights in this country was during Prohibition when, before the government finally figured out that Prohibition itself was to blame for drive-by maachine gunnings, decided to blame the Thompson submachinegun , which at the time could be purchased at a general store along with a bag of fertilizer and a hoe. Yes, make something illegal and the criminals will be stymied. (It didn't work, of course). But right up until Lee Harvey Oswald asassinated JFK, you could send a check to Sears and a couple weeks later have the U.S. Postal Service deliver the rifle, pistol, revolver, or shotgun of your choice right to your door. In 1964 a Federal law was passed, and has since been expanded upon, which changed the way in which firearms were obtained. In 1934 this law would never have had a chance of passage. What prepped the American psyche to accept the Gun Control Act of 1964? The basic answer is three words: World War Two.

The Second World War was - compared to the First World War, which was largely a European conflict - a truly global conflagration replete with unspeakable horrors. It was hard-fought against truly fanatic and evil enemies, and ended with two uses of a new and terrible weapon: the nuclear bomb. Over four hundred thousand Americans lost their lives in that struggle. In terms of percentage of population, it would be as if we spent today four years in a conflict that cost two million American lives.

The end of that war was greeted with jubilation; and the United States of America was suddenly a world power. To commemorate this, an American journalist and writer made a production called "On a Note of Triumph" chronicling the epic struggle and victory. He closed the production with a poem called "PRAYER"; which here I will cite in its entirety (THIS WORK IS COPYRIGHTED AND USED NOT FOR PROFIT OR GAIN):


(Copyright Norman Corwin)


Whose Sword has laid open the Serpent so that it withers in the sun for the Just to see;

Sheath now thy swift avenging blade writ with the Names of Nations,

And assist in the preparation of the Ploughshare.


Who walks among the circuits of Heaven with the Worthy,

Serve notice to the fallen young men

That tokens of orange juice and a whole egg appear now before the hungry children;

That night once again falls cooling upon the earth as quietly as when it leaves Your Hand;

That Freedom has withstood the tyrant like a Malta in a hostile sea,

And that surely the Soul of Man is like a Sevastopol which goes down hard and springs up quickly from ruin.


Who furred the fox against the time of winter

And stored provender of bees in the brightest places of summer;

Do bring sweet influences to bear upon the assembly line'

Accept the smoke of the milltown among the accredited clouds of the sky;

Fend from the wind with a house and a hedge him who You made in Your Image;

And permit him to pick of the tree and the flock

That he may eat today without fear of tomorrow

And clothe himself with dignity in December.


Who joined the molecules of dust and shook them until their name was Adam;

Who taught worms and stars how they could live together;

Appear now in the parliaments of conquerors and give instruction to their schemes,

Measure out new liberties so that none shall suffer for his father's color or the credo of his choice;

Post proofs that Brotherhood is not so wild a dream as those who prosper by postponing it pretend;

Sit at the treaty table and convoy the hopes of the little people through expected straits,

And press into the final seal a sign that Peace will come for longer than posterities can see ahead;

That Man unto his fellow Man shall be a friend forever.

And Amen, say I even today. That poem neatly and eloquently encapsulated the feelings of the American people. Enough bad, enough violence, let's try - with God's help - to do good and not evil. Bread and sunrises trump trajectory and blast every time. And prosper we did, and the largest increase in births this nation has ever known - the "Baby Boom" - gave us a larger, younger population than any other industrialized country on Earth. I am one of those kids, all grown up now.

Our parents wanted a better life for us, one in which we would not have to worry about war nor be in danger of poverty. Noble motives, those; but their execution led to a generation with a large percentage of spoiled brats.

Many families, the adults sick of war and killing, would not allow firearms in the home. Surely, the reasoning went, with our new prosperous society we could train and pay professional police officers to protect us and our property. Surely, if science could construct a horror such as the nuclear bomb; then science could develop means of never again having to use violence. Those who bought into this flawed reasoning were the first "anti-gun" people; and their motives - although not their reasoning - were good. There were, however, those whose motives were not so good.

Almost immediately after World War II began the "Cold War" between the "Communist Bloc" and the Western allies. The basic Communist plan was to weaken the United States from within, to make her citizens soft and reliant on their government, and thus less likely to treasure their freedoms. The dark plotters of World Communism were not the only folks to use this strategy, though. Politicians saw that getting the electorate "free" goodies and "taking care" of them could translate into mega-votes. And it was quickly noted that - as in Prohibition - pointing out an inanimate object and villifying it was easier than actually going after the "root causes". So instead of encouraging community involvement (who had time for that?) the drumbeat grew to get rid of firearms.

A populace whose members were weary of war and viloence proved amenable to some local bans, but nationally extreme abrogation of the Second Amendment was not all that popular. Meanwhile the Communists were frustrated at our stymieing of their efforts to conquer Korea and other places. They knew that, as Mao Tse-Tung said, "Political power grows from the barrel of a gun". And American guns stood between them and world conquest. Consequently the goal of the American left became to instill a revulsion toward firearms in the populace. But there was not a sufficient catalyst to get the ball rolling until November 22nd 1963.

The assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald, who used a mail-order Mannlicher-Carcano bolt action rifle for the deed, resulted in the Gun Control Act of 1964. The killings of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King spurred further calls for legislation and restrictions. The result of these restrictions was an increase in crime in major cities, which responded by enacting local gun bans. In the case of Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C; these bans were absolute or nearly so as regarded handguns for common citizens. And the result was that citizens were turned into unarmed prey for criminals who - rather famously - do not care a fig for the law.

However, by the 1980s people began to wise up. They were sick and tired of being unarmed victims, and several states passed "shall issue" requirements for concealed carry permits. The leftist media screamed that blood would run in the streets, but quite the opposite happened. Also, persons in states such as Virginia and Vermont where a citizen could carry openly almost anywhere with no permit required did so increasingly. The most copious flow of innocent blood was in those places where the strictest bans remained in effect. This was blamed on the easy availability of firearms in the states that had no such restrictions. To call this argument specious is to call the Pacific Ocean "damp".

Today more and more states and jurisdictions are recognizing the "bear" part of "to keep and bear arms". We presently have as "president" an avowed "anti" who still signed into law a bill authorizing carry of firearms in National Parks (where authorized by the laws of the host State). Predictably, the Leftist media has been screaming about an incipient "bloodbath". It hasn't happened and it won't; except maybe a trail rapist might wind up getting penetrated himself - by his victim's Ladysmith revolver.

The hokum and twaddle the anti-gun movement uses to foist their views off on the public has been exposed, and continues to be. Bread and sunrises are indeed preferable. But sometimes, God forbid, but sometimes what one needs (if one wants to live) are trajectory and blast.

No comments:


Blog Archive