Another day and another mass shooting in a public setting. This time a mentally deranged individual brought an arsenal in to Umpqua Community College in Oregon. When the smoked cleared, nine were dead and many more wounded. The scene must have been a tragic one, but the mental failings of the shooter and the pain of the victims have been lost in another gun control firestorm for the left. The press marches along complicitly with the gun control talking points when there are much more pressing and deeper issues at hand.
President Obama’s speech in reaction was emotional, moving, and sympathetic, yet seem to misdirect the focus. Yes, this was tragic; yes, this was horrific. Did the President question motive in the selection of victims, each being asked if they were a Christian? Did he recognize that there are already a multitude of gun laws extant, and these laws are supposed to prevent a mentally ill person from obtaining firearms? Has he mentioned the inconsistent enforcement of existing gun laws and gun crimes across the nation? Has he noted that such incidents seem to happen almost exclusively in gun free zones?
Hillary Clinton did not hesitate for a moment to vilify the NRA and gun ownership in general. At A New York fundraiser she ranted: “I’m going to speak out, I’m going to do everything I can to rally people against this pernicious, corrupting influence of the NRA and we’re going to do whatever we can.” She further added: “We’ve got to go after this, and here again, the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment. And I am going to make that case every chance I get.”
President Obama, Ms. Clinton and the many who subscribe to such left-leaning rhetoric are missing the point. For example, one falsehood in the President’s speech stated that “America is the only country in which these things happen.” Not correct. There is violent gun crime all across the world. We simply do not hear much about it, especially in countries where press and free speech are restricted. The problem in most of these countries, where murder happens daily, is the fact that only the criminals have guns, not the citizens. Ask any resident of cartel controlled regions in Mexico who has the guns and how often are they used. America is one of the few advanced countries left with liberal ownership laws for their citizens that, in essence, prevent such criminality and enforced anarchy from running completely amok.
If any reader has ever attempted to buy a firearm they will know that they have to fill out a multi-page questionnaire and submit to a federal background check for each individual purchase. This law is universal and has few exceptions, usually for proprietary licensed individuals who have previously submitted to even more stringent screening. If the perpetrator in the Umpqua shooting had ever been treated for mental illness, it should have shown up on a background check as he purchased subsequent weapons. But the fact is you cannot create a law, any law, which will corral a first time offender that has suddenly dropped off the deep end. Thus such incidents become a painful but necessary price of freedom. You cannot punish the majority for the sins of the few.
Do we need more gun control laws? Hard to say when there are so many holes in the existing gun laws. Do laws that make guns harder to procure for ordinary citizens prevent crimes like this? Research by the NRA and other pro-second amendment organizations suggests otherwise. Would a few gun carrying citizens or private security individuals on the campus or near the shooter have been able to prevent such a slaughter? Hard to say also, but there would have certainly been the possibility of a quicker response. With no method of force to disable a shooter, the guy holding the gun has all the power. This is one reason a lot of these incidents seem to happen in “gun free zones”. The police rarely arrive until the shooting is over.
There is a broader issue at play here, not just tragedy and heartache. There is in fact a global initiative to disarm the citizens of the world. In a 2006 United Nations Security Council Manifesto, U.N. leadership stated that it was “a necessary civil rights issue” that citizens across the world be disarmed to protect the general public good. Ultimately, liberals in this country, such as President Obama, Hillary Clinton and like-minded acolytes, agree with this doctrine. There are many quiet approaches now in motion to try and enforce this political philosophy, with America being seen as the final frontier of “peaceful, gun free living.” We must be aware of the reality that forces both within and without the U.S. have the goal of eventually realizing a fully disarmed citizenry.
A problem with this attractive sounding, if somewhat pacifist, outlook are stark lessons of recent history. It is more than a simple NRA truism to point out that an armed population is governed, an unarmed population is ruled. It is well demonstrated fact. A perusal of twentieth century history will reveal that time and time again, criminal and political atrocities far greater than any U.S. mass shooting were perpetrated repeatedly on unarmed populations in many countries.
Virtually every major European and Asian country (and recently many African nations) at some time in the last hundred years or so has seen criminal, political or military imposition on its unarmed citizenry. From Poland to Cambodia, from Czechoslovakia to China, from France to the Philippines. History shows that not a dozen here or there, but hundreds of thousands, even untold millions have died at the hands of regimes both internal and external that easily wielded power over an unarmed, unprepared and vulnerable citizenry.
Examples innumerable may be found in books such as “Surviving the Killing Fields” by Haing Ngor. In this account, the author directly laments that when Khmer Rouge rebels stormed into Phnom Penh in 1976, many just young teenagers loosely wielding Chinese provided AK-47s, that the citizenry had no way to resist their takeover and looting of the country’s only major city. The result was that several thousand reckless, uncaring and immature armed Communist rebels drove millions of the unprotected citizenry into the county where they were subjected to years of forced labor, starvation, torture and death, with no way to ever resist, reclaim their property or take back their shattered lives.
Haing Ngor’s story is just one of millions of like accounts that describe what life without the right to substantial self-defense can become. Tragedies like Umpqua are an unfortunate part of the price of true freedom. Are there new laws that can really change these types of tragedies? It is difficult to speculate. In a country with over one hundred million gun owners, sooner or later the odds are that someone previously thought to be responsible will come unhinged and disaster may ensue. We simply cannot prevent every tragedy.
Do guns in the hands of ordinary citizens always spell trouble? Not necessarily. Switzerland issues military grade weapons to all of their citizens who have served in the Swiss Army (mandatory for all able bodied men) and these citizens are in the kept in the army reserve with weaponry on call in their homes as late as their fifties. Gun ownership, community wide shooting events and public promotion of gun skills are integral in their culture. Yet they seem to have very few tragic incidents. What is the difference? It is hard to say. But it is a subject, if we seek real answers, which should be a focus of substantial research. Perhaps it is cultural, or perhaps it is better firearms training, a subject second amendment supporters have always promoted. But Washington likes to politicize the issue first and ask the hard questions later, if they ask at all.
The price of individual freedom we have become accustomed to, and often take for granted, is found not just in the lives of victims of gun crime, but in the casualty list of every major conflict that seeks to maintain such freedoms. The basic right of a person to defend themselves, at least on an equal level with those who would perpetrate crime, or worse unrighteous political or social control, is at stake in this ongoing struggle. This is the real issue. We have law upon law currently on the books. What additions to all of these laws would change anything? We have to ask ourselves if we are willing to bear this cost, the lives of the unfortunate victims, to ensure the right to maintain the freedom and greater safety of an entire nation. In an ever more violent, morally corrupt and confused world, the issue becomes a critical focal point. These are questions we had better have the right answers to.