Nothing to Fear But Fear (of Tyranny) Itself

The irony of those opposed to stronger gun laws shouting “It’s not guns, it’s mental illness!” (aside from the hypocrisy of simultaneous mental health funding cuts)? Some gun rights activists might be considered way out of touch with reality themselves.

Wow, my fellow advocates for safer gun laws have really got folks up in arms now! (Yes, sad pun intended).

It seems everyone is talking, lots of you angrily, especially in comments to my previous columns. Some conversation about the gun issue is better than none at all — I’m for it if it increases the number of voices asking for saner, safer gun laws and speaking out against the ever-powerful (and rich) gun-rights lobby. I’m for it if it encourages rational dialogue between those on both sides looking for logical middle ground to make us all safer.

But not all conversation about gun safety is created equal, especially when it seems to come from a section of the population that may have lost its grip on the reality of where the majority stands.  

I’m not talking about those who misquote history — no, Hitler did not disarm civilians before ramping up his aim at European conquest. I’m not writing about those who twist facts, wrongly saying that, “More guns means less violence.” I’m not even referring to those who suggest women are safer when armed, despite facts that show the sad opposite.

Those individuals are more accurately inaccurate and misguided at best, deceptive at worst. As much as it makes my skin crawl to hear the argument that, “Guns don’t kill, people do,” or that an “inanimate object” can’t be to blame, I’ll accept that as rationalization and an attempt to deflect ceding any ground at all in the discussion about how to prevent more gun violence.

What I’m deeply afraid of is the minority of gun rights advocates who think we are nearing the end of the world and the only thing preventing us from Armageddon is the Second Amendment.

Let’s hear from Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the NRA, who in the glory of all the recent media and governmental spotlight has started to show his increasing detachment from the way the majority of responsible gun owners and NRA members believe.

During last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on gun violence he responded to a question from Sen. Dick Durbin (IL), asking whether he agreed with gun owners who say they, “’need the firepower and the ability to protect ourselves from our government — from our government, from the police — if they knock on our doors and we need to fight back.’”

LaPierre’s response: “Senator, I think without any doubt, if you look at why our founding fathers put it there, they had lived under the tyranny of King George and they wanted to make sure that these free people in this new country would never be subjugated again and have to live under tyranny.”

LaPierre’s other fear, as he told the committee? “What people all over the country fear today is being abandoned by their government. If a tornado hits, if a hurricane hits, if a riot occurs that they’re going to be out there alone. And the only way they’re going to protect themselves in the cold and the dark, when they’re vulnerable, is with a firearm. And I think that indicates how relevant and essential the Second Amendment is in today’s society to fundamental human survival.”

I think it indicates how very much the rest of us need to be afraid of LaPierre and company being afraid simultaneously that the government will come or that the government will not come.

Did either of those things happen during Hurricane Sandy or any other disaster? Has any of that happened here since we gained our freedom from King George?

But in their world, the government is coming for us and our guns. The police and the U.S. armed forces not only can’t or won’t protect us, but they’re the ones we need to defend against.

I’m even further confused by the kind of arguments being made to defend the paranoia. The weapons of choice aren’t lethal, they’re not military grade, and us ‘anti-gun zealots’ are ignorant when it comes the differences between semi-automatic, automatic and assault weapons. But suddenly these same non-lethal weapons are the only things standing between law-abiding gun owners and the most skilled, technologically advanced military force of the modern era!

Is it rational to think that the anachronistic interpretation of the Second Amendment is really about protecting you from the kind of tools at the disposal of today’s U.S. military, should some crazy idea seep into the head of either the current occupant of the Oval Office — despite every clue to the extreme opposite — or another kook-with-delusions-of-grandeur from within or without our borders?

With that 'logic,' why stop at the right to bear semi-automatic guns? Any kind of weapon should be allowed just in case we get attacked by our own government, in order to even out the military playing field. In the meantime, these same weapons are great additions to the array of sport hunters’ options.

Why not make rocket launchers legal? We’ve got lots of wide open spaces in Connecticut. Since semi-automatic rifle hunting is such sport, why shouldn’t I be able to see how a tree or a deer explodes when it meets a rocket on my private property? Plus, with that state-wide deer problem we have, why opt for just bow-hunting when land mines could be so much more effective!

Instead of a rational reaction to rising death-by-gun rates, instead of a 100-percent, collective response to yet another despicable mass murder (albeit nothing like ever before, given that it was 20 6- and 7-year-olds and their teachers who were gunned down), we hear, “They’re comin’ for our guns!” and “Laws don’t work because criminals don’t obey them!” and the like. No, it’s not the majority response from those on the side of fewer gun laws, but it’s the loudest, and it comes from the leadership — like the NRA.

In fact, the NRA’s list of enemies has recently made the rounds of published information. Here are some of those who the gun lobby insists pose grave threat to responsible gun owners: 

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics
  • The American Medical Association
  • The American Federation of Teachers
  • The American Jewish Committee
  • The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • The Children’s Defense Fund
  • The Episcopal Church
  • Maya Angelou
  • Bob Barker
  • Kevin Costner
  • Sean Connery
  • Geraldo Rivera
  • Doug Flutie
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Blue Cross Bue Shield of Kansas City
  • Sara Lee Corp.
  • The St. Louis Rams
  • McCall’s Magazine
  • And countless others

Two years ago, I wound up on something called a “Bang List” compiled by one gun rights publication simply for suggesting that parents ask other parents if there was a gun in the home as part of the conversation they should have before deciding where their children should play. It seemed simple conversation was something to be afraid of, too.

I’ve got to think that the growing list of people recently challenging the NRA – especially former supporters or those who were more likely to let Wayne LaPierre’s words go unchecked, like Joe Scarborough or FOX Network’s Chris Wallace (who called the  NRA head ‘ridiculous’) — might be a tip off that he is increasingly representing the minority, fringe view.

An irrational, fringe view like the one that we shouldn’t have any gun laws because criminals won’t obey them.

"Why do we have any laws on the books?" Scarborough challenged. "There are terrorists that are going to end up getting into the United States of America, so why do we even try to stop al-Qaeda? Right? They say they’re going to attack us again, so why don’t we let down all of our defenses and just give up?"

How about something more parallel: if criminals still get access to illegal drugs, to use, sell and traffic, then why have anti-drug laws? Why mount a war on drugs at all?

The rest of us get to put up our lives as collateral against the minority hedging their bets that the government bogeyman is going to come calling to take away their liberty, our laws don’t work, and those we’ve empowered to protect us will only abandon us in the end. I guess from that irrational viewpoint, the American lives already lost as collateral damage are worthy prices to pay for the unlikeliest of unlikely worst-case scenarios.

You want irrational? As Garry Trudeau eloquently illustrates in his cartoon strip from this past weekend, our country spent trillions of dollars (and sacrificed thousands of U.S. soldiers) waging two long, bloody wars overseas and building up our Homeland Security operations, after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. During those same nine years, 270,000 Americans were killed by gun violence right here at home. And gun laws have been weakened, rather than strengthened.

Let’s not forget the 1,509 lives lost since Newtown (as of Jan. 31), the 35 mass shootings between Columbine and Newtown, the week-long hostage situation in Alabama, where a man was holed up in his backyard bunker after shooting and killing a bus driver (who died defending his bus-load of children) and kidnapping one five-year-old.

Now that’s more insane than anything at all.

Connecticut15 February 09, 2013 at 01:19 AM
Taking this tangent off the very enlightening discussion about guns, the 2nd Amendment, human nature, history (and not selective history or misrepresented history), yinyang does indeed expose the elitist position of 'I am smarter and I know better" -- Notice the implication - the association that "I" as in poster yinyang is educated or smarter like Obama Iinteresting that David Brooks in a recent piece in the NYT that gave us Jayson Blair and Walter Duranty (for those of you who do not know who they are and what they did for the NYT - please educate yourselves) wrote about the use of the pronoun "I" and then slipped in how Obama who is self confident (hinting at intelligence levels and competence as a result of Brooks' past characterizations of the man) uses the first person pronoun, I, the least of all modern presidents. Oh, the State of the Union address is coming up... See any interesting trend? If you say something often enough, people will believe it is true - a corollary to 'the big lie.' The trend also shows itself in numerous patterns of floating an idea ahead of time to give it a life despite its being inaccurate or misleading. (Was that a opinion or stat taken only from Presidential press conferences of which Obama has had few if any?) These are tactics that have helped persuade a number of generations into accepting generalities, jumping on the bandwagon of self anointed and exclusionary elitists- I wonder how many read The Emperor's New Clothes?
Connecticut15 February 09, 2013 at 01:45 AM
Heather - your extreme rhetoric is revealing and really inappropriate. There is no 'enemies list' by the NRA as you have labeled it. The NRA did not use the word 'enemies', you did. Following your example, you must think of people who do not believe or embrace your philosophies or perspectives as 'enemies.' That's really too bad, very divisive, and very narrow minded. It doesn't allow for diversity, respect, or others' rights in a community.
Edmund Burke February 09, 2013 at 02:07 AM
CT 15 Well said , Heather is a self described "progressive". Like her fellow progressive, Pol Pot , she does not have a great deal of respect for people who disagree with her. I find it irritating that Heather can't write a simple declarative sentence. Her writing is appalling. Given the fact that she writes like the Una-bomber it's probably best she doesn't own a gun.
Esprit de Corps February 09, 2013 at 02:26 AM
Citizens, you are not being objective. You may wish to examine the link below where nobody has posted any adverse comments about Heather's article. You might even find it an informative narrative. http://wilton.patch.com/articles/potato-chip-sprinkled-cupcakes-bloating-and-a-broken-treadmill An interesting fact is how the author discovered that removal of an unnecessary part from a piece of equipment helped the author improve her life. All very well written and in a congenial style.
Sandra February 09, 2013 at 02:33 AM
Espirit- Heather should stick to cupcake stories. Perhaps friutcakes are more her style. Sorry I need to have a little fun before anyone attacks me and tells me "I don't have free speech on the Patch"- Mr. Truthseeker
EMR February 09, 2013 at 03:23 AM
Heather---let the free thought ride---despite what anyone says....
Esprit de Corps February 09, 2013 at 04:42 AM
Hello M. Electromagnetic Radiation. Here is an interesting dialog on free thinking from the Urban Dictionary: a: "What religion are you?" b: "I'm a free thinker" a: "What?" b: "I'm not really sure whether god exists" a: "So you're agnostic?" b: "No, I'm a free thinker" a: "That's a little vague; you could be a free thinking atheist or free thinking agnostic but saying free thinker doesn't tell anyone what you believe in" b: "But I'm a free thinker" a: "Do you even know what that means?" b: "My friends are free thinkers" It is always good to have supportive friends. You should be commended for supporting your friend.
Eric Cameron February 09, 2013 at 05:00 PM
Yinyang - Is it your position that the Jewish population was not forbidden to own firearms after the November 11, 1938 regulation? If so, can you please provide support. I would be interested to read. I agree that the 1938 Gun law relaxed gun laws which were very restrictive after the WWI Treaty of Versailles. However, it DID restrict access to the very portion of the population that they were targeting.....an important detail. If that is not your assertion then what is the point and please explain why Heather is correct? The fact that they disarmed the population of citizens that they were targeting is the basis for the pro-gun lobby argument on the German issue. The position that they did not disarm ALL citizens and therefore makes this historical link irrelevant is just semantics and is not honest. I stand by my original post and this is why I asked Heather to clarify. I do not expect a reply since this is the tactics used by liberals. Make the argument based on emotions rather than facts and logic and then if someone challenges the argument, simply ignore or deflect with emotionally charged statements like "You don't care about the children" or "You just want old people to die" or "You just want to strip women of all rights."
Charlie February 11, 2013 at 12:12 PM
A good summary of the consitutional issues facing the current proposals, along the lines of what I've been saying all around - the constitutional tests are not easy to satisfy: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323951904578290460073953432.html?mod=ITP_opinion_0 Of course, the response is usually to cite to Scalia's language in Heller about the government's ability to regulate "unusually dangerous" weapons. Whatever the merits of relying on this language, I have yet to see cogent arguments that a semiautomatic rifle is "unusually dangerous" compared to every other semiautomatic weapon.
KMP March 01, 2013 at 09:51 PM
Where was the outrage? The cries for new gun laws? They were there all right: see: http://www.wtnh.com/dpp/news/politics/murder-victims-families-talk-gun-laws#.UTEhP1d5dOc Quote: "Family members of recent murder victims in the state's largest cities say the gun law changes being talked about at the State Capitol don't go far enough." This is why Bridgeport's Mayor says he's backing Governor Malloy's plan for gun control. "The time for talking is over and we demand action," said Mayor Bill Finch. And from http://www.wtnh.com/dpp/news/fairfield_cty/bridgeport-mayor-residents-talk-gun-control#.UTEg1Fd5dOc : "The Mayor {Bill Finch, who spoke at the Feb. 14 rally in Hartford} says the city has taken action through its Gun Buyback program. He says more than 750 guns have been taken off the streets since the program started in December. He says the first gun they bought back was a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, the same gun used in the Newtown shooting."
Sanchez March 01, 2013 at 10:36 PM
Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself. We once had a new president who came into office facing a much more severe financial crisis than we do today. He said those words to help sooth the concerns of the Americans he was just elected to take care of in those tough times. He wanted the American people to know he was going to do all he could to get them out of the financial and social issues they found themselves in. He assured them, he made us look up. He This president in times of financial and societal issues of this generation is telling the American people things cannot possible get better . He is telling us that we will not be as safe as we were yesterday. He is telling us he cannot secure the borders and must even release criminal illegal aliens form holding cells. He is telling us that we will have a harder time in doing the one main job the government is responsible for, national defense! What a difference between then and now in leadership. We must really remember the next words after the word "itself". "nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance". Never more true than now.
Sanchez March 01, 2013 at 10:47 PM
Here is a quote from Scalia in the Heller decision regarding what firearms are covered by the 2nd Amendment. This is far too often left out of the debate on the issue as support for AR style firearms being 'reasonable' specifically for the reason that they are so popular. "Whatever the reason, handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid." "We think that Miller’s “ordinary military equipment” language must be read in tandem with what comes after: “[O]rdinarily when called for [militia] service [able-bodied] men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at 179." "We therefore read Miller to say only that the Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns."
Sanchez March 01, 2013 at 10:56 PM
Most importantly: " "It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service – M-16 rifles and the like – may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty."[73]" We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at 179. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons.” " The firearms "in common use today" are protected by the 2nd Amendment according to Heller. The Feds cannot constitutionally ban the sale of AR style firearms but many States may have that power. My state's Constitution specifically states that it cannot violate the US Constitution. Yet yesterday the Senate did.
Thomas Paine March 02, 2013 at 12:56 AM
Sanchez - you are being way too kind to the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. His primary rhetorical tool is drumming up fear. Fear of his political opponents - first the Clintons then McCain, then the GOP, then The Tea Party, then the House GOP, then the evil bankers and 1%, then BP and oil companies, thenRush Limbaugh/Fox/Hannity/Krauthammer, then fracking, then Keystone, then Romney, then the Fiscal Cliff, then sequester, then the House GOP - fear all the time. He pits the American people against one another rather than unite. He creates animosities between classes, races, neighbors and genders. He rules by fear, not by telling us not to fear. Our leaders were once great, men and women now they are merely men or women appealing to people's basest fears and emotions.
Donald Borsch Jr. March 02, 2013 at 01:13 AM
Thomas, On the subject of ruling by fear, I remembered this quote from my high school years: "Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires; but what foundation did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded an empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him." ~ Napoleon Bonaparte Not seeking to preach of Jesus, but the principle hits home.
Jlo March 02, 2013 at 06:26 AM
You're right AZ, heathers articles suck!
Donald Borsch Jr. March 02, 2013 at 02:34 PM
AZ, So homosexual rape is amusing to you, and fits your narrative? Kinda creepy, that. Troll.
Donald Borsch Jr. March 02, 2013 at 02:35 PM
JIo, Ouch.
Sandra March 02, 2013 at 02:52 PM
Sanchez- The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Again? If we don't raise taxes and spend more everyone will Die! If we cut 2.5% of FUTURE spending planes will crash into each other, Capitol Hill janitors will get a pay cut (not true), dangerous illegal criminals will be let loose on our streets- wait that one happened. This president blames everything on the Republicans. How pathetic that he has so little capability to lead. There are three branches of government and the democrats control two branches. Where is Harry Reid who has yet to pass a budget? Obama is STILL in campaign mode attacking Republicans on the Road and then wonders why there is gridlock in D.C. I think Obama loves chaos and is deliberately causing the rift because he knows the American people are so foolish they will believe anything he says. Shame on him. Video shows he is a liar but the media attcks anyone (Bob Woodward) who dares search the truth. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsWIZJHbFZQ
Bill C March 02, 2013 at 03:39 PM
Behold: The clowns behind Obama.......... This is a cultural change that threatens your way of life. When the technology oligopoly, and media promote, collaborate and defend a candidate, democracy is in danger. The public is force fed the campaign's talking points while at the same time being mined for information and interests by cutting edge research techniques. This is to formulate the most effective lie to get elected. That is why so many expected him to be so different. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Wake up, prepare now. Must we come up with a third line for that old truism? He is their PERFECT virtual President. The camelian, the Great Liar. He should be. Another truism, practice makes perfect. And then there is the voter fraud!!!!! http://www.redstate.com/2013/02/28/google-and-democrats-claiming-google-not-helping-democrats/
Bill C March 02, 2013 at 03:48 PM
Mayor Bill Finch. says "the city has taken action through its Gun Buyback program. He says more than 750 guns have been taken off the streets since the program started in December. He says the first gun they bought back was a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, the same gun used in the Newtown shooting." I dont believe him. There is a long tradition of LIES from the Mayors and Police Chiefs in Bridgeport.
Sandra March 02, 2013 at 04:05 PM
Obama is selling access to the White House. If you have $50 million you can have a smoke together and personally tell him what a great job he is doing. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/27/russ-feingolds-organizing-for-action_n_2774343.html
Sanchez March 02, 2013 at 04:12 PM
I think you misconstrued my comment. "nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance". That is what Obama is doing. FDR said that as a positive, Obama uses it as his entire political career even as a community organizer. He put fear into the minds of the uneducated to organize them against the man. Now he is doing the same thing by pitting one group against another over and over again.
Sandra March 02, 2013 at 04:16 PM
Calling Joe Biden...Calling Joe Biden...Denver is trying to ban shotguns!!! http://denver.cbslocal.com/2013/03/01/popular-standard-shotgun-could-be-banned-under-proposed-bill/
Robert Plant March 02, 2013 at 04:19 PM
"Does anyone remember laughter"
Thomas Paine March 02, 2013 at 04:23 PM
RP - Quoting Stairway again? This is tired.
Murray The Cop March 02, 2013 at 04:28 PM
TP--only thing tired are your lame comments all over the patch..you are an inane drone.
Thomas Paine March 02, 2013 at 04:34 PM
Thanks Murray, I appreciate you reading my works. And if you are calling my detailed and researched comments lame, then I am having an impact on the uninformed gun-takers.
Thomas Paine March 02, 2013 at 04:37 PM
BTW, if anyone wants to check by clicking "Murray the Cop", it appears that the above is that user's first comment ever on the Patch sites using that screen name. So Murray is either another commenters with a new screen name or a troll coming to stir things up. Which then begs the question of how many of my "lame comments" Murray has actually read. Murray, see ya!
Donald Borsch Jr. March 02, 2013 at 06:21 PM
Murray, Your disdain for Thomas' persistence gives him the win. ;)


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