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