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This is the U.B.

Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001 10:09:16 -0700 (PDT)
From: robert n lyman
To: jlspencer@dailypress.com
Subject: "This is the U.B...."

Mr. Spencer,

Undoubtedly you have and will continue to receive piles of hate mail for your anti-gun columns. I am sorry that gun owners can be rude, but you must understand that we have, thanks to people like you, become a hated and pursued minority. The natural anger that results can produce some rather colorful language. I will endeavor to avoid such extremes.

To begin with, Mr. Spencer, I should clarify my beliefs and why I hold them. I hold it to be self-evident that every living thing--from bacteria through weeds right on up to people--has a natural, fundamental, God-given right to defend itself from harm. Yes, God intended us to protect ourselves when we were assaulted by the predators that plague us. Antelopes use their horns and hooves to fight off big cats, and humans use fists, knives and guns to fight of robbers, rapists, murderers, and governmental tyrants.

Now I also hold that no earthly authority of any kind may deny us this right. No legislator, no dictator, and no police officer may legitimately act to punish us for the simple act of protecting our bodies and our families.

I further hold that denying access to the tools necessary to exercise a right is no different than denying the right itself. For the government to declare that "the press is free" while criminalizing the purchase of paper and ink would be absurd. Likewise, for the government to "respect the right to self-defense" while declaring that a 110-pound woman is only permitted to defend herself from a 300-pound rapist with her bare hands would likewise be absurd. Laws that prohibit the possession of modern arms for the purpose of self-defense are of such a character, and thus transgress on a fundamental and unalienable right.

Likewise, to license or tax a fundamental right is to turn that right in to a privilege to be granted or withheld at the pleasure of the government. No American government may demand that priests are licensed, or that letters to the editor be taxed, or that a particular class of people (such as Jews or Hispanics) register their whereabouts.

From these premises, I draw the conclusion: The right to purchase, own, and trade in modern firearms or other weapons suitable for self-defense and rebellion against arbitrary government, without being subjected to licensing, registration, or taxation in excess or ordinary sales taxes is fundamental, inalienable right, and if you happen to be a fan of the Bible, you could say it was granted by God. The responsibility for the safe and responsible operation of these weapons lies solely in the hands of the owner and operator, and certainly not with the NRA.

That said, I will return to a more practical point. It is frequently asserted by people such as you that America's "love of weapons" is responsible for the lethal violence that supposedly plagues our society. To lay the blame for murder at the feet of NRA members is patently absurd. Neither the AAA, nor GM, nor Miller is responsible for drunk driving. Blaming ordinary, responsible drivers for the bad driving of teenagers is similarly silly. A common refrain among gun owners is, "Ted Kennedy's car has killed more people than my guns." This is more than a conservative taunt--it shows that the content of one's character, not the ownership of politically incorrect objects, is the proper measure of a man. The contents of our gun safes are no more to blame for the actions of drug dealers and delinquents than we are.

Now perhaps you can understand the outrage and anger that fills your inbox. What if, every time a black man committed murder, the editorial pages demanded that blacks "clean up their act"? What if the blame for the murder was handed to Jesse Jackson, much as the blame for shootings is shifted to Charlton Heston? Would that not be outrageous and offensive bigotry? In like manner your claim that the NRA causes murders is offensive, bigoted, and must inevitably bring out the worst in decent people tired of being abused by the press.

But haven't gun owners opposed "common sense laws" and thus indirectly contributed to crime? No. Consider the "war on drugs." Drug dealers sell an illegal product imported from thousands of miles away. They are links in a long chain of expert smugglers. It is actually possible to buy cocaine legally-if you prove a need for it (medical research, for example), have a license, and you follow strict bookkeeping procedures. Given that these laws and billions of dollars have not stemmed the tide of illegal drugs, how likely is it that licensing, registration, and other similar proposals will prevent gang-bangers from getting guns? Not bloody likely. Guns do not cause criminality any more than flies cause garbage. Indeed, as with flies, the relationship is inverted. Criminals, delinquents, and terrorists bent on murder will always be armed.

As for the notion that guns make you safer-it is demonstrably true. If you don't believe me, then why not work to disarm the police? After all, if guns really don't protect their owners, the police don't need them. Taking them off of the cops' belts would "reduce the number of guns on the street." That's something you support, isn't it?

If this seems totally ridiculous to you, then you will understand why I think that giving up my guns, which I own for self-defense, is an equally bad idea. Perhaps if you reflect on the experiences of England and Australia, you will understand why the NRA and I oppose registering gun owners as if they were sex offenders. Perhaps if you are honest with yourself, you will realize that criminals will always be armed, just as they will always have smuggled contraband to sell. The least we can do is permit honest people to exercise their God-given right to self-defense.

I am open to real proposals that will have a positive effect on crime. However, I have never encountered a gun-control law that was at all likely to do so.

In peace and liberty,

Robert Lyman


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