This article, by Wendy McElroy, was originally published on The Dollar Vigilante.
At a town hall event with CNN on June 17, Hillary Clinton attacked opponents of stricter gun control. She stated, “We cannot let a minority of people, and that’s what it is, it is a minority of people, hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people.” [Emphasis added.] She distorted her opponents as terrorists.
She was also wrong about opponents being in the minority. A Gallup poll from early October 2013 found that 49 percent of Americans wanted “laws covering the sale of firearms to be more strict,” 13 percent favored less strict laws, 37 percent wanted them kept the same and 1 percent had no opinion. Otherwise stated, 49 percent were for and 50 percent were against increased gun control.
Perhaps Clinton is hoping for a good crisis to swing public opinion her way. In 2009, at the European Parliament in Brussels, she paraphrased a statement first uttered by Barack Obama’s former White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. Clinton said, “Never waste a good crisis,” and explained that the economic crisis should be used but used to achieve “very positive” political goals on climate change. Similarly, tragedies such as the school shooting at Sandy Hook (December 2012) should not be “wasted” but be used to push the further nationalization of gun ownership.
In fact, Clinton’s anti-gun tirade at the town hall was prompted by a question from a Maryland teacher. The questioner asked if “reinstating the ban on assault weapons and banning high capacity magazines would do any good” to halt school shootings? Clinton’s answer dove right into not wasting Sandy Hook. She said, “I was disappointed that the Congress did not pass universal background checks after the horrors of the shootings at Sandy Hook.”
Of course, the controls suggested are “for the children” and ones to which only the terrorist minority could object.
The Myth Of Benign Regulation
Regulation of gun ownership is confiscation by another name. It victimizes people who do not even own guns because what is being confiscated is their right to do so. There nothing benign, nothing protective about taking away an individual’s right to self-defense.
But overt confiscation of weapons is unlikely to occur — at least, not immediately — because it is not politically expedient. Gun control advocates have learned lessons from episodes such as Connecticut’s recent weapon revolt. In the wake of Sandy Hook, the State banned ammunition magazines of more than 10 rounds. Residents who had purchased such magazines prior to the law’s enforcement were required to register them with the police by Jan. 1. Assault rifles manufactured after 1994 also required registration.
Reported Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars: “Weeks after the January 1 deadline expired, authorities revealed that just 50,016 assault weapons and 38,290 ammunition magazines had been registered by Connecticut gun owners, meaning that some 320,000 assault rifles and around 2.4 million high capacity magazines were not declared.”
Second Amendment groups vigorously challenged the law. Gun owners and protesters called out the increasingly popular slogan “molon labe.” The term allegedly comes from the Spartan king and general Leonidas, whose vastly outnumbered soldiers off held a Persian invasion for days; the Battle of Thermopylae is world renowned as a famous last stand. The Persian Emperor Xerxes demanded the surrender of the Spartans’ weapons. Leonidas replied “molon labe” or “Come and get them!” His response has gone viral throughout the gun rights movement.
As a result of backlash, the Connecticut police offered public assurances that there would be no door-to-door confiscation, no arrests for noncompliance. They backed away, for the time being.
Gun control zealots will not give up; they will become more subtle. Four tactics that are already evident will rise in prominence.
- Chipping away at the vulnerable aspects of gun ownership: Rather than imposing an outright ban, gun controllers will attack the most vulnerable areas of gun ownership, such as assault weapons or the “need” to store guns in locked cases, which renders them inaccessible for self-defense. Hundreds of reasonably phrased restrictions have been and will be passed by State legislatures; massive anti-gun campaigns will be funded by taxpayers; vendors will confront increasing paperwork, fees and obstructive requirements; waiting periods will extend; prices and taxes will hike; background checks will eliminate ownership for more and more categories of people… At some point, gun rights and gun ownership become so minimized that a de facto confiscation has occurred.
- Divide and align tactics: This strategy is related to “chipping away,” but it does not aim at laws and regulations. It uses threats and alliances in order to weaken an opponent. An example of a threat is the extreme militarization of law enforcement, which eloquently conveys, “We are an overpowering force against which you have no chance.” An example of an alliance is joining ranks with the American Medical Association to have the AMA conduct studies on gun violence which are invariably pro-regulation. Or the executive order Obama signed to “release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.”
- Stigmatizing the opponent: Gun owners are caricatured as rednecks, unintelligent, politically dangerous, immoral, discontented, mentally challenged, angry misfits. In an unguarded moment during Obama’s first Presidential campaign, he was asked why working-class voters in industrial towns were difficult for him to win over. Referring to high unemployment, he replied, “It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” A difference in opinion and attitude will be explained in terms of your emotional problems. Or specific types of gun owners will be stigmatized. For example, the gun controller will ask: “Why would anyone need an assault weapon?” The clear implication is that something is wrong with the owner.
- Reframing the context of the debate: Private gun ownership is one of the most powerful barriers to a total police state, but this fact will be underplayed. Instead, with loud public rhetoric, gun controllers will preach child safety and resurrect corpses from school shootings. Gun control will be linked to public safety and the need to reduce crime, especially among minorities or inner cities. Gun ownership will be blamed for the deaths of women in domestic violence. The real reason 300 law enforcement men surrounded Cliven Bundy’s ranch for the sin of not paying a grazing license will never be named. The state is terrified of a man who says “no, I will not obey,” and means it.
Some advocates believe gun ownership is a 2nd Amendment right that is guaranteed by the Constitution. But it should be obvious by now how dangerous it is to base a human right upon a government document. Governments change. They brim with politicians. And documents can be reinterpreted. The right to gun ownership resides in the jurisdiction that each human being rightfully has over his own body and over peaceful enjoyment of it. This jurisdiction does not come from a document but from the basic human right to defend what is yours, what is you: your body, the property that results from your labor and those you love who are peacefully living their lives. These are what the state wishes to confiscate.